Thinking about taking a trip out to Cape Cod? Put Chatham on your list!
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Being a native from South Jersey, I've had my fair share of "going down the shore" with easy day trips and stays with friends, gorging on seafood and a whole lot of Wawa hoagies. How could I not when LBI was about 45 minutes from my house? There's just something about the beach that just gives you a carefree attitude and gives you a much-needed mental reset. Maybe that's why I actually never visited Cape Cod before, let alone even understood the whole New England thing. Yes, I'm an Eagles fan.
So I was really curious about the opportunity to visit Cape Cod. I mean, I'm pretty obsessed with seafood, so what could really be different? I had zero expectations about Cape Cod and honestly planned ZERO things. I guess I just wanted to be on beach time!
Read on for my Chatham travel guide that'll definitely put you on beach time.
Related reading // Charleston Weekend Guide
How to Get to Chatham
If you're not in the area, you'll need to fly into Boston Logan International Airport and then rent a car. I highly recommend renting a car as public transportation is fairly nonexistent once you're on the Cape itself. Just be warned that there will probably be traffic.
For public transportation options, you can take the CapeFlyer, which is about 2 hours and 20 minutes from South Station to Hyannis. You can also take the bus with various providers like Peter Pan and Plymouth & Brockton. You can pick the buses up directly at Boston Logan, so there's no need to worry about finding the right place to go with all your luggage.
Where to Stay in Chatham
On our trip, we used VRBO to book a house for the 10 of us. We lucked out really well with the location (on Seaview Street) since we could easily walk to both Main Street and the beach.In Chatham, you have a ton of different vacation rental options from bungalows to beach mansions. It's up to you and your budget! Like other beach towns, the closer you are to the water, the more expensive it'll be. Also, pricing will depend greatly on what weeks you go and if there are any major events happening on the Cape.
If you're looking for a luxury beach getaway with all the amenities, including a pool and beach access, then the Chatham Bars Inn is great choice. Although you're on the beach, you're still in walking distance to Main Street and also the Chatham Pier Fish Market. The Chatham Bars Inn also has a lot of different luxury beachfront cottages for you to rent as well. They're great for longer stays! Just be prepared to drop serious dough on the rooms and on the dining experiences here.
If you prefer to stay on Main Street, where most of the action happens, then the Chatham Wayside Inn is a great choice here. You're also right across the street from Bluefins Sush & Sake Bar! Have a group of you staying in Chatham? The Chatham Wayside Inn also has 3 separate cottages that include a full kitchen. It's like your home away from home!
What to Do in Chatham
1. Visit the Chatham Lighthouse.
Take in the views at the Chatham Lighthouse, located in the Southwest point of the Cape. You can easily walk, bike or ride down Main Street to get here too. Sharks and seals have been known to swim by, so be on the look out!
2. Have a beach day.
3. Grab drinks at The Squire.
The Squire is really the one true bar, ableit a dive bar, in Chatham. This is where you'll see all the locals too. There are two entrances: one to the restaurant and one to the bar. If you go in the wrong one, you can easily walk to the other inside.
4. Spot the seals at the fish pier.
If you're stopping by the Chatham Pier Fish Market, see if you can spot the seals playing in the water! There's a deck area that you can climb some stairs up to with a few benches. It's also a good spot to eat your fish and chips!
5. Rent bikes and explore the bike paths along the Cape.
There are a ton of bike paths along the Cape with varying degrees of difficulty. Most are for casual cyclists, so don't worry about getting in too deep. For a list of bike paths on the Cpae, click here.
6. Go shopping on Main Street.
There's a ton of small shops and boutiques ranging from jewelry to candy to books. Everything on Main Street is close together, so you don't have to worry about distance either. Here are some to check out:
7. House hunt along Shore Road.
Like any other beach town, Chatham has its fair share of mega huge beach houses. If you're into this sort of thing, take a drive down Shore Road to ooh and ahh over the properties.
8. See a movie at the Orpheum Theater.
Visit the Orpheum Theater if you're itching to see the latest releases, but in a vintage feel. The best part? Prices are way cheaper than NYC at $11 for adults.
9. take a boat tour.
Tour around Cape Cod and Chatham by boat. Choose from fishing tours, sightseeing, and animal watching. Click here for some tours.
10. Spend the afternoon at the Chatham Bars Inn.
If you're with a group or want a spot to just relax with a view, the Chatham Bars Inn has a few options. You can grab a drink and sit on their veranda or in their Adirondack chairs. Or you can go down to the beach and sit at The Veranda or on the beach itself. But be warned, the prices are crazy high here!
Where to Eat in Chatham
I'm not going to lie—I struggled a lot with the food in Chatham. It is incredibly expensive to go out to eat in this town (and on the Cape in general)! The prices are way more than NYC, and I just can't. I also just felt like the options were very limited to seafood bar food and included a touch of Asian fusion. I'm an Asian food purist, so this can be perplexing for me at times. Don't even get me started on pad thai. But even with all that, I actually had quite a few decent meals in Chatham that I'm happy to share!
*Note: Foursquare is not commonly used in Chatham, so Yelp and TripAdvisor links are provided.
513 Main St, Chatham, MA 02633
Could you guess that my favorite spot was the sushi joint? Ya caught me. Bluefins has a really extensive menu ranging from traditional Japanese appetizers and sushi to very insane rolls and Asian fusion. I absolutely loved the sushi I ordered. The fish was incredibly fresh, and might be one of my top scallop nigiris of all time. Others at the table ordered Bluefins' version of a pad thai, the Korean ribs, shishito peppers, crispy sweet Thai shrimp (basically shrimp tempura), and a bunch of different rolls.
Sushi tip: If you think a piece might be bad/not the freshest, don't eat it last because then you'll have a terrible taste in your mouth. Save your best piece for last!
45 Barcliff Avenue Ext, Chatham, MA 02633
So here's a secret. I went to the Chatham Pier Fish Market twice on this trip. It's that wonderful. I somehow lucked out and never had to wait in line to order too. Apparently the line can get almost Cronut-level long. You will need to wait a decent amount of time for your food to cook, but that's also worth the wait! Grab a seat at a picnic table or sit on a bench by the water. You might even be able to see the seals.
The first thing you need to order (and continue ordering) are the fish and chips. Literally, these are the best ones I've had, though I've never been to England... They are so light and the chips are SO good. You won't leave hungry either since the portions are huge. You can easily share.
On my second trip, I wanted to try something different, so I grabbed the scallop roll. To be honest, I wasn't a fan of the roll. It didn't even seem buttered? It definitely did not have any sauce on it, so it was incredibly dry. Pair that with fried scallops and that's dry mouth waiting to happen. The scallops, on the other hand, were amazing. Again, the portion size was huge.
593 Main St, Chatham, MA 02633
We ended up on Bistro on Main for one of our dinners. It's a casual place, but has a pretty extensive menu. They also have a prix fixe menu that most of us opted for. What's neat is that you can trade your dessert for a glass of wine—my kind of place.
Unfortunately, we weren't able to experience the Raw Bar since we came before it was open for the season. It sounds pretty epic though, and from 3:30pm to 5:30pm, it's half off oysters, clams, and shrimp!
297 Shore Rd, Chatham, MA 02633
The Chatham Bars Inn is one of the fancier spots in Chatham. It overlooks the water and leads out to the beach, so it's pretty ideal in terms of scenery. You can have a drink on the veranda or by the Adirondack chairs or even down on the beach at The Beach House. We just had appetizers and drinks here, but definitely order the lobster nachos! Just make sure you keep an eye out for how much your ordering since it gets pricy real fast here.
524 Main St, Chatham, MA 02633
We didn't physically eat at Chatham Cookware, but we got some breakfast sandwiches to go. I honestly wish I hadn't shared mine with Michael because they were that good. Along with other breakfast items like muffins and croissants, Chatham Cookware serves sandwiches and salads for lunch. Grab some coffee while you're here!
512 Main St, Chatham, MA 02633
If you're trying to figure out where to eat at the last minute, Wild Goose Tavern is an option. The place is huge, so no one feels cramped. I especially liked grabbing a quick drink in the afternoon here. The beers were so affordable! I was shocked, to be honest.
554 Main St, Harwich Port, MA 02646
The Mad Minnow is technically not in Chatham, but we did eat here and liked it! We actually ate outside, so we didn't get the entire experience, but that's okay. The Mad Minnow has a pretty cute outdoor space with cornhole and nice, comfy couches.
Some of the things we ordered were the deviled eggs, calamari, Ry's ribs, tuna cannoli, mussels, corn dogs, Korean lobster rangoon, clam chowder, and scallops & gnocchi.