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What to Do In Chatham, MA—Beyond the Beach

It doesn’t matter if you’re a regular on Cape Cod or are gearing up for a first visit, there are plenty of things to do throughout the area—and that’s especially true in Chatham, a Lower-Cape town with a charming downtown and easy access to nearby beaches. And while we love the beach, especially during summer visits, if you’re looking for an activity beyond that, there are lots of experiences to try. A few to add to your to-do list: 

Stroll Main Street.

As one of the most picturesque—and walkable—towns on the Cape, Main Street in Chatham is bustling, with everything from shops to restaurants to (of course) spots to stop for ice cream or fudge. There’s a mix of different stores, from well-known places like Lily Pulitzer and J. McLaughlin to unique options like “Ducks in the Window,” an adorable shop with every type and style of rubber duck you can imagine. (No, really: There’s a Statue of Liberty duck and even a Steven Tyler option.) The street is also home to classic spots like Chatham Squire, which has live music and events almost every night of the week.

Attend a Farm Dinner.

If you’re looking for a place to stay while in Chatham, the historic Chatham Bars Inn, which is located right on the water and has its own private beach and pool, is a great option. (To really relax, we love the spa suites, which include an in-room hydrotherapy tub and sauna.) 

But even if you’re not spending the night, put their Wednesday evening farm dinners on your to-do list radar. Held throughout the summer and fall at their 8-acre farm in Brewster (about 20 minutes from the resort), the four-course dinner, which includes wine and cocktails, highlights their farm-fresh produce, as well as local meat and seafood. At a recent dinner we attended, executive chef Andrew Chadwick’s menu included a crudité of farm vegetables, a cucumber-tomato salad with Halloumi cheese, seared halibut and Strip Loin—and was absolutely delicious.

Tour the Chatham Lighthouse.

Let’s be honest: Can you visit a beach town without checking out its lighthouse? And the 48-foot-tall Chatham Lighthouse has an exceptionally storied history that dates back to 1808. Now operated by the US Coast Guard, the lighthouse continues to be in use today—and you can visit and go for a tour on Wednesday afternoons (a pre-farm dinner activity, perhaps?) from 1pm until 3pm through Labor Day weekend.

Visit the Shark Center.

Love Shark Week? Then a visit to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy Shark Center, which has locations on the Cape both in Chatham and Provincetown, is a fun idea. Stop by the Chatham center any day of the week to learn more about these sea creatures, including research and conservation efforts. You’ll find everything from interactive displays to kid-centered programming, like their one-day Shark STEM Workshop Program. If you really want to immerse yourself, consider their Private White Shark Charters for a close-up view—from the boat!—of the area’s sharks. 

Book a Private Charter.

Chatham Bars Inn

Speaking of charters, if shark sightings aren’t your thing, you can stick to calmer waters and see Cape Cod by boat. If you have your own, there’s plenty of exploring to do. Or, you can opt to charter one. One to consider: Down Cape Charter & Boat Rentals, which is based in Harwich, just a quick 10-minute drive from Main Street in Chatham, and offers plenty of options. That includes a private day or sunset sail, boat tours, like the Chatham Harbor & Seal Tour and experiences like whale watching or visits to Nantucket.

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