A Weekenders Guide: Visiting Chatham, Massachusetts

If you’re traveling along the east coast of the U.S. and have a spare weekend, the charming seaside town of Chatham in Cape Cod, Massachusetts has lots to see and do for the entire family. Whether you’re a bird-watching nature lover, history buff, or an aficionado of traditional candies, you’re sure to find something of interest while visiting Chatham, Massachusetts. Accommodation options include comfortable hotels, inns, and B&Bs from $104 per night.

A building with an American flag at Chatham Beach. Visiting Chatham, Massachusetts
Chatham Beach by Thomas Kelley on Unsplash

Things to Do for Your Weekend Trip Visiting Chatham, Massachusetts

Lighthouse Beach

While the town of Chatham boasts delicious seafood and a range of sporting and cultural attractions, the real highlight is the beach. Lighthouse Beach, located on the Main Street, looks out onto the Atlantic Ocean and is open 24 hours to the public, making it an ideal first stop when you arrive in Chatham.

The working US Coast Guard lighthouse, from which this beachfront derives its name, offers free tours if you’d like a look on the inside. Otherwise, enjoy sitting or walking on the beach and watching boats coming and going, gulls circling overhead, and possibly sighting some wild seals! In the summer months, this beach is a popular spot for windsurfing and parasailing, although tidal currents and shark activity make the beach generally unsuitable for swimming.

Beachcomber Boat Tours

Once you’ve enjoyed some sand and a fresh sea breeze, Chatham offers you the chance to get up close and personal with a boat tour. Beachcomber Boat Tours are open from 8am-8pm every day and offer reasonably priced 90-minute boat rides around the bay with a knowledgeable guide.

Two seals posing on a beach in shallow water. Visiting Chatham, Massachusetts
Seals on a beach by Pascal Mauerhofer on Unsplash

On your boat tour, you’re likely to see seals and other wildlife in their native habitat, so take your binoculars and a waterproof camera with you!

Enjoy A Delicious Dinner

After a big day at the beach and around the bay, check out the variety of casual and fine dining restaurants in Chatham for feasting on fresh fish and seafood. Many of these places also serve steak and hamburgers if you’re really feeling like some red meat while visiting Chatham, Massachusetts!

Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge

Sunset at the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, MA by USFWS. Visiting Chatham, Massachusetts
Sunset at the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, MA by USFWS, Public Domain

For day two of your weekend in Chatham, keep enjoying the fresh air and sea breeze with a visit to the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. This federally-managed wildlife sanctuary is located on Morris Island in Chatham, accessible by road via a causeway.

Entry to the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge is free, but make sure you go when the tide is low so that you have full access to the beach, and can make the most of seeing the beautiful shells, rocks, and sandbanks in the area.

A Great Place to Walk and Play

The shoreline is a terrific spot for bird watching, photography, playing, or picnicking on the beach, and there is a boardwalk if you feel like taking a stroll. Ospreys, seals, and other wildlife are often seen in this area, so keep an eye out as you enjoy the ocean views!

Common tern and chicksCommon tern and chicks at the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham, MA. Visiting Chatham, Massachusetts
Common tern and chicks at the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham, MA Credit USFWS on Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Chatham Marconi Maritime Center

Late morning or early afternoon on your second day, drive back through the town and on to Orleans Road in North Chatham for some time at the Chatham Marconi Maritime Center. This educational museum is dedicated to the history of wireless radio and is rated as the #1 attraction in Chatham on Tripadvisor (especially if you have kids).

For the summer season, the museum will open from 10:30am to 4:30pm Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 1:00pm to 4:00pm on Sundays. Cost of entry is $5 for youth (13-21), $10 for adults (22+) and $7.50 for seniors (66+). Entry for kids 0-12 is free. Be sure to check out the events calendar on their website for educational workshops coming up.

Time to Hit the Shops

After spending the weekend learning and exploring, it’s time to head back into town for some shopping!

Candy Manor

Exploring seaside treasures and learning about fascinating history can leave you needing a pick-me-up to keep you going for the afternoon. Candy Manor in Main Street sells a variety of delectable handmade chocolates and fudge, seasonal and specialty candy, and assorted boxes.

A jar and cups of sweets. Candy store. Visiting Chatham, Massachusetts
Candy store by delfi de la Rua on Unsplash

This traditional candy shop has been in operation for over 60 years, so they really are the real deal! Hours are 9:00am to 6:00pm daily (except for Christmas Day).

Chatham Pottery

Chatham Pottery is another interesting shop to visit while you’re in the Main Street. Here, you can find local handmade and hand painted stoneware that is fired using special techniques that make the resulting pottery durable and strong. Drop in between 10am and 4pm Wednesday to Monday.

Island Pursuit

Before you leave, make sure to stop by Island Pursuit to stock up on beachwear, cashmere sweaters, and totes as a souvenir of your weekend while visiting Chatham, Massachusetts.

Tips for Making the Most of Your Weekend in Chatham

Beach in Chatham, MA. Visiting Chatham, Massachusetts
Beach in Chatham, MA by m01229 on Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

When packing for your weekend visiting Chatham, Massachusetts, make sure to include windproof clothing to stay warm with ocean winds that can be quite cold (especially in the off season). Binoculars and a camera are essential for sighting and snapping pics of seals and other wildlife, and it’s advisable to use a waterproof watch, especially if you’re thinking of taking the boat tour around the bay.

If you’re traveling around the USA and love nature, you might also like to visit some of the other prime destinations for wildlife watching in the USA. Foreign visitors might also find these USA travel tips useful for navigating the local culture.

Enjoy your weekend in Chatham and have a great trip!

About Constante Quirino

Constante is a freelance writer and content strategist who has worked with a number of emerging companies as well as up-and-coming designers. A passionate yogi for several years, he is an advocate for healthy, balanced lifestyles.

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