As the end of August approaches, many of us are hopping into the car to enjoy one of the final weekends of summer. Seeking rest and relaxation, trips are motivated by the hopes of capturing those satisfying moments of a quintessential New England summer: time by the ocean, breathing in salt air, and feasting on […]
View from the Chatham Bars Inn in Chatham, Massachusetts.
Photo Credit : Kate Hathaway Weeks
As the end of August approaches, many of us are hopping into the car to enjoy one of the final weekends of summer. Seeking rest and relaxation, trips are motivated by the hopes of capturing those satisfying moments of a quintessential New England summer: time by the ocean, breathing in salt air, and feasting on lobster and ice cream. This experience was captured earlier in the season when Yankee was invited to celebrate the July/August issue with its cover subject, Chatham Bars Inn in Cape Cod, MA. Along with senior lifestyle editor Amy Traverso, I headed down the Cape to seek out the area’s historic charm and see our cover feature come to life.
Located at “the elbow of Cape Cod” halfway between Falmouth and Provincetown, and approximately 90 miles from Boston, Chatham has long been a destination for East Coast day trippers and summer visitors alike. Chatham Bars Inn, highlighted in Yankee as one of the places to stay in New England where the water is mere steps from your front door, was originally developed in 1914, as a semi-private hunting lodge for Boston vacationers.
Its old-world charm has been retained over the years and meticulously updated with modern conveniences and amenities. Pulling into the inn’s circular driveway, guests are greeted by inviting rows of Adirondack chairs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and a colorful wash of pink and purple hydrangeas in full bloom at the peak of their season. Set against the historic Main Inn and the scattered saltbox style cottages that surround it – these postcard perfect details do not disappoint.
Our own classic Cape Cod shingle-style cottage provided a home away from home during our stay and was situated near the inn’s private beach. Breakfast on the veranda at the Main Inn overlooking the Atlantic is an experience guests will remember between visits. For those that cannot wait until breakfast is officially served, the inn offers coffee and pastry starting at 5:30 a.m. – the perfect accompaniment to watching the sunrise.
Dinner at the inn can be fine dining at Stars or pub fare at the Sacred Cod, but the experience we were after was the classic New England clambake offered at The Beach House. Using the traditional method of cooking lobster, clams, mussels under a bed of seaweed, the clambake can be enjoyed in Chatham the way it was meant to be – on the beach with your feet in the sand.
Within walking distance of the inn, Chatham’s Main Street is lined with stores selling penny candy and homemade fudge, galleries featuring the work of local artists, and casual bakeries and cafes. Many of the area’s shops remain independent, family-owned businesses complete with Rockwell-esque charm. Locals and tourists alike can be found enjoying an early dinner at The Squire or Impudent Oyster followed by homemade ice cream at Buffy’s Ice Cream Shop.
For those with an interest in home design and New England architecture, the walk to Main Street is just as much about the journey as the destination.
Community happenings add depth to Chatham and a rich sense of local life was felt throughout our visit. During the summer season into the fall, locals and weekenders can enjoy weekly concerts by the Chatham Town Band and lobster roll church suppers. First Congregational Church anchors the town center and hosts a variety of community fundraisers and other gatherings. During our visit the sloped front yard was bustling with a community yard sale, and in October, when the area’s hydrangeas have gone crimson, the same sloping yard will be covered with pumpkins for the church’s annual pumpkin sale.
Beyond the town center, we enjoyed drives to the Chatham Lighthouse, located on the grounds of the Coast Guard station, and at our host’s recommendation made a stop at the general store in Brewster to stock up on lobster lollipops, vintage-inspired housewares and pantry staples. Other local flavors include Marion’s Pie Shop, another Chatham favorite of our Yankee food editors. We made sure to pick up blueberry and apple pies to bring home.
For those that didn’t make it to Cape Cod this summer, September and October are considered to be some of the best months to plan a visit. Happenings include:
Chatham Lighthouse TourSeasonal Fall Events
Have you ever visited Chatham, Massachusetts?