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Charming Chatham

What will a shallop, twelve axes, ten coats, six kettles, twelve hoes, twelve knives, forty schillings in wampum, a hat, and twelve shillings in coins get you? Well in 1656, it would have gotten you Chatham - or Monomoit, as it was called in the 17th Century. Located at the “elbow” of Cape Cod, the land was bought by Englishman William Nickerson from the Monomoyick, a tribe within the Wampanoag Tribe. The area was then named after Chatham, England, and was incorporated in 1712. It became a successful center for shipping, fishing, and whaling throughout the 1700’s and early 1800’s.

Particularly with the arrival of train travel to Chatham in 1887, the town evolved into a popular summer community in the late 1880’s. Once families from New York and Boston could travel with ease to Cape Cod, they began spending summers on the Cape in increasing numbers. Today, Chatham welcomes 25,000 visitors each summer.

Chatham has been able to preserve its quaint and charming downtown, which has a vibrant and unique mix of restaurants and cafés, small family owned businesses, art galleries, bookstores, and antique shops. One could spend an entire day just meandering among the shops and eateries of downtown Chatham.

Chatham Lighthouse
Chatham Light

Chatham is also home to over a dozen pristine beaches and ponds where you can relax, swim, fish, surf, collect shells, canoe or kayak. Lighthouse Beach is the largest beach in Chatham and popular with locals and visitors. Here you can watch the seals frolic and the boats sail by. But keep your eyes open - due to the population growth of the seals in the area, sharks, too, are now sporadic visitors to the waters off Chatham. View all Chatham beaches.

Away from the beaches, you will find such noted landmarks as:

  • The Chatham Light. Built in 1808, it is to the second oldest lighthouse on Cape Cod, and it is one of the few lights still in operation 24 hours a day.
  • The Fisherman’s Monument at Chatham Fisherman Pier is another well-known landmark, and it recognizes the significance of the Chatham fishing industry.
  • The Chatham Windmill, located in Chase Park, had operated continuously for 100 years before ceasing its commercial operations in 1898. During the 1980’s, the town of Chatham rehabilitated the windmill, and it now offers historic presentations throughout the summer.
  • Monomoy Wildlife Refuge in Chatham is a nature lover’s paradise. There you will find a diverse array of flora and fauna.
  • The parks of Chatham, too, are vibrant and alive with picnickers, live music, children playing, various arts and crafts fairs, and local events.
  • A stop by the Chatham Fish Pier allows the opportunity to see working fishing boats as well as buy fresh seafood right off the boat. Sometimes you can watch those famous Chatham seals escort the fishing boats to the pier in hopes of getting a “snack” from a fisherman.
  • Chatham Fish Pier
    View from the observation deck at the Chatham Fish Pier
  • The Chatham Historical Society offers a chance to learn about the fascinating history of Chatham and the surrounding area.

So whether you want to shop, hit the beach, explore the outdoors, or enjoy fine dining while on vacation, Chatham has it all. And when you plan your trip to explore Chatham (pinterest), be sure to choose one of many, charming Chatham vacation rentals as your home away from home.

About Becky Fischer

About Becky Fischer: I have worked for since 2003. Currently my position entails providing photography, video, and consultation services to vacation rental homeowners, and I have photographed over 700 homes on the Cape and Islands. My husband and three children moved to Brewster in 2006. I grew up outside of Boston, spent summer vacations on Nantucket, and was married in Orleans. My favorite activities on the Cape are walking on the CCRT, deep breaths at the beach, visiting great coffee shops, and working with my community to support the schools and local events.