Chatham has the typical small town main street with the oldest buildings, churches, the bank, some stores, ice cream and candy stores, the library (free membership and internet), a pharmacy with a photo lab, gift stores, antiques, restaurants, fast food, etc.
Along the Main Str. and Route 28 you can see some of the oldest and nicest buildings in Chatham.
In 2001 also had the chance to watch the 4th of July parade there, that was very interesting too.
Follow the street and it will eventually take you to the Lighthouse and the beach.
Warning: the street is very narrow with cars parking and opening doors all the time, with people crossing or riding bikes, so expect a slow drive and watch out. I suggest you park at the public parking in the beginning and continue on foot.
I think this is the best thing to do on the Cape, I even liked it better than whale watching because you go really close to the animals and can see hundreds of them. They are so cute and curious. After you reach the shore where they are resting the young ones swim closer to the boat and stare curiously at you. If you move too much though they quickly swim away.
We went seal watching from Chatham but there are other locations too. Most of the hotels and chambers of commerse have broshures with information. I think the price (in 2002) was very reasonable and since it was almost off season we were the only ones on the boat, very romantic (windy too). The boat takes you to a beach where the seals flock. First, from the distance, you see a great number of dark spots and as you approach you realize that those are hundreds of seals!
The boatman pointed to us a seal who got trapped in a fishing net (see 4th pic). Environmentalists had several times tried to tranquilize it in order to remove the net. I hope they managed in the end, otherwise the seal would have got more and more entangled and unable to swim and feed himself, poor thing.
A travelogue with more pictures on my Mass. page.
This nice Victorian building in fact used to be the Chatham Railroad Station. It was built in 1887 and served a small connection line to Harwich. The seven mile long line to Harwich was built in seven days.
When motor vehicles became more wide spread the passenger traffic of the railways declined so the service was gradually shut down. Now where some of the old tracks were. there is a bike trail or roads.
The last time the station operated as such was on July 5th, 1937. The building was abandoned until 1960 when after restoration, it opened as a museum. It's owned by the town and run by volunteers.
The pcture was taken against the sun so it's a bit blurry, but in front of the building there is an original caboose built in 1910 that was used by New York Central.
open Tueday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm.
There are many ponds in and around Chatham. There are salt water and fresh water ponds, big and small, where you can fish, boat, sail, water-ski or bathe. There are so many that it's confusing. I liked to ride my bike, take a road and go wherever it took me. I always ended at a beach or a pond, sometimes over a bridges, sometmes I stopped to enjoy the view, the boats or a sunset. This is something I strongly recommend, to most places you can drive or even walk, but biking is the best.
If you enjoy nature and walking, take one of the conservation trails. More information about the trails on the web-site below.
Coming from Europe, where I saw many churches and cathedrals, for me it was interesting to see the variety of churches in America and also the different architecture of most of them. In Europe most churches are made of stone, in Chathem they were made of wood, the same as the houses, made of wooden slates.
There are 9 churches in Chatham: Baptist, 2 Catholic, Congregational, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, South Chatham Community, and Unitarian Universalist. In case visitors are interested in seeing the buildings or services, the web-site below has a full listing of addresses and contacts.
I rode my bike on my way home or to work by some of these so I took pictures.
The church opposite of the library on Main Str. (I think the Episcopal ) had some charity fairs and events, and sold hotdogs, lobster rolls and cookies. I bought some things from there since I passed by it every time I went to the library. I guess the other churches have some events too.
There are many beaches in Chatham, after all, it's at the tip of the 'elbow' and is surrounded on three sides by water. As far as I know the Lighthouse beach is the biggest one and it can get very crowded. I was a bit surprised the first few times I went to the beach on the Cape. Most people came with their cars loaded with chairs, coolers with tons of food and coke and then they spent most of the time sitting and eating. Also there were very few swimmers in the ocean. It's true that the water is coldish and in some places there are strong currents but still there are enough shallow and safer places if you really want to swim. I usuall went to the beach during the 1or 2 hour break between my two jobs but on my days off I had the time to explore some more distant beaches.
Before you go to a beach better ask a local whether there are life-guards, dangerous currents, sharks, etc.
Visitors from other states/countries should also know that it's illegal to go to beaches at night (I think after 10 pm) and there is no drinking allowed in public places (other than bars,etc.) so forget about having a beer on a hot beach day. For those interested, nudity is not accepted either.
The Fish Pier was on my way to work ( a 5mile bike ride) so sometimes I stopped there to enjoy the view and take a few picures. It's quite small, with a few fishing boats and may hungry sea-gulls. I've been told that you can buy fresh fish from there.
It is located on Shore Road, supposedly the street with the most expensive houses.
The scenic shore Road offers very nice views of the ocean. That's where the Fish Pier, the most expensive houses and hotels in Chatham are.
I used to ride my bike along the road on the way to work every morning. Now I remember every curve of the road, downhills and uphills, the nice houses with gardens on the way...
The Chatham Light
Chatham's most popular spot.Built in 1808, it is Cape Cod's second lighthouse. Just opposite of it there is a panorama spot from where you can see the huge beach below, sand bars and the ocean.