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About Chatham, MA- The town of Chatham is located at the southeast tip of Massachusetts and halfway down the 75 mile-long Cape Cod peninsula. If the Cape is viewed as a bent arm, Chatham is at the elbow. We're surrounded on three sides by ocean so it's natural then, that activities here tend to center around the water. To the east is the open Atlantic Ocean, to the south is the calmer and warmer Nantucket Sound, and to the north is the protected embayment of Pleasant Bay.  Cool summer sea breezes, warm Indian summers, and mild winters combine to make Chatham a comfortable place to vacation and to live year-round.

Many are surpised to find that every town on the Cape has it's own distinct personality and Chatham's certainly no exception. In addition to its beach culture our town defines itself as a true 'walking town.'  The downtown is cohesively laid out so that once your car is parked everthing is available within easy strolling distance. (See the online interactive map here.) Yet, despite its relative smallness, there is no want for variety.  There are enough intriguing shops and eateries to suit the whole family for an entire day off the beach.  The Chatham Lighthouse and nearby Lighthouse Beach, the fish pier, Chatham Seaside Links and Kate Gould Park's Friday night band concerts are all not to be missed.  Festivities abound year-round too, including the Chatham Maritime Festival, Spring Fling, our famous Fourth of July Parade, the Festival of the Arts, Christmas by the Sea, and the annual Chatham First Night Celebration.  Chatham's First Night draws crowds from all over New England and is topped off with a fireworks display over Oyster Pond.  In fact Chatham First Night has become so popular that many visitors prefer this time of year for their Chatham sojourn, forgoing the big-city celebrations in Boston and New York City.

 

- Have a Chatham question?  Interact at the Chatham, Cape Cod Online Facebook Page. Get vacation and town assistance from fellow Chatham visitors and residents.  Post a restaurant or lodging review. Share your favorite hike!


Chatham Railroad Museum- 153 Depot Rd, 1 block north of rotary


Chatham Railroad Museum Interior photo  Chatham Railroad Museum historic photo

Even if you're not a railroad fanatic, it's worth visiting this beautiful 1887 depot to imagine the sights that would greet a Victorian visitor. To begin, the building itself is a "Railroad Gothic" work of wooden art, topped by a tapering turret. Inside you'll find volunteers dispensing lore and explaining the many displays. The museum's major holding is lined up in back: a "walk-through" 1918 New York caboose.  The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Admission is free. Click here for directions and a map.

 

Chatham Fish Pier Photo

 

Chatham Fish Pier Observation Deck

Just down the road from the Chatham Light is the Chatham fish pier, where there’s always a small crowd gathered on the visitors deck (best viewing is between 12 noon and 3pm, when the fishing fleet is returning). Not only does the pier offer a great view of Chatham's harbor and outer beach with the Atlantic beyond, but when the fishing boats unload their catch, both children and adults get a fascinating glimpse of the Cape's best-known but now disappearing industry. It is truly a working pier and the observation deck provides great  top-down views of the fishermen and their boats in action.

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Thursday Night Chatham Photo Excursions

WHERE
Christopher Seufert Photo Gallery, 483 Main Street, Chatham, MA 02633 (downtown between the Squire and the Mayflower Shop.)

DESCRIPTION
Photographer Christopher Seufert leads his Chatham photo tours every Thursday night through October 1 from 6:15pm to 8:00pm. Seufert is the author of "Cape Cod & Islands Reflections" (Schiffer LTD, 2010). He also shot the 2011 Chatham Chamber of Commerce poster and runs a professional studio in downtown Chatham. Photographers of all levels will enjoy being guided by a Chatham native to some of the best shots the area has to offer. Please bring your favorite camera, point and shoot or SLR. All levels welcomed. This is not a technical experience unless you want it to be. Happens no matter what the weather, but itinerary is subject to change.

Meet at his gallery downtown at 483 Main Street. Fee is $50 per head and reservations are required at www.NarrowlandGallery.com.

Chatham Windmill Photo

Godfrey Windmill- Chase Park

Old Godfrey Windmill, Off Shattuck Place (in Chase Park) was built in 1797 by Colonel Benjamin Godfrey, to grind corn. Before that, Chatham would haul its unground corn to Plymouth on wagons like the other Cape towns so these local structures were hardly the picturesque tourist sites that they are today.   This wind-powered grist mill was originally built along Stage Harbor Road in and was in active commercial operation until 1898.  Over the course of the 20th century it was twice damaged by storms and was closed until 1956 when it was given to the town. The mill was then moved to its current location at Chase Park. It is open every day except Tuesday throughout July and August and no admission is charged.  Chase park is also a great place to enjoy the periodic arts and crafts fairs held here or on off-days there are grills and picnic sites for a great family break from shopping nearby downtown.

Chatham Historical Society Lighthouse Turret Photo

Atwood House Museum/ Chatham Historical Society- 347 Stage Harbor Road

This 1752 building, one of Chatham’s oldest, was home to five generations of Atwoods, and has been the headquarters of the Chatham Historical Society since the 1920s'. Within the Museum are many historic collections and furnishings, including the Joseph C. Lincoln Room, a repository of the prolific author’s books and memorabilia including murals of artist Alice Stallknecht, an old reflector from Chatham Light, antiques and glass.

Chatham lighthouse photo

Chatham Lighthouse- Shore Rd.

Tours of the lighthouse happen on the first and third Wednesday every week from May through October,1:00pm-3:30pm. Climb the tower's 44 steps to one of the best views on the Cape, while members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary detail the history of this Chatham landmark. Admission is free. Call 508-430-0628 for more information.

In 1808 two wooden lighthouses were built on a cliff in Chatham east of the location of the current Chatham lighthouse--a cliff that no longer exists. These first two Chatham lights were range lights, meaning they were movable and could be aligned in such a way that mariners approaching Chatham by sea could find the channel to the harbor by lining up the two lights. By 1841, the cliff had eroded so much that both lighthouses tumbled to the beach below. Another pair of lighthouses--these made with brick and mortar--were constructed to replace the old ones, but the cliff continued to erode at a rate of 20 feet per year until these were also destroyed in 1879 and 1881. To replace this second set, two iron lighthouses were built. One is the current Chatham Light, the other was moved to Eastham in 1923 to become the current Nauset Light. Chatham Light overlooks the Chatham Break, a mile-wide hole in the barrier beach that stretches back to the mainland at Nauset Beach in Orleans. The break occurred in early 1987 during a fierce nor’easter.

Looking out from the three coin-operated telescopes or with your own binoculars or camera, exceptional views can be found here and the famous Chatham fogs make it a wonderful area for photographers. But the beauty is deceiving- beneath these waves are some of the most dangerous waters along the Cape Cod coast.


Chatham Lighthouse Beach Photo

 

Chatham Lighthouse Beach

This is a true Atlantic Ocean beach with cooler waters and sometimes tricky currents , located off Shore Road, a half mile from downtown.  It's the largest beach in Chatham and is also arguably one of the best on the Cape, second only to Wellfleet's Coast Guard Beach. This amazingly expansive stretch of sandy beach is a place where you can enjoy a warm summer's day watching the seals pass by during their daily migration or stroll down to South Beach towards Monomoy on an afternoon nature hike. Walking from town, hopping on a shuttle bus there, or taking your bikes is the only way to spend the day there however, as there is a 30-minute restriction for the parking lot on the beach bluff.  Though this is a an inconvenience for one of the best beaches on the Cape, it's understandable given that the lighthouse above draws a constant crowd of international admirerers.  There are also no bathrooms, lifeguards or food service, so it's not a family oriented beach in the traditional sense.  Still, every family should spend at least one day of their trip here. The views are like none other on the Cape.

In front of the beach is the ‘Chatham Break.’ In January 1987, a powerful nor’easter unexpectedly broke through the lower end of Nauset Beach, allowing the Atlantic Ocean to surge into Chatham Harbor. This ‘Chatham Break’ is a growing ocean channel between the north part of Nauset Beach and what is now South Beach.  Prior to 1987 Chatham Harbor had been shielded from surges of the open Atlantic Ocean by the lower end of Nauset Beach.  Although a barrier beach protects one body of water from another, it is essentially a frail piece of land subject to erosion by fierce winds and powerful tides. A section of Nauset Beach at Chatham Harbor had been undergoing this weakening process for some years. When the Janaury 1987 storm hit, the raging ocean, pushed by an unrelenting wind, tore open the land at this vulnerable point and the Atlantic flowed into Chatham Harbor.

The channel between North and South Beaches is responsible for strong and dangerous currents and considerable wave action, all of which can make both boating and swimming somewhat hazardous.  Notwithstanding the ‘Chatham Break,’ as it has been christened, it has brought many visitors into town to observe the phenomenon. In the years since, South Beach, has curved into and finally connected onto the Chatham mainland, giving visitors foot access to what is truly a wild stretch of outer beach.  But this is one landscape that rarely stays put for long.

Chatham Band Concerts

The Chatham band strikes up every Friday evening at 8:00 pm in July and August downtown in Kate Gould Park on Chatham's Main Street.  There are musical numbers by the band, folk dances for the children, dance numbers for grownups and community singing for everyone. Parking can be had conveniently in the Town Hall parking lot, only a short block from the park.

Annual Chatham Haunted Inns Tour
An annual frightful event. Reserve early for haunted inn packages at participating lodgings in town and prepare for a scary experience. The official tour includes the Moses Nickerson House, the Old Harbor Inn, the Carriage House Inn, the Captain's House Inn, and the Nantucket House of Chatham.

Christmas by the Sea
Begins Thanksgiving weekend and continues through December. Celebrate the holiday season with events and activities for all ages. Christmas Stroll weekend (generally around December 10 and 11th) tops all, beginning with the tree trimming and lighting ceremony in Sears Park at 4:30 p.m.

Chatham First Night- 2012

Forget Boston- Come to Chatham to celebrate the New Year!  A non-alcoholic, family oriented celebration of the arts. There is something for everyone. Activities usually begin at 1pm and at midnight, there is a grand fireworks display at Oyster Pond.

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