We moved to Massachusetts this summer and one of the first recommendations we had for a weekend getaway was “The Cape,” otherwise known as Cape Cod for the non-New Englander. The Cape is a peninsula of Massachusetts where most of Boston escapes during the warmer months.
I have come to appreciate how hard Massachusetts residents go for summer. At first I thought they were crazy to spend hours in a car to be on the beach for less 48 hours. Then I remembered they spend about five months of the year inside trying not to freeze their teets off, and I reversed my opinion.
While visiting The Cape is summer #goals, investing in a pricey summer share or AirBnB wasn’t in our budget this summer, so we waited it out until after the season peaked to experience The Cape.
We went for the day and left early as weekend traffic can be hit or miss going through Boston. The two hour drive was easy until the road narrowed to one lane each direction, which I imagine is where the traffic is thickest during the summer. We sailed through to Chatham and found it to be the sweet beach town we had heard about. A main street leads drivers through the downtown area which is paved with a great mix of restaurants, boutiques and eclectic shops lining either side.
Breakfast: Captain’s Table
I have this habit of not researching restaurants before I visit a new area to enjoy the experience of dining without bias. This is a decent breakfast spot, but I would recommend deferring to the Captain’s Table for a leisurely lunch or dinner and ordering a local seafood dish. Though the service is not fast, the staff is very kind and takes good care of their customers. If the weather is warm, grab a seat on the patio and enjoy the sun.
Sights: Chatham Lighthouse and Beach
If the weather is good, skip the shops and head for the Chatham Lighthouse and Beach to soak up the sun. The parking lot can be aggressive and has a limit of 30 minutes, so try to find parking elsewhere and walk if you plan to spend the afternoon on the beach.
The lighthouse station was established in 1808 and was the second lighthouse built on The Cape. As it is still an active station, tours may vary, so check here to see when tours are offered during your stay. If not, snap some pictures of the property and walk to the beach across the street.
The beach is spectacular, with soft sand and clear water. The channel is active with boats and seals, so if you go swimming, be aware of motorists and sharks that are known to lurk in the water. The beach is quiet in the fall, so bring a blanket or chair and enjoy.
Lunch: Chatham Pier Fish Market
Because the seafood is fresh and picnic tables > white table cloths any day.
Stopping at Chatham Pier Fish Market is must for gleaning insight into the local fishing industry and for tasting the freshest seafood you may ever eat. The pier is a raised platform designed for sightseers to watch as fishing boats deliver their fresh catch. Flocks of gulls hover above and wait for a chance to scoop up some of the catch while seals wait below for any creatures to fall back in the water. After seeing the fresh seafood come off the boats, take a short walk to the Chatham Pier Fish Market to taste it! Browse the menu pasted to the side of the building, then enter the market to order. Grab a picnic table, a few beverages (or BYOB) and wait for you order to appear through the pick-up window outside.
You can’t leave here without trying the fried whole clam basket, featuring fresh briny clams encased in a golden fried batter. If you have a large appetite, or enough mouths, order one of everything to get a complete sampling of the local fare.
A perfect weekend getaway during the summer or fall, make sure to add Chatham to your list of places to visit on The Cape!