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“In My Footsteps: Chatham”
Review of Chatham

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Cape Cod, Mass.
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
12 helpful votes
“In My Footsteps: Chatham”
Reviewed 9 March 2010

Chatham packs a large amount of beauty and history into a relatively small area. Still a very vibrant fishing village, Chatham’s loyalty to its heritage is a big part of its charm. Its Main Street is filled with quaint family style shops and is the most accessible for pedestrians on the Cape.
The first place that should be visited during a trip to Chatham is Chatham Light(left) and North Beach. North Beach is located near the end of Main Street and is a continuation of Nauset Beach in Orleans. This beach has its own incredible story as up until 1987 the beach had been known as a ‘barrier beach’ and had continued down toward Monomoy Island. A huge winter storm caused a break in the beach directly opposite of Chatham Light which eventually widened and caused the loss of seven North Beach cottages. A second break occurred in 2007 a little further north and the initial break has now widened to nearly two miles. It is a fascinating scene of the ocean versus the land; the beaches can be observed easily from the elevated parking lot which also has three sets of powerful binoculars to aide in viewing.
After checking out the sea’s ravaging of North Beach one only has to turn around to view perhaps the most popular spot in Chatham and that is Chatham Light. A part of the Coast Guard station, Chatham Light was originally built in 1877 but the station itself was established in 1808 under orders from President Thomas Jefferson. The first Chatham Light station consisted of two lighthouses for 115 years until one of the lights was moved and placed in Eastham where it became Nauset Light. The original Chatham Light lantern and lens were removed in 1969 and are currently on display at the historic Atwood House a short drive away on Stage Harbor Road. The lighthouse is not open to the public except for special tours during the warmer months, but the view of this Cape landmark is spectacular from just beyond the fence as well.
Located down Bridge Street is Stage Harbor, a spot originally visited in 1606 by French explorer Samuel de Champlain. However, he did not choose to settle there due to conflicts with the local Monomoy Indians. Stage Harbor Lighthouse(above) sits at the mouth of Chatham Harbor. Built in 1880 this lighthouse was deactivated in 1933 and does not have a lantern top anymore. It is viewable across the harbor opening from the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, or via a mile long hike across Hardings Beach. It is the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge that was the next spot I visited.
Located a short drive from Chatham Light down Morris Island Road, this 7,600 acre wildlife sanctuary is filled with natural beauty and is perfect for sightseeing and school field trips. There is a trail which leads along the high cliffs and has a great view of the northern portion of Monomoy Island(right). There is a weather radar station behind a fence along the trail as well. There is a set of stairs which leads down to the beach and seemingly the end of the civilized world. Once you start to walk south there is complete solitude but for the occasional passing of small fishing boats into the harbor. It is a very relaxing walk as the rushing waves and salty breezes seem to melt away any conscious thoughts. The walk south along the beach ends with a panoramic view of Monomoy Island which at low tide sits only a few hundred feet offshore.
Monomoy Island stretches eight miles south from Chatham and was originally owned by the government during World War II. The Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge was founded in 1944 and took over control of the island. Long before it was designated for wildlife refuge there actually was a colony on Monomoy complete with a tavern for sailors at present day Hospital Pond. There are no paved roads and no human inhabitants on Monomoy but ferries will take visitors along its shores in the hopes of spotting seals. The only proof of a human presence on the island is the historic Monomoy Point Light which was built in 1849. It is part of the National Register of Historic Places and the keeper’s house still stands and is used as a guest house today.
Located west of Chatham Light, down Rt. 28 sits a lesser known but equally fascinating piece of modern history. Forest Beach in and of itself seems like just another beautiful beach with a great view of Monomoy Island and Stage Harbor Light, but it is what lies behind the beach in the marshy area that is surprising. There are four cement pillars in a square pattern out in the marsh that represent the remains of Guglielmo Marconi’s Chatham radio tower(left). The tower once stood 300 feet tall until the land was bought by the town. The Forest Beach overlook located behind the marsh area has a plaque with a detailed history of this little known Marconi site.
Chatham mixes all of what makes Cape Cod great into a small area. You can go from a leisurely stroll on Main Street to the history of Chatham Light and Monomoy Island all within a short drive. The ‘elbow’ of the Cape has something for everyone and it needs to be circled on any visitor’s itinerary. Do not rush, take your time to enjoy it, the spectacular Chatham Bars Inn resort can make a great trip into a dream vacation. Whether it’s a trip or vacation you will love your time in Chatham. Have fun and happy traveling!

Directions: Chatham Light/North Beach: Head east on Rt. 28, take 2nd exit at traffic circle to Main Street. Follow Main Street to parking lot, beach is on left, lighthouse is on right.

Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge: Take Rt. 28 east, take 2nd exit at traffic circle to Main Street. Bear left on to Morris Island Rd., continue onto Tisquantum Rd. Wildlife Refuge is the 1st left.

Forest Beach: Take Rt. 28 heading east into Chatham. Turn left onto Forest Beach Road.

Hardings Beach: Take Rt. 28 east into Chatham, turn right at Barn Hill Rd. Take a slight right at Hardings Beach Rd., Stage Harbor Light is located east, a mile walk out on the beach.

Helpful?
4 Thank Christopher S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Alexandria, VA
2 reviews
2 helpful votes
“Fun for all - young and old”
Reviewed 2 November 2009

After years away, I finally went back to Cape Cod for a relaxing week's vacation. There are an abundance of options for lodging - ranging from hotel/motel rooms to cape-style cottages - depending on your need. We were able to catch a bit of relaxation, but also stayed on-the-go for the majority of the trip. Chatham offers opportunities for all. Quaint Main Street is a must for shoppers or anyone just wanting to people watch and possibly do some window browsing. Candy stores and ice cream shoppes are scattered about for anyone with a sweet tooth. Restuarants, many with a great seafood slant, are spread across the town, but you can also grab something fresh from the sea food market and whip up your own feast. The recently re-done trail will delight hikers and bikers, and there are several beach options for those wanting to enjoy the sun. The Friday night concert is a long-standing tradition and great for kids or anyone who wants to enjoy some outdoor bandstanding. Finally, if you can't get your fill of things in Chatham, its just a quick roadtrip to the culturually exciting Provincetown or winery at Truro or a ferry boat to Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket.

Helpful?
Thank jadacrush
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Falmouth, Massachusetts
Level 6 Contributor
114 reviews
41 helpful votes
“Lovely Chatham, Mass”
Reviewed 8 October 2009

We just spent a week in Chatham, Ma in September and it was lovely!

Best coffee = Chatham Cafe (though if you're in Orleans, you must go to the Hot Chocolate Sparrow-wow!).
Best Restaurant/Food = The Impudent Oyster ($$$)
Best Local feel = The Squire

We love the sweet downtown and the beaches are so perfect for walking on, digging in the sand, swimming...

Ah!

Helpful?
Thank vtles
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City
Level 4 Contributor
28 reviews
79 helpful votes
“Chatham shopping--not worth the trip”
Reviewed 14 August 2006

This comment isn't intended to discourage you from visiting Chatham, but we just wanted to share our experience so you might not waste part of a day if it's not your kinda place. We had heard great things about shops along Main Street in Chatham from reviews online and friends who visited, so we took an afternoon trip there. We regret wasting a half day on this frustrating trip. Traffic was beyond horrible and it was nearly impossible to find a parking space. The streets were mobbed with pedestrian shoppers, making it even harder to drive and get around. When we finally parked, there were too many people in the shops to make it a pleasant experience. Many of the shops are overpriced and on the snobby side. It also felt like the shoppers in the area were on parade, showing off their finest resort wear. Mind you, we're from New York City so we're used to crowds and high prices and snooty folks--but we go on vacation to get away from that. I'd rather have stayed on the beach, and you may want to do the same.

Helpful?
3 Thank zelphie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Brockton, MA
Level 4 Contributor
26 reviews
8 helpful votes
“Loved the Monomy Island Seal Tour”
Reviewed 8 July 2004

We took the Monomy Island Seal Tour with the RipRyder, and it was the highlight of our week. You get right up next to over 300 seals, so close you can hear them growl!! We also took the option to be dropped off at South Beach, a beautiful stretch of sand we shared with only a handfull of people. If you like the beach and wildlife this is a must.

Helpful?
2 Thank Karla221
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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