Ask any Cape Codder which season is their favorite and the likely response will be fall, when there are far fewer people yet most restaurants and hotels are still open. With the sun sitting lower in the sky, the light that bathes the Cape in autumn lends an almost ethereal quality to the beaches and, because it’s surrounded by water, the Cape tends to stay warm well into November.
Check in to Chatham Bars Inn, your exquisite home-away-from-home for the weekend. Built in the era of the great Victorian waterfront resort, CBI retains much of its charm – the lobby is like stepping back in time – yet this hotel has its foot very firmly in the 21st century. Rooms are elegantly outfitted in soothing seaside tones. An onsite spa and two restaurants (a third, the Beach House, is seasonal) may make it difficult to venture out, but there is much to explore in town. After enjoying a sunset cocktail on the gracious veranda at the hotel, head to the Chatham Squire for a relaxing meal in casual surroundings. Local seafood and classic New England dishes are on the menu as is creative pub food. Should the mood strike, head over to the bar afterward and take in the display of local color, or enjoy an after-dinner drink at The Sacred Cod back at the hotel.
If weather permits, get out and enjoy the natural beauty of Chatham with a lengthy walk at Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. Take the trail all the way out to the tip for a view of Stage Harbor Lighthouse. You’ll be ogling views of the ocean, and quite possibly seals, all along the way. Should the weather not cooperate, the shops of downtown Chatham will prove irresistible. Must-visits include Yankee Ingenuity for a wildly-eclectic mix of art, home décor items and jewelry, Ducks in the Window for all things rubber ducky, Puritan Cape Cod for those who wish to effortlessly emulate the Cape Cod look, and Chatham Candy Manor for homemade fudge and chocolates. Get the chocolate-dipped pretzels; trust us. For a leisurely lunch with cocktails head to the Impudent Oyster. For a burger and a beer, it’s the Red Nun (more local color!). Back at the inn, give yourself permission to nap or partake of the spa. Dinner options abound in Chatham. Pisces, whose chef/owner was featured in our Chatham episode, Del Mar Bistro and Bistro on Main are all great choices for outstanding cuisine without an uptight attitude.
Check out of the hotel – perhaps after enjoying coffee out on the veranda – and plan on hitting a couple of landmarks on your way out of town. Within a stone’s throw of the inn is the famed Chatham Fish Pier. Take in the views of what was once the very end of Nauset Outer Beach, now an island, and the Chatham fishing fleet. If there happens to be a boat unloading at the pier, keep your eyes peeled for seals. They know those boats carry their favorite food – fish – and follow the boats into the harbor. Further up Shore Road is Chatham Light, part of an active U.S. Coast Guard Station, and Lighthouse Beach. As you head out of town, stop in at Chatham Filling Station for breakfast. The Filling Station Breakfast Sandwich, with eggs, avocado, bacon jam and cheddar on a homemade biscuit, is the stuff of legend. If you opted for a lengthy walk at Lighthouse Beach, add an order of Loaded Home Fries, topped with cheddar, bacon, sour cream and scallions, for extra fortification.
Photos by Jennifer Kain DeFoe