A Bookworm’s Guide to Chatham, Cape Cod

It’s summer!  That means time for beach reads and ocean adventures.  I’ve compiled a list of my favorite things about a beach town near and dear to my heart: Chatham, Massachusetts on Cape Cod!  If you’ve never been to Chatham, I would highly recommend it for your next beach vacation.


Where to shop:

Ducks in the Window: this is without a doubt the most unique store I have ever been in.  It claims to be the World’s largest selection of rubber ducks – I have no idea how one would verify this but I’m down to take their word for it.  There is a duck for every occasion – there is a duck for occasions you probably never knew existed. I have spent way more hours in this store than I would have imagined possible but it seriously never gets old.

Processed with VSCO with n1 preset

Mahi Gold: is Chatham’s version of when-in-Rome.  This local company is best known for their fun printed dresses.  They’re bright, unique, and machine washable. If you’re like me and you like to wear your souvenirs, you’ve got to stop in here.


Chatham Cheese Company: the Chatham Cheese Company is off the beaten path – it’s a little removed from the central part of Main Street, but you must visit.  Cheese and wine are two of my favorite foods and this place is my version of heaven.  It has an incredible selection of cheeses, crackers, meats, and wines. If you like creamy cheeses, you have to try the Saint Angel.  It is one of my favorite things I’ve ever eaten.

Where to find books even though you undoubtedly brought them:

Yellow Umbrella Books: this tiny bookstore has been my favorite part of Chatham for the last twenty years.  If they don’t have the new release you’re looking for, they are happy to order it for you.  Meanwhile, you’re bound to find something you want to keep in their collection of both new and used books.  Their young adult selection is carefully curated – most of my childhood shelves are stacked with books from this store.  If you’re travelling with a teenager, let them spend some time browsing those shelves.

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Where the Sidewalk Ends:  honestly, any trip to Chatham ought to include both of these bookstores.  Both stores have completely unique inventories. Check out Where the Sidewalk Ends for some local tales – they have an extensive section dedicated to the Cape and the Ocean.  They also highlight local author Lisa Genova (Still Alice, Every Note Played) and have a larger selection of the classic beach reads.  They also have staff picks spread throughout the store.  

Processed with VSCO with c6 preset

Little Free Libraries:  Chatham is home to seven little free libraries!  You can find them on the map on the Little Free Library website.  Find a book, leave a book – you know the drill.

Processed with VSCO with c6 preset

What to do:

Vacations in Chatham should be filled with sunny days of beach reads and ocean views.  But, sometimes the weather doesn’t comply. If that’s the case, check out the Chatham Orpheum Theater.  The Orpheum was reopened in 2013 – it has two movie theaters, a cafe, and a bar.  Grab a glass of wine or a local beer and sit down for one of the two films now playing!

Make sure you check out the Chatham Lighthouse, located up the hill from Lighthouse Beach.  You can actually tour the interior of the Lighthouse – check out the tour schedule on the Chatham calendar here.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

If you’re looking to buy fresh fish, look no further than the Chatham Pier Fish Market.  Here you’ll find fresh fish, clam chowder, lobster rolls, and more.  Even if seafood isn’t your thing, it’s always fun to come down here to watch the fishing boats come in and the seals that follow them!

Processed with VSCO with c6 preset

What’s a beach vacation without a highly competitive game of mini golf?  While technically just outside of Chatham in Orleans, Cape Escape Adventure Golf has been my family’s go-to spot for years.

If you’re looking for something to do after dinner, check out the schedule for the local baseball team, the Chatham A’s!

Where to eat:

For breakfast & lunch:

The Corner Store: this is nonnegotiable.  If you go to Chatham, you must make at least two (or three or four) trips to the Corner Store.  Located a bit outside of the immediate downtown area, this is a local favorite. For breakfast, show up before 11 AM for a breakfast burrito or bowl filled with your choice of eggs, meat, and veggies.  You must get the potatoes and an iced hazelnut coffee. For lunch, they serve incredible sandwiches and burritos. I could eat here every meal of everyday and be perfectly happy.

Chatham Cookware:  looking for a light lunch downtown?  Hit up Chatham Cookware, located in the middle of main street.  Amazing sandwiches and homemade salads. This place is easy and delicious and they have a few outdoor tables in the back if you’re hoping to eat outside!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

For dinner:

Bluefins: if you love sushi, you definitely need to check out Bluefins on Main Street.  Their menu boasts a wide variety of food, but I would highly recommend the Korean Ribs to start and a smattering of their unique sushi rolls.

Processed with VSCO with ke1 preset

The Impudent Oyster: The Impudent Oyster has been a Chatham mainstay for as long as I can remember and I personally think it has the best clam chowder in town, though that is a hotly debated topic.  Call ahead to grab a reservation or come in for full dinner service at the bar – you won’t be disappointed.

For sweets:

If you have a sweet tooth, grab an ice cream cone at Emack and Bolio’s or Buffy’s or scoop up some candy at the Candy Manor (you have to try some of their fudge).

For later:

The Chatham Squire is the place to be at night! Or, if you’re down to venture out of Chatham, check out The Beachcomber in Wellfleet.

Processed with VSCO with au5 preset

Where to stay: 

Chatham is filled with hotels, inns, and b&bs – I think it’s pretty hard to go wrong, but here are some suggestions.  If you’re looking for a hotel, you can’t go wrong with the magical Chatham Bars Inn or Wequassett (which is technically in Harwich but is just across the bay from Chatham).  Also, dinner at Wequassett and breakfast at Chatham Bars Inn are highly recommended.  Inn-wise: there is no inn better located than the Wayside Inn or more charming than the adorable Old Harbor Inn.


Leave a Reply