Laying claim to musician and “American Idol” judge Harry Connick Jr., Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum , and a host of Boston elite as notable second homeowners, this beautiful seaside town on the “elbow” of Cape Cod is conveniently isolated.
Home prices are high. In fact, a comparable house just over the line in Harwich can be as much as 20 percent less. You can choose to live in a variety of neighborhoods, including South Chatham, where the communities funnel to the beaches on Nantucket Sound; the Old Village Historic District; on Shore Road; or somewhere along the four premier bodies of water that allow access to the ocean: Ryder’s Cove, Mill Pond, Oyster Pond, and Crows Pond.
The community itself offers numerous cultural experiences: two live theaters, a recently revived downtown cinema, an art center, galleries, and a number of museums, including one dedicated to the most famous family in town, the Nickersons. And the summer boasts a flurry of events, from weekly art shows and town band concerts at Kate Gould Park to tented gatherings to raise money for charity.
If guests visit, they can choose from an array of accommodations, from the swanky Chatham Bars Inn to various B&Bs. Even though the fisheries have fallen on hard times, Chatham still boasts a fleet that heads out each morning and a working pier where tourists can gawk at the fish delivered in the afternoon and seals looking for a treat.
BY THE NUMBERS
Number of shark attacks in Chatham in 2013-14 (as of press time)
Even though there have been numerous sightings and the local media have descended upon the town, there hasn’t been a single attack on a human. (We can’t speak for the seals.)
Number of major islands in the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge (North Monomoy Island, South Monomoy Island, and Minimoy)
Monomoy, with its ever-changing coastline, was its own community as early as 1710 and featured a tavern popular with sailors. It’s deserted now, save for the migratory birds and other wildlife, and the fly fishing in its flats is world-class.
The median age of a Chatham full-time resident
On the Cape, only Orleans is higher, but not by much.
Cost per night of an ocean-view master suite at Chatham Bars Inn during the July Fourth weekend.
PROS & CONS
While some towns boast sand on Cape Cod Bay to the north and Nantucket Sound to the south, only Chatham has beaches not far from one another facing east on the Atlantic Ocean or south on the sound. Most have limited parking, however, including the town’s most popular beach, Chatham Lighthouse.
Route 137 is the main way into town from Route 6, which can be frustrating at the height of the summer season. There are a few shortcuts that all the locals know, but even they get jammed up.
Chatham has a quaint, walkable downtown with a bike trail that connects to the Cape Cod Rail Trail, which goes all the way to Wellfleet. Downtown offers a range of shops, from the mom-and-pop variety to the swanky chain (In the Pink, Jack Wills, J.McLaughlin), as well as a range of restaurants.
Good luck getting a town mooring. The waiting lists, posted on the town website for all to witness, are usually about 10 years long.