Culture / Travel

Living Your Best Coastal Grandmother Life In Cape Cod — Chatham Makes For a Charming Less Traveled Base

From a Quaint Downtown to the Dreamy Chatham Bars Inn to Beach Drive Power, This Is No Ordinary Vacation Getaway

BY // 09.30.22

A novice to Massachusetts’ Northeastern coast, I arrived at Cape Cod’s Chatham Bars Inn, a perch on the elbow of the enclave, to the smell of the salty Atlantic ocean air and the squeak of seagulls. In hopes of living my best Coastal Grandmother life, I was ready to embrace local luxuries like lobster rolls, charming town streets and picturesque beach views. 

The Inn is perched atop 25 acres of oceanfront along Chatham Harbor. Its 216 guest rooms, cottages and suites  are spread out amidst the sprawling hillsides decked with hydrangeas and Adirondack chairs overlooking the cobalt water. Built as a hunting lodge in 1914, the 108-year-old inn recently underwent a $100 million renovation.

A welcome lunch complete with a piping hot bowl of clam chowder and fresh caught lobster in a roll at The Veranda, the hotel’s patio restaurant with sweeping views of the harbor, turned into the coastal kickoff I’d been waiting for. 

Dinner at Stars, the Inn’s more formal restaurant, proved the food excellence doesn’t stop at the Cape Cod classics. Stars uses local ingredients to create innovative iterations of old world dishes. Executive chef Anthony Cole went as far as finding an old menu in the basement of the hotel from the 1930s and recreating its spirit through a tasting menu based off it. 

Locally farmed food comes easy for the hotel. The Chatham Bars Inn Farm and Farm Stand boasts eight acres of 125 varieties of vegetables and produces more than 100,000 pounds of fresh produce a year. For a true farm-to-table experience, Chatham Bars Inn even offers the chance to eat Farm Dinners amidst the rows of produce.

The seafood served at Chatham Bars Inn is just as fresh and local. The Chatham Pier Fish Market sits right next door to the hotel, with boatloads of local fishermen’s hauls coming in every day. Some of that seafood almost goes straight from the dock to Chatham diners’ plates.

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2-Clambake pit with Chef Chatham Bars Inn
The culinary team at Chatham Bars Inn prioritizes fresh local seafood.

A Cape Cod Less Traveled

With an entire cape worth of activities available, Chatham Bars Inn is a great base for unique adventures.

The hotel’s fleet of boats stand at the ready to embark on sea adventures ranging from sailing and fishing to seal and whale watching.  

Then there’s the new Lexus Ultimate Beach Drive Experience which takes the beach day to another level. You hit the largely untouched Cape Cod National Seashore with hotel staff in tow making sure your every need is met.

On the morning of our beach exploration day, I climbed into a brand new Lexus GX460 with all the outdoorsy bells and whistles, including a hard to come by over-sand-vehicle certification. Led by our adventure guide, my husband drove us up to the Northernmost point of the cape to a remote stretch of beach. The car’s strength shined, taking us over rugged sand dunes, passing historic lighthouses until we reached the water and found our set up, complete with everything we’d need for a dreamy beach picnic.

Chatham Bars inn Beach
Chatham Bars Inn is an aspiring coastal grandmother’s dream.

We sat sipping local brews in beach chairs, waving hello as hundreds of seals, only a few feet away, popped up to greet us. 

After my days spent adventuring, I settled into the cozy Spa at Chatham Bars Inn. A Nirvana Stress Relief Massage melted any tension away with a mix of aromatherapy and heat focused rebalancing techniques. It all ending with a heavenly peppermint infused neck massage.

Charming Chatham

The town of Chatham’s quaint main street is just a five minute walk from the hotel’s front steps. This is an inviting village, with local shops and restaurants lining brick sidewalks straight out of a romantic movie. You almost literally can’t miss Candy Manor, Chatham’s candy shop of dreams. The aroma of the freshly made chocolates, toffees and sugar coated candies waft miles down road.  

For a profound dose of old school New England, The Chatham Squire warmly welcomes tourists and charismatic locals alike with casual seaside food like clams on the half shell and buttery lobster rolls.  A stool at Chatham Squire’s lively bar is like a boardroom where the world’s problems can be solved with good conversation and a cold glass of Squire Lager.

The scene gets livelier as the night goes on with live music stretching into the wee hours. Of course, you may just want to go back to your lovely room at the inn.

On the final evening of this getaway, my husband and I sat in the library off the lobby in front of a crackling fireplace sipping cocktails, both furiously searching on our smartphones for cute cottages in the area. Yes, this is a place where you’re liable to want to stay awhile — and return to again.

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