In quaint Cape Cod, Chatham is arguably the leader of the pack when it comes to beachside New England charm. The town is populated with friendly year-round residents (many of them commercial fishermen) who have deep roots in their town: Chatham's first colonist arrived in 1656 and his descendants still make up a sizable portion of the townsfolk. Overfishing has begun to wreak havoc on local industry, but visitor spending has helped keep the town afloat.
Chatham juts out south from the Cape's "elbow," with long stretches of beach grass and gorgeous views. It has six major saltwater beaches that face the Atlantic and Nantucket Sound, some with calm, shallow water that's perfect for kids. There are also long stretches of wildlife refuges, parks, ponds, and coves for those looking to enjoy the outdoor beauty of the northern coast.
Chatham's main street is very pedestrian-friendly. There are plenty of shops, museums, a theater, a famous summer baseball team, and of course, plenty of options for top-notch seafood. Visitors around for the Fourth of July can catch their famous parade and town-wide celebration.
Most hotels in Chatham are smaller and located off the beach, which puts visitors closer to the charming restaurants, shops and museums in the town center. Rates are typically higher than in surrounding towns, so be prepared to pay extra for ocean views.