View from the deck of an Ocean View room in the Main Inn at Chatham Bars Inn, Chatham.
While the rest of the world flocks to Cape Cod for the summer months, local New Englanders know the beauty that Cape Cod beholds in the off-season.
Snow-covered beach walks, hot chocolate strolls, slow-roasted dinners, after-dinner drinks by the fire in the bar. These are the things that make Cape Cod worthy of a winter escape. Add to this the discounted hotel and resort rates, and relatively empty stores and restaurants (read: no waiting in long lines or reservations necessary), and you've got yourself a great weekend getaway at a fraction of the price.
I took a quick trip to Chatham this weekend to check things out. Yes, it was cold. Yes, it was quiet. Yes, it was perfect. And shouldn't every day, regardless of the weather, start with a walk on the beach?
A few things you should know before you go:
- Cape Cod is unvisited in the winter months, which means a lot of shopping and restaurants you would frequent in-season are shut down from November - February or March. This is your time to try something new. Make a reservation somewhere you would normally have a hard time getting into during the high-tourist season and enjoy a leisurely dinner.
- Regardless of when you visit the Cape, the beach will be hard to resist. Enjoy a morning or afternoon walk in the snow-sprinkled sand. You'll see plenty of people walking their dogs, going for a jog or taking photos. Bundle up and join the fun.
- While many bars and restaurants are open, the hours are varied to accommodate to the slower season. Call ahead before you go to make sure your favorite hole-in-the-wall bar is open or that the restaurant you want to dine in is accepting reservations.
- The nice thing about visiting the Cape off-season is the opportunity for more hotel amenities, like easy upgrades, thanks to low occupancy. However, low occupancy means there might be fewer staff on call, so be patient. Just kick back and relax.
Here are a few photos from my weekend visit to Chatham:
After your leisurely dinner at STARS, head into the dessert lounge for after-dinner drinks and desserts. The lounge features a "chefs-table" scenario, so you can watch the pastry team whip up something sweet.
It might be cold, but the sun is shining and that's all that matters. Bundle up and head out for a beach walk. Even though it was in single-digit temperatures, the Chatham beaches were frequented by dog walkers, photographers and joggers.
Readers: What's your favorite off-season Cape Cod activity?
Check out more great winter activities in New England.
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