Do you want to experience a quintessential New England vacation with your family? Then you have to check out Chatham Bars Inn, a family-friendly luxury resort in Cape Cod, Massachusetts! In this blog post I’ll cover the accommodations, the pools, the beach, the activities, the dining, the spa, and the kids club. Many thanks to Chatham Bars Inn for hosting us!
Chatham Bars Inn first opened in 1914 as a luxury hunting lodge for wealthy New Englanders. Today, it’s a full-service resort with over 200 rooms and suites, as well quite a few stand-alone cottages that are great if you’re traveling with a large party.
We stayed in a one-bedroom cottage suite in the Fairway Cottage. The living room has a working fireplace, a desk, a small dining nook by the window, and a pull-out sofa. There’s a vintage-style bathroom with a full-size soaking tub. And the bedroom has two queen beds and a walk-in closet.
Chatham Bars Inn has a gorgeous outdoor pool overlooking the ocean. The zero entry pool is great for infants and toddlers, but the other side of the pool, which is 8-feet-deep, is perfect for cannonballs. There’s a hot tub, and also a small wading pool for the little ones. The pool cabanas are really lovely, with a U-shaped sofa and two lounge chairs. Outside each cabana is a different carved wooden fish, which is a really fun and whimsical touch. And there’s a little Vineyard Vines store by the pool where you can go to stock up on all your preppy essentials!
The Kids Club
One of the things that I really loved about Chatham Bars Inn is its programming for kids.
Their Chatham Bars Inn Kids Crew program features a variety of innovative activities for kids aged 4 to 12, with an emphasis on outdoor fun!
Kids can go down to the fish pier to see the seals, or visit the Chatham fire department to see how firefighters work, or visit the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy to learn all about the local sharks in the area. There are also scavenger hunts, arts and crafts projects, and just fun games on the beach!
All the daytime activities are complimentary, though advanced reservations are recommended, since sessions fill up quickly. There are also evening programs that run from 5 pm to 8 pm each night, like pajama parties or bonfire bashes on the beach. These are $70 per child, and again, it’s best to book them in advance. There’s also an actual kids club on property for kids who prefer free play. But during our stay it hadn’t reopened yet.
The Kids Crew staff is phenomenal. The girls absolutely loved Caroline, who was their main companion throughout our stay. But they also had a lot of fun with Ryan and Nick, so shout-out to them too!
The Farm at Chatham Bars Inn
One really fun experience for families staying at Chatham Bars Inn is to visit the property’s 8-acre farm, just a short drive away. The farm produces well over 100,000 pounds and 125 varieties of vegetables, which are used in all the restaurants on the property. But locals get to enjoy this amazing produce too! There’s a seasonal farm stand open to the public April through December. The girls really enjoyed touring the farm, meeting the dogs, and they even got to practice their harvesting skills!
The Chatham Bars Inn Farm also offers farm-to-table dining experiences right in the middle of the fields. A 4-course dinner is served family style at outdoor tables surrounded by the farm’s fruits, vegetables and flowers with twinkling lights suspended above the dining area. We didn’t get to try one on this trip, but it’s definitely something you should look into if you’ll be staying at the property!
Chatham Bars Inn has a beautiful private quarter-mile long beach, situated along a cove called Aunt Lydia’s Cove. The water is very calm and swimmable because the nearby North Beach Island stops the bigger waves from coming through. The cabanas are really lovely, with two lounge chairs in the shade and two outside in the sun.
The girls had hours of fun on the beach. One of their favorite things was to look for snails and other small creatures at low tide. Caroline also taught them to look for jellyfish on the beach. The ones that were alive, they would carefully scoop into a bucket with a stick and return them to the water. The ones that were no longer alive, they would bury in the sand.
Chatham Bars Inn has a private dock on the beach and through their private fleet, they offer charters, cruises, fishing trips and family-friendly tours of nearby attractions.
We were originally scheduled to do a trip to North Beach Island. This is a sand barrier beach island which is protected by the Cape Cod National Seashore and it’s a beautiful place to enjoy a picnic lunch, so this is a great activity to add to your list if you’ll be staying at the property. Unfortunately the conditions weren’t great earlier in the day, so we ended up doing a boat ride in the early evening instead.
We got to see the Chatham Lighthouse and the many beautiful cottages overlooking the water. We also saw a whole lot of seals in the wild! It was particularly fun to see them lined up by the Chatham Fish Pier, hoping to scoop up some fish that escaped the fishing boats and nets.
If you’re going to stay at Chatham Bars Inn, you should definitely book an afternoon at their beautiful spa. Located in the same type of classic Cape Cod cottage as the rest of the buildings on property, the spa offers both indoor treatment rooms and outdoor treatment cabanas. Serge and I enjoyed a 60-minute Aroma Journey massage in one of the outdoor cabanas. You choose one of four different scented oils, and you have a light pressure massage that incorporates the healing benefits of aromatherapy. After your treatment you can enjoy the beautiful garden, as well as the outdoor relaxation pool and hot tub.
If you’re a serious spa enthusiast, you can even opt to book one of the property’s Spa Suites instead of the regular accommodations. Located right by the spa, these luxurious suites come with their own sauna, steam shower and hydrotherapy tub. And you have unlimited access to the spa’s private pool. But just note that you have to be 16 and over to stay at one of these, so they’re more suited for no-kids trips than a family vacation.
The property also has a gym, tennis courts, and you can play golf on the nearby Chatham Seaside Links course.
The property has two restaurants that are open year-round: Stars and Sacred Cod. There are also several dining locations that are open seasonally: Beach House Grill, The Veranda and Bayview Terrace.
Stars is the fine dining restaurant, and it’s also the primary restaurant for breakfast. For breakfast, you can opt to either do the buffet, or to order a la carte. Both options were great, but I highly recommend on at least one occasion ordering the caramelized banana brioche French toast from the a la carte menu. It comes with Nutella, toasted coconut, vanilla bean caramel, hazelnuts and whipped cream. It’s incredibly decadent, but it’s a signature dish that you absolutely need to try.
For dinner at Stars, some of our favorites were the Chatham oysters, the scallops appetizer, and the steak entree.
By the way, there’s a fireplace in Stars, and above it hangs an original Norman Rockwell painting. So that’s a really cool piece of Americana to check out when you’re dining here.
Sacred Cod is a more casual, tavern-style restaurant where we enjoyed burgers and beers. Coastal Encounter is a beer brewed especially for Chatham Bars Inn by Mayflower Brewing Company, which is a local craft beer microbrewery. So that’s a great one to try if you like a pale ale.
Beach House Grill
Beach House Grill is located right on the beach. We didn’t get a chance to dine in the restaurant itself, but all the food you order at the pool and beach comes from here.
The lobster roll was excellent, as you might imagine, and we enjoyed the cocktails too.
Two standout drinks are the Cape Rose Sangria and the Latitude 41, which features a one-of-a-kind tequila called El Tesoro Reposado that was created especially for the property.
The Veranda is, as the name suggests, located on the veranda of the main inn. You can enjoy beautiful views of Chatham Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean with breakfast, lunch or dinner. Some of our favorites here were the shrimp cocktail, the New England clam chowder, and the sweet & spicy fried chicken sandwich.
Bayview Terrace is a lovely outdoor lounge that’s a great place to grab a cocktail and some small bites. The sausage and broccoli rabe flatbread is excellent here.
After dinner, you can unwind in the main lodge’s cozy lounge. There’s a fireplace, a piano, chess and checkers tables, and even an antique music box that still works!
Okay, let’s talk about Covid safety at Chatham Bars Inn. This section will be very different from my past resort reviews, because all Covid restrictions in the state of Massachusetts were lifted in late May. That means that our stay at Chatham Bars Inn was probably the first one so far that felt like a return to normalcy.
The mask mandate in the state has been changed to a mask advisory, meaning that un-vaccinated people are encouraged to continue wearing face coverings, but it’s no longer mandatory. As of June 22, Massachusetts announced that 4.1 million residents had been fully vaccinated, which is about 68% of the eligible population. Massachusetts is in the top five states when it comes to full and partial vaccination rates, and well above the national average of 52%.
So all that said, most staff members and guests were not wearing masks. Both Serge and I are fully vaccinated, and during this trip Sean had already received her first shot. So we all felt very safe, especially since most of our time was spent outdoors.
Restrictions on large gatherings in Massachusetts were also lifted in late May, and during our stay we saw a pretty large wedding happening on the South Lawn of the property.
It’s great to see that the events business is making a big comeback this summer, since that’s such an important revenue source for many hotels and resorts.
About Carmen Sognonvi
Carmen Sognonvi is a luxury family travel content creator at Top Flight Family, named a top 10 family travel Instagram account by Time Out New York and Brit + Co. Her insights on travel have been featured in The Washington Post, INSIDER, Huffington Post, Wanderlust Travel Magazine, TravelPulse, HOTELS Magazine, and more. Carmen firmly believes that you can (and should) travel with your kids from a young age. She offers families practical solutions for travel, as well as tips on how to travel in luxury for less. She lives in New York City with her multiracial and multicultural family of four. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Click here to read Carmen's articles