There's something special about places you arrive at by Ferry, it's as if your vacation immediately starts at boarding. And there is something special about Nantucket! Sure it's crowded in the summer, and some may say a bit preppy, but go ahead and picture--grey shingle houses, rows of hydrangeas, lighthouses on the coast, rolling sand dunes, and miles and miles of spectacular beaches…Picture Postcard Summer.
If it rains, or you want to take a break from the beach, spend an hour or two at the Whaling Museum. Admittedly, I initially rolled my eyes when a friend suggested going, but I left the museum very impressed. The museum is small but very well done, and the history of Nantucket is fascinating. Even if you only go for the short movie and to see the view from the top balcony, it is worth it.
Want to go fishing? Corey Gamill at Nantucket Fishing Charters can take you out for half or whole days in search of strippers and bluefish, light tackle or on the fly.
Renting a house and feel like staying in for dinner? Order your Lobsters, scallops and homemade clam chowder from Sayle's Seafood, this retail fish market also does ready made clambakes plus all the fix-ins.Head over toBartlett Farm for fresh locally grown vegetables and fruits if you want to cook or just stock the fridge. This is the best market on the island! You will definitely see Bartlett Farm tomatoes on most restaurant menus in town!
Tennis anyone? Jetties Beach has public courts; call and book an hour for $20 for singles, $25 for doubles.
Go to Young’s Bike Shop to rent bikes and even cars for your stay on the island. Make sure you book cars in advance during the busy summer months.
Stay: Overlooking Nantucket Harbor and within walking distance to town, check into the historic White Elephant Hotel or their sister property White Elephant Village. The Wauwinet, a Relais & Chateaux property, is a charming, upscale beachfront inn located on the quiet northeast side of the island, approximately a 15-20 minute drive to town. Want to be right in the center of it all? Hip and stylish newcomer, the Greydon House has everyone talking. Boasting an ideal location on Broad Street with accents reflecting the island’s long whaling history and a fine dining restaurant from Michelin-starred chef Marcus Ware. (Last seen at New York’s Aureole) The rooms, decorated by N.Y’s design duo of Roman and Williams, are lush and cozy with a nod to old Nantucket.
Rent: If you are going for a week or more consider renting a house through Keri Kalman at Congdon and Coleman Real Estate.
Up with the Sun: Beat the crowds at Black Eyed Susan’s. This is one of my favorite places on the island for breakfast and dinner, and judging by the constant lines, I'm not the only one. Think ‘hole in the wall’ with inventive and contemporary food. Order one of the egg scrambles; I can never decide between the Thai or the Vegetarian Pesto. Breakfast starts at 7am if you really want to make the most of your day! Another grub option: stop at The Green, a few minutes outside of town, either before or after your bike ride. While this local spot offers a few picnic tables, The Green is typically a takeout place. This restaurant is great for healthy, organic smoothies and juices, delicious breakfast sandwiches, and even bagels if you want to carb up. We love the lunchtime wraps and burritos - and with vegan, gluten free, and meat options offered, everyone can be happy! Alternatively grab a quick juice or smoothie at Nativ Made to take along on your bike ride.
Up with the Sun: Beat the crowds at Black Eyed Susan’s. This is one of our favorite places on the island for breakfast and dinner, and judging by the constant lines, we’re not the only ones. Think ‘hole in the wall’ with inventive and contemporary food. Order one of the egg scrambles; we can never decide between the Thai or the Vegetarian Pesto. Breakfast starts at 7 am if you want to make the most of your day! Another grub option: stop at The Green, a few minutes outside of town, either before or after your bike ride. While this local spot offers a few picnic tables, The Green is typically a take out place. This restaurant is ideal for healthy, organic smoothies and juices, delicious breakfast sandwiches, and even bagels if you want to carb up. We love the lunchtime wraps and burritos - and with vegan, gluten free, and meat options offered, everyone can be happy! Alternatively, grab a quick juice or smoothie at Nativ Made to take along on your bike ride.
Get Rolling: Jump on your bike for a scenic ride out to Madaket Beach. A well-maintained bike path will lead you past ponds, moors, and when you literally can’t go any further, you will be greeted by the changing coastline of Madaket. There may be a small hill or two on the way, but this ride is easy and mostly flat - so no excuses! Another option is to bike out to Sconset, a slightly longer (8 miles) but equally pretty ride.
Recipe Included: Take a cooking class at the new Nantucket Culinary Center offering a broad range of courses for children and adults. Stop by their ground floor restaurant, the Corner Table Café for a morning coffee or afternoon salad or sandwich.
Shop: It's always fun to spend an hour or two roaming the cobblestone streets of downtown Nantucket and checking out some of the boutique shops. Some of our favorites: Nantucket Natural Oils for customized fragrance, upscale designers at Perch, Erica Wilson for unique jewelry and clothes, Peter Beaton for wicker baskets, hats, and classic sailor shirts, and Murray's Toggery Shop, where you can get a pair of Nantucket reds! Don’t miss The Skinny Dip, and Joey Wolffer over on Old South Wharf.
Pick Up: Get lunch at Provisions to take to the beach. This popular place is right near the ferry on Straight Wharf and usually has a line, but it's definitely worth the wait. If you’re in a rush, you can always call your order in ahead. These are really good sandwiches - We like the Caprese, but the ‘Turkey Terrific’ has lots of fans! Don't forget to grab a bag of Cape Cod Chips. Something Natural is another favorite sandwich stop, less gourmet perhaps, but equally good.
Rainy day Blues: Local friends tell us they love lunch at the bar of the Greydon House, more casual than the restaurant, but with excellent food. Perfect for a day off from the beach.
Beach Time: There are many great beaches on Nantucket, but we’re partial to Ladies and Cisco Beach. Both are perfect for swimming and sunbathing, but if you want to surf or stand up paddle-board head to Cisco. Both beaches feel more local than Surfside or Jettie’s, plus they’re both close to our next stop-- the Brewery!
Happy Hour: You can't help but have a good time at Cisco Brewery, an actual operating brewery, winery, and distillery. It’s a mix of young, old, locals, visitors and even dogs who all gather in the late afternoon to grab a drink and listen to live music. The dress code is casual, whether Vineyard Vines, tie dye, or beach attire. Order Cisco's flagship micro brew, the Whale’s Tale Pale Ale, or their unique blueberry vodka lemonade and wash it down with some oysters or fish tacos. Most days the music starts at 4:30, but check the website for daily events and food truck listings.
Sunset: It's hard to choose between great photo ops at Brant Point Lighthouse or a Bloody Mary at Galley Beach Restaurant, but we’re partial to ending our day at Steps Beach, located between Dionis and Jetties beach. The long descent through the dunes is beautiful, and the beach is serene and picturesque. We can’t think of a better way to end the day; a bottle of rose would be perfect here.
Dinner: For a small island Nantucket has seriously good food! Hands down our favorite restaurant on the island is The Nautilus, serving creative Asian fusion cuisine. Must orders include the scallion pancakes, crispy calamari, tuna poke and the Dan Dan noodles. The Nautilus accepts only in person, the day of reservations in the summer. At Cru, it’s a party every night with a scenic spot right on the marina. One friend raves about their lobster rolls, expensive, but she claims “the best ever” with other go to dishes including the chicken under a brick and oysters that were just plucked out of the water all washed down with Cru’s own sourced Rose. Book a table at Ventuno, formerly 21 Federal, for delicious, upscale Italian fare. Station 21 and The Proprietors Bar and Table menus are globally inspired, with small plates meant for sharing. If you’re looking for contemporary American, try Town, The Straight Wharf or Dune. While American Seasons is a heavier meal, dining on the rustic patio is a great way to spend an evening. No reservations? Two island favorites, Black Eyed Susan’s and Lola 41, like The Nautilus, have a same day reservations policy.
Ones to Watch: New this season, the Club Car resembling a modern California diner has an interesting menu, but the early word is that service is uneven and it’s noisy. Sandbar at Jetties Beach is a welcome addition for families for lunch at the beach or an early dinner, but we hear it needs some time to work out its kinks. We are looking forward to trying Company of the Cauldron, a beloved Nantucket staple, now run by Joseph Keller, a veteran in the industry from famed French Laundry and Per Se, which he ran with his brother Thomas Keller. The menu is now farm-to table, but Keller retained the previous three-course prix-fixe and set seatings.
Indulge: You can't go to Nantucket without visiting (at least once) the Juice Bar, serving ice cream in their famous homemade waffle cones. Yes, the lines stretch down the block, and it can seem like forever until you finally make it in the screen door to order, but it's summer. What's the rush?
Late Night: If you still have energy, head over to the Chicken Box, a well loved local hangout and a great place to hear live music. Check the calendar to see who is playing during your stay, and be sure to get tickets on line, in advance, as shows often sell out.