By Karin Burgess
Nantucket is one of New England’s most beautiful coastal retreats and one of my favorite Massachusetts destinations. There are a myriad of things to do on this charming island but if you want to explore it authentically and off the beaten track consider adding some of these gems to your itinerary.
Plan to stay for at the very least an overnight. More and you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of wide open beaches, ocean vistas, taste sea to table foods (can’t get any fresher), bike through moors, watch for whales and shop the cobblestone streets of Nantucket’s beyond charming little town. Adventure ahead!
Ferry: Nantucket Steamship Authority and Hy-Line from Hyannis, Mass.
Airplane: Nantucket Airport
The Nantucket Hotel is a family friendly hotel that will pick you up at the ferry in an antique shuttle. Kid’s activities on the premises (day and night) keep youngsters engaged so parents can enjoy some R&R.
B&B’s abound on the island. Here are a few of my favorites.
21 Broad Street is a fun, chic, and urban B&B in the heart of Nantucket. 21broadhotel.com 508-228-4749
Seven Sea Street Inn is beautifully decorated, cozy B&B with an old time feeling set in a newer building.
Set on the outskirts of town (quick walk in), Centerboard Inn is stylish and fresh.
Handlebar Café is an unhurried oasis serving delicious coffee. If you have to check your email, you can get it done here in hip style.
Lemon Press Nantucket serves up healthy, fresh cold pressed raw juices.
Breakfast at Fog Island Café. Their fluffy buttermilk pancakes with real maple syrup are highly recommended.
Walter’s Seafood Market in the Straight Wharf Fish Store is the place for the freshest lobster rolls possible at lunchtime. Take them outside to eat on the dock. Ice cream after.
4 Harbor Square 508-228-1095
Tucked away in town, Center Street Bistro is a small café with huge portions, flavorful fresh food and modest prices.
At Slip 14 on Straight Wharf you’ll find great seafood at modest prices right on the wharf.
Ok not off the beaten track but you must Walk Historic Downtown Nantucket. Tony boutiques and unique shops line cobblestone streets. This shopping district is very special. Be sure to save time to stroll the busy wharves to see fishing boats and yachts come summer. Sunken Ship has good Nantucket memorabilia. Hit up Aunt Leah’s for fresh fudge. A renovated theater features current films.
Visit Siasconset. Take the local shuttle service, the WAVE, head out of town, going east. Walk along a bluff that stands 100′ above the water’s edge (begins at 27 Bank Street), on a town right of way. Look for the dramatic erosion and historic summer mansions that are now too close to the edge to inhabit. Ice cream at Sconset Market.
Hit the water on one of Shearwater Excursions’ adventure cruises, a long time island favorite. The fun loving crew knows Nantucket and its natural world inside out. Choose a coastal clamming excursion, seal/whale watch tour or spectacular sunset cruise.
Nantucket Bike Tours offers customized bike tours through town, out on the moors, or even to a brewery!
Nantucket Walkabout with Peter Brace offers 7 unique, undiscovered nature walks through the many diverse areas of the island.
The Maria Mitchell Aquarium packs a lot of marine life into a small space. Go in the mornings to see them feeding the fish.
Madaket Millie’s requires a cab ride/drive outside town but it’s truly worth it. Go on the early side, just before 6:00, if you don’t want to wait. Fun drinks and tacos with a Mexican flair.
Jetties Beach’s beachside restaurant has a playground, lush sand beach and a place to eat and drink (not fast food). Kids can play within sight while parents enjoy sunset and cocktails.
If you don’t mind a picnic, head on over to Sayles Seafood which offers seafood dinners to go: fried clams, lobster, (and just about any type of seafood cooked to order. Chicken for kids). Carry your dinner to the beach right across the street and enjoy the view.
Tip: Be sure to bring these Nantucket visit essentials to make the most of your visit:
Sweater or fleece for cool evenings
Spread to picnic on
Sneakers for walking or biking
Flip flops for sandy places