By Yankee Magazine
May 24 2019
5 Reasons to Visit Nantucket This Summer
There’s no denying that the Massachusetts island of Nantucket is an especially picturesque summer destination, with its cobblestone streets and historic homes that transport visitors back to the whaling era. But there’s plenty of modern fun to be had too, at its pubs, restaurants, and boutique shops. And while the island can be easily traversed by bike, there are sandy beaches within walking distance of the ferry terminal, too.
These are our top five reasons to visit Nantucket this summer. For even more travel inspiration, check out episode 9 of season 3 of Weekends with Yankee, in which cohost Richard Wiese gets an insider’s tour of Nantucket from best-selling author Elin Hilderbrand.
Unlike at other Cape and Island destinations, the beaches on Nantucket are all open to the public. They’re also protected by Nantucket Sound, which means warmer water for those who aren’t big fans of the chilly Atlantic surf. There are many beaches to choose from, but here are a few of our favorites: Steps Beach (picturesque and sunset-worthy), Children’s Beach (family-friendly activities and shallow water), Cisco Beach (biggest waves, with surfing lessons available), Surfside Beach (a popular spot that boasts a snack bar), and Siasconset Beach (beautiful sunrises and quiet atmosphere).
You certainly won’t get hungry while visiting Nantucket, which has seemingly endless dining options for such a small place. Mornings are best started with pastries and coffee from the Nantucket Bake Shop or Wicked Island Bakery, while sandwiches with home-baked bread beckon at Something Natural for lunch (although the sandwiches at Provisions are also worthy, and the seafood options can’t be beat at Straight Wharf Fish Store). Cisco Brewers is a necessary midafternoon stop, with its live music and food trucks, or head to Millie’s for a beachside cocktail. For a casual “locals” atmosphere, the Chicken Box is the place to go, or stop in to the Corner Table at any time of the day for affordable fare. The Proprietors is the go-to for tasty small plates, or try Dune for fine dining and fresh ingredients. And, of course, it’s not an island trip without a stop for ice cream, with the best found at the Juice Bar, which has homemade versions of uniquely New England flavors like Grape-nut.
First-class shopping beckons visitors just steps from the ferry terminal on Nantucket. While wandering the cobblestone streets, be sure to stop in to the iconic Murray’s Toggery Shop, which introduced “Nantucket Reds” back in the 1960s. Nantucket Looms is the place for all cottage-style living essentials, Blue Beetle Nantucket offers everything from monogrammed apparel to jewelry and home items, and Haul Over covers all your outdoor and athletic apparel and gear needs. The Hub is a quirky shop filled with gifts and books that also has penny candy for kids and coffee for adults, while Mitchell’s Book Corner is frequented by bookworms and beloved Nantucket authors.
Rent some wheels at one of the many island bicycle shops and head east on the leisurely, rolling nine-mile Polpis Bike Path. From there, you can relax on the beach, wander past quaint cottages in the historic village of Siasconset, and stroll the ’Sconset Bluff Walk. On your way back to downtown Nantucket, look for a photo op featuring the red-and-white Sankaty Head Light in its wide-open field of grass. If the weather is not so great, you can spend the day learning about Nantucket’s fascinating whaling history. The Whaling Museum has lots of visual and interactive elements, plus the skeleton of a 43-foot sperm whale. Alternatively, you can hop aboard a bus or van on an island tour to see some of Nantucket’s most remote spots on an informative guided trip.
A trip to Nantucket starts with a ferry ride, and we happen to think a leisurely cruise across the ocean, drink in hand, is actually a pretty fun experience. Once you set foot on the island, it becomes abundantly clear this will be like no other vacation — from the plethora of Nantucket Reds shorts to the cobblestone streets and the reminders of local whaling history (you can even book an overnight at what was once a sea captain’s home). On Nantucket, you can be lounging on the beach within minutes or riding all the way around the island by bike. And no matter where you go for food or libations, you’ll feel as though you’re on island time – because, well, you are!
Have you ever been to Nantucket? What were your reasons to visit?