It is hard not to fall in love with the charming New England island of Nantucket with it’s unspoiled beaches, quaint downtown with cobblestone streets lined with small boutiques and restaurants, stately historic homes and gray shingled cottages surrounded by beautiful blue hydrangeas and pink roses.
Summers used to be about getaways to dream vacation spots but while travel plans have been put on hold, it doesn’t stop us from daydreaming. Take a virtual trip back to Nantucket with me and enjoy the charm of this 48 square mile island located 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. Just 14 miles long and 3.5 miles wide, it is known for having some of the best unspoiled beaches in the world.
Thanks to strict development and preservation laws, Nantucket is where people come to relax and enjoy its endearing New England atmosphere. I believe you will fall in love, as I did, with it’s historic downtown and harbor. Cobbleston streets are lined with high end boutique shops and galleries, good restaurants, stately historic ship captain’s homes and weathered gray cedar shingled cottages surrounded by beautiful hydrangeas and roses in the summer.
Many of the island’s buildings date back over a hundred years to when Nantucket was a hub for the whaling industry. Did you know that during the late 18th and early 19th century its whaling port made the island one of the wealthiest communities in America. Brick mansions and grand homes clad in white clapboard, many with widow’s walks perched high on their rooftops, were built for the wealthy sea captains who prospered during the bygone era of whaling.
To really appreciate Nantucket, you should walk its lovely tree lined streets and explore the island on its endless bicycling paths. You will then understand why this picturesque island has attracted artists, writers and thousands of summer visitors for decades.
Like most islands, Nantucket is a pricey destination so many of its visitors are day trippers who come over on the fast ferry which takes about an hour to reach the island. A lot of people choose to fly into Nantucket Airport on one of the direct flights from Boston, New York or Washington, D.C. My husband and I usually fly out of Hyannis on one of the small regional Cape Air planes. I’ve sometimes sat in the front seat next to the pilot for an incredibly scenic flight.
We are fortunate to always stay with good friends that have a home on a cliff road right above the town. If you would like to see a tour of their beautifully decorated home, just click here.
If you do plan to stay on the island, there is a large choice of accommodations choose from. You will find B&Bs, captain’s homes that have been turned into small boutiques hotels, luxurious resort properties with unrivaled amenities, as well as homes of all sizes available for rent. One thing to remember is that during the summer the vacation island’s population goes from about 10,000 permanent residents to more than 60,000 that includes seasonal home owners, renters and tourists. The town will be bustling with crowds and restaurant tables can be filled to capacity.
With that in mind, you must make your reservations to stay on Nantucket as early as possible as it is one of the most sought after summer vacation spots on the East Coast of the U.S. After August, it is much quieter and easier to secure lodging. However, some businesses and restaurants are seasonal so you need to keep that in mind when planning a stay.
There is no shortage of dining on Nantucket. It varies from casual laid back sandwich shops and takeout to fine dining restaurants on par with major cities famous for their fresh lobsters, seafood and other specialties.
Something Natural is a local sandwich institution on the outskirts of town, where you can eat one of their huge sandwiches and a chocolate chip cookie at one of their picnic tables or brown bag it for a picnic on the beach. Another option is to head out to Claudette’s in Sconset for one of their famous cold meatloaf sandwiches then stroll along The Bluff Walk. The Juice Bar, near the whaling museum is known for their dozens of flavors of homemade ice cream to choose from served in a fresh waffle cone. Don’t worry, the long lines move fast.
If you want to have a chilled glass of rosé and a fully packed lobster roll overlooking the water and yachts, Cru is an upscale oyster bar right on the Boat Basin at the end of the Straight Wharf. The hip restaurant is the “must go” place to see and be seen. For something casual with a laidback but packed atmosphere, take the free shuttle out to the casual Cisco Brewers for award winning beer as well as cocktails and wine. Order something to eat from the various food trucks to enjoy while listening to live afternoon music.
For a classic French Bistro meal head to Languedoc, if Asian is more to your liking make a reservation at The Pearl or Nautilus and for Italian try Ventuno, which is Italian for the number 21. It is the former home of the 21 Federal Restaurant which was one of our favorites. I would say that Ventuno is now our new favorite for dining on the island, our food was delicious . Be sure to order the fried castelvetrano olives stuffed with pork sausage for the table.
Put Nantucket on your bucket list and when we can once again travel, consider a trip to this idyllic picture postcard island. Walk everywhere, eat a lobster roll, go to the beach, see historical lighthouses, and visit a museum. I know that if you ever get a chance to visit picturesque Nantucket, you will want to return to enjoy the natural beauty of the pristine beaches, windblown sand dunes and bluffs, its moors and cranberry bogs. In town, the cobbled streets, gray shingled cottages covered in roses, seafood fresh from the waters surrounding the island, and if you are observant, spotting one of the rich and famous celebrities that frequent the island, will all make for a memorable vacation.