Set 30 miles south of the coast of Cape Cod and 30 miles away from Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket is one of the quintessential islands, districts, and towns in the USA.
The island is small but has a higher concentration of historic houses, buildings, and sites than any other district of this size. This is thanks to the years during which its residents were the most successful whalers, whale oil exporters, and among the wealthiest people in the country.
Apart from its strict historic preservation rules, it is also known for its never-ending nature conservation policies, which have ensured that almost half of its land is untouched and protected and that all the stunning beaches are free to access by the public.
Even though it has been recently dubbed as “billionaire’s isle” because of the record-breaking property prices and its rich and famous residents, Nantucket is still accessible by regular visitors too.
Thanks to the wide variety of unique homes, cottages, mansions, and other houses which are up for short-term rent, you can book the accommodation of your choice and spend your vacation there in the most authentic way possible too.
Why visit Nantucket?
Nantucket should be on your travel bucket list for hundreds of reasons. Whether you are a history buff and want to see where the whaling ships and crews that inspired the great American novel “Moby-Dick” originated from, or if you wish to spend endless summer days and evenings on one of its pristine beaches, take strolls through its natural refuges, enjoy some surfing, fishing or watersports, eat some of the most delicious seafood dishes, or simply enjoy an exclusive vacation in one of the top destinations in the country – Nantucket is a perfect choice for you.
When is the best time to visit Nantucket?
Nantucket is a summer vacation destination, so many hotels, restaurants, stores, and other venues are open only from late April to the last week of October.
The peak of the summer season is from June to September. During these months the temperatures are high, and the water is warmest. The island’s population can expand from the usual 10-11,000 up to 50,000 and more people, so it can become quite crowded, and hard to find good table reservations and accommodation options.
So, if you want to enjoy the island without the crowds, plan a trip for the shoulder season months of April, May, or the first half of October.
Where to go?
Even though the island is a mere 14 miles long and only about 3.5 to 5 miles wide, there are still many sites to see and places to go when staying in Nantucket.
Here are some of the top places to add to your itinerary for your Nantucket trip:
This waterfront restaurant and its raw oyster bar are among the top spots to book reservations to celebrate a special event or enjoy an upscale fine-dining meal in Nantucket. You can enjoy some of the best-elevated seafood dishes, such as chilled lobster roll and fresh raw oysters, alongside a glass of chilled French rose or the signature Cucumber cocktail while gazing at the Nantucket Sound, the yachts in the Harbor, and the sunset. Some other fine-dining options to choose from include Topper’s, Galley Beach, Brant Point Grill, Oran Mor Bistro, Dune, The Chanticleer, and Via Mare – Greydon House.
Nantucket has three historic lighthouses, which are among the oldest still-functioning lighthouses in the USA. Brant Point Lighthouse greets the arriving ferry passengers at the Nantucket Harbor. It was built in 1746, making it the oldest of the three. Sankaty Head Lighthouse is on the eastern coast, near Siasconset, and is one of the most Instagram-worthy spots to visit in Nantucket. Great Point Lighthouse is on the territory of the beautiful Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge and is the brightest lighthouse in New England, located on the northernmost point of the island.
Nantucket has more than 20 beaches spread across all island coasts, so there is a beach for every preference there. Cisco Beach is one of the most popular options, especially among surfers, youngsters, and adventurers during the day and by romantic couples who want to watch the sunset in the evenings. Some other excellent beaches include Jetties, which is within walking distance from town and has an excellent restaurant and bar, or Steps Beach, which is nearby, hidden below a set of steep steps and offers one of the most amazing panoramic views from its top.
This place was once dubbed “the happiest place on Earth.” The company owns the brewery, the Nantucket Vineyard, and the Triple Eight distillery. It offers tasting tours, a large beer garden with live music, unique handcrafted mixed drinks, and multiple excellent food trucks to locals and vacationers throughout the summer.
Nantucket was recognized as the world’s whaling capital from the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s, and a large part of its architecture, culture, vibes, and style has been affected by those glorious years. The Whaling Museum is a unique spot to learn more about the whaling history of Nantucket, its famous captains, ships, and crews, which inspired books such as Moby-Dick, and to see a real sperm whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling.
Getting around Nantucket
The best way to get around Nantucket is by bike, thanks to the extensive network of bike lanes, small distances, and the few hills around the island.
All shuttle buses have bike racks, so you can always hop on a bus if you get tired of pedaling.
You can also get around by bus, cab, or by walking.
Bringing your car to Nantucket is expensive, complicated, and not appreciated by the locals, so leave that vehicle behind, hop on the ferry or plane, and rent a bike when you arrive in Nantucket instead.
The weather in Nantucket
The peak of the summer is warm, sunny, and lovely, and the water is welcoming and pleasant for swimming and relaxing.
Remember that Nantucket has been nicknamed “the Little Grey Lady of the Sea” because of the sudden fogs and abrupt weather changes, so make sure to pack accordingly and add some rain shoes and jackets for your trip, no matter when you plan on going.
Overall, there are many things to do, see, and experience in Nantucket, but don’t forget to follow our tips to make the most of your trip and turn it into a truly memorable one.