island of Massachusetts, United States

Nantucket is an island and town 30 mi (48 km) off the coast of Cape Cod and part of Massachusetts. The island offers quiet harbors, dramatic cliffs, sandy beaches, lighthouses, beautiful old mansions and gardens, interesting history – even a series of (sometimes bawdy) limericks about its residents. Whether you’re looking for a few nights out on the town with friends, a fun-filled weekend with the kids, or a little R&R, Nantucket is where you want to be.

Understand edit

Wharf shacks at Nantucket harbor

Nantucket is a small island, 3.5 by 14 miles long. It is frequented by CEOs, executives, lawyers, bankers, surgeons, and megastars – and others looking for a getaway. It gives them an opportunity, while enjoying a few Bloody Marys on the beach, to get away from the intense city and work atmosphere with their families and friends. They are able to enjoy many of the fine and casual dining restaurants the island has to offer. Many people come to Nantucket because they know that it is a location where five-star service is quite common. Tourists are treated to the finest seafood and other cuisines. Nantucket also has some of the most exclusive golf clubs, lodges, restaurants, beaches, and homes.

While most popular in the summer, the island can be visited at any time of the year. The summer population of 55,000 residents dwindles to 12,000 during the off-season, making for a quieter visit. Be aware that smaller crowds also mean fewer services available, including more limited ferry schedules and fewer open restaurants and stores.

The local government and people of Nantucket are environmentally friendly and green conscious. There is a wonderful recycling system intact that must be followed by all visitors and residents of the island. About 36% of the island is protected and maintained by the Nantucket Conservation Foundation. Protected lands include beaches, hardwood forests, dunes, shrublands, bogs, heathlands, marshes, grasslands, meadows, and ponds. The Nantucket Conservation Foundation also works to preserve the local wildlife of the island. Be sure to protect yourself from being bitten by the Island's famous deer ticks; use repellent and wear permethrin treated socks. To see the local sea life of the Island there is an aquarium, which is open to the public for a small admission fee. Whale, seal and bird watching are three very popular past times that many locals, vacationers and their families enjoy taking part in. In the olden days, Nantucket was central to the whaling industry. You will find many old whaling bars on the island as well as The Whaling Museum located in town. There is the Nantucket Cottage Hospital, many Banks, a Library, Town Hall, and Police Station if needed.

One factor that attracts many families to Nantucket is that it is a safe place for children to wander around on their own. Kids can ride their bikes into town with friends and grab ice cream at the juice bar or a bite to eat at the local pharmacy. A lot of the restaurants on Island accommodate small children, infants and large parties, so the whole family can sit down together and enjoy a nice meal as well as a night out on the town. There is also a local strip with food vendors and gift shops, which is also a local hang out stop for all ages. A few of the popular tourist recreational activities and services include: biking, boating, fishing, water sports, boat charters, boat rentals, boating services and supplies, fishing charters, fishing supplies, mooring rentals, regattas, surfing, festivals, museums and sites, spas and clubs, beauty, fitness, massage, tours, eco-tours, kayaking tours, van tours, walking tours, and site tours.

Since Nantucket is a huge tourist destination during the summer season an influx of workers come to the island from all over the world to seek employment for the summer with intentions of returning home at the end of the season. Business is at its all time high and workers are needed to facilitate and administer stores, restaurants, clubs, and all other amenities on the Island that attract tourists. These workers are also tourist because while working they too are experiencing Nantucket for the first time and join in on many tourist activities. Many summer workers are internationals.

Nantucket is commonly abbreviated by its islanders as ACK, also used as Nantucket’s airport code.

Get in edit

Part of the island's appeal is its isolation; "Nantucket" is a Native American word that translates into "faraway island" or "land far out to sea." You can reach the island either by boat or plane. Nantucket's location near Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard lets visitors take the ferry over and spend either the day or a few nights on the island to enjoy the sights, food and shops. Numerous local and national airlines provide regular service to and from the mainland, primarily to Boston and New York area airports.

Ferries edit

  • Steamship Authority Ferries, 141 School St., Hyannis, Massachusetts, +1 508-477-8600. Offers a high-speed or traditional service, is the only ferry to carry automobiles, and also allows bikes and surfboards. During summer months, vehicle reservations are especially important as the wait lines fill up quickly.
  • Hy-Line Cruises, 220 Ocean Street, Hyannis,, +1 508-778-2600. High-speed or traditional service with slightly higher rates; also offers a first class seating area.
  • Freedom Cruise Line, Inc.[dead link], 702 Main St., Harwich Port, +1 508-432-8999. Beat the busy weekend traffic of Hyannis by going to this port.

By plane edit

For those who may get seasick or prefer to travel by small airplane.

  • 1 Nantucket Memorial Airport (ACK  IATA).    
  • Nantucket Air (also known as ACK air), +1-800-635-8787 or +1 508-228-6234. Flies to Barnstable Municipal Airport, Hyannis.
  • Cape Air, +1-800-635-8787 or +1 508-228-6234,. A sister airline of Nantucket Airlines; flies from New Bedford to Nantucket.
  • Jetblue provides twice-daily summer seasonal round trip flights from JFK on its 100 seat Embraer E190 aircraft
  • Many regional affiliates of major national airlines (American Eagle, United Express, Delta Connection) provide flights from Boston and New York area airports, although most of these services are summer-only.

Get around edit

Map of Nantucket
  • Nantucket Regional Transit Authority (NRTA), 3 East Chestnut Street, +1 508-228-7025 (Shuttle Info), +1 508-325-7516 (Your Island Ride: elderly & disabled van service), . NRTA operates shuttle service known as "The Wave". The shuttle stops all along the many routes, including the Mid Island Loop, Miacomet Loop, Madaket Route, Airport Route, Surfside Beach Route, Jetties Beach Route, Sconset via Milestone Road Route, Sconset via Polpis Road Route, and Sconset via Old South Road Route. The shuttle fares for routes and beaches are about $2 each way. If you just want to go for a loop around the island or close by to Jetties Beach, the cost is about $1 each way. The shuttles run from about 10AM-6PM for the beaches and about 7AM-11:30PM for other areas. There is a bike rack located on the exterior of the shuttles for bicycles.

A popular way to see the island is by bicycling on the two-way paved bike paths, which are located alongside every major road on the island. There are several bike shops located in or around town that either sell or rent out bikes to visitors and locals. All bike paths lead into town and out to Madaket, Surfside, Cliff road, and Sconset.

Most bike rentals are available at the Steamship Authority ferry dock at Broad St. It is important to note that most main streets around town are cobblestone and bikes are difficult to ride until you reach paved roads.

  • Young's Bicycle Shop, 6 Broad Street, +1 508-228-1151.
  • Nantucket Bike Shop, three locations: two on Broad Street near the Steamship Authority, one on Straight Wharf near the Hy-Line Ferry dock, +1 508-228-1999.
  • Cook's Cycle Shop, 6 South Beach Street (next to the Harbor House Village), +1 508-228-0800
  • Madaket Bike Path. 6 mi (9.65 km), 45 minutes one way to top of Madaket. Rest areas and water fountains.
  • Siaconset (or Milestone) Bike Path. 7 mi (11.25 km), one-way. Approximately 1 hour to Siasconset. Water available at the rotary.
  • Surfside Bike Path. 3.5 mi (5.6 km), one way. Flat paths, 20 minutes to the beach.
  • Polpis Road Bike Path. 16.5 mi (26.5 km). Loops from the Siasconset Bike Path to Polpis Rd. and back to town.
  • Cliff Road Bike Path. 2.5 mi (4 km). Goes past beautiful cliff-side homes.
  • Dionis Bike Path. Continue on Cliff Road and explore the new Dionis Bike Path.

If you're thinking about visiting Nantucket and you do not enjoy biking, you may take the shuttle bus service which serves all areas. Or you could rent a moped and drive around town. For the most part everything you may need during your stay on Nantucket can be found in town so walking is probably your best bet. There are also taxi cabs available.

A car isn’t really needed to get around the island. The difficulty of having a car is that parking is limited, lots are time checked, and driving in town is full of traffic and people crossing the road.

Boating around Nantucket is very popular. The harbor is full of personal sailboats, racing sailboats, motorboats, fishing boats, and private or company yachts in the marina. The town pier’s Harbormaster can be contacted for mooring or slip rentals. They provide many services to boats in the harbor including delivery of newspaper, donuts, and ice. They also provide a pump-out boat and a dinghy dock. Next door is Brant Point Marine, which sells boat gear, equipment, water sport tubes, and offers boat rentals. There is also a launch that can be accessed near the dock by The Tavern in town that runs all day and will bring people to and from their boats.

See edit

The island's long and rich history led the National Park Service to declare the entire island a National Historic District. Notable historical sites include the African Meeting House, Brant Point Light, the First Congregational Church, the Hadwen House, Main Street, the Maria Mitchell Association, the Nantucket Atheneum (local library), the Oldest House, the Pacific National Bank, the "Three Bricks" (which has a very interesting construction history), and the Whaling Museum. The majority of sites are within walking distance of each other.

Great Point lighthouse

Nantucket was once the whaling capital of the world. A number of the homes on the island are from the 1800s, including many of the red brick houses which were once the homes of wealthy whalers. The first settlers of Nantucket were the Quakers. The Island has a heavy Quaker history. It is believed that values of the Quakers allowed African Americans and women to flourish just as white men did in the olden days. The Island was one of the first places to abolish slavery in the United States. During the late 1800s and early 1900s women were given certain liberties they may have not experienced on the mainland. The first female astronomer, Maria Mitchell is a native of Nantucket. There are many beautiful sights to see in Nantucket. Whether it is the historical houses, colorful gardens, or pristine beaches, sightseeing is always a pleasurable activity.

  • 1 Brant Point Light. A short walk from the town center. The original structure was built in 1746. The second lighthouse built in America. Boats and ferries can be seen coming into the harbor from this site.    
  • 2 Great Point Light. A lighthouse at the northern tip of the island, high above the beaches.    
  • 3 Maria Mitchell Aquarium, 28 Washington St, +1 508 228-5387. Near the Town Pier.    
  • Museum of African American History, 29 York St, +1 508 228-9833. The Museum of African American History on Nantucket features two historic sites, the African Meeting House and the Seneca Boston-Florence Higginbotham House. These buildings were at the center of a thriving nineteenth-century African American community on the island.
  • 4 Nantucket Whaling Museum, 15 Broad Street, +1 508 228-1894. Admission prices run about $17 for adults, $15 for seniors and $8 for youth.    
  • Oldest House, Sunset Hill Rd., +1 508-228-1885. Can be purchased as a package if touring the Whaling Museum as well. Admission prices around $6 for adults and $3 for youth..
  • Old Windmill, South Mill and Prospect Sts., +1 508-228-1885. Made of salvaged wood in 1746 and set in its original location.
  • 5 Sankaty Head Light (Atop Sankaty Bluff in the east).    

Do edit

Fishing edit

Beaches edit

One of the most favorite past times of travelers to Nantucket is going to the Island's many beaches. The crisp fresh air and cool water is quite lovely and the oceanic scene is an image that will leave you breathless. At every corner and end of the island you will find yourself a white-sanded beach. Sit back and enjoy the New England weather or take a dip in the Atlantic Ocean. There are many water activities available, including everything from kayaking to surfing. Each beach on the island attracts a different crowd of visitors. You can definitely find a beach on Nantucket that suits and accommodates your personal preference! The beaches are the primary reason people come to Nantucket. Yes, the island has lots to offer, but the miles and miles of shorelines are what continues to attract visitors again and again.

As a general rule, beaches located on the south side of the island (Cisco, Surfside, Madaket, Siasconset) have heavier surf and slightly cooler water than those on the north side (Children's, Jetties, Dionis, Coatue/Great Point).

Children’s Beach has a playground and faces the harbor. There aren’t large waves, so the beach is suitable for children, hence the name.

Jetties Beach easily accessed from town by bike, car, or shuttle. There is a building at the entrance for snacks and restrooms.

Surfside Beach highly populated with both locals and visitors in the summer. There are large waves for boogie boarding and swimming. There is a hill to get up and down to the beach, but there is a snack bar at the top with food, drinks, and beach supplies rentals.

Festivals edit

  • Daffodil Festival In late April over 3 million daffodils bloom across the island.
  • Nantucket Wine Festival in May
  • Harborfest Celebration and Nantucket Film Festival in June
  • Independence Day in July
  • Sandcastle and Sculpture Day in August. Contestants enter to build the best sand sculpture along Jetties Beach.
  • Boston Pops on Jetties Beach in August
  • Demolition Derby (near Tom Nevers Field and the Airport) in August
  • Antiques Show in August
  • Nantucket Harvest Festival and Nantucket Arts Festival in October
  • Festival of Wreaths in November
  • Festival of Trees in December and January
  • Christmas Stroll in December
  • Nantucket Restaurant Week in June and September

Tours edit

  • Cruises to see the gray seals and birds on Muskeget Island are offered by specialized boats designed to navigate the difficult waters around the island. These boats can be found departing from Nantucket Harbor.
  • Land Based Tours of Nantucket Island are offered by numerous operators.
    • Gail's Tours, +1 508-257-6557.
    • Robert Pitman Grimes Tour, +1 508-228-9382.
    • Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge National History Tour, +1 508-228-6799.

Buy edit

Main Street is the center of shopping. Located right in town are several very expensive boutiques filled with glamorous summer dresses, custom made jewelry, exclusive handbags, and shoes designed to match every outfit. There are shops for everything from books to antiques to gift shops. Many tourists flocks to the stores on Main Street for souvenirs, party dresses, bathing suits, beach towels (things they may have forgotten at home), or just to shop for the fun of it.

A few of the accessories and clothing shops located on Main Street are Judy Nantucket, Nautical Neckties, Vis a Vis, Float, Kiwi Johns, L’lle de France, Ladybird Lingerie, Murray’s Toggery Shop, Nantucket Looms, Nantucket Reds, NantucKID, Ralph Lauren, Seth, Sunken Ship, and The Black Tick, Nantucket. Great stores to shop for gifts include Art Print of Olde Nantucket, Benji’s Boutique, Blue Beetle, Camera Shop, Flowers on Chestnut, Hill’s of Nantucket, L’lle de France, Majolica, Nantucket Baggs, Nantucket Knotworks, Nantucket Life Candle and Soap Shop, Nantucket Looms, Nobby Clothes Shop, and Olde Nantucket Candle Shop.

  • The Golden Basket, 18 Federal St, +1 508 228-4344. Shop for the gold miniature Nantucket Lightship Basket. One of the most popular and well known Nantucket purchases.
  • Christopher Wheat, Nantucket, +1 585-329-8997. Artist specializing in custom paintings of Nantucket. Home and cottage portraits, custom views, boat and yacht portraits. Have a custom painting done of your favorite view of Nantucket by artist Christopher Wheat.
  • Shreve, Crump & Low, Main Street, +1 508-228-6246. 10AM - 8PM. America's oldest jeweler, carrying diamonds, colored gem stones, estate and designer jewelry from around the world, as well as a wide selection of timepieces and a distinctive collection of giftware.
  • Nantucket Brand, 33 Main Street (At the corner of Main Street and Federal Street), +1 508-228-7540. 10AM-6PM. Great Nantucket-style clothing for men and women. Very bright store with 2 floors. Lots of seersucker and madras.

There are also many less expensive stores around town. The Sunken Ship has not only clothing but also great souvenirs and beach items. The Pharmacy (which has a pharmacy located in back), sells toiletries, toys, and small gifts, but most popularly sells ice cream and milkshakes at the front counter. Breezin’ Up has a lot of Nantucket labeled clothing. There is Island Breeze located on Main Street. Four Winds, is a great souvenir shop with clothing, jewelry, gifts, toys, and has an upstairs shop as well. Force Five Water Sports offers many surf clothing and gear. There is a great book store called Mitchell’s Book Corner.

Food and drink edit

  • Nantucket Bake Shop on Orange Street – If you don’t wake up early enough and get to the bakery, you may miss out on some great donuts and other sweet treats. The small shop usually has a line going out the door, which tells you enough about how good the food is!
  • Aunt Leah’s Fudge, across from the grocery store in town. Has amazing fudge for you to sample, as well as a wall of candy where children can fill up a basket with goodies.
  • Fresh, 5 Salem St.
  • Gu Family Markets, 9 Salem St. Grocery store across from The Tavern
  • Murray’s Liquor Store, Main Street.
  • The Pharmacy, Main Street.
  • Stop & Shop, 31 Sparks Ave. Shuttle service is available to this store.
  • The Juice Bar, 12 Broad Street. The best ice cream shop in the world!

Eat edit

Budget edit

Mid-range edit

Splurge edit

Drink edit

See Topper’s Restaurant and Brant Point Grill above – Wine Spectator Awards.

  • Galley Beach, 54 Jefferson Ave (one mile from town, first right off the ferry, straight until you hit the beach), +1 508 228-9641. Noon to 1AM. The one place not to miss on Nantucket, directly on the beach over looking Nantucket sound, voted in 2008 as best fine dining, most romantic, best water front dining, and over all best restaurant.
  • Chicken Box, 14 Dave St (off Lower Orange St.), +1 508 228-9717. Live music, pool, foosball, darts.
  • The Gazebo at the Tavern. Bar with music.
  • Kitty Murtaugh's, 4 West Creek Rd, +1 508 228-0781. Pool tables.
  • Lo La 41, 15 S. Beach St, +1 508 228-2033.
  • Brotherhood of Thieves, 23 Broad St, +1 508 228-2551. Folk Musicians. Highly popular.
  • Pudley's Pub, 27 Faregrounds Rd, +1 508 228-4095.
  • Rose & Crown Pub. DJ with dance floor attracts a crowd at night.
  • [dead link] Water Street, 21 S. Water St, +1 508-228-7080.

Sleep edit

  • The Beachside at Nantucket, 30 North Beach St, +1 508 228-2241, fax: +1 508-228-8901. 90 air-conditioned rooms and suites. Wireless Internet. Continental breakfast included. Outdoor heated pool. Short walk to town, harbor and beaches.
  • Brass Lantern Nantucket, 11 North Water St, toll-free: +1-800-377-6609, fax: +1 508-325-0928. 17 air conditioned guestroom suites. Amenities include canopy beds, pet friendly rooms, convenient walking distance to local attractions, harbor views, robes, and private baths.
  • Century House, 10 Cliff Road, +1 508 228-0530. Luxury inn bed and breakfast. Breezy wrap-around veranda; cliff top, historic location on Nantucket Island. Homemade daily fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Discover the Freedoms of Nantucket.
  • Cliffside Beach Club, 46 Jefferson Av, +1 508 228-0618, fax: +1 508-325-4735. Top notch and expensive. On private Beach, about 1 mi (1.6 km)from town.
  • Jared Coffin House, 29 Broad Street, +1 508 228-2400, toll-free: +1-800-248-2405 (Reservations). This historic inn offers a variety of accommodations, in room spa treatments, dining discounts, a high quality restaurant and wedding and conference facilities.
  • Le Languedoc, 24 Broad St, +1 508 228-4298, fax: +1 508-228-4682. Year-round. In the historic district. Fine dining.
  • Nantucket Inn, 1 Miller's Lane, +1 508-228-6900, toll-free: +1-800-321-8484, fax: +1 508-228-9861. 100 rooms. Indoor/outdoor pool & lighted tennis. Full breakfast included.
  • Nantucket Boat Basin, +1 508 325-1350. Swain's Wharf, Minutes from historic Nantucket Town, the Boat Basin is a 240 slip, full service marina.
  • The Nantucket Hotel, 77 Easton St, +1 508 310-1734. Built in 1891 and completely renovated in 2012. Amenities include a fitness and spa facility that offers yoga and fitness classes, two seasonal heated swimming pools, an outdoor hot tub, saunas, a children’s day program and kiddie pool, and pre-reserved shuttle transportation to/from the high-speed ferries.
  • Roberts House, +1 508 228-9009. 11 India & Centre Sts.
  • Seven Sea Street B&B, 7 Sea St, +1 508 228-3577, fax: +1 508-228-3578. 9 rooms. Well liked.
  • Ships Inn, 13 Fair Street, +1 508 228-0040, fax: +1 508-228-6524. May-Oct. 12 rooms.
  • The Cottages at the Boat Basin, One Old South Wharf, +1 508 325-1499, toll-free: +1-866-838-9253 (Reservations). Offers studio, one, two, and three bedroom waterfront cottages with harbor views, modern kitchens, private balconies and in-room spa treatments. Pet friendly cottages available.
  • The Summer House- Sconset, Ocean Av, Siasconset, +1 508 257-4577, fax: +1 508 257-4590. Late Apr-Oct. On the bluff overlooking the Atlantic. A special hideaway. Oceanfront beach.
  • The Summer House- Fair Street, 27 Fair St, +1 508 257-4577, fax: +1 508-257-4590. Late Apr. - Dec. Unique rooms and suites.
  • The Summer House- India Street, 31 India St, +1 508 257-4577, fax: +1 508-257-4590. Late Apr. - Dec. In a restored whaling captain's mansion. Short walk to shops and restaurants.
  • Vanessa Noel Hotel, 5 Chestnut St, +1 508 228-5300, fax: +1 508-228-8995. Year round. No smoking. In the heart of Nantucket's historic district, eight luxurious rooms include marble baths. Trendy.
  • Vanessa Noel Hotel Green, 33 Center St, +1 508 228-5300, fax: +1 508-228-8995. Year round. No smoking. sits adjacent to Vanessa Noel Hotel, the islands first and only eco-friendly organic luxury hotel, ten uniquely appointed rooms with the most luxurious sustainable accoutrements. Healthy and Organic.
  • [dead link] Centerboard Inn, 8 Chester St, +1 508-228-9696. Historic 7 Room Bed and Breakfast. Open Year Round. Steps to Downtown.
  • Union Street Inn, 7 Union Street, +1 508-228-9222, toll-free: +1-888-517-0707, . 12 room boutique inn located steps to downtown, featuring a full service concierge, a full made to order breakfast served on a garden patio, complimentary Wi-Fi and afternoon sweets. $149-$679.

Budget edit

Mid-range edit

Splurge edit

  • Century House, 10 Cliff Road, +1 508 228-0530. Luxury inn bed and breakfast located at the top of a cliff on Nantucket Island with a wrap-around veranda and homemade chocolate chip cookies.
  • The Wauwinet, 120 Wauwinet Road, toll-free: +1-800-426-8718 (Reservations). This Nantucket Island luxury resort offers private beaches, town shuttles, comfortable rooms, and beach activities.
  • White Elephant, 50 Easton Street, +1 508 228-2500, toll-free: +1-800-445-6574. This premier waterfront Nantucket hotel consists of chic rooms and cottages. Business lounge, fitness center, shuttle service and spa offered.

Go next edit

  • Boston - Birthplace of the American Revolution, located a short drive from the base of the Cape.
  • Cape Cod - Popular vacation spot in MA.
  • Martha's Vineyard - An island between Massachusetts state and Nantucket.

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