Nantucket has long been home to the nation’s best limericks. Also, home of some of the single most idyllic photographs capturing the natural beauty of New England. Found off of the coast of Cape Cod, and neighbor to Martha’s Vineyard is Nantucket. Nantucket is known for having an active arts and culture center. In addition, the city has rich historical sites and charming local shops and eateries.
Obviously, being an island means that technically much of the outer edge is beach land. However, Nantucket has a surprisingly diverse beach scene for how small of a land mass it is. Surfside Beach, located due south from Nantucket proper, is a popular destination for most. As a result, it can be difficult finding somewhere to lay out the towel during the summer season. This is due to the massive influx of visitors.
Surfside Beach is often cooler than the beach areas in the northern part of the island. This is likely due to having nothing in its path to the south, allowing more refreshing breezes. Early morning fog is common, as are the sunsets. As this is the more tourist-friendly beach in the area, there are also more amenities offered.
Madaket Beach is located further west and is likely the best place for sunset photos. However, the water here is among the most treacherous around; its location is home to rip tides, undertows, and strong waves. However, it is also one of the larger beaches, and probably the place to be to work on a tan.
Siasconset Beach (abbreviated as “Sconset” by locals) is a smaller village about 7 miles away from Nantucket. The beaches here are ideal for anyone looking for a more natural, less tourist-friendly beach going experience, evident by the lack of facilities around the beach area itself. This isn’t a bad thing; in fact, if you were to stay for even a few days, you may find this to be a welcome reprieve during the busier seasons.
Nantucket is an interesting part of Massachusetts and has a unique history. Noted for its small collection of museums that run through a variety of different themes and interests. Guests may be initially shocked at first to see that the island offers the Nantucket Whaling Museum. But let’s not forget that for many years, this was the primary industry keeping fishing, shipping, and even home energy needs alive. Guests will be happy to know that by visiting, they are not supporting Big Whale Oil, but rather the local historical society. This museum features artifacts from the 1800s, an impressive sperm whale skeleton, and a glimpse into early life on the island, as well as a balcony overlooking the harbor.
To further solidify how dangerous shipping was, a visit to the Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum is truly an eye-opening experience. During the same period that whale oil was relied on, Nantucket recorded over 700 shipwrecks. This earned it the grisly nickname of the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” But the museum is not dedicated to tragedy, but rather the perseverance of the islanders. The Islanders dedicated themselves to saving those succumbing to the strong currents, shallow waters, and foggy conditions, all without helicopters or modern life preservers.
Nantucket Atheneum is the hub of the island’s library system, offering much more than your favorite summer beach reading titles. This library offers educational classes, as well as a rich collection of media offerings that encapsulate the past. Considering that local abolitionist movements held their meetings here, it’s no wonder that they have become so adept at sharing knowledge.
The Old Mill is exactly as it sounds. This historic windmill was first constructed in the 1700s. This mill is still functional and is the oldest mill in the nation that is still operational. Modeled after the Holland style of windmills, this is a great addition to any travel itinerary.
The Oldest House (also known as the Jethro Coffin House) is the oldest house on the island. Originally constructed in the late 1600s, this home has survived being abandoned. In addition, it survived being struck by lightning, and the ravishes of time.
Brant Point Light has been around in one incarnation or another since the mid-1700s and is still operating today. Located in the northern part of the island, just south of Coatue Point, this 26-foot lighthouse is one of many to enjoy.
The Old Gaol is an iconic local site, as well as one of the oldest freestanding jails in the country. This jail was housing criminals back in 1696 until a newer, better jail was constructed a little more than a hundred years later. Despite having a better building to house inmates, the Old Gaol was still operating until 1933. Today this is still a top destination, as well as one of a unique point of interest on the island.
Those looking for fun from the past, but the not quite so distant past, will enjoy a visit to the Nantucket Pharmacy. In addition to being the premier destination to have a prescription filled, visitors can enjoy a blast from the past in the form of an old 1920s soda fountain. The menu runs the gamut of deli offerings, coffees, breakfast favorites, and of course, the soda fountain.
Cisco Brewers is the best place to find food, beverages, and a fun atmosphere, at least until 7 pm when they close. The good news is being responsible has never been easier, or more fun; there are plenty of transportation methods to take, including free shuttle service. This brewery features a great selection of craft beer, local wine, food menu, and an onsite shop. This brewery is equal parts rustic and modern, creating a very good time for anyone.
Your Trip to Nantucket
Are you ready to enjoy these beautiful beaches and experience the history of Nanucket? Start planning your trip here. And for those of you who have been to Nantucket we’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!