I’ve written so many posts on Nantucket over the nearly seven years I’ve been blogging but today’s post consolidates all my favorite places into one easy-to-find spot! For a little background on why Nantucket is my happy place: my siblings and I have visited every summer since we were born and my family has had a home on the island dating back to the 1890s! My parents were married here 30 years ago and my fiancé and I are getting married there next September. So we’re admittedly biased when we say it’s the most charming place on earth! If you’ve been, you’ve totally seen the magic and if you haven’t, you must add it to your list! Needless to say it’s our favorite place in the world and I love sharing it with friends (most recently Ali and Amy) and of course my lovely blog readers. I’m always seeking out new-to-me spots but this post is more about our family’s tried-and-true all-time favorite places. I hope it’s helpful for any of you who might be planning a trip!
How to get to Nantucket
First things first: what’s the easiest way to get to Nantucket? The short answer is that there really isn’t one but that the juice is worth the squeeze. Growing up in Connecticut, we would drive four hours to Hyannis, Massachusetts, and take the Steamship Authority slow ferry (2 hours and 15 minutes) so we could bring the car across with lots of groceries, luggage, etc. Steamship Authority also has a one-hour fast ferry and so does Hyline Cruises just down the street.
There’s also a new ferry service called Seastreak running from New Bedford, Massachusetts, that takes two hours but lets you bypass all the traffic on Cape Cod as you approach Hyannis. If you’re coming from Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, etc., it’s a great option!
If you’re coming from farther away (as we now do living in Dallas), your best option is to fly into Boston, D.C., or New York and then take a quick flight to Nantucket. This is always much pricier than parking and taking the ferry so it’s best to book flights as far in advance as possible!
Where to stay on Nantucket
This isn’t my area of expertise as we always stay at my parents’ or Grandy’s house but we’ve had friends stay at and recommend the following: 21 Broad, 76 Main, Nantucket Hotel & Resort, Pineapple Inn, the Roberts Collection, the Summer House, and the White Elephant.
And renting a house is a great option if you’re staying for a few days — it often winds up being more economical than getting a hotel room, particularly if you’re traveling with a big group. (This is how we plan to accommodate many of our wedding guests next summer!)
Best beaches on Nantucket
You could ask ten people their favorite beach on Nantucket and get ten different answers, which I take as a good sign that you really can’t go wrong! (In fact, I just polled my five immediate family members and that’s exactly what happened!) Our family loves Fisherman’s and Surfside close to town, Starbuck out in Madaket, and Tom Nevers en route to ‘Sconset, all of which have decent-sized (but not scary) waves perfect for swimming. But you really can’t go wrong with any of them and we seem to find a new favorite beach every summer!
If you’re traveling with kids, Children’s Beach and Jetties are great choices for calm waters near town and Sesachacha Pond is a good option in Quidnet.
What to do on Nantucket
- Rent bikes in town and bike along the Milestone Road out to ‘Sconset. There are great bike paths all over the island and it’s a great way to explore beyond downtown Nantucket without splurging on a rental car.
- Start at ‘Sconset Market with a blueberry muffin or ice cream cone and walk the ‘Sconset Bluff Walk up to Sankaty Lighthouse. The bluff walk is a bit of a hidden gem and there’s no signage directing you where to go but it’s a public walk through the yards of some of the island’s most beautiful homes on Baxter Road with the Atlantic Ocean off to your right. If you start at the market and find the rose-covered cottages on Broadway, you’re on the right path!
- Rent Vespas and cruise around town. Don’t miss the gorgeous homes on Cliff Road!
- Take a sailboat ride (or charter the whole boat for up to 14 people) with Endeavor Sailing. We’ve done a private charter for the past few summers and it’s just the best way in the world to spend an afternoon. The captain is extremely knowledgable about the island, the boat itself is beautiful, and you can either soak up some sailing tips or sit back, relax, and pop a bottle of rosé.
- Head out to Cisco Brewers, a combination brewery, distillery, and winery near Bartlett’s Farm. You pay a small cover at the entrance and then enjoy your beverage of choice (with a lobster roll or fish tacos from the resident food truck) while listening to live music.
- If you catch some bad luck and wind up with a rainy day during your trip, you can catch a movie at the Dreamland in town (or do dinner and a movie at the Starlight Theatre & Café) or stroll through the Whaling Museum.
Where to eat on Nantucket
- My cousins and siblings have all had summer jobs here so I’d get a few angry texts if Millie’s weren’t my first recommendation! Thankfully the atmosphere is always lively and the food never disappoints which makes it an honest favorite. If you’re looking for casual classics like fish tacos, lobster rolls, shrimp quesadillas, or a killer margarita, Millie’s is your spot.
- In town, I always recommend Cru for dinner and drinks overlooking the boat basin, the Boarding House for outdoor patio dining, the biergarten at the Brotherhood for a casual lunch or dinner, Galley Beach for a dressier vibe and the best sunset in the world, LoLa 41 for amazing sushi… I could go on!
- In ‘Sconset, we love Beachside Bistro at the Summer House. It’s a great spot for lunch before or after hitting the beach and serves one of my favorite lobster rolls on the island, with ocean views to boot. If you’re out that way and looking for something more upscale, check out The Chanticleer, where my parents had their rehearsal dinner 30 years ago!
- For breakfast and brunch spots, I love Island Kitchen, Lemon Press, Black Eyed Susan’s, and Met on Main.
- For ice cream, do not miss homemade waffle cones at the Juice Bar.
Where to shop on Nantucket
I really do most of my shopping online these days but there are so many beautiful boutiques on Nantucket (many of which have inspired the assortment in my own online boutique Design Darling!). That said I love ducking into CJ Laing for resort wear and accessories, In The Pink for all things Lilly, Lion’s Paw for interior inspo, Milly & Grace for pretty clothing and home goods, Shift for all my favorite brands under one roof.