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!

design darling nantucket travel guide

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!

design darling nantucket guide

design darling sailing nantucket

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 Broad76 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.

design darling nantucket guide


What to do on Nantucket

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. Rent Vespas and cruise around town. Don’t miss the gorgeous homes on Cliff Road!
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

millie's featured on design darling nantucket guide


Where to eat on Nantucket

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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!
  4. For breakfast and brunch spots, I love Island Kitchen, Lemon Press, Black Eyed Susan’s, and Met on Main.
  5. For ice cream, do not miss homemade waffle cones at the Juice Bar.

rose covered cottage in sconset featured on design darling nantucket travel guide


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.

P.S. Browse all my Nantucket posts here and keep up with all my #designdarlingtravels on Instagram!


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  1. Hi Mackenzie,
    I really want to plan a trip to Nantucket for me and my girls when do think is the best time of the year to go? Spring? Summer? Fall? We all love lots of sunshine. Thanks. Great blog!

  2. Hello !

    I’m from Paris and i’m planning to go to nantucket on july !
    I do not know if I have to book ferry tickets in advance? Could you tell more ?

    Thanks a lot 😉

    1. Hi! For the fast ferry (one hour trip) I would book ahead. If you’re okay with the slow ferry (two hours, 15 minutes) there’s usually no problem buying tickets same day. Feel free to reach out with any other questions! I hope you have the best trip! 🙂

  3. We are planning our first trip to Nantucket this June and your article is VERY helpful! TurquoiseandTeale blogger recommended this article….SO glad she did!

  4. Hi Mackenzie, My 4 friends and I are visiting Nantucket in September 2017. We booked our rooms at 76 Main last week. We have also rented a house for some of our trip in Hyannisport and will be staying a few nights on Martha’s Vineyard. If you have any recommendations about where to stay on Martha’s Vineyard or things to do on Martha’s Vineyard or Cape Cod please let me know. I’ve read your guide on Nantucket and it has been very helpful. You also guided me to Nantucket Blackbook on IG through an IG post. If you have any favorite IG pages for Martha’s Vineyard or Cape Cod please let me know!!! Thanks for your help!!!
    Your engagement photos are beautiful!!!

    1. Hi Angie! Thank you so much! You will love Nantucket 🙂 I’ve actually never been to Martha’s Vineyard and have spent very little time on Cape Cod so I’m afraid I can’t be of much help for those legs of your trip! If you have any questions about Nantucket, feel free to shoot me an email. And have the best time — that’s the month we’re getting married out there! 🙂

      1. A group of my girlfriends (8 of us) are going to be in Nantucket next month! Is there a ferry offering day trips to Martha’s Vineyard? I have searched online and the only thing I have found has times that would require us to stay over a night. We have rented a house in Nantucket so are really only wanting a day trip. Also, do you recommend a clamming excursion? (Looked fun but so does relaxing on a sailboat!) Haha…thank you for your helpful blog, we will be doing most on your list! 🙂

        1. Hi Sherri! I’m so glad you’re planning a trip out here! I’ve actually never been to Martha’s Vineyard (crazy, I know!) so I’m afraid I’m the wrong person to ask. And clamming sounds like it could be a blast — again I’ve never done it (but just added it to my list!) and I can definitely vouch for the sailboat ride being a great way to spend an afternoon. Let me know if you have any other questions and I’ll try to be more helpful!

  5. My husband and I are planning an anniversary trip to Nantucket this May, and I am SO glad that I stumbled upon your blog during my research. It has been SO helpful! We will be on the island for 3 nights; do you recommend that we bring a car onto the island? It’ll be our first time to visit Nantucket so we weren’t sure what to expect as far as logistics once we arrive. Any advice is greatly appreciated!

    1. Hi Kendall! I’m so glad you found me as well! It’s super helpful to have a car on the island, whether you bring yours across on the ferry or rent one once you’re there. There is a shuttle that runs between town and all the beaches but I’m not sure how often it runs in May. Particularly if you plan to stay in town and want to venture out to Madaket or ‘Sconset, you’ll be happy to have a car. Feel free to email me with any questions and have the best trip!

  6. Thank you so much for this post! I have always wanted to go to Nantucket! After reading your post, I really want to go.
    This past weekend I went to Lake McConaugy in Nebraska. That lake is so pretty! Check out pictures over at my blog

    Thank you!

  7. Headed to Nantucket today! Such great timing with your post I’m excited to work some new spots into our old favorites there 🙂 I know you will have the most beautiful wedding.

  8. Hi MacKenzie-
    I love all your beautiful pics! Would you mind telling me where you got your white open-backed top? Thanks so
    Much! Love the blog!

  9. I absolutely love the detail and context in all of your recommendations! Despite living in Rhode Island, I have yet to visit Nantucket, but it is high up on my list of trips to plan! I always adore your posts and photos from your visits; it is truly fabulous to have all of this advice in one place! I wouldn’t trust another blogger more for a Nantucket travel guide, thank you for sharing!!

    1. Thank you SO much, Alexandra! I really appreciate the feedback and hope you’re able to plan a trip up there in the near future, though I can understand camping out in Rhode Island as much as possible this time of year! 🙂