Martha's Vineyard Destination Overview
Regarded as the Jewel of New England, Martha's Vineyard rests 5 miles off the southern coast of Massachusetts. This summer getaway covers 64,000 acres, boasting bountiful shorelines and exciting natural and manmade landmarks. Despite its name, very little wine is made on the island. For a small island, however, Martha packs major attractions. Its well known for the Gay Head Lighthouse and cliffs, gingerbread cottages and flying horses. Most vacationers flock here during the heat of the summer, but if you visit during the off-season, you'll have no trouble making room for a laid-back, intimate getaways where crowds drop off as much as prices.
To arrive at the island, visitors take The Steamship Authority ferry that operates year-round, offering passenger and car service from Woods Hole on Cape Cod to Martha's Vineyard. If you plan on coming in the peak summer season, be sure to book your ferry ride well in advance.
With miles of shoreline, Martha's Vineyard's lends itself to the beachside fantasy of endless R and R. The beaches span from shallow, clear waters along the eastern and northern sides of the island to crashing surf on the south side. Speaking of, South Beach possesses warm water and rumbling waves. Dogs are welcome before 9 a.m. and after 5 p.m. The best part? It's entirely free. Take a stroll along the shore or hang out and soak in the sunset. Joseph Sylva State Beach, situated between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, has easy waves, low dunes and a heap of seashells that decorate the sand. Wherever you land or wade, water temperatures typically peak in August.
Flying Horses, as the oldest working carousel in the country, signifies the birth of Martha's Vineyard as a tourist destination. The 20 hand-carved horses wear real horse hair manes and tales, enchanting kids and adults for more than a century. If you're feeling lucky, try catching the brass ring to win a ride. Without a doubt, this historic landmark is a must-visit.
Originally called "the gaily-colored head of the island," Gay Head, or Auqinnah, is the westernmost town on the island which owes its name to the multi-colored cliffs along the coast. With stunning vistas, this spot seems to spell out romantic getaway, though the beaches are more than suitable for family and friends.
It is most famous for its Gay Head Lighthouse, which was first built in 1799 on the 130-foot-tall cliffs. Since the cliffs began to recede some years later, the tower had to be moved back about 75 feet from the edge. Below the cliffs lies Jungle Beach, which was one of the earliest sites for whaling by the Wampanoag Indian tribe. The only downside to Gay Head is the droves of tourists who flock to its shores.
Including Gay Head Lighthouse, there are five dotting the Vineyard and Nantucket sounds. Edgartown Lighthouse is another popular one, making up for its size with the scenery and beaches. There's a short walk up and for a small fee, you can climb to the top to enjoy the views. Talk about a great spot for this year's family holiday photo.
Martha's Vineyard Film Center
If you're looking for a good flick and some much-needed A.C., check out Martha's Vineyard Film Center. This modern arts movie house features reclining seating, a terrific sound system and the latest (and a handful of classic) art films. In 2012, the theater, owned by none other than Richard Paradise, presented more than 100 feature films to more than 20,000 patrons. There's not a bad seat in the house, but, beware, it fills up quickly.
Discover delectable seafood restaurants, candy heavens and laid-back cafes in Martha's Vineyard.
Among the Flowers Cafe
Located on Mayhew Lane, Among the Flowers Cafe is a crowd favorite. It's great for breakfast, whipping up omelets and serving pancakes and fresh fruit. Once you sit down, you might find yourself lounging for hours. Due to the leisurely schedule, be ready to wait for a table - there's always a line.
Larsen's Fish Market
Feast at Larsen's Fish Market, where you'll find the freshest seafood the island has to offer. The fishing boats cruise past outside, making for calming views as you devour your hot lobster rolls. If you're feeling lazy, the great part about this place is that you can bring food back to your HomeAway rental and enjoy it from the coziness of your place.
Martha's Vineyard Chowder Company
Awarded the "Best Clam Chowder in New England" by Yankee Magazine, Martha's Vineyard Chowder Company is what you could call quite distinguished. Enough said.
Murdicks Fudge Shoppe
For sweet-tooths, pick up some delicious treats at Murdicks Fudge Shoppe. This trendy boutique concocts homemade brittle, caramel, cherry products and, of course, fudge that will leave chocoholics reeling.
Enjoy the holiday destination of Martha's Vineyard, whose untainted charm is best reflected in its picturesque beaches, cliffs and lighthouses.