Nantucket Destination Overview
As an island located off the southern tip of Massachusetts, Nantucket packs 82 miles of sweeping beaches and several lighthouses ?that represent its rich history. The 48-square mile island is known as a summer colony, and the numbers back it up. Year-round, the population of the island is little more than 10,000, yet at the height of summer, there as many as 56,000 people exploring Nantucket's cobblestone streets. Nantucket is located 30 miles from Hyannis on Cape Cod. To clear up any confusion, it's helpful to know that Nantucket is the island, town and main city on the island.
A Brief History
From the mid-1700s to the 1830s, the island was the whaling capital of the world, welcoming as many as 150 ships in its harbors during its peak. Nantucket means "far away land" in the Wampanoag dialect. To keep the history reel running, there are as many as 800 buildings and structures built before the Civil War that still stand today.
You can fly into Nantucket Memorial Airport, situated in the center of the island. Plan accordingly, since it is the second-busiest commercial airport in Massachusetts behind Logan International Airport in Boston. Though the summer is the best time to visit Nantucket, travelers agree that July is for Bostonians and August is for New Yorkers. The rest of the year is for those not afraid to swap a few hours of sunlight for empty beaches to call your own.
Beaches, Beaches, Beaches
The beaches are split up in three different regions: North Shore, South Shore and East Shore. Although most of North Shore has a gentler surf suitable for children, Brant Point maintains a strong current recommended for only experienced swimmers. Jetties Beach, an easy bike ride from town, is great for the whole family. With a boardwalk, changing rooms, playground and public tennis courts, this beach attracts the outdoor lover.
Since the South Shore faces the Atlantic Ocean, the surf is a bit heavier. Some beaches have rip tides as well. You can still access them by a bike path or shuttle bus. The main shorelines to scout out are Surfside, Miacomet and Cisco.
East Shore beaches are meant for the adventurous due to the heavy surf. If you're up for the challenge, check out Siaconset, which surrounds a fishing village of the same name.
Brant Point Lighthouse
As the second-oldest in America, Brant Point Lighthouse makes for a truly iconic site. It was first constructed in 1746 during the height of the whaling industry, yet less than 30 years later, it was blown down, burned and rebuilt. This would be its fate several times more, since the wooden material was easily destroyed by strong gales and fires. Today, the 26-foot lighthouse, painted white and black, serves as a fantastic point for visitors to watch the boats enter and leave Nantucket's harbor. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most photographed spots on the entire island.
To understand the island's rich history, be sure to check out the Whaling Museum. Though museums on vacation sometimes get a bad rap, visitors find that these exhibits blow their expectations out of the water. Discover the 46-foot-long skeleton of a sperm whale, paintings of seafaring men and women, and decorative arts hung along the wall. You can even read the captains' journals to see what it was like tracking down the largest mammals on the planet.
The Milestone Road Cranberry Bog
Boasting more than 260 acres of land, the Milestone Road Cranberry Bog is one of the world's largest. For 150 years, cranberry farming has been been an important staple in Nantucket's agricultural heritage. There are currently 24 separate bogs, which amount to 195 acres under cultivation. It is owned by the Nantucket Conservation Foundation.
From casual pit stops to world-class diners, Nantucket has a mouthwatering selection of restaurants. Plus, it's easy to find places with kids menus.
At this brunch favorite, there are only 32 seats. But don't worry, the wait is well worth it. The Pennsylvania Dutch cakes, sourdough French toast and tri-fold cheese omelets are particular crowd favorites. Breakfast is served daily from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Le Languedoc Inn & Bistro
If you're looking for a romantic evening, don't miss out on this top-tier seafood restaurant. The long wine list complements the lobster bisque, considered a true delicacy by foodies and regulars alike. A tip: You can dine outside upon your request, so if you're there during the warmer months, take advantage!
Petticoat Row Bakery
For those with a sweet tooth, you might want to beware: Petticoat Row Bakery has such tasty desserts, that you'll be reeling for more. The soft, homemade glazed doughnuts and peanut butter cupcakes are a must-eat on any Nantucket vacation.
The old age "take only photographs, leave only footprints" captures the essence of the calm, welcoming and historic island of Nantucket.