Most people associate Martha’s Vineyard with it’s many beaches, after all it’s an Island. What many people don’t know is that much of the Island is rural and wooded, with thousands of acres of preserved land perfect for hiking and exploring. Martha’s Vineyard has over 200 miles of trails and over 100 preserved properties that are open to the public.
Here’s our top three hiking trails on the Island and where to find them. Keep in mind that many are located in remote areas on the Island where cell reception is limited, and navigation systems often confuses coordinates on Martha’s Vineyard–so make sure to follow trail maps and markers. If you have an iPhone be sure to download the TrailsMV app available in the Apple app store courtesy of the Island’s Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, it’s a free app for hikers exploring Martha’s Vineyard that doesn’t require either cell service or Wi-Fi.
Menemsha Hills Reservation: Menemsha Hills is a beautiful and diverse nature reserve located off of North Road in Chilmark. The 211-acre preserve is owned and managed by The Trustees of Reservations, look out for their sign when approaching on North Road. Menemsha Hills is a popular hike that offers a variety of natural habitats including wetland, marsh, wooded groves, and a rocky shoreline, with sweeping views of Vineyard Sound. The three miles of trails are easily passable for the moderate hiker, with some extra energy needed to summit Prospect Hill, the second highest point on the Vineyard at 308 feet, and the view is worth the extra work! Menemsha Hills is open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours to fully appreciate the trail.
Long Point Wildlife Refuge: Long Point is an expansive property on the south side of the Island, accessible off Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. Long Point is not only a great spot to hike but given its sprawling coastline and sheltered salt and freshwater ponds many people flock here to splash in the waves, take a leisurely swim, or to go kayaking. You can stay by the water and relax or follow a two-mile trail that leads through oak forest and savanna bordered by Middle Point, Long Cove, and Tisbury Great ponds. Long Point offers a rare grassland habitat across its more than 600 acres, and is one of the largest publicly accessible properties on Martha’s Vineyard, also managed by The Trustees of Reservations. With beach, dune and woodland areas this property is also beloved for its diversity and size, even on a busy day you feel like you have the place to yourself. Birders and other nature-watchers also appreciate this spot for the plants and wildlife that call it home. Long Point is open year round, but last admission is at 5:30pm and the gate closes at 7pm during summer months. Public restrooms, picnic tables, bike rack, and a small visitor center is available, as well as kayak and standup paddleboard rentals from 10am to 3pm during peak season.
Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary: Cedar Tree Neck is another Island gem, located on the north shore of the Island in West Tisbury. The sprawling 400-acre preserve is managed by the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation and is one of their oldest and largest properties, it just celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. The property is accessible via Indian Hill Road and Obed Daggett Road, be forewarned that the last mile of the drive is extra bumpy and unpaved - but keep driving, you’re in the right place. Once there you’ll find a true sanctuary, and a diverse landscape that underscores the natural beauty of the Island. Take your pick of a series of trails, where you’ll traverse alongside a bubbling brook, under canopies of cedar trees, large ferns, beech trees and oaks, in between large glacial boulders and out toward the beautiful Vineyard Sound. Swimming is not permitted here but appreciating the view is very much accepted. Cedar Tree Neck is open daily from 8:30am to 5:30pm.
Another great way to discover the Island’s many trails is grabbing a copy of the book “The Walking Trails of Martha’s Vineyard,” which is provided by the Vineyard Conservation Society and available for purchase at many Island retailers including Bunch of Grapes bookstore, Edgartown Books, Alley's General Store, and Cronig's. Happy hiking!
Martha’s Vineyard is home to hundreds of local artists, designers, and food purveyors making some pretty special, beautiful and delicious things. When you visit Martha’s Vineyard we recommend you pack an extra bag that you can fill with your pick of locally made goodies.
During the summer be sure to make a trip to the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market (happening at the Grange Hall on Saturdays and Wednesdays), and the Vineyard Artisans Festival (at the Grange Hall on Thursdays and Sundays) to find an impressive selection of many of our locally sourced products.
After much deliberation, below is a list of some of our favorite finds.
Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt by Down Island Farm. In the tradition of Island settlers, farmers Heidi and Curtis solar evaporate Atlantic Ocean water, resulting in delicious, briny crystals that make for the perfect addition to both savory and sweet eats. Their sea salt comes in a variety of flavors including "Lemon Dill" with added dried lemon verbena and dried dill, "Smoked Oak" which is salt smoked over Island oak, and our favorite, "Blueberry Honey," with added freeze-dried blueberries and honey.
Austin Designs. Designer Rachel Austin Baumrin builds handmade textiles, including scarves, bags, accessories, and 100% organic and natural cotton herbal heat packs, eye pillows, and pocket pods hand crafted in small batches in her studio in West Tisbury. Filled with Austin Designs signature herb and seed combinations that are sourced on Martha’s Vineyard and in California, many of Austin Designs’ products are as therapeutic as they are beautiful.
Bluewave Body Company. Owner Gwyneth Wallace created Bluewave Cosmetics to bring her love of all things fresh, natural and beautiful to her buyers–and we thank her for it. Gwyneth uses fresh, natural ingredients and makes everything herself, including her bath and body products, facial products, hair care and men’s’ grooming products. Our favorite is her Island Girl Body Butter Bliss, a heavenly combination of natural butters and oils featuring a clean seaside mix of beach grass oil and wild rose.
Chilmark Coffee. Local Island coffee guru Todd Christy makes really really good coffee. Along with his wife Jenny the couple operates Chilmark Coffee, a small batch coffee roaster out of their home in Chilmark. All of their beans are ethically sourced from places like Ethiopia, Columbia and Guatemala, and the flavors they bring to their batches are exceptional. Pick up a bag to take home or be sure to ask at local markets and restaurants if they’re brewing it.
Vineyard Wick & Bath. Since 2015, Vineyard Wick & Bath has prided itself on using chemical-free soy wax in order to deliver natural products to their customers. Vineyard Wick & Bath offers candles, wax melts, lotions and soaps, in a variety of hypnotizing scents like Pistachio Macaron, Asian Plum, Citrus & Sage, and Lemon Lavender. All products are cruelty free and handmade with locally sourced products right here on Martha's Vineyard. We promise, once you smell it, you will buy it.
Noepe Designs. Designer Katie Zelenka’s iconic products include wristlets, clutches, totes, fold-over totes, crossbody bags, purses, prints, keychains, bracelets and pillows. Her textile designs are made from original silkscreens that start with pencil illustrations of images in nature that inspire her. Noepe Designs are made from leather and then precision heat embossed. These classy, affordable, handmade gift items are widely popular among visitors and locals alike.
Stefanie Wolf Designs. Stefanie’s keen sense of color and proportion combined with a simple yet sophisticated eye for design makes her creations unforgettable. Stefanie has always been attracted to shiny, colorful objects. Inspired by sea and sky, she brings her jewelry to life with glass in vivid hues and unexpected shapes. Stefanie travels to the time-honored glass bead region of Bohemia to select her glass colors, work closely with traditional artisans designing custom shapes, and choose finishes that bring her jewelry collection to life. Stefanie’s studio and retail showroom in downtown Edgartown is open to visitors year round.
Mimi’s Hittin’ the Sauce. Mark and Cathy Peters are the owners, and longtime hot sauce creators, of Mimi’s Hittin’ the Sauce, a line of hot sauce products made right here on Martha’s Vineyard. Mimi’s Hittin’ the Sauce has two varieties, “Hacha” and “HaChaChaCha,” as well as a pepper jelly and a salsa, each packed with fresh peppers and tomatoes. Everything that goes into their sauces is either grown by the couple or sourced from local farms. When you want an extra kick, a taste of the Vineyard, and an amazing flavor like no other this is your stuff.
Island Alpaca Co. Located in Oak Bluffs the Island Alpaca Co. farm and gift shop offers an impressive variety of quality alpaca products and luxurious garments, many crafted with yarn made from the fleece of their own alpaca. Island Alpaca’s products include hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, slippers, socks, jackets, sweaters, blankets, toys, gifts, and much more. The products are as soft as cashmere and warmer, lighter, and stronger than sheep’s wool. Visit Island Alpaca Co. farm to meet their gentle, playful animals and pick up one of their extra soft treasures.
Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. There’s so many delicious chocolate makers on Martha’s Vineyard we couldn’t pick just one! Chilmark Chocolates is a staple, and their chocolate is consistently considered the best on-Island. It’s only available at their store in Chilmark, and hours are limited but it’s oh-so worth the ride. Not Your Sugar Mamas in Vineyard Haven makes an impressive line of superfood chocolate bars rich in antioxidants that are perfect for the more health conscious chocolate lover, plus they offer a wide variety of plant-based treats at their cafe in Vineyard Haven. Enchanted Chocolates in Oak Bluffs make some pretty heavenly creations too, including their infamous “Stoner Food,” a caramel and chocolate covered pretzel rod sprinkled with Almond Butter Crunch and MV Sea Salt–needless to say it’s out of this world.
Wherever your travels take you on Martha’s Vineyard be sure to load up on these locally made goodies. Many business owners also sell their products online and offer shipping, so you can easily re-up on your supply at home.
We’ve all heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” With this we agree, unless it’s Sunday and we need a Bloody Mary, in which case we’re opting for brunch. On Martha’s Vineyard there’s enough eggs (many local and farm fresh) and french toast to go around, but here we’ll be focusing on the options in the bustling down of Oak Bluffs, home to one of the Steamship Authority terminals, and the Oak Bluffs harbor which services the Hyline, Island Queen, Seastreak, and Rhode Island Fast Ferry. So even if you’re just arriving hungry off the boat you’ll find an earnest supply of morning dining options.
Here’s our round up of breakfast and brunch spots in “OB” (as the locals refer to it) but keep in mind there’s many other bakeries (like the famous Back Door Doughnuts) and coffee shops nearby too!
Oak Bluffs Breakfast
Linda Jeans: Located on Circuit Avenue since 1976, this has been a family favorite and an Island staple for classics like omelets, pancakes, and waffles to the more creative like their Green Eggs and Ham. Open everyday 6am to 8pm.
Biscuits: Located across from the Oak Bluffs harbor this seasonal spot is known for their Southern inspired dishes like their sausage gravy and biscuits and fried chicken and waffles. Open Monday to Sunday 7am to 3:30pm, expect to wait for a table.
Slice of Life: Located on Circuit Avenue, this casual café bakery serves breakfast from scratch daily year round from 8 to 11am. Try their breakfast nachos topped with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, black beans, roasted red peppers, scallions, salsa and sour cream, or their famous Fried Green Tomato BLT (with basil mayonnaise on our toasted homemade rosemary bread) topped with two fried eggs.
Farm Neck Cafe: Located on the world renowned Farm Neck golf course this full service restaurant is open to the public. It’s a hidden gem not far from the bustle of the Island’s downtowns and serves breakfast daily from 8 to 10am beginning June 26.
Oak Bluffs Brunch
Lolas: Located off of Beach Road in Oak Bluffs this southern seafood restaurant serves a popular Sunday Brunch Buffet on Sundays from 10am to 1:30pm, complete with a Build Your Own Bloody Mary option.
Beetlebung: Located on Circuit Avenue this trendy coffeehouse has been known to serve brunch every day from 10am until 3pm. We’re not yet sure what’s in store for this year but previously their brunch menu has included the classics along with more adventurous morning munchies like carnitas tacos. Reopening for the 2018 season on June 25.
Park Corner Food Bar: Located in Post Office Square, on the corner of Kennebec Ave. this cozy bar and New American bistro serves a beloved brunch year round, complimented by the perfect Bloody Mary, live music, or a classic movie. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 3pm.
20 By Nine: Located on Kennebec Ave. this seasonal gathering spot is known for its extensive whiskey list, creative tapas and delicious Sunday brunch. Go extra hungry and opt for their Pig & Waffle dish, featuring pork loin, a sweet potato waffle and maple reduction. If it’s a nice day and you score a seat outside consider yourself extra lucky. Brunch begins at 10am on Sundays.
Cardboard Box: Located on Circuit Ave. and also accessible from an entrance on Kennebec Ave. this eclectic restaurant is the newest addition to the Oak Bluffs dining scene, offering brunch on Sundays from 10am to 2pm. We like the look of their steak and poached eggs and also their Fish Cakes Benedict. Bloody Mary drinker? Try it here with a jumbo shrimp cocktail skewer.
Many people don’t realize just how big, and just how rural Martha’s Vineyard really is. Martha’s Vineyard is approximately 96 square miles, roughly triangular in shape, 25 miles (42k) at its longest point east to west, and 9 miles (12.8k) at the longest point north to south. Locals refer to the eastern side of the Island as “down-Island” and the western side of the Island as “up-Island.”
There are six distinctive towns on the Vineyard, each with its own character, flare, attractions, dining, lodging and more. The “down-Island” towns refer to Tisbury, which includes the year-round harbor port of Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown, each vibrant port communities, very unique from one another, very easy to walk around and very easy to get between. Then there are three rural towns which constitute “up-Island” including West Tisbury, Aquinnah, and Chilmark, which offer a more pastoral landscape, dotted with small farms and cozy shopping in a bucolic setting.
Given that most visitors reach the Island by ferry, on boats that arrive into the down-Island harbors, it’s not uncommon for a visitor to spend days on Martha’s Vineyard and never get “up-Island,” or even know that the second half of the Island exists (many locals would like to keep it that way but we’re happy to help spread the news of all the amazing offerings of Martha’s Vineyard!). We definitely recommend you make the time to explore up-Island, we promise you will not be disappointed. And if you don’t have a car you can still make it “up” there via the Vineyard Transit Authority bus system.
Here’s three of our favorite must see up-Island attractions.
The Aquinnah Cliffs
Located on the westernmost edge of the Vineyard, the Aquinnah cliffs are simply breathtaking. This impressive landmark is so exquisite it was recently named the most beautiful place in all of Massachusetts by Condé Nast Traveler. There’s beauty in every direction and breathtaking views of Vineyard Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. On a walk up to the cliffs you’ll pass several souvenir shops and snack bars, as well as a casual sit-down restaurant–the Aquinnah Shop Restaurant. Make your way to the scenic overlook and you won’t believe your eyes. It’s the most popular place to take a photo on Martha’s Vineyard, but even with the best camera the picture can’t do it justice. Check out the nearby Aquinnah lighthouse, atop 130-foot cliff, which was recently moved back from the edge to protect it from becoming victim to coastal erosion. The lighthouse is open to the public daily from Memorial Day through Columbus Day and is very much worth the fifty-five steps to the top.
Menemsha is a small, classic New England fishing village located in the town of Chilmark, and situated on the northern coast of Martha’s Vineyard. You’ll smell its authenticity as soon as you step out of the car, and you can’t miss the working fishing boats that litter the harbor and the stacks of lobster traps that decorate the streets. A visit to Menemsha is most popular for a summer sunset, when the sun goes down over an unobstructed section of the Vineyard Sound, making for one of the best sunsets on the east coast. Be sure to grab a lobster dinner or some clam chowder at one of the local fish markets, and don’t forget to enjoy a bottle of wine while you wait–many Island towns are dry and Chilmark allows for BYOB.
Open to the public and displaying local artists for over 45 years, the Field Gallery is a fun and easy stop in West Tisbury. A small, indoor gallery displays fine art, and the open outdoor space is home to Thomas Maley's now iconic sculptures, offering guests a great photo opp! Plus, the Field Gallery is right across the street from Alley's General Store, one of the country's oldest general stores worthy of a visit. And during peak season, just down the street at the Grange Hall, is the West Tisbury Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and the Vineyard Artisans Festival on Sundays and Thursdays, making this up-island trip a trifecta of fun!
This is a guest blog post for Visit Martha's Vineyard submitted on behalf of Jane Drebeen
One of the great pleasures of Martha’s Vineyard is the way the arts are naturally integrated into every day life. For many generations, the island has been peopled with gifted souls who have enriched the community with their music, art and work with local materials. There is a great variety of artistic and interesting people - painters, writers, musicians, dancers, actors, poets, directors. There are many here who work in other media - in clay, wampum, stone, metal and textiles. The creative urge is in action all around us, in traditional and innovative ways. And we can see that urge to be creative expressed even more broadly - in landscapers, carpenters, hairstylists, letter press printers, and leaders.
Inspired by the richness and diversity of the Vineyard’s creative community, I wrote the book The Urge To Create: Vineyard Portraits. It is a collection of photographic and written profiles of 50 varied, creative island people, whose work you will see everywhere on the island. I interviewed each artist, and wrote a profile in their own words. This written profile is paired with a photographic portrait taken by Vineyard photographer. The book weaves together many threads of the Vineyard community - and can be found at www.janedreeben.com. It is also available at Featherstone Center for the Arts, and a portion of the sale of each book is being donated to Featherstone.
Some island artists are well known through the local press. John Hoy may be best known as leader of local favorite band Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, but he is truly a Renaissance Man, a renowned stone mason, a fisherman, and who knew - a whittler. Watch the papers and area posters, or check Johnny Joy and the Bluefish on Facebook to catch the band.
In John’s own words: "I’m pretty much self-taught at everything. I guess it must have been old guys that I saw here and there that I thought looked cool. I was always the kid that was looking at the musicians on stage. I always had a fascination with the old guys who could do everything. I had a few really good mentors that knew some stuff, some old-world stuff, some secret stuff. They could catch more fish than anybody, or make a better net, or fix a machine with baling wire and castaway junk. Half the thing about creativity is having the juice to run that idea to the ground. Get it on the paper, make the song, bring it to the people."
Speaking of song, make sure you catch Jim Thomas, Founder and Conductor of the Martha’s Vineyard Spirituals Choir, and Founder and Director of the U.S. Slave Songs Project. The choir sings songs sung by slaves in the United States, and performs throughout the summer. For more information, visit usslavesongproject.com.
Jim describes the beginning of the Spirituals Choir: “I collected singers here, and we started to talk about the history of slave songs and how they were started. To my knowledge nobody in the country has done that. Everybody likes singing them, and everybody that I know knows at least three or four from youth. But no one can tell you how they were started. I was intrigued by that. That to me was phenomenal. A group of young people with a tradition of singing was brought here from Africa, where all information is sung.”
While Johnny Hoy and Jim Thomas are celebrating the musical soundscape, Liz Taft is a plein air painter who captures the magic of the Vineyard landscape. In additional to painting herself, she is teacher to the next generation of island plein air painters. See her work at liztaft.com, arrange to visit her in her studio, or commission a painting, your own personal image of Vineyard heaven.
Liz describes her connection to painting landscape: “It began with this intimate connection with nature…I just wanted to capture that thing that I had seen outside. I wanted to share that connection that I feel. I want to be truthful to the thing, to the scene, to the spot.”
If you are in search of something to “hit the spot,” Juli Vanderhoop's baked goods are renowned island wide. She runs the Orange Peel Bakery and Orange Peel Bakery Cafe, both in Aquinnah. Her Wednesday night pizza nights have been an island tradition. Visit orangepeelbakery.net for information.
Juli talks about her upbringing: “ I was raised in Aquinnah, the land of my people, which are historically known as the Wampanoag people. This is home to me, and it’s been the land where I’ve come from forever, since the beginning of written history. I was taught baking by my stepfather, Luther Madison, as well as my mother, Ann Vanderhoop. It was something we did every day. It was something that our lives were structured around, and that was always a great thing. We had to hunt here, so having food on our table, which wasn’t always easy, was a blessing. Really learning what food meant was important.”
If you are looking for something original and inspiring, visit sculptor and glass artist Barney Zeitz in his Vineyard Haven studio. Barney is a versatile artist who works in metal and stained glass - see his work at bzeitz.com.
Barney reflects on his life on the Vineyard: “I feel good about being on the Vineyard. I did the Baptist Church, three Episcopal churches, two Methodist churches, and then I did my art in the Hebrew Center. I can walk around here and feel I have helped to restore some old things, paying tribute to the past, and doing my own thing.”
Johnny Hoy, Jim Thomas, Liz Taft, Juli Vanderhoop and Barney Zeitz are your introduction. The Urge to Create: Vineyard Portraits offers you a window into the beauty, vitality and diversity of Vineyard life.
Thousands of people flock to Martha’s Vineyard to relax in the summer sun, read leisurely on the beach, sip cocktails along the harbor and find solace in doing a whole lot of nothing. Then there’s the subset of visitors who seek action and adventure, those who look forward to burning countless calories while traversing our 100 square miles of challenging terrain. This post is for them. With miles of ideal hiking, biking and running routes, and with fun outdoor fitness options, Martha’s Vineyard is the ideal destination for active travelers who want to get outside and get moving.
Martha’s Vineyard is home to miles and miles of hiking trails. From wooded paths, to open field trails, to stretches along seaside cliffs, there really is a trail for everyone. The island is mostly flat meaning most trails can accommodate an easy to moderate skill level. In fact, the highest elevation is only 311 feet at Peak Hill in the town of Chilmark, making hiking on the Vineyard a great family activity or a simple way for the more serious hiker to complete all trails.
New this year, Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation launches a free app, TrailsMV, which provides maps and info on all public hiking trails and over 100 preserved properties. TrailsMV uses GPS to pinpoint hikers’ locations, shows the direction hikers are going, and guides hikers. Plus, it works without cell service or wifi, making it ideal on trails. c trails
If you’re looking to pick up the pace and go for a run, the Island’s diverse landscape is ideal for that too. Stay down-Island for the flatter roads or head to Chilmark and Aquinnah for windier roads of varying elevations. The Martha’s Vineyard Manuel F. Correllus State Forest located in the middle of the Island, offers 14 miles of wooded and paved paths away from island traffic, making it a safe, secluded option, where you can keep a steady pace. For runners looking to take off along the water consider a stretch of Beach Road between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs or a jaunt along the hillier East Chop Drive. For those runners looking to go the distance, check out: Martha’s Vineyard Marathon and Half Marathon; Memorial Day 5K Road Race; Murdick’s 5-Mile Run the Chop Challenge; and the Chilmark Road Race.
If biking or cycling is more your thing, Martha’s Vineyard has you covered there too. Biking is one of the best ways to enjoy the Vineyard, from paved pathways to miles of off-road trails that crisscross the Island. From Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs to Edgartown, or any combination of down-Island towns, you’ll find over 44 miles of bike trails that are mostly flat and easier for children, as well as adults. For the more experienced rider, a tour of the up-Island communities of West Tisbury, Chilmark and Aquinnah can prove quite the challenge with their hilly and curvy roadways in the more rural area. Want to cycle the entire Island? You’ll easily log 60+ miles along the perimeter. Click here to download our bike map and browse our directory of bicycle rental shops if you need to borrow gear while you’re here. You're welcome to bring your bike with you over to the island, or you can easily rent one here at any of these bike rental shops. There's even one called Wheel Happy!
There are numerous options for the active traveler looking to break a sweat and have fun at the same time. During peak season, CrossFit Martha's Vineyard offers morning workouts on the beach which often include movements with sand bags, swimming, and body-weight workouts. Other outdoor fitness options include beach yoga, outdoor bootcamps, stand-up paddleboard yoga, and even goat yoga!
Ice cream on Martha’s Vineyard is an essential part of any trip, especially if you are visiting during the warmer spring and summer months. It’s refreshing, deliciously made, and a summer tradition. Below, we’re sharing a little information on the history of ice cream!
“Ice cream's origins are known to reach back as far as the second century B.C., although no specific date of origin nor inventor has been indisputably credited with its discovery. We know that Alexander the Great enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar. Biblical references also show that King Solomon was fond of iced drinks during harvesting. During the Roman Empire, Nero Claudius Caesar (A.D. 54-86) frequently sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices.
Over a thousand years later, Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that closely resembled what is now called sherbet. Historians estimate that this recipe evolved into ice cream sometime in the 16th century. England seems to have discovered ice cream at the same time, or perhaps even earlier than the Italians. "Cream Ice," as it was called, appeared regularly at the table of Charles I during the 17th century. France was introduced to similar frozen desserts in 1553 by the Italian Catherine de Medici when she became the wife of Henry II of France. It wasn't until 1660 that ice cream was made available to the general public. The Sicilian Procopio introduced a recipe blending milk, cream, butter and eggs at Café Procope, the first café in Paris.” - The Evolution of Ice Cream, by the International Dairy Foods Association
On island, we have ice cream and frozen yogurt shops throughout all six towns and below we’ve listed some of our faves, the town where you can find the shop, and our favorite flavors in each shop! We hope you have a chance to do your own ice cream tasting this season - please let us know your favorites!
1. Ben and Bills
Located in Oak Bluffs, Ben and Bills has flavors galore! It’s no wonder they were recently recognized as the top spot for ice cream in New England. Must try flavor? Lobster ice cream. Yep, butter flavored ice cream with real lobster in it.
2. Bernie’s Ice Cream
Located in Vineyard Haven and one of the few ice cream shops that actually makes their ice cream right on-island, Bernie’s Ice Cream is perhaps the creamiest ice cream on Martha’s Vineyard. The owners attended Ice Cream University – that’s a real thing! – before opening up a few years ago. They’ve quickly become a favorite among Island residents and visitors. Ice cream flavors to taste: Coffee Oreo, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip
3. Mad Martha’s Homemade Ice Cream
Located in all three main port towns, Mad Martha’s Homemade Ice Cream is an award-winning ice cream shop that creates some of the most interesting flavor combinations on island! Ice cream flavors to taste: Lemon Blueberry Cake and Shark Attack.
4. Scoop Shack
Located in Edgartown, the Scoop Shack makes all of their ice cream from scratch and also adds to the list of offerings, a unique one: Hawaiian Shaved Ice! They have flavors like green tea flavored ice cream with organic local island honey, mint and crumbled ginger snaps, that will surely delight your senses! Ice cream flavors to taste: Lemon Lavender and Mexican Hot Chocolate.
5. Rosie’s Frozen Yogurt
Located in Oak Bluffs, Rosie’s Frozen Yogurt is a newcomer to the ice cream scene on Martha’s Vineyard, but an already loved one! The Island's only self-serve frozen yogurt store, featuring 8 flavors and over 30 toppings. Frozen yogurt flavors to taste: Berry Acai Sorbet and Original Tart.
6. Tisberry Frozen Yogurt & Smoothies
Located in Vineyard Haven, Tisberry Frozen Yogurt & Smoothies is the Island’s first fro-yo shop. They offer a great selection of flavors for frozen yogurt along with toppings, but it’s also a great spot for fruit smoothies on a hot summer day. Frozen yogurt flavors to taste: Coconut and Original Tart.
8. Soft Serve Specialties: Dairy Queen, Sandy’s Fish & Chips, Net Result, and Menemsha Galley
For the soft-served lovers out there, Martha's Vineyard has you covered. The opening of Dairy Queen in Edgartown is a sure sign the season is about to start. The line of kids snakes around the shop on opening day and the excitement is palpable among kids and parents alike. The local newspapers even cover opening day at DQ! And other soft-serve options can be found at our local fried fish take-out joints. Both Sandy's Fish & Chips and Net Result in Vineyard Haven offer soft serve for dessert, and so does Menemsha Galley in — you guessed it — Menemsha!
As much as we wish everyone’s vacation is rain-free, there are bound to be days during the season that Mother Nature decides to grace us with her rainy, wet presence. Instead of feeling down about it, embrace it by checking out our top ten list of things to do on a rainy vacation day on Martha’s Vineyard. We hope that these suggestions make the most out of your vacation day and we cross our fingers the rain stops soon enough!
1. Watch a movie at any of the local theatersThe island is home to some incredibly historical movie theaters like the Capawock Theater in Vineyard Haven and the Strand in Oak Bluffs. A rainy day movie is best when you’ve gathered supplies like a huge bucket of buttery popcorn and some candy bars to get you through whatever two hour movie you’ve decided to enjoy. See all theater options here.
2. Visit the Martha’s Vineyard Museum
A visit to the local museum is a great way to discover the history of the island and spend a few hours exploring the items in the museum’s collection. The Martha's Vineyard Museum inspires all people to discover, explore, and strengthen their connections to this Island and its diverse heritage, so it’s the perfect way to spend a day.
3. Explore the local libraries and their activities
Local island libraries like the West Tisbury Library, Oak Bluffs Library, and Edgartown Library all have daily activities for kids of all ages. Spend a few hours doing crafts, watching a movie, or reading a book with your kids. See all library options here.
4. Hit a Workout
Work off all that movie popcorn at one of the Island's health clubs or yoga studios. Martha's Vineyard is serious about a lot of things, and fitness is high on that list! Your hotel might even have an in-house gym that you can spend some hours sweating off all the delicious food you’ve enjoyed on your vacation. Check out the health clubs and yoga studios!
5. Read a local book
If you forgot your book at home, we suggest checking out our list of local authors on Martha’s Vineyard or book about Martha’s Vineyard in one of our latest blog posts. Head to Bunches of Grapes in Vineyard Haven or Edgartown Books in Edgartown and ask them to recommend a local favorite.
6. Find a delicious restaurant and have a long, relaxing meal
Don’t want to stay in your hotel room all day? Find a restaurant close by and enjoy a long meal - maybe stop into the Newes from America Pub and grab a table by the fireplace or indulge in a Thai-focused meal at Bangkok Thai Cuisine in Pak Bluffs. Either way, the fireplace or the Thai spices will warm you up!
Martha's Vineyard is home to so many amazing shops! With no chain stores here, all businesses are small businesses, individually owned, and uniquely stocked with items you can't find elsewhere. Many shops feature island-made goods, and each town offers their own distinct shopping experience. Our favorite store on a rainy day? Rainy Day! Yep, that's the store's name.
8. Write postcards at a coffee shop
Stop at any paper store and stock up on postcards about the island, walk over quickly to a coffee shop, and spend a few hours writing postcards back home to friends and family. It’s the best way to relive your vacation and everyone loves snail mail!
9. Go bowling at the local bowling alley
Martha’s Vineyard is home to one bowling alley - The Barn Bowl Bistro - and it’s the funnest place to be on a rainy day. Not only does it have bowling, but it’s a full-service restaurant that serves up some delicious items like pork dumplings and daily specials that are perfect finger foods while bowling. You can enjoy the food while betting your parents at the game or sit down to celebrate your winnings with a full meal and cocktails!
10. Sleep in or take a midday nap
This one is simple - you’re on vacation, so if you can (and your kids allow it) sleep in or take a midday nap. There’s no need to fill the time with things to do - because vacation is all about relaxing and nothing more relaxing than getting some sleep in!
To be a kid on Martha’s Vineyard during the summer months is truly a dream come true. With miles of beaches to frolic on and dozens of ice cream shops to satisfy the their sweet tooths there’s no place they’d rather be. Headed to Martha’s Vineyard this season and curious what to do with the little ones? Here’s a helpful list of attractions to help keep them active and entertained.
Flying Horses Carousel
A ride on the Flying Horses Carousel is a rite of passage for every kid (and adult!). Bring the kids to the nation’s oldest operating carousel, now in its 143rd season, so they can try their luck with grabbing the coveted brass ring in hopes of winning an extra ride free of charge. Kids can also enjoy a variety of other smaller rides and arcade games while they wait to ride atop their favorite horse.
Oak Bluffs Game Room (Ryan Family Amusements)
Ryan Amusements Martha’s Vineyard Game Room on Circuit Avenue features over 75 video games and arcade games sure to bring out the kid in all of us. While the kids try their luck at skeeball you can browse the display case of prizes with nostalgic items from whoopie cushions to ring pops.
The Barn Bowl & Bistro
Further up Circuit Avenue is the Island’s only bowling alley, open year round, and offering a full bar and restaurant that’s a dining destination all on its own. Kids can enjoy bumper bowling and you’ll appreciate the air conditioned escape from the summer heat.
Pirate Adventures Martha's Vineyard
For the kids that love adventure, pirate booty and a chance to shoot water cannons at rogue pirates, Pirate Adventures offers a fully immersive experience. You and the kids can set sail on a pirate's treasure hunt along the shores of Oak Bluffs on a custom built pirate ship. The family friendly adventures invites the kids to dress up, assemble a treasure map, and retrieve a sunken treasure from the ocean floor. We promise you’ll have just as much fun as they will.
Island Alpaca Farm Fun
For animal lovers of all ages, Island Alpaca in Oak Bluffs is a must-visit. The original purchase of eight alpacas in 2004 has grown to a herd of over 50 colorful, friendly alpaca that graze at the farm today. Kids are invited to watch the animals, interact with them and assist with feedings. Their soft fleece makes for super soft, cozy clothes and adorable trinkets available in their expansive gift shop.
Island Cove Adventures
The Island's only mini-golf course, Island Cove Adventures is a super fun place to take the littles. The course features some of the coolest themed holes you'll ever play on. Plus, the snack bar offers delicious and freshly grilled burgers and sandwiches — and it's a little insider tip that Island Cove makes the best ice cream cookie sandwich. You pick the flavor, and they make them to order! YUM
Camps, camps, and more camps
Dozens of Martha’s Vineyard businesses and organizations offer summer camps and programs throughout the season that are sure to stimulate, educate, and inspire your little one. Aspiring farmer? The Farm Institute has a camp for that. Young artist? Featherstone has a camp for that. Free spirited adventure seeker? The YMCA has a camp for that too. Check out our full list of camps on Martha’s Vineyard and find the perfect place to nurture your child’s interests all summer long.
Farming on Martha’s Vineyard is a family affair, most farms owned by local island families for years. Because of the terroir and climate, island farms focus on a few specific regional produce items, but work well together to supplement each other. While one if growing the best tomatoes you’ll ever taste, the other is harvesting the sweetest strawberries you’ll ever experience. Believe it or not, there are about 40 farms on island, some year round and others purely seasonal, supplying not only retail customers, but restaurants and chefs throughout the island. Check out this interactive map put together by the Martha’s VIneyard Times of All Our Farms in One Place, thanks to Slow Food MV, Living Local MV, and Island Grown Initiative. Below, we are listing five of the forty farms we think are staples to island life and we suggest visiting them and supporting local farmers!
Morning Glory Farm
Morning Glory Farm, started in 1975 by James and Deborah Athearn, grows about 65 acres of vegetables and small fruits on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. These acres are spread out all over the island, but their farmstand is located on Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. When we referenced the sweetest strawberries you’ll ever taste, this is the place. Come June, they will start harvesting the berries and you must get their early if you’re looking to score a pint, because they go fast! Make sure to also check out their Strawberry Festival during the same month - a delightful way to spend the day eating strawberries and tasting delicious strawberry focused recipes by their bakers and chefs.
The FARM Institute
The FARM Institute is located on the historic Katama Farm, a farm that dates back to the early 1900s. It is home to a breeding herd of 23 cows, Belted Galloway and American British Whiteparks; 25 breeding ewes, mostly Cotswolds; over 300 laying hens including Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, and Araucana among others; and every year they also raise around 50 Heritage Breed Turkeys. Produce, eggs, and meat available at farm store. They also host classes, summer camps, and more during the summer, so make sure to check them out if you’re traveling with kids.
Island Alpaca Company of Martha's Vineyard began in 2004 with the purchase of 19 acres of land and an antique post-and-beam barn. The alpaca's are a delight to visit on the farm, and guests are encouraged to meet the alpacas. The farmstand offers handmade goods, many of which is made from the alpaca wool. We especially love their soft blankets!
The Grey Barn
A certified organic farm, The Grey Barn produces and harvests cows, pigs, sheeps, chickens, ducks, vegetables, and fruit. But what they are really known for is their award-winning cheeses that come from the gorgeous milk that their dairy cows produce. Recently awarded one of the 25 Most Important Cheeses in America by Bon Appetit Magazine, their Bluebird cheese is one of the best, period. You can purchase it, along with any of their other cheeses, at their farmstand.
Mermaid Farm & Dairy
You might know Mermaid Farm & Dairy for their refreshing mango lassis, which make the trip up island well worth it. But their self-serve farmstand is packed with other things such as meat, seasonal vegetables, raw milk, cheese, yogurt, eggs, and yarn, and is open from dawn to dusk year-round. You can also find them at the West Tisbury Farmers Market, every Saturday, summer and winter.
Get more great info on Martha's Vineyard farms here!
It's my job to love this place, and it's no work at all.