Winter means cozying up over hearty meals and here on Martha’s Vineyard there are still dozens of restaurant ready and waiting to cook you your next best meal. This time of year brings beloved seasonal dishes, popular and affordable dining deals, and unique foodie opportunities you won’t find during the summer months. Whether you’re a local looking for a new haunt this winter or a visitor making the rounds, we’ve compiled some of this season’s most delicious happenings.
Lunch at the Outermost Inn in Aquinnah
Quite possibly the most exciting news in the dining world on Martha’s Vineyard is the addition of lunch at the Outermost Inn in Aquinnah. Known for its spectacular sunsets and world class cuisine, this coveted up-Island restaurant is offering lunch through January 6. If you make it anywhere on this list make sure it’s here. Typically this seasonal restaurant serves dinner and shutters in the fall, but this year they’ve extended their season to offer lunch - and people are raving about it. Served Thursday through Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm and switched out to brunch on Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm, we have our fingers crossed that they'll keep it going even longer. Get there as soon as you can to savor things like short ribs and fried chicken.
Decadent Dinner Deals at the Harbor View Hotel
If you haven’t visited the new Harbor View Hotel you’re missing out. The recently renovated historic hotel is home to Bettini Restaurant where you'll find acclaimed chef Patrice Martineau (formerly of Daniel Boulud’s “Daniel” restaurant among other notable eateries) serving up some true culinary art. On Tuesdays satisfy your sushi craving with Bettini’s Bento Box Dinner Special. The Bento Box contents varies weekly and includes Miso Soup and a Japanese Fluffy Cheesecake with Green Tea, Yuzu Ice Cream all for $25 per person. For a taste of France, visit Bettini on Thursdays for Raclette Night. Raclette, (a word derived from the French verb racler, meaning, "to scrape") is a traditional meal comprising of Alpine cheeses melted on the wheel and then scraped onto accompaniments, such as potato, vegetables, and meats. The Raclette dinner includes Creme Brûlée for dessert at $25 per person. To say that is a great deal is a serious understatement!
Chef Amy’s Food Truck is Open for Business
Martha’s Vineyard boasts only a handful of food trucks and Chef Amy’s is the new kid on the block. The best part? Chef Amy stays put at her location on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven for all to enjoy this season. Her island inspired menu features favorites like jerk chicken, “bad ass” ribs, butter chicken, chicken gyro, plus fried plantains and other “side kicks.” She also offers fresh, cold pressed juices and a dedicated kids menu.
Oak Bluffs Cardboard Box Now Open Year Round
One of Oak Bluffs’ beloved spots, the Cardboard Box, (from executive chef/owner Ben DeForest of the Red Cat Kitchen and most recently the Oyster Bar 02557) announced it will now be open year round. That means we get a full 12 months of fun, food and revelry on Circuit Avenue!
Happy Hours make for happy times
Now’s the time of year to score cheap (and even free!) food on Martha’s Vineyard. Town Bar & Grill in Edgartown serves free passed apps, like their signature Captain’s Pigs in a Blanket, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5-6pm and from 8-10pm for Town Social Hour. If Italian is more your thing, swing by La Soffitta in Vineyard Haven and enjoy half-priced appetizers from 4-6pm on Mondays and Thursdays. Then there’s the beloved waterfront watering hole Lookout Tavern in Oak Bluffs where you can take advantage of their ½ price raw bar and appetizer specials Monday through Friday, until they close for the season on December 31. Shellfish lovers can rejoice knowing they can score local oysters for only $1- and that’s cheaper than we usually pay at the fish markets! Enjoy local oysters at Beach Road in Vineyard Haven for $1 Wednesday to Saturdays at the bar only from 5-6pm. The Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company will also offering $1 local oysters from 4-6pm daily starting in January.
Weekly Dining Specials
Fear not, you can find something delicious and affordable every night of the week no matter your preference or budget. Our local restaurants keep things interesting and accessible for locals and visitors alike. One thing is for certain, you won’t leave hungry when savoring these great deals and discounts!
During the holiday season, more and more friends and family have started gifting the gift of an experience. As you’ll discover, people love to be on the receiving end of these experience gifts! Make this type of gift giving even more welcome by giving an experience that takes place on Martha’s Vineyard – after all, who doesn’t want a gift that brings them closer to the Island? These Vineyard experiences are varied, so there’s something for everyone on your holiday list. From the foodie to the art lover and the adventure seeker, we hope you create new and fun experiences with friends and family this holiday season and in the new year to come!
Membership to the Martha’s Vineyard Museum
The gift of a membership to Martha’s Vineyard Museum is such a great gift for anyone - whether they live on Island or not. All membership levels include:
Grey Barn Bread Program Winter 2020
For the bread lover in your life who lives on Martha’s Vineyard the Grey Barn & Farm offers the perfect gift. The twelve weeks of wonderful, certified organic bread made for you right at the farm brings the following: “Each week you [or the person you gift this to] will receive two breads. Enjoy one of our core sourdough loaves in rotation (Whole Wheat Boule, White Batard, Japanese Milk Bread or our Herb and Polenta Bread); and take home and indulge yourself in one additional artisanal loaf. May include Seasonal Brioche, Seasonal Levain, and other bakery creations that include our farm's local and certified organic products.”
A Grey Barn swag bag is included so that you [or the recipient] have something in which to take your lovingly made bread home, protected from the elements.
Membership to The Trustees
Share your love and support of land conservation and the outdoors: your friend or loved one will enjoy the many benefits of a gift of Membership to The Trustees. The family membership ($70, fully tax deductible) includes:
ResortMan Martha’s Vineyard Luxury Transportation Services’ All Island Tour
A four-hour Island tour with ResortMan is the perfect way to share the Island with your loved ones! This tour exclusively features the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, where visitors will be introduced to Martha’s Vineyard’s 100 square miles and 6 unique towns through its history and special points of interest. Enjoy the best of the Island in luxury and comfort. ResortMan has a variety of tours, including custom tours so make sure to contact them for specific details and to book!
Sponsor an Alpaca
For the alpaca lover in your life, one of the best gifts comes straight from Island Alpaca! Participation in the program will help keep the alpacas healthy, happy and well fed! Of course, Island Alpaca hopes you can meet the alpacas in person and select the one you’ll want to call your own and sponsor. Or, view their characteristics on the Island Alpaca website sales pages. Since each alpaca has its very own unique personality, why not choose the one that best suits the person you are gifting it to? Such a fun gift idea!
For the food lover in your life, an experience with Farm.Field.Sea. is a must. Whether you choose tickets to an oyster farm tour & sunset sail or passes to the Martha’s Vineyard Oyster Festival, this organization is known for its brilliantly curated experiences that focus on the farm-to-table and sea-to-table movement.
Island Spirit Full Day Kayak Tour
For the friend or family member who loves being on the water, a Full Day Kayak Tour is the perfect gift idea. Lunch picnic, and snacks provided - a true sea kayaking experience to remote locations! Departure points based on wind and tides. Full Day locations include Aquinnah loop around the cliffs; Edgartown to the Chappaquiddick ‘Gut’; one-way Tashmoo to Menemsha drift or East and West Chop day in the rip! For the adventurous, this is the perfect gift for summer 2020!
Art Class at Featherstone Center for the Arts
For the creative spirit in your life, a class at Featherstone Center for the Arts is a great idea! Featherstone has all types of classes, not limited to jewelry, art therapy, literary arts, music, painting, mixed media, printmaking, stained glass, technology, as well as art nights.
View all available classes here.
Vineyard Trust Membership and/or Tickets for Taste of the Vineyard
If you’re gifting to someone over the age of 21, a membership to the Vineyard Trust AND tickets to Taste of the Vineyard would be a dream come true! As a bonus, your gift of a Friends Circle membership provides vital support for Vineyard Trust’s ongoing preservation work across the Island. For more than 40 years, the Trust has acquired, preserved and managed 20 endangered historical landmarks across Martha’s Vineyard, restoring living institutions to their rightful place in Island life.
In addition to the knowledge that you are helping to keep Martha’s Vineyard authentic, you will receive the following tangible benefits:
Happy Holidays and Happy Gifting to You All!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Thursday, December 12th through Sunday, December 15th, the town of Edgartown, located “down Island” on Martha’s Vineyard, is hosting their 38th Annual Christmas in Edgartown.
Voted Best of the Vineyard for the fifth year in a row, Christmas in Edgartown is a 4-day festival you don’t want to miss! Every year through the various events, Christmas in Edgartown helps raise over $50,000 for Island-wide charities and nonprofits. It’s really a community-driven event that is filled with holiday cheer for all - and the money raised helps everyone in the community have a merrier holiday season.
Over 100 Edgartown and Island businesses participate in the weekend festivities, events are listed on the Christmas in Edgartown website - come be a part of the holiday magic! What’s great is that HyLine is running a High Speed Ferry direct to Edgartown from Hyannis for Christmas In Edgartown, so make sure to check out that schedule and enjoy the fun and merriment. The Steamship Authority will be running their regular service from Woods Hole, so that’s another option. Maybe you’ll see Santa and some reindeer on the ferry this year?
Don’t Miss These Signature Christmas in Edgartown Events!
Late Night Lights on Main Street: Let evening shop lights entice you in during Christmas in Edgartown Late Night Lights on Main. To kick-off Christmas in Edgartown, stores will be open until 8 pm on Thursday for you to focus on holiday shopping before the busy weekend of festivities begin. Come early, stay late, and hop between parties, sales, discounts with a drink or appetizer in between.
Kick off Christmas in Edgartown with Rockland Trust! A traditional kick off to Christmas in Edgartown, the Rockland Trust Party is not to be missed. Come join us for delicious bites, wine, cheese, music and giveaways. Please call 508-627-7038 with your questions.
Martha's Vineyard Teddy Bear Suite: Join Point B Realty in celebrating their ninth enchanting year. The Martha’s Vineyard Teddy Bear Suite Fundraiser is a magical holiday tradition where family memories are made, and the money raised goes to help the Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls Club. Each year, our family of bears, dressed in holiday splendor, bring the magic of the season to all those who visit. Suggested donation of $5 benefits the Martha's Vineyard Boys & Girls Club. Please call 508-627-4567, ext 807 with questions.
Lighting of the Edgartown Lighthouse: Don’t miss this time-honored tradition! Edgartown’s version of a tree lighting is full of seaside village charm. The magical event is brought to you by the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. Viewing festivities will be hosted by the Harbor View Hotel.
Donaroma’s Joy to the World! After the summer sun and brilliant shades of autumn have passed, we celebrate the holidays with our Evening of Enchantment, a stroll through our magically decorated Donaroma’s Nursery and Garden Store. This year we have the pleasure to celebrate “Joy to the World” with our beautiful community. Come join us for a few wondrous hours for the whole family to enjoy and capture the spirit of the season. Donations benefit the Martha’s Vineyard Boys & Girls Club.
Holiday Cocktail Party at the Dr. Daniel Fisher House: Enjoy fine libations and passed hors d’oeuvres at the historic Dr. Daniel Fisher House. Ticket price $75 per person (21+) Tickets purchased after December 1st may be picked up at the Dr. Daniel Fisher House. Please contact the Vineyard Trust for details: 508-627-4440.
27th Annual Christmas in Edgartown Art and Crafts Festival: This year's annual Holiday Art and Crafts Festival will again be showcasing the work of over 40 Island artists and craftspeople. Free parking on site. Come take care of all your holiday shopping. Food is available and parking is free. Benefiting Edgartown School 8th grade class trip to Washington DC. For questions about the event or how to be a vendor, please call Fran at 508-560-6721.
Plum Hill School Annual Elves Faire: Crafts, Decorate a Gingerbread House, Silent Auction, Holiday Gifts, Delicious Hot Food and Drink. Proceeds benefit the Plum Hill School. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Christmas in Edgartown Parade: Not quite the 4th of July, but it is a strong runner-up! Join the fun to see floats, animals, music, dancers, kids, fire engines, and of course Santa. The parade will take place on Main Street between Peases’ Point Way and Water Street.
The 35th Annual Great Chowder Contest: The Great Chowder Contest crowns the best clam chowder and the best seafood chowder made on Martha's Vineyard. Under the tent on Winter Street in Edgartown, more than a dozen professionals, restaurants and individuals vie for the title of best clam or best seafood chowder. Admission is $10 per person which entitles you to a sample of each of these delicious chowders. All benefits from ticket sales go to The Red Stocking Fund. Online ticket sales here.
MVRHS Minnesingers Concerts at the Old Whaling Church: $15 per adult, $10 seniors & students. Children 12 and under free when accompanied by an adult but must have a physical Free Ticket for admittance. Tickets available for purchase after Thanksgiving at The Carnegie (Edgartown), Alley's General Store (West Tisbury), Leslie’s Pharmacy (Vineyard Haven), Our Market (Oak Bluffs) or at the door. Please call 508-627-4440 with your questions.
Teddy Bear Trot Holiday 5K Run & Walk: The Martha’s Vineyard Boys & Girls Club, in conjunction with Point B Realty, is happy to be sponsoring the 5th Annual Teddy Bear Trot 5K and Fun Run, part of the Martha's Vineyard Teddy Bear Suite, as well as the Christmas in Edgartown festivities. Awards will be given for age groups, as well as festive dress. Participants of all ages and levels are encouraged to participate and dress as festively as possible. Dogs and strollers are welcome! To register today, click here. Entrance fee is $25 for pre-registration, and $30 race day. Kids' fun run registration is $10. All proceeds go to the Club’s Happy Healthy Kids program, an after-school program which provides free food to hundreds of Island children each week and is the focus of the Martha's Vineyard Teddy Bear Suite fundraiser. This year, the Teddy Bear Suite has a fundraising goal of $45,000, which will underwrite the Health Happy Kids program. Join us for this cornerstone event of Christmas in Edgartown weekend! For information, visit https://mvteddybearsuite.com/.
Photos: Joshua Robinson-White, Vineyard Lights
The Martha's Vineyard Oyster Fest celebrates all things seafood, with something for everyone. Meet local oyster growers, gatherers, chefs, sommeliers, brewers, and mixologists as they share what they love to do. Eat local seafood, drink fine wine and local brews, groove to live music, learn about the superpowers of oysters. Let it all go, with fellow merrymakers, for some real good, salty fun. Tickets on sale here.
The festival will take place on May 8th and 9th, 2020, at the new Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Vineyard Haven. We caught up with one of the founders of the Oyster Festival, Nevette Previd, and asked her a few questions about her oyster loving life!
What is it about oysters and the shellfish industry that excites you the most?
Oysters/Shellfish have superpowers! And, a trifecta of positive impact. They are a delicious, healthy, versatile protein source, they work to mitigate the effects of humans and climate change on our local waters and have played a positive role in improving the local economy of the Island via the boom of oyster farming. Amazing!
It's an oyster and wine festival - so tell us, what would be your ideal wine for Island oysters?
My obvious, ideal wine for oysters is Veuve Clicquot (anytime really). I also love Naissance Sauvignon Blanc from Jackson Family Wines or any Rosé. According to my co-producer John Clift, sommelier, and owner of MV Vintage Wines - Muscadet makes for a 'heavenly pairing' that makes oysters 'dance.' For fried or cooked oysters, my go-to is Brewer Clifton Chardonnay.
Did you grow up eating oysters? Can you recount an early oyster experience you had?
No! But my son has downed raw oysters and clams like a champ since he was two years old. My first experience with oysters was when I lived in London. On one fateful day, under a little friendly prodding from friends, I tried raw oysters, escargot, steamers, and sushi - and I never looked back.
Fun That Fuels the Future
The Martha’s Vineyard Oyster Fest (MVOF) is a mission-based festival that aims to drive long-term local, regional, and national awareness of Martha's Vineyard and Massachusetts-farmed oyster and native fish profiles.
Founded by Nevette Previd of Farm.Field.Sea., the Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group (MVSG), and John Clift of the MV Wine Festival and purveyor of Vintage MV Wine & Spirits and 19 Raw, the festival gathers oyster farmers, the who’s who in the beverage industry, the area’s best chefs, and a fantastic cadre of special guests, to celebrate the bounty from the sea.
They aim to quench the ever-growing appetite for a cultural event that marries food, wine, education, and music. They hope guests take away a deeper understanding of this incredible class of mollusks, Bivalvia—their culinary versatility, health benefits, and real, positive environmental and ecosystem impact.
A portion of the MVOF proceeds will go to the Martha’s Vineyard Shell Recovery Partnership. This MVSG program reduces and recycles shell waste on the Island, provides a local source of shell for shellfish restoration, and improves shellfish production, which in turn improves local water quality. All shells from the MVOF will be recycled through this program.
Make sure to check out ticket sales online here and start planning your bivalve adventure to Martha’s Vineyard next May 2020!
It’s fall on Martha’s Vineyard and with the seasons changing, so do restaurant menus. Today, we’re getting really hungry by sharing “The Most Delicious Fall Restaurant Dishes on Martha’s Vineyard!"
When you think of the Fall season on Martha’s Vineyard and most of New England, you think of warm, grounding foods that take the chill off because, as we all know, the warmer temperatures aren’t around anymore and we’re trying to stay as cozy as possible.
The Squash Soup with Pumpkin Seed, Aleppo Pepper, and Brioche Croutons is one that will warm you up from head to toe. It’s the ideal way to start a meal at this Edgartown restaurant, as it is light enough to indulge in.
The Barn, Bowl, and Bistro
For those that want something healthy and fresh, but at the same time full of Fall flavors, this salad from the Barn is delightful: Brussels Sprouts and Kale Salad combine with red cabbage, candied pecans, dried cranberries and blue cheese crumbles tossed in a lemon vinaigrette.
Treat yourself to dinner at this gorgeous Edgartown restaurant and check out their new Fall menu. The coziest dish? The Braised Short Ribs, which are slowly coaxed to tenderness in red wine jus and served with the creamiest mashed potatoes and confit carrots.
The Cardboard Box
Nothing says cozy and comfort like these crispy servings of buttermilk-ed, 1/2 fryer chickens with sweet cornbread cast iron skillet, luscious braised collards and a honey-chili butter that will have you licking your fingers!
You might not think eggplant as a fall ingredient, but it’s actually in season until late October so we love that we can include it in this roundup. Head to Vineyard Haven and get the Garlic Eggplant from Copper Wok and you won’t be disappointed. Plus, garlic is a great ingredient to keep your immune system strong and healthy this time of year!
The Fish House MV
With a tempting selection of grab and go items for dinner you can choose from local lamb or veggie shepherd’s pie, veggie or chicken pot pie, mac and cheese and lobster mac and cheese. All homemade, they are the perfect quick meal when you don’t have time to cook before the early winter darkness settles in right around 4 pm.
Life at Humphrey’s
Hungry for lunch? Try their Garden Harvest veggie sandwich! Roasted carrot purée, roasted butternut squash, red peppers, red onions, lettuce, cucumbers spread with an amazing cranberry goat cheese and topped with walnuts, this sandwich is healthy, filling, and bursting with textures.
On Upper Main Street in Edgartown is Lucky Hank’s, which you might think about for breakfast but, you’ll happily discover, serves up some amazing lunches and dinners as well. Check out its Morning Glory Farm Candy Roaster Squash and Roasted Garlic Soup with shredded Morning Glory Farm kale, Gala apple, toasted almonds, and a goat cheese crouton. What’s not to love?!
The Newes From America Pub
For those craving pasta, another great option is the Roasted Butternut Squash ravioli with sage cream, toasted pecans, and cider syrup from this historic Edgartown pub.
Town Bar & Grill
These Squash Ravioli are served with a luscious sage brown butter sauce and sprinkled with maple-bourbon soaked cranberries, Parmesan cheese, and candied walnut crumbs for some texture. The squash filling inside the ravioli is so creamy and delicious, you’ll want to order this one every time you visit!
Now, if you’re not looking to stay cozy but are still hungry, make sure to check out our other foodie blog posts linked below:
WHERE TO FIND THE BEST FRIED SEAFOOD ON MARTHA’S VINEYARD
FINDING THE BEST BURGER ON MARTHA’S VINEYARD
WHERE TO EAT THE BEST PIZZA ON MARTHA’S VINEYARD
Spending Thanksgiving on Martha’s Vineyard is a fun way for family and friends to reconnect on this quintessential American holiday. If you’re coming from the mainland, it’s a great holiday during which to spend some time on Island when it’s a bit more relaxed and calm, hotel rates are a tad lower and the overall energy of the Island is tranquil and serene.
So for this year, forget about cooking at home and plan a family getaway to Martha’s Vineyard for Thanksgiving 2019. We’ve put together a delicious list of options, whether you want to dine out that day or order catered food to bring home to your vacation home or rental, we have it all! At the end of this blog post, we are also sharing a hotel package designed especially for enjoying a leisurely holiday, so make sure to check it out!
Where Dine Out on Thanksgiving Day on Martha’s Vineyard
Bettini Restaurant at The Harbor View Hotel
Indulge in a Grand Buffet - $79 Adult │ $35 Children 12 and under--excluding tax and gratuity. Among the multiple offerings are:
Herb and Citrus Roasted Turkey, Classic Gravy, Cranberry Chutney;
Slow Baked New York Sirloin, Green Peppercorn, Sautéed Mushrooms;
Crispy Pork Belly, Dried Fruit Compote, Quince Glaze;
Roasted Salmon, Fall Root Vegetables, Hollandaise;
and a Rigatoni Bolognese Gratin, Pesto, Parmesan
View full menu online here.
Call to make reservations: 508-627-3761
The Black Dog Tavern
Offering a Thanksgiving buffet ($46 for adults, $20 for kids) Enjoy all the fixin's of a homemade Thanksgiving dinner while taking in the extraordinary view of Vineyard Haven Harbor from the cozy Tavern. The traditional Thanksgiving buffet dinner includes: Fresh Herb-Roasted Turkey, Roasted Prime Rib, House-made Bread Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Candied Yams, Green Beans, Sweet Corn, Turkey Gravy, Cranberry Relish, Fresh Dinner Rolls, Bakery-made Pies & Desserts. Dinner seatings at Noon, 2pm & 4pm
Call to make reservations: 508-693-9223
Three seatings staggered from 1pm-7pm. Three courses; choice of two soups, four apps, three entrees (Turkey, Lobster or Venison) price based on entree.
Three course meal, including turkey and the fixings.
Call to make reservations: 508-939-4082
The Terrace at the Charlotte Inn
Offering a $99 pre fixe menu, treat yourself and the family to a luxurious dinner at the Island’s only Relais & Chateau property.
Call to make reservations: 508-627-68227
Woods at Lambert’s Cove Inn
Woods will be doing a buffet style dinner 12pm-6pm, with the last seating at 6pm. Adults are $65 per person and kids are $20 per child. They will also start taking orders for catered dinners now through Wednesday, November 20th. Catered dinners can also be a la carte; these will be priced per-person as well and can accommodate all-sized parties. For your sweet tooth, they will be selling pumpkin and apple pies for $30, beginning on Friday, November 15th.
Call to make reservations: 800-535-0272
Where to Get a Thanksgiving Meal - To Go - on Martha’s Vineyard
Call to order: 508-693-4786
Menus and ordering at: www.theblackdog.com
Black Sheep Mercantile
The menu at the Black Sheep looks delicious and offers the perfect variety of tasty items that you just to warm up and serve! Items like roasted leek dip, butternut gruyere scones, Boursin Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, and so much more to delight those at your table this year!
Call to Order: 508-338-7770
Golden Bull Brazilian Steak House
Order ahead to take out or dine in at the restaurant, open on Thanksgiving Day 11am-10pm with turkey added to the buffet.
Call to order: 508-338-7836
Call to order: 508-645-5000
Menus and ordering at: kitchenporch.com
Life at Humphrey's
This Thanksgiving indulge in all those favorite 'sides that make Thanksgiving everyone's favorite holiday! From refreshing salad starters, classic stuffing recipes, veggies that are all dressed up for the festivities and on to turkey and desserts that will push the limits of your appetite, Life at Humphrey's offers a feast to remember without the fuss. Be sure to ask about special pricing if you're celebrating with a crowd. Orders in by November 24th please!
Order your catered meal from Scottish Bakehouse and dine on Kale & Brussels Salad; Mashed Island Root Veggies, The Good Farm island Raised Turkey and so much more!
Call to order: 508-693-6633
Menus and ordering at: scottishbakehousemv.com
Stay for the Long Holiday!
Book a luxurious 2019 Thanksgiving getaway with the Nobnocket Inn in Vineyard Haven and enjoy a three-night stay in a Luxury Grand guest room with king bed, gourmet breakfast every morning, a welcome glass of champagne, and a Thanksgiving celebration meal at Bettini in Edgartown. Spend the days strolling the towns and discovering new shops and restaurants along the way, while being thankful to be on this gorgeous Island. To book, click here
Business women on Martha’s Vineyard come from all different industries and today, we’re showcasing just a few of the women that make this Island the inclusive, creative, and successful place it is.
Knowing that 33 percent of businesses in Massachusetts are owned by women, it’s safe to say that overall, women-owned businesses everywhere are developing more and more daily. Whether it’s a full-time job or a “side hustle,” we’re seeing more of it and we’re here to support it.
“Part-time entrepreneurship is often called “sidepreneurship.” The rate of growth in the number of sidepreneurs is far greater than for all ventures. This reflects the proliferation of ways in which adults can earn money on the side and increasing ease in finding these opportunities.” - A Changing World: The Shifting Gig Economy In 2019,” Ben Walker, Forbes, May 10, 2019
Realizing the economic potential of women-owned businesses (because it is an industry that nationwide generates a revenue of $1.9 trillion), policies, practices, and attitudes need to shift for us to succeed. The women we’re recognizing below are all movers and shakers on Island, working on their goals and dreams, individually but at the same time collectively, collaborating for a better Martha’s Vineyard.
Guinevere Cramer, social media manager for Point B Realty
“This Island is incredible but it's the people that truly make it special. Through thick and thin, so many of us work together and support each other - whether it's to help a non-profit, a fellow business or even one of our schools’ PTOs, our sense of community seems limitless. I am so lucky to be a part of the magic.”
Althea Freeman, local artist who creates designs on hand carved linoleum blocks and owner of Althea Designs
“I love that the community and the natural beauty of the Island nurtures and inspires creative minds.”
Annabelle Hunton, owner of the Nobnocket Boutique Inn
“I love that Martha’s Vineyard has this rich heritage of embracing creativity, diversity and local ownership, all of which makes it incredibly rewarding to develop an Island business. Connections and personal relationships are so key to succeeding here, and that in turn opens up so many opportunities to make an impact by getting directly involved in the community."
Susie Nedley, founder Bee Well MV and clinical herbalist
“Bee Well’s relationship with the Island is so beautiful in the way that I get to connect people back to nature as their healer. A lot of wild medicinal herbs grow in sidewalks here, never mind the fields and forests that are lush with native traditionally used herbs. The plants are our allies and are very much part of our thriving Island community and I am grateful to be a connector.”
Teri Pirozzi, co-founder of Experience MV and Resortman
“What makes doing business on the Island so unique is that the business community is so supportive – everyone looks to network and help each other grow their businesses – everyone seems to champion everyone else’s success – truly a “rising tide lifts all boats” business community!”
Nevette Previd, founder of Farm Field Sea and the Martha’s Vineyard Oyster Festival
“Martha’s Vineyard is a magical campus for out-of-the-box experiences. At each turn there is a new story to tell - sea+soil farmers excited to share generations of hands-on knowledge, and chefs seeking new ways to prepare local ingredients, and hungry guests craving to expand their food adventures beyond their local farmers market. We are living the dream here on the Vineyard, I really love sharing it with others.”
Erin Ready, executive director of the Edgartown Board of Trade; and co-owner of Edgartown Meat and Fish Market
“I really enjoy working in a small community, where 'Island life' is something you immediately have in common with others. That being said, I'm often surprised and intrigued to learn of individual serendipitous journeys to the Island and Interesting experiences from past lives. It is always incredible to me what Islanders and Wash-A-Shores alike bring to the table when you sit down in a group. While this is not unique to our Island, it is amplified because we are in a smaller community that happens to be an off-the-beaten-path destination.”
CJ Rivard, MV Camp Meeting Association and WILD – Women in Learning & Leadership Development
“One thing I enjoy about working on Martha’s Vineyard, all times of the year, is that people are genuinely happy and excited to be here. It makes it easy to love what I do!”
India Rose, owner of We Hustle & Thrive Consulting, specializes in creating 12 month revenue streams in seasonal economies, strategic event activations, individual goal setting and time management workshops and diversity and inclusion business planning and human resource efforts.
“What I love most about working with the small business community on the Island, is finding creative ways to create 12-month revenue streams. As a seasonal economy, we can all relate to the seasonal struggles; but those struggles also bring us together in a lot of productive ways and I absolutely love it.”
Next time you visit the Island, make sure to scout out some of these and other women- owned businesses and support them!
Small Business Saturday is an American shopping holiday held on the Saturday following US Thanksgiving and Black Friday - one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. This Saturday is always the last one in November, falling between November 24 and November 30. This year (2019), it happens on Saturday, November 30th and shoppers on Martha’s Vineyard couldn’t be more excited!
As an Island community, we depend on both local and visitor spending to help sustain our economy and the best way to accomplish this is by shopping at locally owned, Island businesses. Owned and run by people that live on the Island, these Martha’s Vineyard business owners earn their livings on the Island and live with their families on the Island. They comprise the fabric of the Island’s community. What makes Martha’s Vineyard such a special place aren’t just the beaches and lobster rolls, but the kind people you meet in stores and on the sidewalks. It’s the people that take a moment out of their day to point visitors in the right direction, the ones that recommend their favorite restaurants and shops.
Shopping locally something everyone can do to keep a community thriving. The list below is divided up into main towns and areas on Martha’s Vineyard. We’ve not just listed retail shops, but coffee shops, bed & breakfasts, and more! Check out this sampling of local small businesses, and please pay a visit to our online directory for a list of all Island businesses who will be on hand to welcome you on the upcoming Small Business Saturday!
UP ISLAND (AQUINNAH, CHILMARK & WEST TISBURY)
Nothing says v-a-c-a-tion like a good book! Whether on the beach and in the sun, or beside a fireplace cuddled up, when we see visitors get off the boat with books in hand or see them browsing the shelves of bookstores looking for that one perfect vacation read, our book-loving hearts rejoice.
This post is for those not only looking for local bookshops to browse, we’ve also curated a list of Little Free Libraries on the Island, spots where you can read a book with not a soul to disturb you, and overall, just give a few tips and ideas on where to get books and read them. We’ve also reached out to local author, Crispin Haskin and asked him to share his favorite bookworm spots on the Island.
Little Free Libraries on Island
These little libraries can be found across the world and we are happy to have two of them on the Island. Pick up a book, trade in a book, leave a book after you’ve read it - all based on the honor system. Book lovers unite!
This Little Free Library is located at a newly renovated public boat dock and boat launching ramp at the Lake Street Landing on Tashmoo, Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard. The addition of a bench alongside the Little Library gives kids and adults a place to rest or to select a book while waiting for their boat to come in. This Library is made of 95% recycled materials and decorated by some young friends.
Located in the heart of Oak Bluffs on the Island of Martha's Vineyard, you are welcome to ‘take a book, leave a book’ at this Little Free Library which is kept and curated by the Oak Bluffs Public Library, located about a 10-minute walk away, at 56R School Street.
All six towns on Martha’s Vineyard have their own libraries, and each is worth a visit from traveling bookworms!
Nothing says vacation like packing up your book and a snack and heading to the nearest or most favorite beach to read for a few hours under the sun.
“Books and beaches are a natural for me. I love to head up-island early in the morning and read on Moshup Beach. If I'm staying down-Island, I'll take the ’On Time’ ferry to Chappaquiddick and read on the beach across from the Edgartown Lighthouse. That's Vineyard paradise right there,” states Crispin Haskins, author of five books that are all about the VIneyard. His fifth book, Dead and Buried, just came out last week and it’s another stellar read - head to your favorite beach and read Crispin’s latest!
Reading by the Fire
What is it about reading by the fireplace on a cool night that makes us feel so cozy? Grab a book and head to your choice of the following Island spots which host great roaring fires-season and weather permitting. In Edgartown you’ll find a welcoming blaze at the Newes Pub, Harbor View Hotel and Town Bar & Grill; in Oak Bluffs, the fireplace at Offshore Ale awaits.
Support Our Local Bookstores
Bunches of Grapes has been serving booklovers on the Island of Martha's Vineyard for over 40 years. This independent, locally-owned bookstore is located in the heart of Vineyard Haven on Martha's Vineyard. Catering to a community of writers and readers, it features a carefully curated selection of the finest books and sidelines, and hosts author events year-round.
Edgartown Books is Martha's Vineyard's other independently owned bookstore. Browse two floors of books, relax in the secluded courtyard garden, indulge in great "people watching" from its front porch and enjoy its renowned customer service. If you like to do your reading in a café setting, you’re in luck - one of the Island's best coffee shops and restaurants, Behind the Bookstore, is located in the book shop’s own backyard!
Martha’s Vineyard is a happening place around the holidays and Halloween is no exception! From kids’ craft and costume workshops to spook-tacular late night parties for the big kids there are all sorts of fang-tastic events going on. Here’s a roundup of local happenings this Halloween on Martha’s Vineyard. Come one, come all and have a (bloody) ball!
Friday, October 18
A Spook-tacular Event, 2:40-4pm, West Tisbury School. Join the West Tisbury School PTO, Felix Neck Sanctuary and the Trustees of Reservations in celebrating the spookiest time of the year. Learn about bats and play harvest games, pumpkin painting, bake sale, costume swap, face painting, live music by the Pinkletinks and free apple cider if you bring your own mug!
Saturday, October 19
Morning Glory Pumpkin Festival: The largest farm on Martha’s Vineyard hosts this lively free festival each year, complete with pumpkin games, hay rides, live music, and all things pumpkin. It’s not so much about Halloween but it will get you in the mood for all things Fall!
Thursday, October 24
Halloween Craft: Spooky Ghosts: Join the Oak Bluffs Library in making Spooky Ghosts with cheesecloth, balloons and glue. Pre-registration required. 6-7:30pm.
Jazen Art Party: Paint a Halloween inspired picture of a “White Pumpkin Patch” alongside instructor Naomi. Bring friends, food and drink, listen to music and unwind while celebrating the season. 6pm.
Friday, October 25
An Interactive Screening of “Hocus Pocus”: Head on over to the West Tisbury Library for an interactive screening of one of the most beloved Halloween movies “Hocus Pocus.” Costumes are welcome and treats will be provided! 3:30 – 5 pm.
Saturday, October 26
Kids’ Halloween Party: The annual Oak Bluffs Library Halloween party returns! Venture into the spooky tunnel through the stacks, enjoy eerie games, and a craft. Kids are welcome to show up in costume. 10-11:30am.
Trick or Treat in the Stacks: Edgartown Library gets spooky and welcomes all to come the Library to give your Halloween costume a trial run. The Children's Room is decorated for the occasion and treats for all. There will be crafts, and prizes for everyone in a costume. 10:30am-12pm.
The Atlantic Fish and Chop House’s Annual Halloween Party: Join the Atlantic in celebrating Halloween during its last night of the season. Scary costumes encouraged. After all, as they say, it’s “where the pretty people go to get ugly.”
Annual Halloween Party at The LOFT: Come out for the Island’s largest Halloween costume party with prizes and all the hoopla at The LOFT in Oak Bluffs.
Sunday, October 27
Happy Haunting: This event encompasses Edgartown’s annual Halloween festivities, and things can get spooky. Visit downtown Edgartown for some Halloween fun, while little ghosts and goblins trick-or-treat from business to business. Sponsored by the Edgartown Board of Trade. 12–3pm.
Wednesday, October 30
Halloween Movie Screening: What movie you ask? Don't say his name three times or he'll appear and cause mayhem. Free. Popcorn and candy provided. Costumes encouraged. 5pm.
Thursday, October 31
Trick or treating on Martha’s Vineyard can be few and far between given the rural landscape of the Island and limited walkable neighborhoods. For those looking to go door to door Vineyard Ave. in Oak Bluffs is a popular destination as well as William Street and Franklin Street in Vineyard Haven, where streets are closed off to ensure safety. Downtown Vineyard Haven is also a popular trick or treat trail, as costumed kids are invited to visit local businesses in pursuit of something sweet.
Trick or Treat at the Vineyard Haven Library: The Library will be open late for Halloween so families can take a break from trick-or-treating and enjoy cider and candy provided by the Friends of the Vineyard Haven Library. 5–8pm.
Halloween Party with Dock Dance Band: Enjoy this annual costume party at the Port Hunter in Edgartown before they close for the season. Featuring the live music of the Dock Dance Band. 10pm.
DJ AP at The Ritz. Halloween is always a hoot at The Ritz. Dance to the tunes of DJ AP and get ghoulish! 10:30pm.
Annual Halloween Party at The LOFT: Come out (again!) for the Island’s largest Halloween costume party with prizes and all the hoopla at The LOFT in Oak Bluffs.
Friday, November 1
Dance Party for Habitat of Humanity, PA Club, Oak Bluffs. Prizes for best mask, makeup and costume. Costumes optional. Music by Gordon Healy. 7:30–10:30pm.
Dressing for Success
Need help getting your costume together? Want to go DIY instead of store bought? Local libraries are offering costume clinics to help you put finishing touches on your costume, and helping kids turn their imagination into handmade Halloween fun.
The West Tisbury Library is offering you the opportunity to brainstorm and troubleshoot your Halloween costume Saturday, October 19 from 10:30-12:30pm. Make a costume for yourself or help a friend make a costume. Bring your ideas and any special materials or use what they have. All ages are welcome, even grownups.
The Aquinnah Library is also offering a Costume Clinic to help guide you through the costume planning and making process Saturday, October 19 from 12–3pm.
The Vineyard Haven Library hosts its Costume Clinic and Bag Decorating event on Wednesday, October 30 from 3:30–5pm. Get ready for Halloween by making some finishing touches to your costume and/or get help with last-minute costumes. You can also make some bags for trick-or-treating or for every day.
Going out for drinks on vacation is a must - whether you’re drinking alcohol or not, so it should come as no surprise that Martha’s Vineyard has its fair share of cocktail and mocktail destinations and drink lists. Offering a wide array of places to drink - from an in-town outdoor patio, a rooftop deck overlooking the harbor, or a cozy table snugged up close to a blazing fireside, the Island has it all. For non-drinkers, the following list notes the spots that excel in crafting enticing non-alcoholic beverages. Enjoy!
Indulge in their “No Buzz” selection if you’re a non-drinker; among the offerings is the tempting Stone Fruit Spritz made with mango puree, citrus, sage syrup, and soda (yum!!!). For those of you that do drink, they have a “Tried and True” section along with “Seasonally Inspired” drinks that change, you guessed it, with the seasons. Their Espresso Martini is one locals rave about, along with their famous Mojito.
Explore the cocktail menu at Atria and be dazzled by the creative drinks offered by its team of bartenders. A must is the Sparkling Sangria that’s made with Myers Rum, St. Germain, Canton, Lambrusco, and oranges. You can get it by the glass or the liter! For the non-drinkers, the mocktail menu has six gorgeous beverages that you’ll love. Our favorite? The Midnight Renewal made with strawberry lemonade, basil, activated charcoal, lemon, and honey.
Pan-Asian flavors inspire the cocktail menu at Copper Wok in Vineyard Haven and if you’re looking for a fun time, this is where you need to be. Grab a Scorpion Bowl for you and a friend, or try their Tiananmen Square, which combines sake, lemon, and agave all served over a cucumber puree ice cube.
Tucked into Nevin Square in Edgartown is Detente, where you’ll find the loveliest little patio to sip cocktails and enjoy some food. Not only is the food great but the wine and cocktail lists are divine. Try their Paloma or any of the mocktails that head bartender Luci can make for you.
Head over to Katama to the Winnetu Resort, home to the Dunes Restaurant and its gorgeous bar. The ambiance is one that promotes just pure relaxation and offers a cocktail and mocktail list that is superb. Try their Raspberry Lemon Drop drink – in either its alcoholic or non-alcoholic version, each is an equally delicious experience.
The bar at l’etoile has been renovated to appear to have come straight out of a star-lit night. The copper bar itself shines from within and provides the perfect backdrop for a delicious cocktail. Known for their Classic Startini, made with citrus vodka, Cointreau, lime juice, pomegranate puree, and a Prosecco floater, l’etoile also offers a wide array of single malt scotches and bourbons for your delight.
Oyster Bar 02557
On Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs is Oyster Bar 02557, home to a lovely list of cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages for your drinking pleasure. Looking for a traditional Pisco Sour like in Peru? They’ve got it! A Lavender Caipirinha inspired by Brazil? Cheers to that! An Aperol Spirtz like you had in Rome? Coming right up!
Sand Bar & Grille
Dig your toes into the sand on Oak Bluffs Harbor and enjoy a drink at Sand Bar. They serve up four types of Margaritas as well as a great list of signature cocktails like their Blue Shark Attack made with rum, blue Curaçao, pineapple juice, and a “school of gummy sharks”!
The Seafood Shanty
Head to the Seafood Shanty if you’re craving summery cocktails and drinks that are beach-inspired and delicious! Their “Best Damn Bloody Mary Evah!” comes with two jumbo shrimp and is a favorite. Spice lovers alert: The Ghost Pepper Margarita, made with Ghost Tequila, triple sec and house-made sour mix is your drink! If it’s a hot day, cool down with one of the Shanty’s frozen drinks - Mudslides, Pina Coladas, Daiquiris, and even Frosé!
Town Bar & Grill
With a full menu of Tiki cocktails on the drinks menu, Town is the place to be! Some samples of their Tiki drinks include:
Tiki, Do You Love Me?: white rum, dark rum, orange, lemon, passion fruit, habanero sugar
Blackberry Mai Tai: aged rum, cassis, orange, orgeat, lime
Frozen Katama, white rum, blue Curaçao, pineapple, coconut
Town Scorpion Bowl for 2: vodka, gin, silver and dark rums, orange, pineapple, grenadine, 151.
Conveniently located next to the pool of the Kelley House, the Wave Bar offers relaxed outdoor seating in a bistro patio atmosphere. Listen to live music or grab a bite to eat while enjoying a frozen drink under the sun. Perfect for people watching, relaxing by the harbor, and enjoying the outdoor summer air. Grab a Coconut Frosé, Paloma, or even a Frozen Gin & Tonic and relax by the pool at the Wave Bar!
Sunsets are not all created equal, so once you’ve seen one you have most certainly not seen them all - especially on Martha’s Vineyard. And while it’s true that you’re likely to see the best sunset of your life on the Island, (we’re serious about this) there are some areas where the setting sun will be especially stunning.
Vineyard Sunsets, the Ultimate Light Show
One of the most magical things about Martha’s Vineyard is the light. Though not easily described, and best to be experienced, the way the light reflects off the ocean as the sun comes down, coating the clouds in a golden glow, is something out of a fairytale. The best Martha’s Vineyard sunsets are quite frankly unbelievable, so make sure to put some sun gazing at the top of your Island bucket list. Following are a few of our favorite places to soak up a sunset on Martha’s Vineyard.
Menemsha Public Beach
Menemsha is probably the most popular place to enjoy a sunset for good reason: As the sun sets off to the west, Menemsha Public Beach allows a completely unobstructed view of the sun meeting the water. Family-friendly Menemsha, a working fishing village with a tranquil harbor, provides extra allure to it’s renown as the foreground to some stunning sunsets. Many visitors will stop at nearby Larsen’s Fish Market or Menemsha Fish Market to pick up a seafood dinner and enjoy it on the sand (along with a bottle of wine–it’s BYOB in Chilmark). As the sun comes down and meets the horizon it’s not uncommon for the crowd to break out in applause, celebrating the natural beauty of the sky taking place right in front of their eyes. Be warned: sunset parking in Menemsha during the summer months can be very limited, but the local bus service offers a bus shuttle from nearby Chilmark Community Center. Pro tip: For those visiting during the summer enjoy dinner at the iconic Beach Plum Inn overlooking Menemsha Harbor and catch the sunset from their outdoor patio while dining.
Lambert’s Cove Beach
With a similar view as Menemsha’s, Lambert’s Cove Beach is positioned on the western portion of Martha’s Vineyard’s north shore in West Tisbury. In season Lambert’s Cove Beach is restricted to residents only by day but many people take advantage of the evenings to congregate on the sand to soak up some epic sunsets from the shore. It’s a bit of a walk from the parking lot, but the journey is worth it. The beach itself is one of the most beautiful on the Island, with fine sand and crystal blue water making it more tropical looking than most, and the sunsets a real treat.
The Aquinnah Cliffs are a spectacular sight in their own right but, as a bonus, they also provide the perfect perch from which to enjoy an unsurpassable view of the setting sun. Aquinnah marks Martha’s Vineyard’s furthest point west and approaching the Cliffs almost feels like reaching the end of the world. With an expanse of natural beauty in every direction, you’ll have a lot to take in as the sun goes down–the water, the multi-colored clay cliffs and the historic Gay Head Lighthouse. An Aquinnah sunset will completely overwhelm your senses in the best way possible, leaving you with a memory to replay again and again.
Some of our other favorite locations for enjoying a sunset include atop the East Chop Lighthouse, Vineyard Haven Harbor and Edgartown Harbor. As we said before, a glimpse at a sunset from anywhere on-Island is likely to impress and inspire!
Martha’s Vineyard truly is a cyclists paradise and most of the Island is extremely bicycle friendly. Whether you enjoy leisurely spins along the water or are looking for a physical challenge with changing terrain and inclines you’re in luck. With designated bicycle paths and bicycle tours that showcase the beauty and intrigue of the Island, two wheels may be all you need.
Biking is one of the best ways to enjoy the Vineyard, thanks to paved pathways and 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 areas. Want to cycle the entire Island? You’ll easily log 60+ miles along the perimeter.
Getting Here and Getting Around
Bicycles are allowed on all of the incoming ferries (generally for an additional fee) and if you need a lift back to your point of origin, all of the Vineyard Transit Authority public buses allow a limited number of bicycles too.
If you don’t own a bicycle, but still want to experience Martha’s Vineyard on two wheels, several bicycle rental shops are available to serve you. There are also bicycle repair shops available on Island to meet all your two-wheeled needs should you need a tune up before hitting the road. Click here to visit our map of bike trails to help you determine what’s the right route for you.
Rules of the Road
Bicycles shall ride WITH traffic, to the right, and single file. DO NOT ride against traffic!
Step up your Game
Interested in biking for a good cause? Check out BikeMS: Ride the Vineyard, a fundraising event in the spring. Feeling ambitious? Try the Vineyard Triathlon in the fall! Many outfitters like Backroads also offer biking expeditions of the Vineyard, allowing you to soak up the sights on two wheels along with a group of other cycling enthusiasts, and an action packed itinerary.
However you choose to enjoy the Vineyard on two wheels you’ll be happy you did!
It’s finally September and kids are back to school, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop! Today, we’re talking about the most family-friendly restaurants on Martha’s Vineyard and what makes them perfect for bringing the kiddos to eat a delicious meal, as well as the entire extended family.
It’s About More Than the Menu
When putting together this list, we reached out to the local community, the one that dines out with the grandparents and aunts and uncles, the families that take their kids out to dinner as a special treat on the weekends, the ones that are looking not only for the best value, but also fun additions like coloring pages, small toys, and the like for their kids. Being “family-friendly” doesn’t only involve having a kid’s menu - a restaurant can be devoid of one but still have that familiar vibe and energy, one that welcomes kids and families without specifically having a kid’s menu.
Making Kids Welcome
Overall, our advice is to give the restaurant a call and ask if they accommodate kids - whether it’s a food preference or an environmental preference. If you have a newborn, a restaurant with very loud music might not be the best idea. Take a look at the menu and see if the options are things your child would like to eat!
So let’s check out this list of top ten places on Martha’s Vineyard for family friendly dining:
1. Coop de Ville: a great spot to watch the boats on Oak Bluffs Harbor, they have a $5.95 kid’s meal menu and coloring pages for your little ones!
2. Offshore Ale: what kid doesn’t want to eat peanuts and throw the shells on the ground with no parents scolding them? Offshore Ale is just the spot, with a delicious menu for all.
3. The Barn Bowl & Bistro: for tweens and teens, the Barn is the perfect family restaurant - a children’s menu is provided but their regular menu has a variety of dishes that will have your kid’s eating every bite! Plus, a game of bowling after dinner is always a fun idea.
4. Nomans: if your kid needs to run around before and after a meal, to the beat of their own drum (or live music) Noman’s is the spot!
5. Giordano’s: if your family loves traditional Italian dining, Gio’s is the place to be. Large bowls of spaghetti and red sauce, garlic bread to your heart’s content - perfect family dining.
6. Sharky’s Cantina: you can view the kid’s menu online, which is a great deal at $8.99 for kids 10 years and younger. What kid wouldn’t love a mini quesadilla with rice and beans!
7. The Wharf Pub: for those needing a spot to host family dinners, the Wharf takes reservations for larger parties and has a menu with something for everyone.
8. Linda Jean’s: needing a spot for lunch or dinner for your vegetarian kid? This is the spot, right in Oak Bluffs.
While many scramble to visit Martha’s Vineyard in the summer, anxious to soak up all the action, there’s a quiet calm that comes over the Island in the fall - secretly making it our favorite time to be here. It’s a sentiment with which many locals agree. On Martha’s Vineyard fall brings a slower pace, cooler (but still beautiful!) weather, great deals and some of the year’s most highly anticipated events. The crowds have lessened making it easier to get around and easing the demand for accommodations. The double benefit for you: lower rates at local hotels and more of the Island to enjoy all to yourself! Following are some insider tips for making the most out of your time during this very special season on Martha’s Vineyard.
Explore Private Beaches Without Restriction!
During the summer many of the Island’s most coveted beaches are off-limits, being open to residents only. But come mid-September these restrictions are lifted making it possible to explore most Island beaches free of charge and without any special access pass. Dogs are also allowed back on many beaches, meaning you can bring Fido and for a romp on the sand (leashes are still encouraged). Be sure to check out Lambert’s Cove Beach in West Tisbury and Lucy Vincent Beach in Chilmark during the fall, two of the Island’s most beloved beaches where you’re free to roam this time of year. Visit our comprehensive beach map here and plan your stops along the shore.
Dine Around Town with Ease
During the summer getting reservations at some of Martha’s Vineyard’s most popular restaurants can be a challenge. Take advantage of the fall when many of the local restaurants are still open and where it’s easier than ever to get a table - maybe even sneak a hello to the chef. Try some of the Island’s newest restaurants like Bettini at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown and The Oyster Bar 02557 (from acclaimed chef Ben DeForest of Red Cat Kitchen and Cardboard Box) in Oak Bluffs. Whether it’s seafood, Mexican, Thai or Italian there’s a restaurant waiting for you to explore this fall. Check out our directory of dining options here, and be sure to call ahead as fall hours may be in effect.
Deals, Deals, Deals
Summer is the most popular time to visit, which also means it’s also the most expensive. Fall brings discounted stays at local hotels and even better deals if you’re willing to travel midweek. Check out our roundup of hot deals at local businesses as well as our last minute lodging specials. If you’re travelling across the water with the Steamship Authority and you’re hoping to bring your car across you’re in luck, fall means it’s easier to get a reservation and, come November, the fares are cheaper too!
There’s Still a Lot Going On - Get in on the Action!
Any day of the week you can find something new and exciting to do on Martha’s Vineyard, and enjoying Island activities in the fall means parking is easier and crowds have diminished - which means that hiking and biking our trails & paths is great fun, as is hitting the golf courses, whether that be 18-holes, 9-holes, or even a miniature golf course! Major highlights of the fall event calendar include the Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week September 27 & 28, the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby through October 19, Featherstone’s Art of Chocolate Festival October 12 and13, and the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival October 23–27. Check out our roundup of fall happenings and browse the local calendar of events for daily things to do during your stay.
There’s something iconic about eating perfectly fried seafood while on vacation along the coast of New England and today we are bringing you our top picks of where to find the best fried seafood on Martha’s Vineyard. Known for its plentiful waters, New England is home to some of the most hardworking fishermen and women who dedicate their lives to bringing in the freshest catch to local restaurants. Most of our visitors are foodies - or end up becoming foodies after spending some time on the Island.
The top “where can I find” delicious eats questions about Martha’s Vineyard focus on where to get the best clam chowder and where to get the best lobster rolls, but today we went out into the wild and came back with the our recommendations for where to get the best fried seafood on the Vineyard. We polled and surveyed locals all over the Island and came back with this short list. Granted there are many more spots on Island with delicious fried seafood, but the ones below were mentioned over and over again until we were drooling and craving the crispy, salty goodness of it all.
The Barn, Bowl, & Bistro
What to Order: Fish & Chips
Head to the end of Circuit Avenue to Uncus Avenue in Oak Bluffs to find the Island’s only bowling alley and in-house restaurant serving up one of the tastiest fish & chips platters on Island! Hand-breaded and then fried, the cod is served with classic tartar sauce and coleslaw.
Coop de Ville
What to Order: Fried Lobster Tails
If you’re looking for the ultimate luxury, the fried lobster tail at Coop de Ville on Oak Bluffs Harbor is it! You don’t typically see lobster served as a fried dish but when you do, we recommend getting it because when fried to a crispy exterior and still juicy interior, it’s a favorite dish of everyone that tries it!
John’s Fish Market
What to Order: Clam Cakes
A very unique item to this market, Clam Cakes are most typically native to Rhode Island but the owners of John’s Fish Market have been making this delicious treat for years. These crispy balls of briny clams and spicy Portuguese sausage are the perfect snack to have while waiting for your entree.
Giordano’s Clam Bar
What to Order: Fried Whole Belly Clams
Gio’s has been serving food on the Vineyard since 1930 and continues to so with its consistently delicious fried seafood. The Fried Whole Belly Clams are so tender and crispy, you won’t want to ever get them anywhere else. Served with French fries and coleslaw, this is a plate of fried seafood you won’t forget.
What to Order: Crispy Fantail Shrimp
Fried shrimp is a favorite and at Copper Wok, where its served with a spicy Japanese mayonnaise that pairs oh-so-well with the crispy crustaceans. The batter is light and airy, never greasy or heavy. Start with these as your appetizer before dining on any of their pan-Asian specialty dishes.
What to Order: Fish & Chips
Another classic for crispy fish and chips is the Aquinnah Shop overlooking the Cliffs. Anything you eat here will be delicious while the breathtaking view adds just that extra sparkle of magic to your meal.
The Net Result
What to Order: Fried Fish Sandwich
Finding a delicious fried fish sandwich is not difficult on Martha’s Vineyard but that said, everyone raves about the Fried Fish sandwich at The Net Result. Served with the classic tartar sauce on a soft bun, this sandwich is best enjoyed under the sun on the benches outside of the Net Result as you people watch during your meal.
Town Bar & Grill
What to Order: Fish & Chips
Head into Edgartown and on Upper Main Street you’ll find the new restaurant Town Bar & Grill serving up the crispiest fish and chips with French fries and coleslaw. The restaurant has a great patio on which to enjoy your meal and is also open year ‘round with plenty of indoor and bar seating.
What to Order: Seafood Platter
Overlooking Oak Bluffs Harbor, Nancy’s is a staple of everyone’s OB vacation. Watch the sunset while dining on the crispiest seafood plate that includes a little bit of everything: fish, scallops, shrimp, and clams.
The Lookout Tavern
What to Order: Cajun Fried Oysters
Wrapping up our list is The Lookout Tavern, another great spot in Oak Bluffs, where you can score a plate of these Cajun Fried Oysters. They are so delicious you’ll wonder why you don’t eat them daily. What makes them extra special is the dusting of Cajun seasoning that makes you come back for more.
The kids are back to school on Martha’s Vineyard and beyond, so whether you live on-Island or are visiting for a weekend or a few days, this list is bound to help you find fun, educational activities to do with the kids. Not only are these educational trips interesting, but most of them are very specific to Martha’s Vineyard and will be unique experiences that you will cherish with you kids, no matter what age.
Martha’s Vineyard offers activities all throughout the year, as the Island’s population is always in search of something fun to do with the kids after school or during the weekends.
Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary
Felix Neck has so many activities but one of our favorites is Tank Time! “It's feeding time at Felix Neck! Learn about our resident snake, turtles, frogs and the many creatures in our saltwater tank and learn about these animals during their feeding time.” Tank Time happens on Mondays and Fridays and is a great way to get outside and get your kids learning about these fun animals!
Cheese Tour at Grey Barn
A unique and delicious way to learn about where our food comes from, the Grey Barn is just the spot. During the fall, on Fridays at 9 a.m., they offer a “Kids Farm Experience” (beginning September 20th, 2019). $10 per person, registration not required, they are one hour long and here’s how the Grey Barn describes it: “Bring the whole family and experience a little something different each week. Climb a tractor, chase a chicken, sketch a drawing of a baby lamb. Who knows what’s in store on kids day!” For older kids and teens, attend a cheese talk & tasting on Saturdays at 5:30 p.m. - 1.5 hours of learning and tasting some of the best and award-winning cheeses! Perfect for the foodie kids in your family.
The Farm Institute
A farm-based educational institution that connects families and children to agriculture on a working farm; the Farm Institute is now part of the Trustees of Reservation. The Farm sponsors summer camps and other educational programs focusing on land preservation, responsibility, teamwork, farming, nutritional awareness, livestock management, and the history of farming on Martha's Vineyard. During the fall, they host Fall Barnyard Buddies where you can spend Saturday morning exploring the farm in this drop-in program. Hands-on activities happen every half hour, starting at 9:30 a.m. and range week by week. Drop in anytime between 9:30 and 11 a.m. to join in on one or more activities. Some examples could be egg collecting, a bunny circle, feeding the goats, a farm story time, or a fun garden craft.
Nestled within Chappaquiddick Island on Martha's Vineyard, emerald-like, is the intimate Japanese-style garden, Mytoi, which offers natural serenity and a place of contemplation to visitors who venture here. It is the perfect spot to bring the kids for a time of rest and relaxation, where they can observe nature in a still and quiet environment. Mytoi also hosts a few events throughout the seasons, such as play groups, nature photography lessons, and much more.
Pirate Adventures Martha's Vineyard
This is a seasonal activity worth noting because kids ages 3-10 love it during the spring/summer! A magical and creative stage at sea, this vessel and its pirates set the scene for a pirate adventure unlike any other. Here’s what’s included in the 90-minute experience:
This unique Island farm is home to a few dozen alpacas, from newborn babies to adults. Island Alpaca is a great trip for kids of all ages because it mixes the fun with the educational. One daily activity is the Alpaca Walk and Talk (specifically for ages 14 and older) where you learn from the handlers all about the softest animals in the world, while walking with an alpaca by your side.
Martha’s Vineyard Museum The newly constructed Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Vineyard Haven is a campus of Island education unlike anything else on the Vineyard! Visit the Museum and try your hand at some games from the 18th and 19th centuries (and see which ones are still played today). Ask your children about their school visits to the Museum and what they discovered. Try on a Civil War uniform. Attend a lecture or program. Learn about the whaling heritage with Laura Jernegan. Join them as they build model boats or try their hands at sewing a “ditty bag” during summer programs for kids. Climb up into a lighthouse. Go on a Quest and discover Martha’s Vineyard’s “special places.” Explore the past, through artifacts, stories, art and more! The Museum also offers summer “Discovery Days” kids’ programs in two locations. Learn more here.
Located in the heart of Oak Bluffs, the MV Camp Meeting Association oversees the area commonly known as The Campground, which includes many of the colorful, renowned Gingerbread Cottages and the iconic iron Tabernacle. Here you will find a diverse and vibrant community that celebrates its historic and religious roots, dating back to the early 1800s. During the summer there are set tour times and days, but in the off season, you can lead your own tour by walking the grounds, reading the plaques, and imagining a world 160 years ago. Perfect for imaginative kids!
Aquinnah Cultural Center
Discover the ancient ways of the Wampanoags by taking a self-guided tour, which includes some highlights along Wampanoag Way. These sites are all marked and relatively easy to find. The entire tour can take a couple of hours or all day - depending on how leisurely you want to pace yourself. Going by bike? In season, take the bike ferry from Menemsha to West Basin, then begin this tour.
Capturing memories while on vacation on Martha’s Vineyard is a must in our book, and today we are sharing the top three tips from our local Island photographers. These talented professionals have captured hundreds of family portraits over the years, so they know a thing or twenty about the photography business on the Island.
Randi, Nicole, and David are all veteran photographers on Martha’s Vineyard, and not only that, but they all live and work locally. So if you’re coming to the island wanting gorgeous photos in front of anything quintessentially Martha’s Vineyard, they know just the spots - and not just the classic “in front of the lighthouse” (even though that’s also a must photo!)
When talking to the photographers, a few takeaway tips and ideas:
“I would say that the trick for dealing with bright sunshine and people squinting and blinking is to have everyone close their eyes with their heads facing the camera and their smiles on their faces. Then you count to three and on three everyone opens their eyes. It’s always been successful, though it may not be the most comfortable thing for the people in the photo to do - the light is really bright when you open your eyes back up, but at least there is a moment in one of the many, many photos I take where everyone has their eyes open.” - Nicole Friedler
For those wanting to commemorate a more sentimental shoot, Nicole has it down to a science: “Preserving that particular moment in time and giving it back to you for posterity is my passion: it is the truest definition of ‘making memories.’ Each family is truly unique and I try to capture the playful, honest and true interactions during your session so that when you look at your photos years later you’ll say, "That's not just how we looked, that's how we felt."
“My #1 tip is hire a photographer who is responsive, listens to you, is creative, and knows how to make a shoot fun.” - David Welch
For the artsy, creative crew, let David bring his art-inspired photo-journalist eye and warm personality to create timeless pictures and memories for your Martha’s Vineyard wedding celebration, family gathering or event. His Vineyard Haven studio is also 100% powered by on site renewable solar energy.
“My one best tip for family portraits - pick a time of day when your kids are at their best and most playful. Sunsets are great but not if your kids have had a long day at the beach and are exhausted - it won’t be much fun. If you MUST capture the sunset, make sure your kids take a nap and get fed before your portrait session.” - Randi Baird
Randi is your lady if you’re looking for design to be woven into the photos as she states, “The challenge I set for myself every time I pick up the camera: Where is the art? How do I bring forth the design?”
See the full list of Island photographers on our Chamber listing here.
For many locals on Martha’s Vineyard this is literally the most wonderful time of the year. As much as we love our Island summers, the slower pace of September is welcome after a hectic season and the weather is (hopefully) just perfect. Another bonus? September marks the start of the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby, more commonly referred to as simply “The Derby.”
This year The Derby celebrates its 74th year and registration is now open. It’s a known fact on Martha’s Vineyard that if you live here and love to fish you are likely to be fishing The Derby, at any and all costs. Sleep, work and the regular responsibilities of daily life are often compromised on-Island during the tournament - and for good reason, the stakes are high. This year the winning shore fisherman walks away with the keys to a Cape Codder 19 boat with Tohatsu outboard and trailer, and the winning boat fisherman rides away in a 2019 Subaru Impreza. You better believe that people are fishing to win!
An Eye on Conservation
The time-honored tradition begins September 15 and ends October 19, 2019 (a shift to one week later than previous years), along with some other changes happening this year. With an eye on conservation, The Derby has made a minimum size increase for striped bass, with the eligible length now being 34 inches, measured from tip of lower jaw to tip of tail. The Derby has also adjusted the Roberto Germani Memorial Award to include a competitive catch and release element. For the first time, Derby anglers will have the option to measure and release a fish, then enter the fish online.
If you’re planning to visit Martha’s Vineyard between September 15 and October 19 and you love to fish you’re in luck. In addition to fishing (and catching!) The Derby fosters friendships and camaraderie, and creates lasting memories, while encouraging participants to fully appreciate the natural beauty of the Island. To fish The Derby is to become part of the fabric of the Island community and its history, and every eager fisherman or woman is welcome to participate.
Giving Back Since 1987
Since its establishment as a nonprofit organization in 1987, the Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby, Inc. has awarded annual scholarships to Martha's Vineyard Regional High School graduating seniors. The total amount of money donated since, now exceeds $640,000. Though the experience of The Derby is more than enough of a reason to enter, the opportunity to help build its scholarship fund provides a meaningful way in which to support the Island community for generations upon generations to come.
Building on a big success last year, another great community initiative inspired by The Derby is the Edgartown Board of Trade’s second annual Bass in the Grass Fundraiser for the Derby Scholarship Fund. Sponsored by Edgartown businesses, an entire school of bass will come to the streets of downtown Edgartown in September, so look out for it if you’re visiting. Each fish is designed by artists and up for auction online, during the 2019 Derby. You can bid on your favorite by October 20th at bassinthegrassmv.com.
Kids Derby & Daily Prizes
Another great element of The Derby? It’s kid friendly too! Enthusiastic anglers ages nine to 14 are invited to compete in the junior division and the youngest fishermen, those between four and eight, compete as mini juniors on the opening day of The Derby. Additionally, The Derby offers a fillet program that provides free fish for the Island elderly. Fisherman may donate any or all of their catch to the program, allowing Islanders of all ages to share in the joy and bounty of this incredible event!
The Derby awards daily prizes for the heaviest striped bass, bluefish, and Atlantic bonito caught from the shores of Martha’s Vineyard or its close surrounding waters. While small cash prizes are awarded daily the bragging rights can be even more valuable. Weekly awards are given in the form of merchandise, fishing equipment and gift certificates, as well as plaques for division leaders and more.
Interested fishing enthusiasts can register for The Derby at several local tackle shops including Larry’s Bait & Tackle, Dick’s Bait & Tackle, Coop’s Bait & Tackle, Keep it Reel Kayak & Tackle, and many other convenient locations listed here. The cost of registration is $60 for adults, $35 for seniors, and $25 for juniors.
The highly anticipated Derby Awards Ceremony takes place on Sunday, October 20, 2019 at 1pm at Farm Neck Golf Club and is free and open to the public. Those that top the leaderboard at the end of the Derby hope to be the ones who attain the winning key to grand prizes and coveted awards that carry the weight and honor of decades of the Island’s local fishing tradition, which in itself, is the best prize of all.
For more information about the Derby visit mvderby.com. If you’re looking for some local fishing tips visit mvy.com/fishing, our nearby bait & tackle shops or contact our local captains and fishing charters. Good luck out there - and remember safety first!
Thousands of visitors flock to Martha’s Vineyard to soak up those leisurely summer beach days by the seashore, but the Island stays very much awake and vibrant throughout the fall too. Locals love the cooler temperatures and smaller crowds, and the slower tempo makes for more relaxing days to enjoy the Island’s most coveted areas and events.
Here are 20 tempting reasons to fall for Fall on Martha’s Vineyard, and 20 reasons you’ll want to plan a trip before another season passes you by!
1. Saturday, September 7, 10:30am–5pm: Martha’s Vineyard Wind Festival Attention kite lovers of all ages! Come see kites of all shapes and sizes soar above the gazebo at Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs. Activities include kite making and model sailboat racing for children, and kite flying and frisbee games for young and old. Rain date September 8.
2. Saturday, September 14, 10am–6pm: Tivoli Day
This end-of-summer celebration has been going on for decades and is the place to score a good deal on a locally made product or Martha’s Vineyard souvenir. The event takes place on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs, which is closed to cars for the day, as vendors line the streets with their wares, musicians perform, and attendees savor their last taste of summer.
3. Sunday, September 15 through Saturday, October 19: Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby
Now in its 74th year “The Derby” is a Vineyard fishing tradition that completely consumes local anglers, and those that visit the Island especially for it. Participants vie for big prizes including a car and a boat, and many of them don’t sleep until they catch a winning fish.
4. Saturday, September 21: 4th Annual Martha’s Vineyard Craft Beer Festival Beer lovers rejoice! Enjoy your pick of 150 beers from 50 breweries under a big tent at Waban Park in Oak Bluffs. Sample your favorites and discover new brews.
5. Through September: Sunset & Moonrise Kayak Tours
Join Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary for a paddle on Sengekontacket Pond and take in a breathtaking sunset or spectacular moonrise. Sit back, relax and appreciate the painted skies of Martha’s Vineyard.
6. Friday, September 27 & Saturday, September 28: Martha’s Vineyard Fashion Week
Returning after a five-year hiatus and hosted by Dressed MV, two shows will be held at the Vineyard Arts Project in Edgartown featuring looks from local designers including Conrado, Roy Bikini, American Rhino,The Green Room, Citrine x Trust, June, The Glasshouse and more. Tickets available in stores and online.
7. Saturdays through October 12: West Tisbury Farmers Market.
The open air West Tisbury Farmers Market was established in 1974 and has been operating ever since, making it the Island’s oldest market, and the go-to spot for the freshest food around. In the fall the market continues to pop up on Saturdays from 9-12pm at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury. The Market also returns in the winter and meets indoors at the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury on Saturdays from October to December. Be sure to check the most current hours here.
8. Saturday & Sunday, October 12 & 13: The Art of Chocolate Festival
For eighteen years Featherstone Center for the Arts, the Island’s year round art haven in Oak Bluffs, has celebrated all things chocolate. This tasty festival features two days of all out chocolate consumption. Enjoy the heavenly experience of sampling every morsel of chocolate in any form your heart desires.
9. Sunday, October 13: Vineyard Artisans Columbus Day Festival
Vineyard Artisans resurrects its weekly summer festival especially for Columbus Day, offering the ultimate destination for shopping local on Martha’s Vineyard. Meet the artists themselves and browse their impressive products including textiles, fine furniture, pottery, leather goods, oil paintings, pastels, mixed media, sculpture, wampum jewelry, hand-knit items, clothing, photography, handmade books, and more.
10. Sunday, October 13: Popcorn Festival at Native Earth Teaching Farm
Pop in for free popcorn all day from 10am-3pm and enjoy fall fun at this small working educational farm in Chilmark.
11. Wednesday, October 23 through Sunday, October 27: Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Festival
This four day food and wine event brings together top culinary talents from the Island and beyond, along with world class winemakers, local farmers and discerning foodies for the ultimate taste of the Island experience. For the first time special guest and acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud will host an intimate five-course French dinner at Bettini Restaurant at the Harbor View Hotel.
12. October 19: Morning Glory Pumpkin Festival
The largest farm on Martha’s Vineyard hosts this lively free fall festival each year, complete with pumpkin games, hayrides, live music, and all things pumpkin.
13. Sundays through October: Oak Bluffs Open Market
Experience this super combination of Farmers Market, Artisan Fair, Vintage Flea Market and Body, Mind, Spirit Fair–all together at Washington Park in Oak Bluffs. The ever-changing variety of locally grown produce, specialty foods, flowers, indie designers, artisans and vintage dealers offers something for everyone…plus live music!
14. Wednesdays through October: Pizza Nights at Orange Peel Bakery
This charming up-Island bakery welcomes the community to stop by and enjoy pizza together every Wednesday night from 5-8pm through November. Show up with your favorite toppings, mingle with the locals and meet some new friends.
15. Saturdays through October: Honey Farm Bee Hive Tours
Experience the life of bees along with a beekeeper from Ginny Bee Honey Farms for a small group tour. Learn about the world of bees and how valuable they are to our food and our environment. You'll assist in finding the queen, measuring honey, identifying pollen, and monitoring bee life cycles.
16. Through mid-October: Take a Classic Aviators Biplane Ride
Take in the best view of Martha’s Vineyard from high in the sky. Enjoy breathtaking scenery and sights that can only be viewed from above while learning about the history of the Island.
17. The month of October Fall for the Arts
Each fall, Martha’s Vineyard, along with Cape Cod and Nantucket, dedicates the entire month of October to a celebration of the arts. Fall for the Arts strives to initiate and sustain conversations among artists, patrons, and the public.
18. Sunday, October 27: Happy Haunting
This event encompasses Edgartown’s annual Halloween festivities, and things can get spooky. Visit downtown Edgartown for some Halloween fun, while little ghosts and goblins trick-or-treat from business to business. Sponsored by the Edgartown Board of Trade.
19. Friday, November 15 - Friday, December 13: Featherstone Holiday Gift Show
Featherstone Center for the Arts is the place to go for unique, one of a kind holiday presents made right here on Martha’s Vineyard. It’s gifts galore for a whole month, including apparel and accessories, cards, calendars, jewelry, pottery, photography, paintings, ornaments, and more. All sales benefit local Vineyard artists and Featherstone, the Island’s only not-for-profit, year-round art center.
20. November 29: Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary Fall Festival
This celebration of fall is a Vineyard tradition. Held the day after Thanksgiving, it features hayrides, face painting, live music, food, wreath making, a weather station and crafts for kids, live animals, trail walk, and fun to be had by the whole family.
If you’ve ever researched Martha’s Vineyard you’ve likely come across photos of brightly colored gingerbread cottages. You may have even heard about the magical night of the year when the cottages glow with a profusion of colored lanterns. Perhaps you’ve even been lucky enough to attend this annual night of splendor. This year’s Grand Illumination (often referred to as Illumination Night) takes place on Wednesday, August 14 and marks the 150th year of this popular and important tradition - making it one of the most celebrated nights of the year. Here’s a look back at the history of the cottages and the annual event that brings thousands of visitors together to share in the splendor of their significance and charm.
A Movement is Born
Hundreds of Victorian cottages stand today on the grounds of the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (MVCMA), formerly known as Wesleyan Grove, which originally became a destination during the “camp meeting” movement of the 19th century. Methodists began gathering together on Martha’s Vineyard for summer retreats in pursuit of revival and renewal. In the beginning the camp meetings would last for several days and attendees would set up tents in a common area bringing with them provisions and supplies.
Eventually Wesleyan Grove in Oak Bluffs grew to become one of the largest and best-known camp meeting sites in the country. From nine tents in 1835 Wesleyan Grove grew to host 12,000 people and, in 1868, the number of tents reached 570. Initially the retreats were intended to be exclusively religious in purpose but eventually they became more social with attendees flocking to experience the chance to revitalize body and spirit.
People began to stay for longer periods of time and small wooden buildings began taking the place of tents. Between 1859 and 1864 the “Martha’s Vineyard” cottage emerged as a new architectural form that was celebrated and admired – as it still is today. There were about 40 cottages in 1864, 250 in 1869 and 500 by 1880. Today there are approximately 318 cottages remaining.
A Night of Lights
In 1869 the first Illumination Night was held. The event was called Governor’s Day in honor of the Governor of Massachusetts who had arrived to witness the highly anticipated spectacle. In efforts to impress the Governor, residents tried to outdo one another in the display of silk and paper lanterns and other forms of illumination with which they adorned their cottages.
Today Illumination Night or the Grand Illumination continues to be a time-honored tradition that brings together the community of the MVCMA and beyond. Thousands of paper and vintage silk lanterns are hung and admired each year. Attendees walk throughout the MVCMA appreciating the decoration, meeting with homeowners and mingling with other guests who have come to pay homage to this important tradition. Hailed as the most magical night on Martha’s Vineyard, attending Illumination Night is like taking a step back in time.
Celebrating Through the Centuries
The evening begins with a community sing and a concert by the Vineyard Haven Band at 7pm inside the Tabernacle, an open-air, octagonal structure in the heart of the MVCMA. Then, as darkness falls, the elaborate lanterns decorating the gingerbread cottages are illuminated in unison. This tradition will delight the whole family and leave both young and old with a feeling of unmatched enchantment.
Everyone is invited to walk the elaborate maze of homes inside the MVCMA and appreciate each cottage individually. Think back on what life was like back in 1869 and acknowledge the continued commitment that allows us to still make this event come to life 150 years later – and, hopefully for another 150 years to come. It’s a night steeped in history and community and a magical night not to be missed.
Illumination Night is free and open to the public but is supported with a free will offering. For more history on the event visit the MVCMA website.
Martha’s Vineyard is truly a music lover’s paradise. Our small Island is home to countless musicians, music venues and music-centric events that regularly showcase local and off-Island talent. Any night of the week in the summer season you’ll find live music to dance, sing, and sway along to, usually free of charge. Want to really experience those Island vibes? Check out some of these local go-tos for the ultimate song and dance on Martha’s Vineyard.
The Beat Goes On in OB
The Ritz MV, Oak Bluffs: The Island’s most iconic dive bar offers nightly live music and some of the best local talent around. This historic rock club has been entertaining bar-goers since 1944 and no visit to Martha’s Vineyard is complete without a stop in. You’ll find trivia and karaoke every Tuesday and some of the biggest Island names every other night of the week. There’s often an earlier show in the evening and a 10pm set too, all with no cover charge. And come hungry, there is nothing dive-y about their impressive and creative menu.
Nomans, Oak Bluffs: The latest addition to the Island music scene, Nomans just opened in June 2019 and has been entertaining visitors daily ever since. The family-friendly restaurant, which took over the former Lola’s space on Beach Road, offers live music throughout the day. You’ll find a casual and lively indoor/outdoor space with the expansive lawn as the star of the show. Grab a drink, grab a table, sit back and relax while you enjoy hours of free live music. It’s family- and dog-friendly and offers a full bar, counter service, a grab and go menu, and lawn games. Bring the family and spend the day!
Sand Bar & Grille, Oak Bluffs: Steps from the Oak Bluffs harbor, and conveniently located close Hyline, Island Queen and Steamship Authority docks in Oak Bluffs, this lively beach bar keeps the live tunes cranking on the weekends. Enjoy a delicious meal or relaxing cocktail with your toes in the sand, while the sun sets and the Vineyard nightlife ensues.
Park Corner Bistro, Oak Bluffs: This gastropub-style restaurant has only forty seats in the house and a farm-to-table approach to the menu. Visitors and locals alike flock to the bar for their craft cocktails and you’ll often find live music and DJs on weekends.
Portuguese-American Club, Oak Bluffs: Founded in 1930 as the Holy Ghost Association, this club, bar, and fundraising organization hosts social and community events, as well as live music concerts throughout the year.
The Cardboard Box, Oak Bluffs: The Cardboard Box is a restaurant built with “heart and soul” and diners are encouraged to eat, drink and revel. The revelry means diners can move and groove to local DJs most nights in this dimly lit, intimate and eccentric space.
Gettin’ Down in Edgartown
The Port Hunter, Edgartown: One of the most popular hot spots in Edgartown, this bar, restaurant and live music destination is always a fun time. You’ll want to get there early to try to score a seat at the bar. Enjoy something from the raw bar or from their main menu - the Buffalo Brussels are world famous. As the evening progresses, The Port Hunter turns into a music venue with regular shows starting at 10pm through October.
Seafood Shanty, Edgartown: This is the place to be when it comes to outdoor dining on Martha’s Vineyard, with DJs heating up the scene throughout the week. Overlooking Edgartown harbor the fish-focused restaurant boasts a casual dining room, an expansive deck, and a lot of dancing once the DJs arrive.
The Wharf, Edgartown: Located in downtown Edgartown, the family-friendly dining room features local seafood and classic pub favorites. Once night falls the lively back bar hosts regular events and live music.
Town Bar & Grill, Edgartown: This newly opened bar and restaurant boasts an expansive menu, weekend brunch, an impressive outdoor patio and regular live entertainment, including karaoke, acoustic sets, DJs and more.
Bad Martha’s, Edgartown: This Farmer’s Brewery and Tasting Room sits on the grounds of Donaroma’s Nursery and offers good brews, lawn games, and live jams. Check out their calendar on Facebook.
More Places to Boogie
In addition to live music venues on Martha’s Vineyard there are also several weekly musical events that happen throughout the summer. Don’t miss these free, family-friendly events!
Tuesdays: Unplugged Porch Concerts series hosted by mvyradio at the Harbor View Hotel; Sounds like Summer series on the Edgartown Library lawn sponsored by the Friends of Edgartown Public Library.
Thursdays: Music in the Square outside of the Eisenhauer Gallery in Edgartown.
Fridays: Sunset Concert Series in the Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (home of the iconic gingerbread cottages) on the Tabernacle lawn.
Sundays: The Vineyard Haven Band performs every Sunday at 8pm, location alternates between the bandshell in Owen Park, Vineyard Haven and the Ocean Park gazebo in Oak Bluffs.
For a complete list of daily and weekly events on Martha’s Vineyard this summer click here.
Nothing says summer on the Vineyard like summer on the water! Whether you’re visiting for a day or a week, making sure to get out on the Vineyard waters is a must to make your vacation the best ever.
MV Ocean Sports
MV Oceansports is Martha’s Vineyard’s premier ocean sports company. They offer everything to make your watersports experience memorable. Whether you see the island on a guided jet ski tour, soar overhead parasailing or have an experience of a lifetime flyboarding, they will make it an experience to remember! The variety of water sports they run is also amazing: parasailing, jet skis, flyboarding, banana boat rides, watersports charter, boat rentals, and charter rentals.
MV Paddle Co.
MV Paddle Co. makes it easy by providing gear and an experienced guide to help with your paddling technique and tell you about local wildlife and history. They offer some creative stand up paddle tours, such as:
Eco SUP Tour: Explore the salt marsh and see baby fish and shellfish. Fresh water ponds offer even more diversity like frogs and turtles. Out on the ocean you never know what could be swimming underneath you. Keep your eyes open on this tour you never know what you will see!
Sunset Paddle Tour: Relax and reflect during the best time of the day, in these locations:
Lake Tashmoo: Is one of the best locations because it has the best view of the sunset, in addition to being protected from the wind.
East Chop is an amazing place to paddle for sunset. Get moving and paddle past the lighthouse, beach hopping. Best spot for duel sunset and moonrise, as you paddle around, for a down wind trip.
Menemsha: Peaceful and serien Quitas Pond has magnificent views of the sunset. Away from the crowded beach, we have a special experience on the water.
SUP Fitness: this is for the fit travelers that want to get on the water and get their workout done! From novice to intermediate, they will help you build strength and stamina. This tour will show you how to paddle quickly and mindfully, plus it’s a solid core workout!
SUP QiGong: this incorporates paddling, qigong and meditation, such a perfect activity to rest and reflect while on vacation or even if you are a local and need a break from the summer craziness!
Island Spirit Kayak
A well-rounded company that focuses on kayak and stand up paddleboarding, they do tours but also offer kayak rentals everyday right on State Beach in Oak Bluffs, as well as delivering to all locations on island both paddle boards and kayaks.
Tours offer include: 2 hour kayak adventure, sunset kayak paddle, sunrise kayak tour, full day tours that include a lunch picnic and snacks, full moon yoga on the paddle boards, paddle board tours, sunset paddle board tour, LED paddle board tour, peddle paddle tours (combining biking and paddling), and paddle board yoga.
Aloha Paddle MV
Certified ACA SUP instructors offering lessons for all ability levels, guided outings, multi-sport adventures and catered paddle events, Aloha Paddle MV has a great diverse portfolio of services offered to get you on the water.
Some of the most notable and distinctive tours are:
Wind's Up is Martha's Vineyard's offers Stand Up Paddle boards, kayaks, sailboats, canoes, windsurfers, surf & beach clothing/gear, lessons and sales/rentals. Stop by their shop, located on 199 Beach Road, Vineyard Haven, to get your beach gear, rent one of their kayaks or take a windsurfing or sailing lessons.
For more contact information to the businesses above, check out our water sports page.
For an island packed with seafood restaurants, we also have our fair share of burger joints and it’s become one of our most asked food questions: where can I get a good burger on Martha’s Vineyard? To help everyone, we’ve gathered the top spots on island to grab a burger, but first - let’s talk about what makes a good burger.
A good burger is one that when you take that first bite, you smile because it’s that good. Maybe you do a little happy dance, maybe you quickly tell your friend between bites that they need to try this burger too (if you’re so kind to share). An American classic, the burger has become a staple in our dining and in a way, a delicious treat on vacation. So let’s talk burgers on Martha’s Vineyard and where to get them!
Atria Brick Cellar, Edgartown
Burger: The Atria Classic
Burger, cheddar, sides of sautéed onions, roasted mushrooms, tomatoes, béarnaise & applewood smoked bacon, mixed green salad
Rosewater Market, Edgartown
Burger: Rosewater Cheeseburger
Fresh ground sirloin patty, sharp cheddar loaded with iceberg, tomato, red onion, house pickles and special sauce on a sesame seed bun
The Wharf Pub, Edgartown
Burger: Angus & Linguica Burger
American cheese, lettuce, tomato,onion & pickles on a bulky
Town Bar & Grill, Edgartown
Burger: Biltmore Burger
Ground sirloin, BBQ grilled onions, bacon, gooey cheddar, bistro sauce
The Atlantic, Edgartown
Burger: Atlantic Burger
10 ounce prime cajun burger, french feta cheese, tzatiki sauce, fennel arugula salad, citrus oil
The Lookout Tavern, Oak Bluffs
Burger: Reggae Burger
Jamaican jerk seasoning, pepper jack cheese, curry aioli
The Barn, Bowl & Bistro, Oak Bluffs
Burger: The Barn Classic Burger
Half-pound Angus beef burger, served with lettuce, tomato & red onion
Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company, Oak Bluffs
Burger: Grilled Burger with Fries
On a grilled brioche bun, lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles
Fat Ronnie’s, Oak Bluffs
Burger: Classic Burger
With over 30 different toppings, you can get it your way any day here!
Waterside Market, Vineyard Haven
Burger: Mr. Bowen Burger
Signature burger topped with melted brie cheese, balsamic onion jam, baby spinach, and shredded short rib gravy
The Black Dog Tavern, Vineyard Haven
Burger: BD Classic Burger
Fresh ground 10 oz. Angus patty with lettuce, tomato, and pickle on grilled brioche served with crispy french fries
John’s Fish Market, Vineyard Haven
Burger: The Obama Burger
Bacon, cheese, onion rings, lettuce, tomato, and citrus sauce
Island Fresh Pizza & Subs, VIneyard Haven
Burger: X-Tudo Burger
American cheese, bacon, mayo, ham, corn, peas, eggs, potato sticks, lettuce, tomatoes
The Scottish Bakehouse, Vineyard Haven
Burger: Bakehouse ½ Burger
Served with lettuce, tomato and mayo on your choice of available bread
Woods at Lambert’s Cove Inn, West Tisbury
Burger: Woods Burger
American cheese, special sauce, bread and butter pickles, red onions, brioche bun, fries
Burger: Cliff Burger
Served on a roll, lettuce, tomato, onion
Visitors come from far and wide to explore the beaches of Martha’s Vineyard, discover our history, and eat the most delicious seafood there is in New England. But we also get asked quite consistently - where can you find the best slice of pizza on island and so we’re put together this list of the top pizzerias on Martha’s Vineyard.
Weaving Vineyard memories with those of pizza eating might seem strange in a way to some, but we know of locals that grab a slice of Gio’s as they walk around OB on their day off, or rock away on the porch of the Chilmark Store as they eat their slice. Pizza is always a good idea, a good snack between meals, and a great way to make a whole bunch of people happy!
If you’re heading to downtown Edgartown, Isola is the place for you. Isola is a family-owned and operated Italian restaurant, specializing in modern Italian food with a rustic Vineyard twist - it’s a full service restaurant so perfect for a special dinner, but if you want a quick bite or order a few pizzas, they also have an adjoining pizzeria. They have specialty toppings such as: roasted tomato, kalamata olives, roasted garlic, prosciutto, caramelized onions, anchovies, Isola's signature meatballs, and marinated chicken.
In Oak Bluffs, you have a few choices. Giordano’s is a tradition for most Vineyard families, but you should also try Pizza di Napoli at the LOFT. Gio’s has two spaces, one for takeout pizza and clam bar, and the other side is their sit down restaurant. At takeout, you can order a slice of cheese or pepperoni and walk around town enjoying your slice. Gio’s has been around for over 80 years, so it’s definitely a Vineyard classic!
Head over to LoFT and try Pizza di Napoli, the island’s largest pizza pie at 18 inches wide! A classic Neopolitan pizza, the dough is treated with care and the ingredients are top quality.
In Vineyard Haven, Rocco’s, Porto Pizza, and Wolf’s Den are your top spots for a slice. If you’re looking for one of the island’s only made-from-scratch pizza dough, Rocco’s is your best bet. Catching a ferry but need a quick snack? A slice at Porto’s is the closest spot to get your pizza fill. Looking for pan pizza that will satisfy your hunger? Wolf’s Den is your go to guy.
And Up-Island, the Chilmark General Store serves up their pies daily, and offer some of the best farm-to-table slice options with their daily Farm Slice. Just recently that included local zucchini, corn, and kale. It's always changing and it's always delicious. You can also attend pizza night at the Orange Peel Bakery. The pizza night at Orange Peel is during June through October pizza night is every Wednesday from 5-8p.m, $20 per adult and $10 per child - BYOTS (Bring Your Own Toppings to Share) and BYOB!
Now, which place is calling your name?
Visit Martha's Vineyard
Loving Martha's Vineyard is the easiest thing in the world to do.