Summer is finally here and that means an action packed calendar of events on Martha’s Vineyard. On any given day you could come across live music, dining specials, educational opportunities and happenings galore! While many think of Martha’s Vineyard as a playground for the affluent, we’re here to tell you it is a place that caters to all walks of life and has something for everyone. If you’re visiting on a budget this summer and don’t want to break the bank, here’s a list of ten things you can do on Martha’s Vineyard that will cost you absolutely nothing.
Hit the beach! Most of Martha’s Vineyard’s stunning shoreline is free and open to the public, and it’s probably the reason you’ve likely decided to visit, or are considering visiting the Island. From the calmer waters of the northern shores to the rumbling surf of the south shores, there’s a beach for every type of visitor. All beaches are Carry In, Carry Out – so be sure to take your trash with you! For a full list of free, unrestricted beaches click here.
Meet our local vendors and browse our weekly markets. Martha’s Vineyard is home to hundreds of farmers, food purveyors and artists who grow, nurture, and create Island made products. Take the opportunity to meet and mingle with some of our talented local vendors totally gratis, it’s a great way to learn more about the Island and its culture. The West Tisbury Farmer’s Market was founded in 1974 and is the Island’s oldest and largest open air market where you can find an abundance of local produce and Island made food items. Open Saturdays 9am–12pm from June 8 to October 12 and Wednesdays 9am–12pm from June 19 to August 28, at the West Tisbury Grange Fall. Additionally the Vineyard Artisans Festival, is a beloved summer event that brings the wares of local artists, designers and craftsmen to visitors each week throughout the summer. The festival returns every Sunday from June 9 through September 29, and on Thursdays beginning July 4 at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury from 10am to 4pm. You're also welcome to enjoy Sunday in the park by the sea with the Oak Bluffs Open Market, which offers an ever-changing variety of locally grown produce, specialty foods, artisans and vintage dealers. Located in Washington Park in Oak Bluffs, the market runs from May - October.
Discover the adorable, iconic gingerbread cottages. Thousands of visitors flock to Oak Bluffs every year to tour the famous and colorful gingerbread cottages. The 34 acres of the Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (MVCMA) is an open, pedestrian friendly National Historic Landmark and looks like something out of a storybook. The MVCMA is a short (2-5 minute) walk from the Oak Bluffs harbor where many ferries and buses arrive. There is no admission cost to enter and explore "The Campground" and visitors are welcome to take pictures from the roads and walkways during the day. To view the inside of one of these historic cottages, visitors can pay $3 to visit the Cottage Museum, open daily from Memorial weekend through mid-October.
Jump off the famous Jaws Bridge. Jaws was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard in 1974 but the references to the movie continue to prevail across the Island. The most famous landmark from the film is the Jaws bridge, the bridge that was the home of the iconic shark attack scene in the movie. Brave souls step up to the railing on the bridge and jump down to the cool ocean water below, located on Beach Road near the Oak Bluffs/Edgartown line. It’s a rite of passage on Martha’s Vineyard and a must-do if you’re up for it!
Explore First Fridays in Vineyard Haven. Join locals and visitors alike in downtown Vineyard Haven (steps from the Steamship Authority ferry terminal) on the First Friday of each month June through September. This lively block party celebrates the arts on Martha’s Vineyard with a Main Street Art Walk where you can meet Island makers and shop local while also enjoying live Music in Owen Park and along Main Street. Happening June 7, July 5, August 2 and September 6.
Sunset Concert Series at the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (MVCMA). The MVCMA hosts free Friday concerts at the Tabernacle green, inside the Oak Bluffs Campground which is home to the iconic gingerbread cottages. Enjoy live music by some of the Island’s most talented musicians. All concerts are free and open to the public. Bring a picnic supper, or enjoy offerings from SMOAK a local fire cooking and bbq catering company.
Free performances of the Vineyard Sound. The Vineyard Sound is an all male acapella group composed of individuals from various colleges that have been entertaining guests on the Vineyard since 1992. New this year the group will be performing live on the grounds of the Lambert’s Cove Inn in West Tisbury amidst the beautiful garden of this stylish farmhouse inn and retreat. Free performances happen from 5–6pm every Wednesday starting June 26th.
Take advantage of endless free programming at local libraries. On Martha’s Vineyard, libraries are not simply a place to find books, they are vibrant community centers that enrich the lives of all those who walk through their doors. With daily and weekly events, concerts, and classes, across six libraries (one in each town!) you never know what you will learn and explore, all at no cost.
Travel hundreds of acres of woods and walking trails. Many people don’t realize just how green and forested Martha’s Vineyard is. With endless stretches of scenic shoreline, rolling hills, expansive woodlands, and hundreds of miles of protected trails through the Island’s diverse landscape, there really is no better place to take a hike. Local conservation groups the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, the Trustees of Reservations and Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation maintain over 200 miles of trails and over 100 preserved properties that are open to the public. You can read about some of the most popular trails here.
Browse our local art galleries. Martha’s Vineyard is a sanctuary for hundreds of talented artists producing world class art. For years, all sorts of creative minds have found solitude and a place for reflection on the Island, inspired by the gorgeous scenery and relaxed way of life. Most local art galleries are free and open to the public (while a few are appointment only) and several of them offer free, weekly opening receptions. Check out ongoing artist receptions at the Granary Gallery in West Tisbury and exhibit openings and live music at the Eisenhauer Gallery in Edgartown. For a full list of Island art galleries click here.
For more tips on planning a budget friendly trip to Martha’s Vineyard check out this post.
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