Traveling to Martha’s Vineyard can sometimes seem daunting due to the extra steps you need to take to arrive at the popular summer destination. But we’re here to tell you that it can be as easy as 1,2,3 if you know what to expect!
Although we have a full blog on how to get to the island, whether it’s by plane or boat, we wanted to give you 10 tips for planning the ideal Martha’s Vineyard family vacation. These travel tips are tried and tested from recommendations of hundreds of travelers that have visited the island over the years, along with insider travel tips from local islanders themselves.
Travel Tip #1: Decide what season you’ll be visiting.
Martha’s Vineyard is a popular summer destination - typically visited by the hundreds of thousands between June and September, but every season provides a special set of environments that are thoroughly enjoyable on island. For young couples with babies, a great time to visit is in the spring and fall, while the crowds aren't as thick. It’s easier to get around island sidewalks with strollers when the crowds are minimal. For families with kids older than 4, the height of summer is prime, with farm camps, beach outings, and so much more! For adult travelers, nothing is better than a fall getaway to Martha’s Vineyard.
Travel Tip #2: Plan how you’ll arrive.
You can easily fly into Boston Logan Airport and catch a Cape Air flight onto the island, but do keep in mind these flights are on smaller aircrafts, so if your family is large, just remember that you might be on separate flights. Other families prefer landing in Boston and either driving or taking a Peter Pan Bus to Woods Hole, where they catch the Steamship Authority Ferry to the island. Either way, look at schedules, timings, and book any tickets you can in advance. Peter Pan Bus has a great app to purchase tickets via mobile!
Travel Tip #3: Lighten your load, rent baby equipment on island.
Instead of trying to bring every possible piece of baby equipment you might need, larger items like strollers, high chairs, cribs, and more can be rented on island for easy of travel.
Travel Tip #4: Book accommodations with separate sleeping areas.
Especially if you’re traveling with younger children, having a separate area like a small living room in your suite, will make it so much easier to put them to bed at their usual times. Better yet, suggest adjoining rooms where you can check on them easily.
Travel Tip #5: Before arriving, call hotel to confirm your reservation and request anything you might need (baby cribs, cots, extra towels).
A quick, two-minute confirmation call saves a lot of headaches before your arrival. Let them know if you’re planning to check in late night or double check they’ve put you in a room with the correct amount of beds. That quick call helps everything go smoothly the moment you arrive.
Travel Tip #6: Decide whether you’ll be using public transportation or renting a car.
The island is incredibly easy to get around if you choose not to rent a car. You can take a local cab company, ride a bike down the streamlined bicycle paths between the towns or even walk in the downtown areas. In all reality, if you’re arriving on island with children over the age of 10, not renting a car is ideal and helps you avoid having to find parking spots during peak season. If you’re traveling with young babies that need strollers, car seats, and a few diaper bags, a car makes more sense and you can rent one from any of these agencies.
Travel Tip #7: If visiting from October - May, call ahead.
Due to our seasonality, some island businesses change schedules once the fall begins, so just make sure to call ahead to make sure your top picks are open. Some restaurants tend to be closed Monday-Tuesday during the off-season, so plan your trip knowing this. But remember that the island is open year-round. With 17,000 people living here 12 months a year, there are always open businesses.
Travel Tip #8: Pack light.
This is a travel tip for any location you’re visiting. Traveling with just a carry-on is infinitely easier than traveling with checked luggage. Plus, the less you pack, the more space you’ll have for beach plum jelly, MV Sea Salt, Mudrick’s Fudge, and any other locally made product we know you’ll fall in love with! But if you do have a lot of luggage and want to store it, you've got options.
Travel Tip #9: Research tours and exhibits you’d like to visit.
Martha’s Vineyard is home to a variety of tours and local exhibits all year long - make sure to include some during your trip. Whether you’re looking to walk the haunted streets of Edgartown with a ghost expert or a foodie in search of the next delicious bite, the island has it all!
Travel Tip #10: Slow down.
“You’re on island time” might be a cliche, but it’s an honest one. Once the ferry docks or the plane lands, relax - you’ve just arrived at one of the most relaxing New England communities. Make sure to book yourself a massage, take daily walks on the beach, and read a good book!
Martha’s Vineyard isn’t just a little paradise for adults – it’s also a big paradise for little people! And one of the most fun things for children to do during the summer is take advantage of the super fun day camps here, like the “Fern & Feather Day Camp” at the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary
This camp, run by MassAudubon, allows kids to explore the 350-acre wildlife sanctuary, which includes forests, fields, marshes, ponds, and seashore habitats. Fern & Feather encourages curiosity and care for the natural world, all while campers have fun and make friends!
Outdoor games, hands-on nature activities, wildlife observations, hikes, stories, crafts, and camp songs help make Fern & Feather a one-of-a-kind summer experience for young people.
The knowledgeable camp staff is enthusiastic, experienced, and loves working with children in the outdoors. And with camps available for ages 4-16, there truly is a camp for everyone! Fun options include Bird Bonanza, Water Worlds, Tracktastic, Baby Animals, Backwoods Explorers, Creepy Crawlies, Furry Friends, Feathered Fun, Mighty Mammals, Wet & Wild, Marine Muckers, Ocean in Motion, Micro to Macro, and literally so much more!
You can register for Fern & Feather by clicking here. And to plan the perfect Vineyard vacation, be sure to visit MVY.com.
This is a guest blog post for the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce and Visit Martha's Vineyard, written by Hilary Dreyer, Managing Director of the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival. All photos by Joshua Robinson-White. Content and photos cannot be republished in any format without express permission.
For me, winter seems to pass by in a quick blur--how is it already March?! (Which I know is not what most people on the Island are thinking right now.) This is mainly because winter is our busiest time. We are scouring the depths of the web to find films you’ve never heard of, combing through hundreds of submissions to bring you the best of the best, and creating this unforgettable weekend which is the 18th annual Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival.
But it’s not just about bringing the best films to our little island. It’s about designing the whole experience, and making sure that at every possible corner, you have the opportunity to have your heart or mind opened wide to new ideas, perspectives, and people. The most rewarding part for me is connecting our audience with the guests that we bring for discussions after films. Usually, the name of the guest isn’t one you recognize, but by the end of the film, you are just absolutely floored that they’re standing at the front of the house before you.
I don’t often get to honor people my age up on stage, but this year we’ll be putting 27-year-old Maria Toorpakai from Pakistan in the spotlight after the screening of Unveiled. She is fighting fearlessly for positive change not only for women in Pakistan, but around the world. I promise you this is not one you want to miss. Honestly, if I were to list every single not-to-miss guest it would be all of them, so if you have to make some hard decisions on which films to skip, you’ll still find time to chat with our guests at the festival throughout the weekend. There’s plenty of time in between films to grab a fancy hot (or iced, ‘cause it’s almost spring) coffee from Chilmark Coffee Company, a full meal from Robert Lionette to ease your Morning Glory cravings, and don’t get me started on the apricot-ginger scones from Pie Chicks!
So I hope you’ll join me in a few weekends’ time. Come hang out! Grab your parents, your loved ones, old friends or new friends, and catch a flick, a meal, a beach walk, a workshop, or live music! Come laugh with me, cry with me, feel with me, learn, problem-solve, and celebrate our community with me!
Get your tickets ahead of time, and explore our full schedule, at tmvff.org.
And don’t forget that you can volunteer for a free ticket!
Be sure to visit MVY.com for everything you need to plan your trip to Martha's Vineyard!
It's my job to love this place, and it's no work at all.