We understand that traveling anywhere with toddlers can be overwhelming. Luckily our family friendly island is packed with things to keep the little ones entertained, ensuring their complete exhaustion by the end of the day–so you can enjoy some adult time. Indoor, outdoor, rain or shine, Martha’s Vineyard has a wide range of events and activities that will surely satisfy the little tike in your life. Here’s ten ways to keep your toddler dreaming of more time on MV.
1. Flying Horses Carousel. A ride on the Flying Horses Carousel is a rite of passage for every kid (and adult!). Bring your toddler to the nation’s oldest operating carousel, now in its 143rd season, so they can try their luck with grabbing the coveted brass ring in hopes of winning an extra ride free of charge. Kids can also enjoy a variety of other smaller rides and arcade games while they wait to ride atop their favorite horse.
2. Island Alpaca Farm. For animal lovers of all ages the Alpaca Farm in Oak Bluffs is a must-visit, and is especially engaging for small children. They can get up close and personal with the furry, friendly animals and watch the animals, interact with them and assist with feedings. Make sure to visit the gift shop for and pick up one of their super soft stuffed alpacas to bring home. Open 7 days, 10-4pm. Visit islandalpaca.com.
3. Little Leona’s Pets and Supplies. Little Leona’s is off the beaten path, nestled down a dirt road in West Tisbury, but its appeal is big. Expect to be greeted by the store’s resident miniature horses and play with bunnies, guinea pigs and other cuddly creatures. It’s also home to the exotic, and where pet owners go to pick up fish food or feeder mice. It’s part farm, part animal sanctuary, and it’s the Island’s only pet store. Open Tuesday, Friday and Saturday 10am-5pm. Call 508-696-8818.
4. Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary. This Mass Audubon Sanctuary is the perfect place to spend an afternoon showing your toddler the wild side and scenic beauty of Martha’s Vineyard, plus you’ll learn a lot too. They offer several parent/child program to enrich your young naturalist, where kids can learn about the many animals in their saltwater tank during their feeding time, or their Creature Feature program which combines a story, craft, and a look at the native “creature" of the day. Visit their website here.
5. Featherstone Center for the Arts. Featherstone is the only year round community arts center on Martha’s Vineyard offering an array of programs, classes, gallery shows and music for the whole family. You and your child will find inspiration, education, and creative enrichment on six acres of meadows, galleries and studios which was once Featherstone Farm. Ask them about their Toddler Art Program which allows kids to explore clay, painting and architecture. Visit featherstoneart.org.
6. Outdoor Parks. Spend an afternoon chasing your toddler around one of Martha’s Vineyard’s many parks and playgrounds. Head to Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs and fly a kite or have a picnic, or explore the popular nearby Niantic Park Playground, which recieved a massive renovation in 2016. Popular too are the local elementary school’s impressive playgrounds at the Edgartown School, Oak Bluffs School and West Tisbury School.
7. Head to the Beach. Is there anything better than a beautiful beach day with your little one? Explore nature’s playground at any number of our public beaches. We especially recommend beaches with restroom and parking access for families, like Menemsha Beach, conveniently located by public restrooms, dining options, an area for kids to go crabbing, as well as easy access to the beach from your car. If your vehicle can go oversand we also recommend driving out on Norton Point or Wasque Beach, where you can be close to all of your kids toys and toiletries all day long (passes can be secured through the Trustees of Reservations).
8. Farm Institute. Katama’s Farm Institute is a a farm-based educational institution that connects families and children to agriculture on a 162 acre working farm, featuring cows, hens, sheep, goats, bunnies and more. During the summer months they offer daily and weekly farm camp programs for children ages 2-17. Check out their Barnyard Buddies program where your kid go egg collecting, interact in a bunny circle, feed the goats, enjoy a farm story time, or a fun garden craft. Visit their website here.
9. Explore our local libraries. On Martha’s Vineyard libraries are much more than book borrowing, their dynamic community and cultural centers. Each of the six towns boast their own library, offering classes, music, workshops, and programs of all kinds for the whole family. Visit each of them online here: Oak Bluffs Library, West Tisbury Library, Vineyard Haven Library, Chilmark Library, Aquinnah Library, and Edgartown Library.
10. Get in the pool. If your little one loves the water try bringing them to one of our local pools for extra splashing and play time. The YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard offers a Water Discovery class on Saturday mornings intended to introduces infants and toddlers to water and exploration. The Mansion House Inn also has an indoor pool with day passes available, or if you’re staying at the Harbor View Hotel or Winnetu Oceanside Resort be sure to take advantage of their expansive, family friendly outdoor pool areas.
We all know teenagers can often be difficult and hard to please. If you’re planning a trip to Martha’s Vineyard with teenagers in tow, you’ll need to know where to go and what to do to keep them entertained–and off their phones. Martha’s Vineyard offers a wide range of events and activities sure to satisfy even the pickiest teen, ensuring you’ll be able to enjoy yourself, and your kids will want to return again and again. Here’s our top picks for providing amusement, recreation and enjoyment for your teenager.
Go for a bike ride. Martha’s Vineyard is home to hundreds of miles of bike trails, along our gorgeous shoreline and inland in our State Forest. Encourage your kids to get some fresh air and go out on a bike ride, or try to lure them into making it a family activity. Check out this helpful map of Island bike paths as well as our directory of bike rental shops.
Try a new watersport. Teenagers are generally up for most physical activities and our Island waters and outfitters make it easy to try something new everyday of the week. It won’t take much to entice your teen to go kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, kiteboarding, sail boating, windsurfing or canoeing–plus it’ll make for some great Instagram-worthy shots. Browse our list of water sport providers here.
Take in a movie. Teenagers always have and always will love going to the movies. Here on Martha’s Vineyard we have two year round movie theaters, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center in Vineyard Haven which hosts many special events and more artistic and independent films, as well as Entertainment Cinemas in downtown Edgartown for the more commercial blockbusters. Additionally there’s two seasonal historic movies theaters, both recently renovated–the Capawock Theatre in downtown Vineyard Haven and the Strand Theatre in downtown Oak Bluffs. For a real Island experience send your teen to Edgartown’s Entertainment Cinema on a summer Sunday at 6:30pm to take in Steven Spielberg’s 1975 classic movie “Jaws,” our Island’s claim to thriller fame.
Hit the Beach. This one should be easy, since there’s beaches everywhere and teenagers love the beach. South Beach in Edgartown is a popular beach for teens. It's a free and public beach located in Katama, facing the Atlantic Ocean. The surf can be fairly rough, which is fun for body surfing, but it's not ideal swimming for young kids.
Golf of all kinds. If your teen is a golfer there’s several different courses on Martha’s Vineyard to take a swing at, including Farm Neck Golf Club in Oak Bluffs, Mink Meadows in Vineyard Haven, and The Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown. There’s also Island Cove Adventures, the only mini golf course on Martha’s Vineyard. Additionally we have our very own disc golf or frisbee golf course, Riverhead Disc Golf Course, located in the State Forest.
Experience Martha’s Vineyard from above. If your teen has a sense of adventure a biplane ride over Martha’s Vineyard should be at the top of their summer bucket list. Classic Aviators offers biplane rides in the Katama area of Edgartown for your teen and a friend. They’ll head up in the sky for a scenic view of Chappaquiddick and downtown Edgartown from above. For extra excitement do the full Island loop to Aquinnah and back and don’t forget to ask about their special thrill ride option.
Check out a local concert. Martha’s Vineyard is home to many talented musicians and there’s always free live music happening around town. While the teens are too young to hit the bar they should check out the weekly dock dance at the Edgartown wharf and the Martha’s Vineyard Concert Series lineup–most shows are all ages, including Tall Heights & Ryan Montbleau at the Old Whaling Church and Deer tick at The Lampost.
Hop aboard a fishing charter. This is something fun for the whole family that your teen will actually like too. Many of the Island’s most avid fisherman run successful charter businesses where you and your group are guaranteed a good catch. Check out Catboat Charters or Done Deal Charters or any of the captains listed here.
Shop ‘till they drop. While there’s no mall on Martha’s Vineyard there are enough local shops that cater to a younger audience. Teens line up at Vineyard Vines and Black Dog (each with locations in Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, and Vineyard Haven) for the iconic Vineyard inspired fashion. The Green Room, Backwater Trading Basics and Eastaway clothing also offer great styles for teens and young adults. Then there’s Captain’s Club In Oak Bluffs, a popular spot for teen boys to score the store’s branded t-shirts and caps, and Citrine in Vineyard Haven a chic, bohemian boutique sure to satisfy any trendy teen girl.
Go Bowling. Rain or shine bowling is a fun way to spend a couple of hours on Martha’s Vineyard and the Barn Bowl & Bistro is a popular destination for all ages. This year round spot is popular with the locals and offers 10 modern bowling lanes, a full restaurant, and ongoing events and entertainment.
Most people associate Martha’s Vineyard with it’s many beaches, after all it’s an Island. What many people don’t know is that much of the Island is rural and wooded, with thousands of acres of preserved land perfect for hiking and exploring. Martha’s Vineyard has over 200 miles of trails and over 100 preserved properties that are open to the public.
Here’s our top three hiking trails on the Island and where to find them. Keep in mind that many are located in remote areas on the Island where cell reception is limited, and navigation systems often confuses coordinates on Martha’s Vineyard–so make sure to follow trail maps and markers. If you have an iPhone be sure to download the TrailsMV app available in the Apple app store courtesy of the Island’s Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, it’s a free app for hikers exploring Martha’s Vineyard that doesn’t require either cell service or Wi-Fi.
Menemsha Hills Reservation: Menemsha Hills is a beautiful and diverse nature reserve located off of North Road in Chilmark. The 211-acre preserve is owned and managed by The Trustees of Reservations, look out for their sign when approaching on North Road. Menemsha Hills is a popular hike that offers a variety of natural habitats including wetland, marsh, wooded groves, and a rocky shoreline, with sweeping views of Vineyard Sound. The three miles of trails are easily passable for the moderate hiker, with some extra energy needed to summit Prospect Hill, the second highest point on the Vineyard at 308 feet, and the view is worth the extra work! Menemsha Hills is open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours to fully appreciate the trail.
Long Point Wildlife Refuge: Long Point is an expansive property on the south side of the Island, accessible off Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. Long Point is not only a great spot to hike but given its sprawling coastline and sheltered salt and freshwater ponds many people flock here to splash in the waves, take a leisurely swim, or to go kayaking. You can stay by the water and relax or follow a two-mile trail that leads through oak forest and savanna bordered by Middle Point, Long Cove, and Tisbury Great ponds. Long Point offers a rare grassland habitat across its more than 600 acres, and is one of the largest publicly accessible properties on Martha’s Vineyard, also managed by The Trustees of Reservations. With beach, dune and woodland areas this property is also beloved for its diversity and size, even on a busy day you feel like you have the place to yourself. Birders and other nature-watchers also appreciate this spot for the plants and wildlife that call it home. Long Point is open year round, but last admission is at 5:30pm and the gate closes at 7pm during summer months. Public restrooms, picnic tables, bike rack, and a small visitor center is available, as well as kayak and standup paddleboard rentals from 10am to 3pm during peak season.
Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary: Cedar Tree Neck is another Island gem, located on the north shore of the Island in West Tisbury. The sprawling 400-acre preserve is managed by the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation and is one of their oldest and largest properties, it just celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. The property is accessible via Indian Hill Road and Obed Daggett Road, be forewarned that the last mile of the drive is extra bumpy and unpaved - but keep driving, you’re in the right place. Once there you’ll find a true sanctuary, and a diverse landscape that underscores the natural beauty of the Island. Take your pick of a series of trails, where you’ll traverse alongside a bubbling brook, under canopies of cedar trees, large ferns, beech trees and oaks, in between large glacial boulders and out toward the beautiful Vineyard Sound. Swimming is not permitted here but appreciating the view is very much accepted. Cedar Tree Neck is open daily from 8:30am to 5:30pm.
Another great way to discover the Island’s many trails is grabbing a copy of the book “The Walking Trails of Martha’s Vineyard,” which is provided by the Vineyard Conservation Society and available for purchase at many Island retailers including Bunch of Grapes bookstore, Edgartown Books, Alley's General Store, and Cronig's. Happy hiking!
Martha’s Vineyard is home to hundreds of local artists, designers, and food purveyors making some pretty special, beautiful and delicious things. When you visit Martha’s Vineyard we recommend you pack an extra bag that you can fill with your pick of locally made goodies.
During the summer be sure to make a trip to the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market (happening at the Grange Hall on Saturdays and Wednesdays), and the Vineyard Artisans Festival (at the Grange Hall on Thursdays and Sundays) to find an impressive selection of many of our locally sourced products.
After much deliberation, below is a list of some of our favorite finds.
Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt by Down Island Farm. In the tradition of Island settlers, farmers Heidi and Curtis solar evaporate Atlantic Ocean water, resulting in delicious, briny crystals that make for the perfect addition to both savory and sweet eats. Their sea salt comes in a variety of flavors including "Lemon Dill" with added dried lemon verbena and dried dill, "Smoked Oak" which is salt smoked over Island oak, and our favorite, "Blueberry Honey," with added freeze-dried blueberries and honey.
Austin Designs. Designer Rachel Austin Baumrin builds handmade textiles, including scarves, bags, accessories, and 100% organic and natural cotton herbal heat packs, eye pillows, and pocket pods hand crafted in small batches in her studio in West Tisbury. Filled with Austin Designs signature herb and seed combinations that are sourced on Martha’s Vineyard and in California, many of Austin Designs’ products are as therapeutic as they are beautiful.
Bluewave Body Company. Owner Gwyneth Wallace created Bluewave Cosmetics to bring her love of all things fresh, natural and beautiful to her buyers–and we thank her for it. Gwyneth uses fresh, natural ingredients and makes everything herself, including her bath and body products, facial products, hair care and men’s’ grooming products. Our favorite is her Island Girl Body Butter Bliss, a heavenly combination of natural butters and oils featuring a clean seaside mix of beach grass oil and wild rose.
Chilmark Coffee. Local Island coffee guru Todd Christy makes really really good coffee. Along with his wife Jenny the couple operates Chilmark Coffee, a small batch coffee roaster out of their home in Chilmark. All of their beans are ethically sourced from places like Ethiopia, Columbia and Guatemala, and the flavors they bring to their batches are exceptional. Pick up a bag to take home or be sure to ask at local markets and restaurants if they’re brewing it.
Vineyard Wick & Bath. Since 2015, Vineyard Wick & Bath has prided itself on using chemical-free soy wax in order to deliver natural products to their customers. Vineyard Wick & Bath offers candles, wax melts, lotions and soaps, in a variety of hypnotizing scents like Pistachio Macaron, Asian Plum, Citrus & Sage, and Lemon Lavender. All products are cruelty free and handmade with locally sourced products right here on Martha's Vineyard. We promise, once you smell it, you will buy it.
Noepe Designs. Designer Katie Zelenka’s iconic products include wristlets, clutches, totes, fold-over totes, crossbody bags, purses, prints, keychains, bracelets and pillows. Her textile designs are made from original silkscreens that start with pencil illustrations of images in nature that inspire her. Noepe Designs are made from leather and then precision heat embossed. These classy, affordable, handmade gift items are widely popular among visitors and locals alike.
Stefanie Wolf Designs. Stefanie’s keen sense of color and proportion combined with a simple yet sophisticated eye for design makes her creations unforgettable. Stefanie has always been attracted to shiny, colorful objects. Inspired by sea and sky, she brings her jewelry to life with glass in vivid hues and unexpected shapes. Stefanie travels to the time-honored glass bead region of Bohemia to select her glass colors, work closely with traditional artisans designing custom shapes, and choose finishes that bring her jewelry collection to life. Stefanie’s studio and retail showroom in downtown Edgartown is open to visitors year round.
Mimi’s Hittin’ the Sauce. Mark and Cathy Peters are the owners, and longtime hot sauce creators, of Mimi’s Hittin’ the Sauce, a line of hot sauce products made right here on Martha’s Vineyard. Mimi’s Hittin’ the Sauce has two varieties, “Hacha” and “HaChaChaCha,” as well as a pepper jelly and a salsa, each packed with fresh peppers and tomatoes. Everything that goes into their sauces is either grown by the couple or sourced from local farms. When you want an extra kick, a taste of the Vineyard, and an amazing flavor like no other this is your stuff.
Island Alpaca Co. Located in Oak Bluffs the Island Alpaca Co. farm and gift shop offers an impressive variety of quality alpaca products and luxurious garments, many crafted with yarn made from the fleece of their own alpaca. Island Alpaca’s products include hats, mittens, gloves, scarves, slippers, socks, jackets, sweaters, blankets, toys, gifts, and much more. The products are as soft as cashmere and warmer, lighter, and stronger than sheep’s wool. Visit Island Alpaca Co. farm to meet their gentle, playful animals and pick up one of their extra soft treasures.
Chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate. There’s so many delicious chocolate makers on Martha’s Vineyard we couldn’t pick just one! Chilmark Chocolates is a staple, and their chocolate is consistently considered the best on-Island. It’s only available at their store in Chilmark, and hours are limited but it’s oh-so worth the ride. Not Your Sugar Mamas in Vineyard Haven makes an impressive line of superfood chocolate bars rich in antioxidants that are perfect for the more health conscious chocolate lover, plus they offer a wide variety of plant-based treats at their cafe in Vineyard Haven. Enchanted Chocolates in Oak Bluffs make some pretty heavenly creations too, including their infamous “Stoner Food,” a caramel and chocolate covered pretzel rod sprinkled with Almond Butter Crunch and MV Sea Salt–needless to say it’s out of this world.
Wherever your travels take you on Martha’s Vineyard be sure to load up on these locally made goodies. Many business owners also sell their products online and offer shipping, so you can easily re-up on your supply at home.
We’ve all heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” With this we agree, unless it’s Sunday and we need a Bloody Mary, in which case we’re opting for brunch. On Martha’s Vineyard there’s enough eggs (many local and farm fresh) and french toast to go around, but here we’ll be focusing on the options in the bustling down of Oak Bluffs, home to one of the Steamship Authority terminals, and the Oak Bluffs harbor which services the Hyline, Island Queen, Seastreak, and Rhode Island Fast Ferry. So even if you’re just arriving hungry off the boat you’ll find an earnest supply of morning dining options.
Here’s our round up of breakfast and brunch spots in “OB” (as the locals refer to it) but keep in mind there’s many other bakeries (like the famous Back Door Donuts) and coffee shops nearby too!
Oak Bluffs Breakfast
Linda Jeans: Located on Circuit Avenue since 1976, this has been a family favorite and an Island staple for classics like omelets, pancakes, and waffles to the more creative like their Green Eggs and Ham. Open everyday 6am to 8pm.
Biscuits: Located across from the Oak Bluffs harbor this seasonal spot is known for their Southern inspired dishes like their sausage gravy and biscuits and fried chicken and waffles. Open Monday to Sunday 7am to 3:30pm, expect to wait for a table.
Slice of Life: Located on Circuit Avenue, this casual café bakery serves breakfast from scratch daily year round from 8 to 11am. Try their breakfast nachos topped with scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, black beans, roasted red peppers, scallions, salsa and sour cream, or their famous Fried Green Tomato BLT (with basil mayonnaise on our toasted homemade rosemary bread) topped with two fried eggs.
Farm Neck Cafe: Located on the world renowned Farm Neck golf course this full service restaurant is open to the public. It’s a hidden gem not far from the bustle of the Island’s downtowns and serves breakfast daily from 8 to 10am beginning June 26.
Oak Bluffs Brunch
Lolas: Located off of Beach Road in Oak Bluffs this southern seafood restaurant serves a popular Sunday Brunch Buffet on Sundays from 10am to 1:30pm, complete with a Build Your Own Bloody Mary option.
Beetlebung: Located on Circuit Avenue this trendy coffeehouse has been known to serve brunch every day from 10am until 3pm. We’re not yet sure what’s in store for this year but previously their brunch menu has included the classics along with more adventurous morning munchies like carnitas tacos. Reopening for the 2018 season on June 25.
Park Corner Food Bar: Located in Post Office Square, on the corner of Kennebec Ave. this cozy bar and New American bistro serves a beloved brunch year round, complimented by the perfect Bloody Mary, live music, or a classic movie. Brunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 3pm.
20 By Nine: Located on Kennebec Ave. this seasonal gathering spot is known for its extensive whiskey list, creative tapas and delicious Sunday brunch. Go extra hungry and opt for their Pig & Waffle dish, featuring pork loin, a sweet potato waffle and maple reduction. If it’s a nice day and you score a seat outside consider yourself extra lucky. Brunch begins at 10am on Sundays.
Cardboard Box: Located on Circuit Ave. and also accessible from an entrance on Kennebec Ave. this eclectic restaurant is the newest addition to the Oak Bluffs dining scene, offering brunch on Sundays from 10am to 2pm. We like the look of their steak and poached eggs and also their Fish Cakes Benedict. Bloody Mary drinker? Try it here with a jumbo shrimp cocktail skewer.
Many people don’t realize just how big, and just how rural Martha’s Vineyard really is. Martha’s Vineyard is approximately 96 square miles, roughly triangular in shape, 25 miles (42k) at its longest point east to west, and 9 miles (12.8k) at the longest point north to south. Locals refer to the eastern side of the Island as “down-Island” and the western side of the Island as “up-Island.”
There are six distinctive towns on the Vineyard, each with its own character, flare, attractions, dining, lodging and more. The “down-Island” towns refer to Tisbury, which includes the year-round harbor port of Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown, each vibrant port communities, very unique from one another, very easy to walk around and very easy to get between. Then there are three rural towns which constitute “up-Island” including West Tisbury, Aquinnah, and Chilmark, which offer a more pastoral landscape, dotted with small farms and cozy shopping in a bucolic setting.
Given that most visitors reach the Island by ferry, on boats that arrive into the down-Island harbors, it’s not uncommon for a visitor to spend days on Martha’s Vineyard and never get “up-Island,” or even know that the second half of the Island exists (many locals would like to keep it that way but we’re happy to help spread the news of all the amazing offerings of Martha’s Vineyard!). We definitely recommend you make the time to explore up-Island, we promise you will not be disappointed. And if you don’t have a car you can still make it “up” there via the Vineyard Transit Authority bus system.
Here’s three of our favorite must see up-Island attractions.
The Aquinnah Cliffs
Located on the westernmost edge of the Vineyard, the Aquinnah cliffs are simply breathtaking. This impressive landmark is so exquisite it was recently named the most beautiful place in all of Massachusetts by Condé Nast Traveler. There’s beauty in every direction and breathtaking views of Vineyard Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. On a walk up to the cliffs you’ll pass several souvenir shops and snack bars, as well as a casual sit-down restaurant–the Aquinnah Shop Restaurant. Make your way to the scenic overlook and you won’t believe your eyes. It’s the most popular place to take a photo on Martha’s Vineyard, but even with the best camera the picture can’t do it justice. Check out the nearby Aquinnah lighthouse, atop 130-foot cliff, which was recently moved back from the edge to protect it from becoming victim to coastal erosion. The lighthouse is open to the public daily from Memorial Day through Columbus Day and is very much worth the fifty-five steps to the top.
Menemsha is a small, classic New England fishing village located in the town of Chilmark, and situated on the northern coast of Martha’s Vineyard. You’ll smell its authenticity as soon as you step out of the car, and you can’t miss the working fishing boats that litter the harbor and the stacks of lobster traps that decorate the streets. A visit to Menemsha is most popular for a summer sunset, when the sun goes down over an unobstructed section of the Vineyard Sound, making for one of the best sunsets on the east coast. Be sure to grab a lobster dinner or some clam chowder at one of the local fish markets, and don’t forget to enjoy a bottle of wine while you wait–many Island towns are dry and Chilmark allows for BYOB.
Open to the public and displaying local artists for over 45 years, the Field Gallery is a fun and easy stop in West Tisbury. A small, indoor gallery displays fine art, and the open outdoor space is home to Thomas Maley's now iconic sculptures, offering guests a great photo opp! Plus, the Field Gallery is right across the street from Alley's General Store, one of the country's oldest general stores worthy of a visit. And during peak season, just down the street at the Grange Hall, is the West Tisbury Farmers Market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and the Vineyard Artisans Festival on Sundays and Thursdays, making this up-island trip a trifecta of fun!
Once summer hits the island, all we can think of is where to eat at the newly reopened restaurants. It starts by making a mental list of the ones that offer outdoor dining, because as New Englanders that have suffered through an endless winter, we crave that warm sun on our skin while we enjoy cocktails and eat delicious food. We’ve done the job for you and have listed our top ten best outdoor dining options on Martha’s Vineyard, ranging from casual eats to special-occasion establishments, along with our suggestions on what to order!
Coop de Ville
Not just another dive or wing bar, Coop de Ville is into its 34th year in service to the island, bringing us the largest selection of craft beers, along with some of the best seafood dishes you’ll taste. It’s located on Oak Bluffs Harbor, so the view can’t be beat and as the warm summer breeze hits you and you sip on your cold beer, you’ll feel like vacation is just getting started. Make sure to order their stuffed quahogs and any of their fresh fish dinners - the restaurant sources most of its seafood from local fishermen like Mikey Rottman and oystermen like Nick Turner.
Menemsha Fish Market
A drive “Up Island” is always worth it when at the end of the journey, one of the best lobster rolls on island awaits. Locally owned by a fishermen family, Menemsha Fish Market is not just a market, but a restaurant that serves up piping hot cups of lobster bisque or chowder to go along with your lobster roll. Craving oysters? They’ll shuck a dozen for you fresh! Menemsha is BYOB, so bring your favorite wine if you wish.
A local favorite, the Lookout Tavern is the spot where everyone knows your name and is excited to see you. Overlooking the water, and during the summer, you can watch the OB ferry come in and out of the harbor throughout the day, which makes for fun people watching. Get a few drinks at the bar but make sure to order a couple of their specialty sushi rolls - it’s fresh, flavorful, and always pairs perfectly with anything you’re drinking!
Atlantic Fish and Chophouse
For a more refined experience but still approachable and friendly, the Atlantic Fish and Chophouse is where to go. Located overlooking the Edgartown Harbor, the Atlantic is a full-service restaurant with a creative culinary team that delivers outstanding food. Their Truffle Lobster Macaroni and Cheese is hands down one of our favorites (not too heavy on the lobster), their Charred Octopus appetizer is a must, and a look at their cocktail menu and we’re ready for a fun night!
Offshore Ale Company
One of two breweries located on the entire island of Martha’s Vineyard, Offshore Ale Co. is located in Oak Bluffs and is a crowd favorite. They serve lunch and dinner, along with offering daily brewery tours, which is a fun way to walk off all the food you’ll eat and all the beer you’ll drink here. With about 21 beers in rotation, there’s bound to be something you’ll love - but make sure to order their Brewhouse Pulled Pork Sandwich, which is Slow cooked overnight in a blend of their homemade root beer and Nut Brown Ale
The island’s only creperie, Nat’s Nook is located on Main Street Vineyard Haven, tucked away on a side street. This woman-owned and run business serves up breakfast and lunch, with a focus on crepes both sweet and savory. A sprinkling of tables outside make for the best environment - we recommend the lemon curd crepe if you love sweets. Paired with an espresso drink, it’s the perfect mid-day treat!
Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company
Known for their award-winning gluten free clam chowder, the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company located in Oak Bluffs has a deck/porch with a few outdoor tables that are the ideal spot to watch time and people go by while enjoying a cup of chowder. Their lobster rolls are also divine!
19 Raw Oyster Bar
The island’s first full raw oyster bar, 19 Raw Oyster Bar arrived at the Edgartown scene in 2017 and has become a staple for locals and visitors alike. Located on Church Street in Edgartown, it serves up oysters not only from island oyster men and women, but other favorites from New England and beyond. Not craving oysters? Their menu is packed with delicious offerings like King Crab Legs, Crab Stir Fry Rice, and we hear their sriracha fries are out of this world.
Located at the end of Vineyard Haven's Main Street shopping district, Waterside Market is a local favorite. Serving breakfast and lunch year-round, and dinner throughout the summer, visitors can easily discover why this gem was featured on Diners Drive-Ins and Dives. It's a perfect spot to enjoy tasty food and people watch! Be sure to try the Tex Mex Breakfast, the Cab Sandwich, or their local, grass-fed burger. Plus, they serve beer and wine.
Among the Flowers
Open for breakfast and lunch throughout the season, with dinner service in peak summer, Among the Flowers is celebrating its 40th year of serving MV locals and visitors alike. We definitely recommend it as a breakfast outdoor dining spot, since it’s a street away from main street and tucked between side streets, making it a secret garden of delicious foods. Basically, anything and everything on their breakfast menu is divine: the waffles, pancakes, or omelets, oh my!
This is a guest blog post for Visit Martha's Vineyard submitted on behalf of Jane Drebeen
One of the great pleasures of Martha’s Vineyard is the way the arts are naturally integrated into every day life. For many generations, the island has been peopled with gifted souls who have enriched the community with their music, art and work with local materials. There is a great variety of artistic and interesting people - painters, writers, musicians, dancers, actors, poets, directors. There are many here who work in other media - in clay, wampum, stone, metal and textiles. The creative urge is in action all around us, in traditional and innovative ways. And we can see that urge to be creative expressed even more broadly - in landscapers, carpenters, hairstylists, letter press printers, and leaders.
Inspired by the richness and diversity of the Vineyard’s creative community, I wrote the book The Urge To Create: Vineyard Portraits. It is a collection of photographic and written profiles of 50 varied, creative island people, whose work you will see everywhere on the island. I interviewed each artist, and wrote a profile in their own words. This written profile is paired with a photographic portrait taken by Vineyard photographer. The book weaves together many threads of the Vineyard community - and can be found at www.janedreeben.com. It is also available at Featherstone Center for the Arts, and a portion of the sale of each book is being donated to Featherstone.
Some island artists are well known through the local press. John Hoy may be best known as leader of local favorite band Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish, but he is truly a Renaissance Man, a renowned stone mason, a fisherman, and who knew - a whittler. Watch the papers and area posters, or check Johnny Joy and the Bluefish on Facebook to catch the band.
In John’s own words: "I’m pretty much self-taught at everything. I guess it must have been old guys that I saw here and there that I thought looked cool. I was always the kid that was looking at the musicians on stage. I always had a fascination with the old guys who could do everything. I had a few really good mentors that knew some stuff, some old-world stuff, some secret stuff. They could catch more fish than anybody, or make a better net, or fix a machine with baling wire and castaway junk. Half the thing about creativity is having the juice to run that idea to the ground. Get it on the paper, make the song, bring it to the people."
Speaking of song, make sure you catch Jim Thomas, Founder and Conductor of the Martha’s Vineyard Spirituals Choir, and Founder and Director of the U.S. Slave Songs Project. The choir sings songs sung by slaves in the United States, and performs throughout the summer. For more information, visit usslavesongproject.com.
Jim describes the beginning of the Spirituals Choir: “I collected singers here, and we started to talk about the history of slave songs and how they were started. To my knowledge nobody in the country has done that. Everybody likes singing them, and everybody that I know knows at least three or four from youth. But no one can tell you how they were started. I was intrigued by that. That to me was phenomenal. A group of young people with a tradition of singing was brought here from Africa, where all information is sung.”
While Johnny Hoy and Jim Thomas are celebrating the musical soundscape, Liz Taft is a plein air painter who captures the magic of the Vineyard landscape. In additional to painting herself, she is teacher to the next generation of island plein air painters. See her work at liztaft.com, arrange to visit her in her studio, or commission a painting, your own personal image of Vineyard heaven.
Liz describes her connection to painting landscape: “It began with this intimate connection with nature…I just wanted to capture that thing that I had seen outside. I wanted to share that connection that I feel. I want to be truthful to the thing, to the scene, to the spot.”
If you are in search of something to “hit the spot,” Juli Vanderhoop's baked goods are renowned island wide. She runs the Orange Peel Bakery and Orange Peel Bakery Cafe, both in Aquinnah. Her Wednesday night pizza nights have been an island tradition. Visit orangepeelbakery.net for information.
Juli talks about her upbringing: “ I was raised in Aquinnah, the land of my people, which are historically known as the Wampanoag people. This is home to me, and it’s been the land where I’ve come from forever, since the beginning of written history. I was taught baking by my stepfather, Luther Madison, as well as my mother, Ann Vanderhoop. It was something we did every day. It was something that our lives were structured around, and that was always a great thing. We had to hunt here, so having food on our table, which wasn’t always easy, was a blessing. Really learning what food meant was important.”
If you are looking for something original and inspiring, visit sculptor and glass artist Barney Zeitz in his Vineyard Haven studio. Barney is a versatile artist who works in metal and stained glass - see his work at bzeitz.com.
Barney reflects on his life on the Vineyard: “I feel good about being on the Vineyard. I did the Baptist Church, three Episcopal churches, two Methodist churches, and then I did my art in the Hebrew Center. I can walk around here and feel I have helped to restore some old things, paying tribute to the past, and doing my own thing.”
Johnny Hoy, Jim Thomas, Liz Taft, Juli Vanderhoop and Barney Zeitz are your introduction. The Urge to Create: Vineyard Portraits offers you a window into the beauty, vitality and diversity of Vineyard life.
Thousands of people flock to Martha’s Vineyard to relax in the summer sun, read leisurely on the beach, sip cocktails along the harbor and find solace in doing a whole lot of nothing. Then there’s the subset of visitors who seek action and adventure, those who look forward to burning countless calories while traversing our 100 square miles of challenging terrain. This post is for them. With miles of ideal hiking, biking and running routes, and with fun outdoor fitness options, Martha’s Vineyard is the ideal destination for active travelers who want to get outside and get moving.
Martha’s Vineyard is home to miles and miles of hiking trails. From wooded paths, to open field trails, to stretches along seaside cliffs, there really is a trail for everyone. The island is mostly flat meaning most trails can accommodate an easy to moderate skill level. In fact, the highest elevation is only 311 feet at Peak Hill in the town of Chilmark, making hiking on the Vineyard a great family activity or a simple way for the more serious hiker to complete all trails.
New this year, Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation launches a free app, TrailsMV, which provides maps and info on all public hiking trails and over 100 preserved properties. TrailsMV uses GPS to pinpoint hikers’ locations, shows the direction hikers are going, and guides hikers. Plus, it works without cell service or wifi, making it ideal on trails. c trails
If you’re looking to pick up the pace and go for a run, the Island’s diverse landscape is ideal for that too. Stay down-Island for the flatter roads or head to Chilmark and Aquinnah for windier roads of varying elevations. The Martha’s Vineyard Manuel F. Correllus State Forest located in the middle of the Island, offers 14 miles of wooded and paved paths away from island traffic, making it a safe, secluded option, where you can keep a steady pace. For runners looking to take off along the water consider a stretch of Beach Road between Edgartown and Oak Bluffs or a jaunt along the hillier East Chop Drive. For those runners looking to go the distance, check out: Martha’s Vineyard Marathon and Half Marathon; Memorial Day 5K Road Race; Murdick’s 5-Mile Run the Chop Challenge; and the Chilmark Road Race.
If biking or cycling is more your thing, Martha’s Vineyard has you covered there too. Biking is one of the best ways to enjoy the Vineyard, from paved pathways to miles of off-road trails that crisscross the Island. From Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs to Edgartown, or any combination of down-Island towns, you’ll find over 44 miles of bike trails that are mostly flat and easier for children, as well as adults. For the more experienced rider, a tour of the up-Island communities of West Tisbury, Chilmark and Aquinnah can prove quite the challenge with their hilly and curvy roadways in the more rural area. Want to cycle the entire Island? You’ll easily log 60+ miles along the perimeter. Click here to download our bike map and browse our directory of bicycle rental shops if you need to borrow gear while you’re here. You're welcome to bring your bike with you over to the island, or you can easily rent one here at any of these bike rental shops. There's even one called Wheel Happy!
There are numerous options for the active traveler looking to break a sweat and have fun at the same time. During peak season, CrossFit Martha's Vineyard offers morning workouts on the beach which often include movements with sand bags, swimming, and body-weight workouts. Other outdoor fitness options include beach yoga, outdoor bootcamps, stand-up paddleboard yoga, and even goat yoga!
Ice cream on Martha’s Vineyard is an essential part of any trip, especially if you are visiting during the warmer spring and summer months. It’s refreshing, deliciously made, and a summer tradition. Below, we’re sharing a little information on the history of ice cream!
“Ice cream's origins are known to reach back as far as the second century B.C., although no specific date of origin nor inventor has been indisputably credited with its discovery. We know that Alexander the Great enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar. Biblical references also show that King Solomon was fond of iced drinks during harvesting. During the Roman Empire, Nero Claudius Caesar (A.D. 54-86) frequently sent runners into the mountains for snow, which was then flavored with fruits and juices.
Over a thousand years later, Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that closely resembled what is now called sherbet. Historians estimate that this recipe evolved into ice cream sometime in the 16th century. England seems to have discovered ice cream at the same time, or perhaps even earlier than the Italians. "Cream Ice," as it was called, appeared regularly at the table of Charles I during the 17th century. France was introduced to similar frozen desserts in 1553 by the Italian Catherine de Medici when she became the wife of Henry II of France. It wasn't until 1660 that ice cream was made available to the general public. The Sicilian Procopio introduced a recipe blending milk, cream, butter and eggs at Café Procope, the first café in Paris.” - The Evolution of Ice Cream, by the International Dairy Foods Association
On island, we have ice cream and frozen yogurt shops throughout all six towns and below we’ve listed some of our faves, the town where you can find the shop, and our favorite flavors in each shop! We hope you have a chance to do your own ice cream tasting this season - please let us know your favorites!
1. Ben and Bills
Located in Oak Bluffs, Ben and Bills has flavors galore! It’s no wonder they were recently recognized as the top spot for ice cream in New England. Must try flavor? Lobster ice cream. Yep, butter flavored ice cream with real lobster in it.
2. Bernie’s Ice Cream
Located in Vineyard Haven and one of the few ice cream shops that actually makes their ice cream right on-island, Bernie’s Ice Cream is perhaps the creamiest ice cream on Martha’s Vineyard. The owners attended Ice Cream University – that’s a real thing! – before opening up a few years ago. They’ve quickly become a favorite among Island residents and visitors. Ice cream flavors to taste: Coffee Oreo, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip
3. Mad Martha’s Homemade Ice Cream
Located in all three main port towns, Mad Martha’s Homemade Ice Cream is an award-winning ice cream shop that creates some of the most interesting flavor combinations on island! Ice cream flavors to taste: Lemon Blueberry Cake and Shark Attack.
4. Scoop Shack
Located in Edgartown, the Scoop Shack makes all of their ice cream from scratch and also adds to the list of offerings, a unique one: Hawaiian Shaved Ice! They have flavors like green tea flavored ice cream with organic local island honey, mint and crumbled ginger snaps, that will surely delight your senses! Ice cream flavors to taste: Lemon Lavender and Mexican Hot Chocolate.
5. Rosie’s Frozen Yogurt
Located in Oak Bluffs, Rosie’s Frozen Yogurt is a newcomer to the ice cream scene on Martha’s Vineyard, but an already loved one! The Island's only self-serve frozen yogurt store, featuring 8 flavors and over 30 toppings. Frozen yogurt flavors to taste: Berry Acai Sorbet and Original Tart.
6. Tisberry Frozen Yogurt & Smoothies
Located in Vineyard Haven, Tisberry Frozen Yogurt & Smoothies is the Island’s first fro-yo shop. They offer a great selection of flavors for frozen yogurt along with toppings, but it’s also a great spot for fruit smoothies on a hot summer day. Frozen yogurt flavors to taste: Coconut and Original Tart.
8. Soft Serve Specialties: Dairy Queen, Sandy’s Fish & Chips, Net Result, and Menemsha Galley
For the soft-served lovers out there, Martha's Vineyard has you covered. The opening of Dairy Queen in Edgartown is a sure sign the season is about to start. The line of kids snakes around the shop on opening day and the excitement is palpable among kids and parents alike. The local newspapers even cover opening day at DQ! And other soft-serve options can be found at our local fried fish take-out joints. Both Sandy's Fish & Chips and Net Result in Vineyard Haven offer soft serve for dessert, and so does Menemsha Galley in — you guessed it — Menemsha!
It's my job to love this place, and it's no work at all.