Martha’s Vineyard truly is is a nature lover’s paradise. 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. From the more casual strolls along the streets of Oak Bluffs to the more challenging routes up-Island here’s our picks for the most picturesque (and most Instagrammable!) places to explore on foot.
Aquinnah Headlands Preserve
This area refers to what is commonly known as the Aquinnah or Gay Head Cliffs, the most majestic, and most visited location in all of Martha’s Vineyard. This spot is often named the most beautiful location in Massachusetts and for good reason. This sacred ground covers almost 50 acres and the Cliffs themselves rise 100 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Enjoy views of the Elizabeth Islands, a little known chain of Islands north of Martha’s Vineyard, as well as the Buzzards Bay coastline, the Rhode Island shore, and, directly below, the Devil’s Bridge, a mile-long string of boulders and other glacial shards that proved dangerous to many in maritime history over the years. The property is managed by the Land Bank and also includes Moshup Beach a nearly half mile stretch of expansive coastline situated under the clay cliffs.
This impressive cropland has long been a fixture on the Island, and was originally a dairy farm for over 300 years. Today it’s known for its innovative hydroponic greenhouses, one of which measures 31,000 feet. The Land Bank purchased the land’s development rights, plus a circumferential trail leading past Little Duarte’s Pond, a thick cool wetland nearby, on a preserve of over 60 acres. Explore this area and appreciate the inner workings of one of our most powerful farms, which acts as the Island Grown Schools’ Farm Hub, as well as a beacon of natural and agricultural beauty.
Mytoi Japanese Garden
If you weren’t expecting it you’d be surprised to find this little slice of Japanese heaven tucked away on Chappaquiddick Island, a small island off of Edgartown. Mytoi is an intimate Japanese-style garden, which offers a natural place to escape and ponder. Sheltered by a charming cluster of pines, the preserve includes a small pond and island, flowers and plants, walkways and seating areas perfect for contemplation. If you’re looking for an outdoor venue quiet reflection or meditation this is the spot.
Caroline Tuthill Preserve
This parcel of land is conveniently located off of Beach Road in Edgartown and Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. Many locals have driven past it hundreds of times without giving it second thought but it deserves to be a destination in its own right. Managed by Sheriffs Meadow Foundation this 150 acre preserve is made up of oak and pitch pine forest, wooded wetlands, salt marsh and open meadow, and it abuts Sengekontacket Pond to the north. According to Sheriffs Meadow Foundation while walking the preserve one might observe such birds as crows, blue jays, chickadees, towhees, pine warblers, white-breasted nuthatches and red-eyed vireos. In spring, one may also be treated to the sight of lady’s slippers, which grow along the trail and at the foot of the Preserve’s many oaks.
Menemsha Hills Reservation
Menemsha Hills is a beautiful and diverse nature reserve located off of North Road in Chilmark. 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!
For additional details on our locals hikes visit the websites of the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank and the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation. Also be sure to download this handy trail map, along with TrailsMV, a user friendly iOS app that helps you better explore and connect the various trails on Martha’s Vineyard. Happy hiking!
Many visitors flock to Martha’s Vineyard to Martha’s Vineyard, making for one of the most anticipated weekends on the Island. While Labor Day unofficially marks the end of the summer season there’s still so much to see and do and the weather is usually ideal for travelling and sightseeing. If you’re heading this way here’s some Labor Day weekend highlights you won’t want to miss!
Explore our Island Farms
There’s over forty working farms on Martha’s Vineyard where you can get fresh produce, meat, and dairy, while mingling with local livestock and barnyard buddies, and Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to explore them. On Friday August 31, from 10-10:45am and again on Monday September 3, from 10-11am, the FARM Institute in Katama offers a guided tour to visitors. “Whether you’re a family with a few wee farmers eager to check out the chickens, seasoned farmers curious about island agricultural techniques, farm-to-table enthusiasts wondering how artichokes grow, backyard gardeners, or anything in between – stop by for a visit.”
The Grey Barn farm in Chilmark, home to the Island’s most delicious (and award winning!) cheeses, offers a couple different tours throughout the weekend on their beautiful sprawling property. Take a Cheese Tasting and Milking Tour on Saturday, September 1 at 5:30 pm and meet the cows that produce their beautiful cheeses before feasting on a large cheese board at the end of the mini tour and talk. Or on Monday, September 3 at 10am visit the farm for a walking tour and learn the history of this important farm and how it’s been brought it back to life in recent years.
For the animal loving yogis in town be sure to stop by Island Alpaca on Monday from 3:30-4:30pm for Alpaca Yoga. There you’ll get to enjoy a one hour session of relaxing yoga held in a pasture among friendly fuzzy alpaca, what could be more stress relieving than that?
If you’re looking to get a taste of many Island farm’s pop into the West Tisbury Farmers Market on Saturday September 1 at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury for a DIY food tour of the Island’s freshest food.
Shop the old, the new, and everything in between
Shopping on Martha’s Vineyard is a sport, especially if you’re looking for on-of-a-kind treasures that have a special meaning or a storied past. Over Labor Day weekend you’ll find several markets selling locally made and locally found objects. On Friday August 31 from 9am to 3pm the Grange Exchange Antiques and Art Sale returns to the West Tisbury Grange Hall for their last sale of the summer. There you’ll find historical artifacts, vintage art, maps, jewelry, Island memorabilia, decorative objects, and more.
Then there’s the Chilmark Flea Market, the oldest outdoor Flea Market on the Island, which returns to the Chilmark Church on Saturday, September 1 from 9am-2pm. The "Flea" features high quality handmade items from Vineyard artists and craftsmen, antiques, imports and vintage finds, including jewelry, clothing, art, food items and more.
If you’ve never visited the Vineyard Artisans Festival Labor Day weekend is the time to do it, and you have three opportunities to get there. The largest art show on Martha's Vineyard features Island artists with unique furniture, clothing, ceramics, jewelry and fine art from the Island’s top artists and it happens at the Ag Hall in West Tisbury on Friday, August 31, from 5-8pm; on Saturday, September 1 from 10am-5pm; and again on Sunday, September 2 from 10am to 5pm.
The Oak Bluffs Open Market will also be alive on Sunday, September 2 from 10am-2pm in Oak Bluffs’ Washington Park with an ever-changing mix of local produce, specialty foods, arts, crafts, antique and vintage dealers, massage, tarot and more.
Get down with local, and international, live music
Martha’s Vineyard loves their music. Most night of the week you’ll find musicians playing local bars, outdoor concerts and various venues around the Island. On Friday August 31, enjoy the final Sunset Concert Series of the season, which brings local favorite the Pickpocket Bluegrass Band to the Tabernacle Green in Oak Bluffs from 6-7:30pm. Take in the sounds of the band and bring a picnic, or dance along, while admiring the adorable gingerbread houses nearby.
Labor Day weekend also brings big talent from near and far for the Martha’s Vineyard Jazz and Blues Summerfest series which takes place on Friday, August 31, September 1, and Sunday, September 2. This annual music festival plays host to music lovers from all over the United States and Europe, and offers a weekend of concerts featuring women in jazz including Jazzmeia Horn, Sage, Alyson Williams, Maysa and more.
For those night owls the Ritz, the Seafood Shanty, the Atlantic, and the Port Hunter all offer nightly live music and entertainment during Labor Day weekend and most nights throughout the summer.
Dance, dance, dance
If you’re looking to be inspired by a riveting dance performance you’ve picked the right weekend to be on Martha’s Vineyard. On Saturday, September 1 at 7pm The Yard in Chilmark presents the Schonberg Fellows their residents from the The Bessie Schonberg Boston Choreography Residency. Alex & Joy Davis - The Davis Sisters of Junk Drawer explore “the intersection of things in their lives that don't quite have their own place, but are too essential to keep hidden from sight” while Marsha Parilla Danza Orgánica of Melaza II performs a dance theater piece based on the colonial relationship between the Caribbean and the United States of America.
Also on Saturday at 7pm the Vineyard Arts Project, an arts and wellness retreat space on Martha’s Vineyard, brings us the Black Iris Project a ballet collaborative and education vehicle that creates “new, relevant classical ballet works that celebrate diversity and Black history.”
Now the challenge is where to start! Be sure to check out our sample itineraries of other ways to spend your time on Martha’s Vineyard along with can’t miss sights and attractions. Have a safe and happy Labor Day weekend wherever your travels take you!
It’s no secret that Martha’s Vineyard is home to a robust arts community. From visual arts to theater and dance, this island is home to residencies, galleries, exhibitions, and shows that flourish during the summer season. Nestled in Edgartown, just outside of the town center on Main Street, is Vineyard Arts Project, a performing arts residency that has been quietly bringing high-caliber theater and dance performances to Martha’s Vineyard at pay-what-you-can ticket prices for eleven years.
Vineyard Arts Project offers weeklong residencies to select professional groups, curated by the organization’s Founder and Artistic Director, Ashley Melone. Choosing diverse and emerging talent, Ashley focuses on supporting young artists looking to step outside of the mold and experiment with powerful, groundbreaking styles and subject matter. In 2018 alone, the Ashley Bouder Project, founded by NYC Ballet Principal Ashley Bouder, NYC-based The Black Iris Project, and LA-based No)one. Art House took the opportunity presented by the removed and relaxed atmosphere on the Vineyard to focus on their creative endeavors. Bouder’s collaborative spotlights the often-overlooked talents of female dancers as choreographers and in leadership roles. The Black Iris Project, founded by choreographer Jeremy McQueen, concentrates on the stories and talents of people of color, pulling from social issues and personal histories to create moving works. No)one. Art House focuses on new approaches to movement, often inspired by unusual, pop-culture sources.
Vineyard Arts Project also provides a secluded, safe space for the incubation of major plays and musicals. Michael Greif (Rent, Dear Evan Hansen) was invited to the residency earlier this summer with the actors and creative team for a new musical titled “Far From The Tree,” based on Andrew Solomon’s award-winning book of the same name. They presented a reading with live music to a packed house, affording a venue for many who may otherwise be unable to see the final show in NYC. At the end of August, Vineyard Arts Project will welcome back The Public Theater for their fifth residency to workshop another new musical, “Poster Boy.” The Public Theater and Cirio Collective, a dance company founded by siblings Jeff Cirio (American Ballet Principal) and Lia Cirio (Boston Ballet Principal), are two groups that return to Vineyard Arts Project time and again to partake in the familial atmosphere and relaxed but inspiring setting that Martha’s Vineyard provides.
Beyond artist residencies, Vineyard Arts Project also offers the space to performing arts educators and non-profits. Musical Theatre Lab, Rosie’s Theater Kids, and Jones Haywood Dance have also returned to the Vineyard for the past several summers to teach upcoming generations technique, perseverance, and professional skills. Using the studio space, fully equipped homes, and supportive community, they live at Vineyard Arts Project for a week and present their own performances at the conclusion of their stay.
Vineyard Arts Project also focuses on wellness and offers yoga classes every summer. Led by Johanna Hynes, these mindful, Vinyasa flows are offered every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday throughout the summer from 8:00-9:15am. They are $20 at the door and mats are available for use at the studio.
If you haven’t had a chance to see the exceptional and joyful presentations at Vineyard Arts Project (215 Upper Main Street) or if you’re a regular intent on seeing all they have to offer this summer, there are two remaining performances of 2018:
The Public Theater
Saturday, August 25, 2018
7:00 – 8:00 pm
215 Upper Main Street, Edgartown, MA 02539
Reserve tickets in advance at TicketsMV.com/VineyardArts or
Pay-what-you-can at the door
The Black Iris Project
Saturday, September 1, 2018
7:00 – 8:00 pm
215 Upper Main Street, Edgartown, MA 02539
Reserve tickets in advance at TicketsMV.com/VineyardArts or
Pay-what-you-can at the door
This is a guest blog post by Sarah Simpson, Operations Coordinator, Vineyard Arts Project
For more information about Vineyard Arts Project, and to see everything they offer, visit their website by clicking here.
Much of the roughly 100 square miles of Martha’s Vineyard is rural, with a significant portion of land is used for farming. At last count there were over 40 working farms on Martha’s Vineyard and many of the farmers congregate weekly during the summer at the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market. The open-air Farmer’s 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. According to their website the market was founded “by a ragtag group of hippies, Yankees and retired English teachers” and the chill vibe of the place hasn’t changed.
The market pops up twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9-12pm at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury. The Saturday market runs from June through October and the Wednesday market runs from June through the end of August. The market also returns in the winter and meets indoors at the Agricultural Hal in West Tisbury on Saturdays from October to December. Be sure to check the most current hours here.
Obviously, the market is packed with local farmers and fresh produce but you’ll also find many prepared foods and packaged goods that will stand out in your pantry. Be sure to go early (many things sell out) and go hungry, there’s a plethora of breakfast options available to you while you stroll.
Here’s what not to miss when you’re visiting the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market.
It’s safe to say that MVM Mushrooms are unlike any mushroom you’ve ever had. They’re rich, tender and oh, so flavorful. MVM Mushrooms was started by two Harvard graduates who met while studying mycology. They set up a farm on Martha’s Vineyard, with the perfect growing conditions for their shiitake mushrooms, using traditional Japanese techniques, and resulting in delicious, protein packed mushrooms. According to their website they hold very little water, do not shrivel when cooked, and sear like meat, yielding incomparable woodsy umami.
The Miller’s Wife Sweet & Savory Crêpes
The Miller’s Wife is one of the newest additions to the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market and a sweet one at that. The iconic red food truck pumps out hot, made to order crepes from fresh-milled organic heirloom grains, including English White May Wheat, Aromatic French Buckwheat, and Italian ‘00’ Rice flour. Fillings include whipped butter and vanilla sugar, brushed coconut meringue and cream, to name a few, along with an equally as impressive savory selection.
If you drink only one cup of coffee on Martha’s Vineyard make sure it’s Chilmark Coffee. Chilmark Coffee has been a fixture at the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market for years and for good reason, they make great coffee. Owners Jenny and Todd Christy roast the coffee themselves and they source their beans sustainably from producers/farmers who are being fairly compensated for the work they do, from places like Ethiopia, Colombia and Guatemala. Treat yourself to a cup of their drip coffee, espresso or addictive cold brew, or take a bag home for enjoying at your leisure.
Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt
While strolling the rows of vendors there’s a good chance you’ll get to meet Heidi Feldman, farmer and entrepreneur extraordinaire behind Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt. In the tradition of Island settlers, Heidi and her husband Curtis solar evaporate Atlantic Ocean water, resulting in delicious, briny crystals that make for the perfect addition to both savory and sweet eats. Pick up one of 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. Better yet grab a multipack or try a few, it also makes a great gift and wedding favor!
Head High Kombucha
Kombucha brewing has become increasingly more popular in the past few years and Martha’s Vineyard has taken note. The Island’s first and kombucha brand, Head High Kombucha has made a splash at the Farmer’s Market and our tummies and mouths are happy to have it. Owner Becky Bonds learned how to make kombucha after taking a fermentation class at the Oak Bluffs library and now she’s teaching her own classes on it. Her refreshing flavors include blackberry, pineapple, lemon-ginger and strawberry mango. Grab a bottle and get head high.
For a full list of West Tisbury Farmer’s Market vendors click here.
There are six distinctive towns on the Vineyard, each with its own character and appeal, and locals generally divide the Island in two: up-Island and down-Island. The “down-Island” towns refer to the eastern towns of 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 on the west side 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.
We always recommend visitors take a ride up-Island to truly appreciate the size, scope, and natural beauty of Martha’s Vineyard. Up-Island is most easily accessible via car, though many avid cyclists make the trip on bike, and the local bus service and sightseeing tours offer options for getting up there two. If you only have a day, here’s what you want to try to see.
The Cliffs at Aquinnah and Gay Head Lighthouse
Commonly referred to as the Cliffs, the stunning Aquinnah Cliffs are protected as a National Historic Landmark and are a sight to behold. If you only make one stop up-Island during your visit this should be it. 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 Shops Restaurant. Make your way to the scenic overlook and you won’t believe the magnificent view of the cliffs and the lighthouse. 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. And while you're there, head to the nearby Gay Head Lighthouse, atop 130-foot cliff, which is open daily in season for tours to the top.
Up-Island beaches are often considered the most stunning and most pristine on the Island, they’re also generally less crowded. If you happen to visit after mid-September and before mid-June you’ll have full access to the shore, as many of the Island’s most beautiful beaches become resident only beaches in the summer. Some of the best ones to explore include Lambert’s Cove Beach in West Tisbury, and Lucy Vincent and Squibnocket Beach in Chilmark. Moshup Beach in Aquinnah takes the cake and is often named among the nicest beaches in the world. It’s open year-round to the public and is arguably the most scenic on the Island thanks to views of the stunning Gay Head Cliffs. At times, Moshup has very large waves, making this a popular surf-spot on the southern and western end of the island.
Restaurants and food establishments are harder to come by in general up-Island but there’s still delicious bites to be had. The Chilmark General Store is a popular place to grab a slice of their famous pizza, intended to be enjoyed on their large porch which often becomes a common place for celebrity sightings. Nearby is Chilmark Chocolates, arguably the best chocolate on Martha’s Vineyard. The store keeps limited hours so if you pass by and it’s open you’re in luck and you must stop. If you’re visiting on a Wednesday or Saturday in summer you’ll want to take a tour of the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market which has been operating rain or shine since 1974, making it Martha's Vineyard's oldest, largest, and most delicious open-air market. Local farmers and food purveyors sling their wares and their produce, and you can’t find a fresher shopping experience on-Island. For the freshest seafood head to Menemsha, a quaint fishing village in Chilmark, known for its stunning sunsets and New England charm. Menemsha and Larsen’s Fish Market offer a variety of prepared seafood meals that can be enjoyed on the nearby beachfront with a front row to an unobstructed sunset over the water. Sandwich lovers want to make a point to stop at 7a Foods in West Tisbury, a popular “farm to take out” spot that makes some of the best food on Martha’s Vineyard, including their famous Liz Lemon sandwich, Hot house-made pastrami, turkey, swiss, coleslaw, Russian dressing and potato chips on rye.
Martha’s Vineyard is home to over 40 working farms and many of them can be found up-Island. Grey Barn Farm in Chilmark is a beautiful, certified organic farm that offers fruits vegetables, grass fed beef, and awards winning cheese in their farm stand. Take a walk around the grounds and check out the animals grazing while nibbling on one of their tasty cheeses. Another popular and picturesque farm that is open to the public is the Allen Farm, Martha’s Vineyard’s oldest continuously working family farm, the Allen Farm on South Road in Chilmark is made up of 100 acres of rolling pastures and meadows lined by historic stonewalls, overlooking Chilmark Pond and the Atlantic Ocean. The family’s environmental commitment is reflected in their farm products, from the taste of the grass-fed lamb to their intricate hand-woven woolens. For a map of all the Island’s farms click here.
There’s a good chance if you’re arriving to Martha’s Vineyard during the summer months that you could be coming straight into Oak Bluffs, or “OB,” one of six Island towns and a popular seaside hub. The Steamship Authority operates seasonal ferry service from Woods Hole to Oak Bluffs, as well as the Island Queen from Falmouth, the Sea Streak from New Bedford and New York and the Martha’s Vineyard Fast Ferry from Rhode Island.
Oak Bluffs is a colorful town with a ton of history and a lot of action. If you’re only able to stay for a day here’s what not to miss. All of these places can be visited on foot and are walking distance from the ferry slips.
A stroll along Oak Bluffs harbor
When you step off the boat in Oak Bluffs harbor you’ll be immediately inundated with dining, drinking and shopping options. You’ll find the iconic Black Dog Dockside Cafe here, as well as their Dockside General Store & Premium Outlet, which offers cheaper prices than the Black Dog General Store just steps up the street. The Dockside itself is a marketplace with various other retail shops as well as ice cream and candy if you want to start or end your day on a sweet note.
For waterfront dining take your pick of Fishbones, Coop de Ville, the Sand Bar, Lobsterville or Nancy’s (one of President Obama’s favorites and home to the beloved Donovan Reef beach bar which serves up a famous Dirty Banana frozen drink), which all offer seafood and snacks in a casual atmosphere.
Continue up Circuit Avenue
Circuit Avenue is Oak Bluffs’ equivalent to Main Street and it’s lined with shops, restaurants and attractions. This is the place to find your Martha’s Vineyard souvenirs, and the selection will not disappoint. You’ll also find the town’s only full grocery store here, Reliable Market, which has been family owned and operated since 1947. If you’re travelling with kids you might want to pop in to the Oak Bluffs Game Room a family friendly arcade that would keep them entertained for the full twenty four hours if they had their way. For the music lovers the Ritz cafe offers lunch and dinner as well nightly music and late-night entertainment. Chocolate lovers will rejoice at the sight of Murdick’s Fudge which gives passersby a look into their fudge making process through their storefront windows. A stop inside to sample their fudge, peanut brittle and popcorn is a must.
The best bites and sips along the way
Oak Bluffs is also home to the famous Back Door Doughnuts, a full-service bakery under the name of Martha's Vineyard Gourmet Cafe & Bakery by day, that reopens in the back each night and enables hungry doughnut lovers until 1am. They’re known for their gigantic apple fritters, which can easily be shared by 2-3 people. You’ll often find a long line weaving across the parking lot but it’s worth the wait and the aromas pouring out of the back door are hypnotizing.
Just next door you’ll find Offshore Ale Company, a year-round pub and brewhouse adored by visitors and locals alike. They brew their own award-winning beer on location and it’s also available in cans and growlers to take home. Further down Kennebec Avenue you’ll find Giordano’s Pizza and Clam Bar. No trip to Oak Bluffs is complete without a slice of pizza from “Gio’s.” It’s available out of their take-out window and worth every penny, be sure to bring the green stuff, it’s cash only.
Explore the Campground, home to the renowned Gingerbread Cottages
Oak Bluffs is most known for the Gingerbread Cottages, a quaint cluster of colorful and adorable cottages that was originally settled as a Methodist camp site. Beginning in 1835 annual summer camp meetings of Methodist church groups would congregate here in communal tents which eventually gave way to family tents, and then wooden cottages which line the streets today. Take a stroll through the campground and admire the uniqueness of the houses, the bright colors, and architectural detail and charm, as well as the Tabernacle, an open-air steel structure which hosts weekly concerts and events. The Campground is also the setting for the famed Grand Illumination Night, which marks the end of the summer season with a glorious show of Japanese lanterns hanging from all the nearby homes.
Ride the Flying Horses Carousel
Oak Bluffs is also the home of the Flying Horses Carousel, the oldest continuously operating carousel in the country. Its horses were hand carved in New York City in 1876. This historic landmark is maintained by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust and is open daily during the summer, and on weekends in the spring and fall.
Walk along Ocean Park
Ocean Park is a charming oceanfront park surrounded by Victorian mansions and gingerbread houses. The park features a bandstand which holds weekly band concerts during the summer and is perfect for picnics, playing Frisbee or flying kites.
Visiting Edgartown for the day? We’ve put together a quick tour of this quintessential New England town with everything to do, see, eat, drink, and explore! As one of six towns on Martha’s Vineyard, Edgartown used to be an old whaling port and is now a summer destination for families and people looking to explore New England life, beaches, and fun. To arrive in Edgartown, you can take the direct Falmouth Ferry, that goes from June to September, or the year-round Steamship Authority Ferry that enters through either Vineyard Haven or Oak Bluffs. If arriving into any of the other towns, a quick hop on the bus or a taxi will get you to Edgartown in 10-25 minutes.
Assuming you’ve arrived early morning, our first suggestions will be where to get breakfast in Edgartown and below we’ve listed a few local favorites along with suggestions on what to order:
After breakfast, you’re ready to explore the town with a historical tour of Edgartown or if you’re a Jaws fan, an Amity Tour that will have you reliving the movie all over again! A tour is the fastest and best way to discover a new town or city, because it sets you up for success. You’ve seen most of the town and can refer back to spots you saw on the tour! Thus, we recommend checking out the Edgartown Lighthouse - you can climb to the top of the lighthouse during the season and have your breath taken away with the view!
Unwind from walking up and down stairs by strolling Main Street Edgartown and doing some local shopping. Edgartown is known for its great boutiques and shops - and don’t be discouraged! There’s a good mix of expensive and affordable shops right on Main Street, so there’s something for everyone.
Once you’ve walked around, explored, and shopped to your hearts content, you might be hungry for an early dinner - depending on what ferry you’re taking back to the mainland, you might have time for dessert! To conclude our 24 hours in Edgartown, below are three favorite spots for dinner in town:
No matter what you do in Edgartown - whether you follow our 24 Hour Itinerary of Edgartown or just decide to lay on Fuller Street Beach for the entire 24 hours, we know you’ll have a fabulous time!
Vineyard Haven, a community within the town of Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard, and previously known as “Nobnocket” by the Wampanoag people, and then as Holmes Hole by the first settlers, is a port town on island that receives hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, as well as being home to thousands of local islanders that live here year round.
Take the Steamship Authority Ferry into Vineyard Haven Harbor and step onto the most bustling town on Martha’s Vineyard, which is also a state-designated cultural district. The energy that Vineyard Haven exudes is catching and soon you’ll understand why people keep coming back for more.
Start with breakfast at any of the following places - we’ve also listed a few suggestions on what to order!
Now, on to exploring Vineyard Haven and all it has to offer! Start with some local shopping - we love this blog by local boutique inn, the Nobnocket, where they list a few shopping favorites in Vineyard Haven. Main Street Vineyard Haven is packed to the brim with shops, restaurants, and cafes, there really is something for everyone. And if you’re an arts & culture lover, grab a copy of the Vineyard Haven Harbor Cultural District map from the Visitors Center at the Chamber of Commerce.
And on the note of coffee, this little town is also home to some incredible spots to grab coffee:
Browse the offerings at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse, the historic Capawock Theater operating since 1913, or Martha’s Vineyard Film Center - and possibly catch a show before leaving the island, it’s one of our favorite activities! Walk down Williams Street and check out historical whaling captains’ houses, relax at Owen Park, take a longer walk around West Chop for gorgeous views of the waters and one of the island’s lighthouses, or just relax watching the boats come and go on Vineyard Haven Harbor. Whatever you choose to do in VH, we know you’ll have a fantastic day!
For those travelers coming to the island for more than a week, one of the most searched and asked for question is, “where can I find a personal or private chef?” Whether it’s a couple arriving on island for the summer looking for someone to create dinner parties with local produce or a family with younger kids that needs the constant support of a chef at home making meals, picnics, and snacks, private chefs are a wealth of knowledge and make any vacation easier and more delicious!
If you’re thinking private chefs are just for the rich and famous, think again. Specifically on island, they are a great way to discover the island’s food culture, its farmers, fishermen, and makers because private chefs have deep friendships with them all, as sources for their menus. You’ll taste the freshest greens, the most amazing seafood and fish, and you’ll dine knowing you are supporting the island in more ways than one.
Below we have listed the top personal and private chefs on island - in no particular order. Each brings something tasty to your table.
Shane Take of Premier Chef Services
Before residing on Martha’s Vineyard, Shane’s culinary career spanned over a decade and includes positions in top restaurants in Vail CO, extensive studies overseas in Brugge, Belgium and a Bachelor’s degree in food service management from Johnson and Wales University in Denver, CO.
Items you can find in Shane’s menus:
Gavin Smith of Food Minded Fellow
"A washashore hailing from Upstate New York, Chef Smith moved to Martha’s Vineyard after living in Atlanta. He has worked in almost all positions a restaurant has to offer. So when you hire his private-chef services, you’re not only hiring a chef, but a menu developer, personal shopper, farmer, cook, dishwasher, and server all in one. Plans to grow his team are in the works, but for now, it’s a one-man show that thrives on multitasking." - via Marnely Murray for the Martha's Vineyard Times
Items you can find in Gavin’s menus:
Jan Buhrman of Kitchen Porch Catering
Jan Buhrman, M.S. Ed., has been cooking delicious, locally sourced meals on Martha’s Vineyard for over twenty five years. She combines her passion for food with a love of teaching to enhance people’s understanding of their food through farm tours, cooking classes, and nutritional workshops. All programs are designed to connect people with local food systems.
Items you can find in Jan’s menus:
Chef Peter Lodi of Blue Crab Kitchen
Peter creates the food, and together with his wife, Whitney, Blue Crab Kitchen creates memorable evenings and events focused on exceptional food. The duo has been serving up delicious meals in private homes and weddings since 2010, and they are slated to open a small take-out shop in Vineyard Haven this year.
Items you can find in Peter’s menu:
Spring Sheldon of Sea and Spoon Kitchen
Spring Sheldon is a Martha's Vineyard-based freelance chef, and is a graduate of Boston University gastronomy program, where she studied with Chef Jacque Pepin. She has worked extensively in some of Boston's award-winning restaurants and has been featured in The Boston Globe.
Items you can find in Spring’s menus:
Catherine Walthers of Catherine Walthers
Catherine brings her experience as an author of 4 popular cookbooks and more than a dozen years of cooking as a private chef for families in the Boston area and on Martha’s Vineyard. Her area of expertise is creating healthy meals that taste delicious, first and foremost. She graduated from the Natural Gourmet Cooking School, a vegetarian and health-based school in New York City, so vegetarian or vegan meals are also a specialty.
Items you can find in Catherine’s menus:
No matter your needs, a one-time special dinner party or an everyday meal kind of thing, a private chef on Martha’s Vineyard is just the way to treat yourself!
Summer is all about outdoor dining and there’s nothing better than a picnic on the beach to make us smile! With about 19 beaches all over the island, you have your pick of dining settings - but we’re here to help you with ideas on what to pack on a Martha’s Vineyard beach picnic!
Start with the basics - you’re going to need a beach blanket, cooler, and basket to carry everything in. Stop by Rainy Day for the beach blanket, Green Room for an awesome YETI cooler, and Chappy Happy if you’re looking for the perfect picnic basket. That’s the start to your picnic - the essentials.
Now, moving on to the beverages, you’re going to need a variety of things, and we always suggest fun non-alcoholic drinks, along with water. To cut down on plastic waste, have everyone bring their own water bottle. For drinks like specialty sodas and sparkling waters, Waterside Market, Reliable Market, and Cronig's Market are all great stops to keep hydrated.
So you’ve got some essentials ready to go, it’s now time to discuss the food. Beach picnic food on Martha’s Vineyard is special, as we have some unique shops and markets to choose from, so below we’ve made a list of places and what to get at each one as part of your menu, to create the ultimate beach picnic.
Remember to also bring a trash bag to carry out everything you brought in because it's the law but also because we love to keep our beaches clean!
It's my job to love this place, and it's no work at all.