Just off the coast of Cape Cod, the island of Nantucket has a rich history and is the poster child for the quintessential summer in New England. Sunny days with loads of lobster rolls, bike rides, and beach hangs all contribute to making Nantucket such a magical place. Filled with colonial cobblestone streets and shingle-style beach homes, Nantucket is the epitome of summer in New England!
In the late 1600s, whales were found offshore of the island, and between 1750 and 1840, Nantucket was one of the major whaling ports in North America. Nantucket quickly became the international hub for the whaling industry and saw incredible growth & wealth. To compare, the wealth and concentration of oil today in Saudi Arabia is the equivalent to whaling oil around Nantucket! The first billionaires in American history were men in Nantucket that profited from the whaling industry! With the decline of the whaling industry in the 1880s, Nantucket became a Mecca for tourism and is still drawing people to its natural beauty along with its first-rate New England attractions, and restaurants.
If it’s your first time in Nantucket, you’ll have to do all the things: drinks at Cisco Brewery, ride bikes, and spend the day at one of the island’s beautiful beaches! And you’ve got to indulge in the incredible food that island has to offer! You’ll have to grab lunch at Fresh, or go to Bartlett’s Farm and then enjoy an afternoon ice cream at The Juice Bar! For dinner, you’ll find yourself enjoying an amazing meal at Cru, The Proprietors Bar & Table, Millie’s Restaurant, or Sister Ship! The quality of the restaurants Nantuckets offers is really quite impressive!
“From charming Nantucket hotels to five-star restaurants to the prized Nantucket beaches, this town comes alive in the warmer months. It’s a destination that thrives on outdoor dining (think: lobster rolls on the water), boutique shopping, and picturesque walks through town. And certainly, there is no shortage of things to do in Nantucket, whether you’re partial to walking the beach at sunset, biking to pick up your latte in the morning, or ordering up a dozen oysters with a bottle of good Champagne.
Summer is the high season in Nantucket, and from Memorial Day to Labor Day, you’ll find the best weather, with temperatures around 76° in July and August. The months of May and September, before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, are the best months to go, because you’ll avoid the crowds that flock from Boston in the summer.”*
You can get to Nantucket by air – all the major airlines (Delta, United, Jet Blue) fly in & out of Nantucket Memorial Airport as well as the regional Cape Cod airline, Cape Air! Nantucket is located 26 miles from Cape Cod’s mainland port of Hyannis. You can take a leisurely 2-hour and 15-minute voyage or ride in style & luxury on board a seasonal high-speed passenger-only ferry, the M/V Iyanough, which gets you to Nantucket in just one hour. Check out the Ferry schedule here!
- *Bartlett’s Farm – Bartlett’s Farm is Nantucket’s oldest and largest family-owned farm offering fresh locally grown vegetables, groceries, flowers & plants. great for lunch
- Millie’s Restaurant – Chill seafood specialist with Baja-style eats such as fish tacos, plus a patio & take-out window.
- *Cru – Stylish hot spot, right on the water, offers expansive raw bar options & cooked seafood fare.
- Bar Yoshi – Bright, pint-sized, down-to-earth environs at this BYOB sushi resource with popular takeout service.
- Straight Warf – Elevated seafood dishes paired with wine in rustic-chic environs or on the waterfront porch.
- Fresh – Delicious craft sandwiches
- Nantucket Meat & Fish Market – As a gourmet food market in Hilton Head we provision fresh seafood, prime meat, prepared foods, bagel bakery, cafe, sushi, and groceries. great bagels!
- Lemon Press – Bright, brick-lined cafe with outdoor tables offering eclectic eats, smoothies & creative cocktails.
- *The Proprietors Bar & Table – Relaxed restaurant & bar serving locally sourced, globally influenced fare in a contemporary space.
- Something Neutral – Fans feast on hearty sandwiches & chocolate chip cookies on the picnic tables of this local go-to.
- Nautilus – Rustic-modern hot spot featuring global, seafood-centric small plates & inventive craft cocktails.
- Lola 41 – Chic hot spot draws crowds with a global menu featuring sushi, cocktails & gourmet burgers.
- Sister Ship – A restaurant, cafe, and relaxed cocktail club, Sister Ship offers elevated cocktails alongside seafood-forward, Mediterranean dishes, made using New England seafood and local ingredients.
- Venturno – Elegant eatery in a Greek revival building serving refined Italian cooking, including fresh pasta.
- Or, The Whale – Global fare in a chic atmosphere with a patio offering shared plates, salads & brunch, plus drinks.
- The Chicken Box – A right of passage in Nantucket. This dive bar is.. Unpretentious roadhouse with regular concerts (jazz, blues, rock), plus pool, ping pong & darts.
- Cisco Brewery – Rustic brewery for live music, tastings & tours along with 3 bars serving craft beer, wine & drinks.
- Slip 14 – Homey indoor-outdoor New American spot for fish-focused fare & creative cocktails with water views.
- The Gazebo – have to get their famous Mudslide drink here!
- The Club Car – California-inspired fare in a restaurant attached to a retrofitted railway car that’s a lively piano bar.
Coffee & Sweets:
- The Juice Bar – Crowds flock to this unassuming depot for homemade ice cream & waffle cones plus healthy juice.
- Handlebar Café – Relaxed neighborhood cafe serving java & nibbles in a cozy space with armchairs & a back patio.
- Bodega – Home goods & interiors
- Vineyard Vines – Men’s & women’s apparel
- Faherty – Men’s & women’s apparel
- Peter England Nantucket
- Centre Point – Home Goods & interiors
- Dawn – Men’s & women’s apparel
- 12 Trees Nantucket – Home goods & interiors
- Rent a boat with Barton & Gray
- Go sailing!
- Rent bikes and ride to the beach!
- Visit Moors End Farm
- Bike to Bartlett’s Farm for lunch
- Hit up the beaches:
- Check out the historic Whaling Museum
- See the Sankaty Head Lighthouse
- Catch a movie at Dreamland Theater
- Have some sunset beers at Cisco Brewery
- The White Elephant – Quintessential coastal New England mansions with wooden shutters, salty air coming off the water, and beachfront lobster rolls are the essence of White Elephant Nantucket. The iconic hotel on Nantucket Island has a heated outdoor pool and is close to the town of Nantucket and the Brant Point Lighthouse.
- Greydon House – A former sea captain’s house right off the wharf in town, Greydon House is where classic style meets historic environs. Of all hotels on Nantucket, they’re the only one with 20 unique rooms by Roman and Williams (Ace Hotel New York and The Standard, High Line).
- Faraway Nantucket – Faraway opened in the heart of downtown during the summer of 2021, just steps from cafes, restaurants, and shops. Though it’s not situated on the beach, the 62-room property reminds guests that they are, indeed, on an island, from the coastal-inspired rooms to the Mediterranean, seafood-centric menu offerings at their restaurant, Sister Ship.
Have you ventured to Cape Cod or Nantucket for a proper New England summer? It’s not the easiest place to get to, but it’s so worth the trip! A very “New England” debate I had while on Nantucket: are you a “hot” or “cold” lobster roller kinda person? Let me know! 😀
* via Travel & Leisure