Once you have visited Martha’s Vineyard, a twenty-mile long island just off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, you will fall in love. There are no chain stores or traffic lights. Instead, you’ll find bike paths galore, as well as cool small towns lined with quaint storefronts, housing art galleries, shops, and independently owned restaurants. Though you can cover the entire island in a day, getting around does require driving. The towns of Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, and Edgartown occupy the north and northeast of the island, with West Tisbury near the island’s center, and Chilmark and Aquinnah at the western point.
The distinct smell and taste of salty Cape air hits you the moment you drive across the Bourne Bridge to the ferry, getting you into traveling mode. That ferry and one small airport are the only ways to reach Martha’s Vineyard, and since I’ve been coming as a child, watching cars full of summer supplies and groceries drive right onto the ferry has been a momentous first sight of vacation.
Some of the best restaurants and shops in Martha’s Vineyard have changed hands over the years, but the well-preserved spirit of this place remains intact. Nancy’s, once a modest dockside spot for burgers and fries, has quadrupled their footprint, adding multiple decks, an expanded menu, and cocktails. Others, like longtime favorite Giordano’s, with its walk-up pizza slice shop, fried clam bar and accompanying full-service restaurant, have been operated by the same family for four generations.
With the shifting tides of the seasons (many of the businesses here are seasonal, so check restaurants’ websites for current hours), the well-preserved, timeless beauty of Martha’s Vineyard remains as magnificent as it ever was.
The best time to visit is… Memorial Day to Early October, if you want to catch New England bursting with color.
Don’t forget to pack… Comfortable shoes or sneakers for hikes and long walks, and a warm sweater or hoody. When the fog rolls in it can get chilly.