Photo: WhatsUpMartha via Flickr
Every summer, hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to Martha’s Vineyard, the enchanting island located seven miles off of the calm shores of Cape Cod.The island is a sought-after haven for some of the world’s most famous artists, celebrities, and political figures, including President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, the Kennedy family, Meg Ryan, and Carly Simon.
But despite the island’s “who’s who” reputation, it’s actually a serene place with a refreshing laid-back attitude and unpretentious small town community feel.
Jet Blue flies direct to Martha’s Vineyard, or you can fly from Boston’s Logan Airport and then jump on a 30-minute Cape Air flight. It’s a six-hour hour drive out of New York City to the Woods Hole ferry in Cape Cod.
If you’re lucky enough to escape to the Vineyard for a weekend getaway this summer, don’t miss our insider’s list of the best local restaurants, beaches, hotels, shops, and activities on the island.
As soon as you arrive to the island, drop off your bags at this luxurious waterfront hotel and resort nestled in the heart of Edgartown, one of the Vineyard's oldest communities.
Walk to the nearby Edgartown Lighthouse or take a dip in the heated pool before you set you get ready to explore around the island.
You may even catch a wedding on the beautiful lawn, which boasts spectacular water views.
There's no better way to view the island than from the sea.
If you don't have access to your own personal sailboat, check out the tours offered by Mad Max, a chartered boat that cruises around Edgartown Harbor at 2p.m. and 6p.m.
It's worth it to spring for the night cruise to catch the sunset from the sea.
Rent a bike and head over to East Beach on Chappaquiddick, a secluded historical island situated off of Edgartown Harbor and accessible via a pleasant 30-second ferry ride from the foot of Dock Street in Edgartown.
In just a couple of miles, you'll find yourself pedaling across the bridge where the infamous Ted Kennedy incident occurred and setting up a towel to bask in the sun as you gaze out into the serene blue water.
The beloved coffee shop for Edgartown locals and visitors alike, Espresso Love is typically jam-packed by 10a.m. in peak summer season.
'Get grounded' the slogan imprinted on each cup, fits accordingly with the laid-back, inviting atmosphere of the local coffee shop.
Try the flavorful house blend and savour the rich aroma of the small shop.
Also, look our for vacationing celebrities looking to try the best island beans, too. Meg Ryan is a frequent visitor.
When you're not cruising on a 50-foot sailboat across Edgartown Harbor, admire the picturesque landscape from the shore at The Atlantic, a traditional American-style restaurant located in the Boat House, an exclusive club in the heart of Edgartown.
You can admire the sea from the outdoor deck as you sip on a savory cocktail and chow down some clam chowder, shrimp cocktail, and lobster.
But be sure to get there early in peak season: after July 4th, it can be difficult to find an empty table by 7p.m.
Rummage through luxury bags, shoes, sunglasses and jewelry, and pick up some classic island wear at local boutiques such as Nell on Summer Street in Edgartown.
The store is a frequent destination for summer visitors and it's just off Main Street, surrounded by local galleries, restaurants, coffee shops, and famous ice cream parlors.
The best Italian cuisine on the island can be found at this locally cherished Oak Bluffs restaurant, where meals are brought to you in a sizzling pan fresh off the stove.
Expect massive amounts of linguine toppled with scallops, clams, shrimp, and lobster and finished with flavorful rich sauces; these delectable dishes are truly one-of-a-kind. Also be sure to order the mouth-watering roasted garlic.
The portions are huge, but there's a fee to split the dishes, so it's best to take home leftovers to savour Jimmy's divine cooking the next day.
While your waiting for your table outside of Jimmy Seas, wander across the street to Offshore Ale, where you'll find find tasty and crisp island-brewed beers.
The lively, yet relaxed bar, which often hosts local musicians, serves a huge array of original lagers, IPAs, and stouts created from scratch. Offshore is undoubtedly one of the best bars on the island, and certainly the best brewery.
This elegant restaurant boasts one of the most spectacular dining experiences on the island.
Tucked away behind the doors of a quaint Edgartown property and pioneered by chef and owner Michael P. Brisson, l'etoile is a casual restaurant that serves upscale French-style cuisine.
On a nice summer evening, request a table outdoors under the restaurant's tent for an intimate dining experience away from the summer crowds in Edgartown.
No trip to Martha's Vineyard would be complete without sampling one of the two-dozen ice cream flavours at Mad Martha's--the island's staple ice-cream store.
It was a favourite stop for former President Bill Clinton, who frequented the ice cream parlor while on vacation during his presidency, not to mention Barack Obama, who recently visited the parlor with first lady Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia.
savour one of their sweet flavours as you stroll through one of their two locations in Oak Bluffs or their store in Edgartown.
While on the Vineyard, it is entirely appropriate to don a tie with whales emblazoned on the front.
Sport the whale emblem, the logo which commemorates the historical old whaling New England community of the island, and peruse goods inside the flagship store located on Winter Street in Edgartown.
Also, if you're travelling with kids or you need a gift for your little niece, nephew, cousin, or neighbour don't miss out on the kids shop hidden behind the main store on Winter Street.
Situated off the Main Street drag in Vineyard Haven, this bookstore has a history on the island that spans over 40 years.
Typically packed with artists, locals, and visitors alike, the charming bookstore is a great spot to pick up a beach read.
Chilmark Pottery, a gallery off of State Road on the route to Vineyard Haven, has a unique collection of hand-crafted, brightly glazed pottery.
Find a mug, dish, or vase as a memento of your island trip, and on the way back to town be sure to check out The Granary, another popular local art gallery.
While in Chilmark, don't miss out on chocolate peanut butter bars, chocolate covered apricots, or tashmoo truffles at Chilmark Chocolates
Milk chocolate peanut butter bars, dark chocolate covered cashews, white chocolate crunchy sandbars, chocolate covered apricots and blueberries, tashmoo truffles--whatever your preference, Chilmark Chocolates has it.
This little chocolate store is tucked away off of State Road, but it's become an island staple over the years.
Some describe the delicious chocolate creations produced at Chilmark Chocolates as 'magical.'
The line is always out the door, but it's certainly worth the wait.
Vineyarders would argue the best time of day is as the sun is setting; there are many vantage points to watch the sun dipping into the water.
The most dazzling is at Menemsha, but on warm summer nights, Edgartown Harbor also offers stunning views of the sun-streaked skyline.
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