Are you planning a vacation in Nantucket with your friends?
Good for you! This small island, south of Cape Cod, is one of the best places to choose for a fun vacation.
It may be less than 50 square miles in size, but the New England island offers so many things to do, sites to see, and places to visit that a person who hasn’t been there yet can get pretty overwhelmed.
Obviously, the first things which come to mind when thinking about Nantucket are those pristine beaches, the romantic old lighthouses, the rose-covered gray wood shake cottages, the cobblestone streets and pre-civil war buildings, and the glorious whaling history of the people there.
But even though these sound like enough to keep you and your buddies happy and entertained, here are some secret tips that can make your vacation even better than you expected.
Consider renting a house
Unless you have a friend who is lucky enough to own a house in Nantucket and you get invited to stay there, you will need to plan where you and your friends will stay for your vacation.
Since Nantucket is an upscale vacation destination, most hotels are super luxurious and very high-priced.
If you want to make the best deal and get to experience what it feels like to live in one of the beautiful houses, cottages, or other properties in Nantucket, you should consider renting one of the many available short-term properties located in all neighborhoods and parts of the island.
There are properties of all types and sizes and for all budgets. If you want to be close to the hustle and bustle, you should look for a house in Town or near it.
For a more secluded vacation spot, you can pick the postcard-like village of Siasconset or the more remote Madaket area.
You can find the best house and get a great deal if you book your rental house early on. Once you split the money with your friends, renting is probably the most cost-effective way to spend time in Nantucket.
Plus, you can save even more money for other fun things by shopping at the local grocery stores and markets and preparing your own breakfast, snacks, lunch, and all other meals at home.
Make reservations for restaurants in advance
Suppose you and your friends are planning on eating at some of the most popular restaurants, bars, diners, or other eateries in Nantucket. In that case, it is recommended that you make your table reservations well in advance.
It can be pretty hard to find a table at the best restaurants during the peak of the summer season or on Friday and Saturday nights.
So, to ensure that you can be seated and enjoy a fantastic meal, plan ahead and book a table in advance.
Some of the best places to eat the amazing local seafood, Maine lobsters, fresh oysters, or other delicious elevated meals and drink the finest craft cocktails and wines are the vibrant and chic LoLa 41 for Asian-inspired dishes or The Whale for authentic Nantucket cuisine and lifestyle feel, Topper’s for the best fine-dining experience, and B-ACK Yard BBQ for the best New England inspired Southern barbecue.
Once again, you can cook at home and enjoy eating and drinking with your friends in your rental house, too, for a lot less money and a more relaxed experience.
Private Snorkeling Adventure
If you want to surprise your friends with an experience like no other, then you can sign up for a private snorkeling adventure organized by the Maria Mitchell Association. It is offered from June to September and will allow you to explore Nantucket and its wildlife in a unique way – under the water.
The experienced guides, including a lifeguard and an aquarium educator, will provide you with the instructions and the gear you need.
They will take you to the best places on the coasts of Nantucket to view and handle crabs and identify different fish, mollusks, and other species that are part of the wide marine biodiversity on the shores of the island.
In case you don’t feel so adventurous, you and your friends can sign up for some of the other tours and trips organized by the Association.
Some of them include feeding marine animals, marine ecology field trips, watching the stars and constellations at Loines Observatory, bird-watching walks, and more.
Know where to go shopping
Since Nantucket is a magnet for the wealthiest and most famous people in the country, it is also home to some exclusive boutiques, galleries, and stores.
Keep in mind that the prices can be pretty steep there, so make sure you plan your shopping sprees in accordance with your budget.
There are some less expensive stores where you can buy everyday items you may need or souvenirs to take home as keepsakes or presents from Nantucket.
But if you have decided to visit the best and most iconic stores while spending time on the island, then remember to go to Murray’s Toggery Shop first. This shop on Main Street is where you can buy those famous Nantucket Reds pants or other apparel in this specific faded red, almost pink hue.
Another iconic shop to see is Nantucket Looms. It is a store and a workshop where the local artisans make the most beautiful and luxurious hand-woven blankets and other décor items.
If you want to buy an original wood-carved sign, just like one of the many signs with the names of the houses in Nantucket, then the place to go is Paul McCarty Woodcarving.
In case you need to do some grocery shopping, you can check out Bartlett’s Farm, where you can buy fresh produce, plants, snacks, flowers, and other groceries.
Have a backup plan in case of a rainy day
The reason why this island is called “The Little Grey Lady of the Sea” is that the weather there is so unpredictable that it can change in just a few moments. It is known for the sudden heavy fog which has caused so many shipwrecks in the past.
So, even if you are going in the peak of the summer season, make sure to be prepared with a plan for a rainy day too.
Some of the things to do with your friends on a foggy or rainy day are to visit the famous Whaling Museum or the smaller but fascinating Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum.
You can also go see the Old Mill, which is the oldest working windmill in the country. Or take a tour of the Old Gaol, a historic prison with a fascinating history.
You can also take your friends to see a play at the local White Heron Theater Company or visit the Nantucket Atheneum, which is the island’s public library, for some cultural enrichment.