One Day on Nantucket

My parents have come to visit for a whole month to explore the wonders of New England. It been a fantastic opportunity to get out of the city at the most beautiful time of year. Yesterday, we had Nantucket in our sights and set off for a day trip.


Family time in Rockport, MA

Nantucket is a small island with a big personality, located 34 miles south of Cape Cod. Once the whaling capital of the world, the island is now famed for experiences and consequently attracts thousands of visitors. It is a dream vacation spot for many come the peak of summer and it also makes the perfect day trip destination from Cape Cod.


Getting To Nantucket:

Two ferry companies operate out of Hyannis on Cape Cod: Steamship Authority and Hy-line Cruises. The high speed passenger ferry is the way to go, it only takes 1 hour dock to dock. If you travel Monday to Thursday with Steamship, a day trip ticket costs $50. Its pricey but worth the trip! Visitors fly from Hyannis, Boston and NY if you are so inclined, as well as a range of other airports.


What to do on Nantucket:

For me, the number one thing to do is wander. Nantucket town is full of charming buildings and there is history in every step. Walk the streets, look up and look down, read plaques.

The Nantucket Compass Rose

The Nantucket Compass Rose

If you like a more structured walk, Nantucket Whaling Museum offers walking tours at regular intervals throughout the day on a variety of topics. It is well worth sacrificing an hour to learn about the history of the buildings and streets you are walking on.


The whaling museum itself is a treasure trove of information and has a beautiful viewing platform on the roof which gives great perspective on Nantucket town and the harbour. While whaling is a controversial subject, it is fascinating to learn how the history of this place is so intrinsically linked with the industry and how it has reinvented itself subsequently.


If you wish to explore further afield, rent a bike and take to the roads. The island is easy to navigate and its a great way to get your exercise in! The villages of Surfside and Sconset are beautiful and the picture perfect cottages are a sight to behold. I am a lighthouse junkie and for me, Sankaty head light is one of the prettiest in New England.

Classic Images of New England

Classic Images of New England

Sankaty Head Light

Sankaty Head Light


Where to Shop on Nantucket:

If you are into beautiful clothes and fine housewares, Nantucket is a paradise. It is hard not to find something I like in nearly every shop in town and I always return laden, even when I cannot afford it! Don’t be fooled into think this is a remote hideaway, there has been serious commerce on Nantucket for centuries and the wealth has carried on to modern day Nantucket. This is a playground for the rich in the height of summer and the price tags in stores reflect this. More accessible stores can be found though, and always some lovely pieces to be snatched up if you look hard enough (to be honest you do not have to look very hard!)


Monelle is a small shop on the corner of Straight Wharf that is filled with stunning summer dresses, cashmere cardi’s and pretty shoes. I can’t resist their endless stripes and they often have a very good sale corner. For stunning (and pricey) home goods, The Lions Paw is the spot! There was not one item in the store yesterday that I wouldn’t happily display in my home, and I am picky!


Where to Eat:

There is no shortage of good restaurants on Nantucket, these are just some of my favorite spots. If you arriving early enough for breakfast, you would go wrong at either Fog Island Cafe or Black Eyed Susans. From pancakes to omelettes, they have everything you want and more.

Now I had heard about the fabled Turkey Terrific sandwich from Provisions on Straight Wharf and though “how good can it be?”. Well let me tell you, it lives up to the hype. Turkey, Stuffing, Cranberry and just a scraping of mayo, this is the perfect picnic sandwich for those long cycles across the island or to take to the beach with you.

This beast of a sandwich will keep you going all day!

This beast of a sandwich will keep you going all day!

For a treat, the Juice Bar is the ice-cream shop to beat. Staff produce hand rolled waffle cones all day filled with a myriad flavors.  Warm and sweet filled with your favorite flavor, it is hard to beat!

For dinner, there are countless options. Proprietors is a winner for sure as is Oran Mor bistro. For me though, the best meal I have experienced when we visited last year was at the White Elephant although this is probably influenced by its immaculate location overlooking the harbour. All require booking ahead in the high season and none are cheap. For a more authentic New England experience, the Nantucket Lobster Shack is where its at. Seafood and cocktails, its hard to beat that!

Shucking at Cisco!

Shucking at Cisco!

If you have time, venture out to Cisco Brewery which is also home to 888 distillery and Nantucket Vineyard. Its a great spot to sample at source and on summer weekends, food trucks set up in the grounds with all sorts of goodies.


My last day trip recommendation….Sunset on the beach before taking the last ferry home. The perfect end to a perfect day.

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