Take a look at the magic of historic Nantucket with our guide to its secrets and charms.
Writer: Marion Laffey Fox
1 of 8Photographer: Reena Bammi
Experience Nantucket Magic
Nantucket has a lingering magic that defies definition. On one hand, the small island is a carefree vacation destination with surf-lapped beaches, innovative restaurants, and upscale shops. On the other, Nantucket is home to 10,000 fiercely loyal residents who protect its historic homes, cottages, and lighthouses. Read on for our insider's guide to new restaurants and must-visit shops, plus the spots locals have been keeping secret for years.
2 of 8Photographer: Reena Bammi
Enjoy Gourmet Goodness
Start your day at local favorite Black-Eyed Susan's. The thick sourdough French toast is sprinkled with cinnamon pecans and flavored with Jack Daniels butter, and the Thai scramble boasts bright flavors of curry and cilantro.
For lunch, try Beachside Bistro, Nantucket's only restaurant overlooking the Atlantic. Dine under white umbrellas on clam chowder, shrimp pizza, and lobster rolls.
For dinner, head to Galley Beach restaurant on Cliffside Beach. Dining tables on the sand are a relaxed way to sample littleneck clam fettuccini with views of Nantucket Sound.
3 of 8Photographer: Reena Bammi
Stretch Your Legs
The island is known for its smooth designated bike paths (Rent a comfy cruiser for $24 a day from Easy Riders Bicycle Rentals), and on the southern half of the island there are scenic hiking trails through Sanford Farm, Ram Pasture, and the Woods conservation area, an unspoiled 780-acre expanse of grasslands and forest. Try The Barn Walk trail (3.1 miles round-trip), which leads to one of the highest points on the property, with panoramic views from sandy Cisco Beach to the calm waves of Madaket Beach. Also, look for the nesting ospreys that soar above Ram Pasture and Hummock Pond.
Three family-owned farms provide a stunning selection of blooms and fresh provisions. Pumpkin Pond Farm is a certified organic farm and nursery.Moors End Farm is a 28-acre spread on Polpis Road run by the Slosek family. The farm stand is open daily selling sweet corn, tomatoes, and annuals. Bartlett's Farm has been in business since the 1800s, with a vast inventory of cut flowers. Their market offers daily lunch specials with fresh ingredients from the farm.
6 of 8Photographer: Reena Bammi
Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum
This beloved local institution is dedicated to the heroism of stalwart islanders who routinely braved all odds to rescue shipwrecked sailors. The location exhibits more than 5,000 locally found objects like surfboats, beach carts, and vintage photographs; 508-228-2505 ornantucketshipwreck.org.
7 of 8Photographer: Reena Bammi
Get Some Rest
The luxurious White Elephant hotel boasts delux rooms in its inn, as well as one-, two-, and three-bedroom garden cottages, which feature small kitchens and dining/living areas with gas fireplaces; Rates start at $195.
For sublime views, stay at the Crow's Nest studio loft, perched over Straight Wharf at The Cottages & Lofts at the Boat Basin. Rates start at $175.
The upscale Wauwinet lures guests with individually designed rooms in the Main Inn and cottage rentals in the courtyard. Rates start at $195.
8 of 8Photographer: Reena Bammi
Shop for Bargains
Downtown Nantucket streets are lined with family-owned clothing stores and pricey boutiques--including the legendary Murray's Toggery Shop, home of the famous Nantucket Reds clothing line. Also find great deals at The Nantucket Cottage Hospital Thrift Shop: this treasure trove is the go-to place for gently used clothing, household goods, and art.