Travel to Martha’s Vineyard

Quiz question…what do the following people have in common? James Taylor, David McCullough, John Belushi, Ulysses S. Grant, Carly Simon, Bill Clinton, The Kennedy family, and President Obama. They have all been residents or huge fans of Martha’s Vineyard. Now you can join this elite list!

7 years ago I started visiting the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard with my wife & her family. At first I didn’t know what to think about all the expensive homes and golf shirts, but now it’s one of my favorite destinations in the world! And our kids are loving it too.

How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard?


If you want to take your car to “The Vineyard” during the summer, you’ll have to reserve a spot months in advance. If you don’t mind riding the bus while on the island (great option), you can usually get a last-minute seat on the ferry. Click here to see more about ferry reservations.

We usually park our car on the ferry and walk to the top deck to get an amazing sunset view. Our kids love watching the water speed past the boat.

You can arrive in Vineyard Haven or Oak Bluffs. Vineyard Haven is my favorite port because of the stunning harbor views:

You can also fly into Edgartown’s small airport, via Cape Air from Boston (weather often delays flights):

 

Where to Stay on Martha’s Vineyard?


If visiting in the summer, make sure that you also book your accommodations several months in advance, as they fill up fast.

We love staying in the main city of Edgartown, but anywhere on the island is beautiful. Renting a house ranges anywhere from a few hundred dollars per week (off season) to $50,000 per week (for the rich & famous). If you’re single & on a budget, I’ve heard that you can rent a room in a local home. There are many rental agencies, but here’s one popular agency that you can check out by clicking here.

If you’re on a tight budget, camping is an affordable option. Click here for more information on campgrounds on Martha’s Vineyard. On the occasions that we’ve arrived a day before our rental begins, we’ve spent the night camping in our friend’s back yard. My wife and I loved it, but we weren’t so sure about our toddler!

 

Where to Eat on Martha’s Vineyard?

 

We’ve eaten all over the island, so I can recommend some of my favorite places to get a bite to eat. The Harbor View Hotel & Resort (right next to the Edgartown lighthouse) has an amazing breakfast buffet with very high-quality food.

The Wharf Pub & Restaurant sits right next to the Edgartown harbor and is great for dinner. Mad Martha’s is an excellent place to get ice cream. The Right Fork Diner at Katama Airfield is a fantastic place for breakfast, and you can watch the old-time airplanes take off and land while you eat! Here’s an online Martha’s Vineyard Restaurant Guide.

During my first trip to Martha’s Vineyard, I was wondering why so many people were walking around in T-shirts with a black dog on the front. I later learned that a clothing company called The Black Dog emerged from the tasty Black Dog Tavern. The tavern was the first restaurant on the island (1969) , started by a sailor whose dream it was to settle on Martha’s Vineyard. His black Labrador greeted visiting sailors and restaurant patrons for years, and became a symbol of the island. You can read the interesting story here.

If you travel to Martha’s Vineyard, you simply must eat at The Black Dog Tavern and get a T-shirt from one of several The Black Dog stores. If you can’t travel to the Vineyard, this popular brand is available online by clicking here.

 

What to Do in Martha’s Vineyard?


I’ve created a top 10 list of my favorite activities that you can partake of during your visit to Martha’s Vineyard:

#1: Sun Soak on the Beaches

You wouldn’t think that you could find nice beaches off the coast of Massachusetts, but it’s true! The water temperature is very nice in the summer, and the soft sand feels great on your feet.

Here are some of my beach recommendations: “State Beach” is great for swimming & jumping off bridges into the water, “Fuller Street Beach” (affectionately referred to as “Josh’s Beach” by my family) is fantastic for serenity and snorkeling, and “South Beach” waves are perfect for Boogie Boarding.

And pretty much any of the beaches works well for suntanning…or getting buried alive.

 

#2: Ride the Flying Horses


Head over to Oak Bluffs to ride one of the most historical carousels in the United States. The Flying Horses carousel was built in 1876, and has been preserved by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust. As an adult I find this carousel entertaining because riders can grab small metal rings from a hanging dispenser. The one lucky rider who grabs a gold ring will get a free ride!

 

#3: Kayak in Sengekontacket Pond


Sengekontacket Pond is a tidally influenced coastal pond located just next to State Beach. This peaceful and shallow pond is perfect for kayaking, windsurfing, and shell fish hunting.

 

#4: Walk around Edgartown


One of my favorite activities on Martha’s Vineyard is to walk around Edgartown to look at the art galleries, the marina, the shops, and especially the beautiful historical homes. As you may have already guessed, I love architecture.

Here is one of my favorite homes on the island, that sits right next to Fuller Street Beach:

Take a walk down to the Edgartown marina, and stroll along the docks

I love watching the posh boats that pull up to the many docks of Martha’s Vineyard, especially the sail boats. You’ll see everything from small wooden boats to extravagant yachts.

 

#5: Charter a Fishing Boat


Another of my favorite things to do on Martha’s Vineyard is to charter a small fishing boat to take us fishing for Blue Fish. Contact Coops Bait and Tackle to charter a fishing trip. The last time that we chartered a boat, I caught 7 blue fish! Here are some photos from the fishing trip:

 

#6: Photograph the Lighthouses


Martha’s Vineyard has at least 5 beautiful lighthouses, that I know of. A walk down to the Edgartown lighthouse is an annual highlight for me.

I’ll share a really cool tip that not many people know. If you walk to the Edgartown lighthouse at night, you’ll see glow-in-the-dark jelly fish swimming all along both sides of the trail. If you move a small net or stick around in the water, the jelly fish will light up even more!

Gay Head Lighthouse, near the town of Aquinnah, is probably my favorite lighthouse to visit, because of the dramatic sunsets and colorful cliffs.

My wife is so stinkin’ sweet…she always takes photos of me, instead of the lighthouses!

#7: Visit the Vineyard Haven Marina


Vineyard Haven marina is such a picturesque spot, and more so at sunrise. So if you can get your toosh out of bed while it’s still dark, you’ll be richly rewarded with amazing photographs.

#8: Visit West Tisbury Farms

I was quite surprised to see how much of the island of Martha’s Vineyard is covered with beautiful farms. A friend of ours, Jim Powell, invited us over to his farm in West Tisbury.

Even if you don’t know someone who owns a farm, there are fun farm tours around the island.

In mid August, the Agricultural Society holds a county fair, with rides, games, shucking, fiddle contests, skillet tosses, horse pulls, woodsmen competitions, fine art exhibits, and animal & produce contests. This is one of my favorite events to attend every year! You can find more details here.

 

#9: Build a Lantern for Illumination Night


“Traditional Chinese paper lanterns are ornately hung outside of the delightful gingerbread cottages that line the Oak Bluffs campground (not really a campground). Lanterns are lit at sun down and burn through the night making for a truly special scene in town. Originally marking the close of the summer season for campground visitors, Illumination Night has become one of the most popular summer spectacles on the island.” (more info).

#10: Watch the Menemsha Sunset


Have you ever heard applause at sunset? If not, then you need to join the crowds at Menemsha to watch the stunning sunset display. People bring picnic baskets and sip on wine glasses as they await one of the most popular events on the island. I love to setup my large format camera to capture the silhouettes of sailboats against the descending sun.

This is the sunset of my article on Martha’s Vineyard, so please comment below with any questions or suggestions!

 

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Comments

  1. 1

    Loved your photographs and write up on the Vineyard.

  2. 6

    Thanks for the photos and the information. Very Enjoyable! We plan to visit the area in June.

    • 7

      Hi Laurie,

      Thanks for reading my article! How exciting that you’ll be in Martha’s Vineyard in June. Have you been there before? How did you find my article?

      • 8

        Yes, we are excited to go to Martha’s Vineyard! This will be our first visit. We are staying in a rental house in Falmouth for 1 week. We will rent a car and travel to neighboring towns. We hope to rent bikes and ride the Shining Sea Bike Trail. Any other suggestions would be welcome.

        We plan to take a ferry from Falmouth to Martha’s Vineyard. I found your article through Fodors.com.

        Thanks again for sharing your photos and information!
        Laurie

  3. 9
    nadia drake says:

    i want to go!!!!

  4. 10
    Jim Powell says:

    Wow! I am impressed with your presentation and graphics! Good work! How would you like to make a website for the farm so that I can sell more yarn? I will be in Utah this July and into August, but will be back in time for the Agricultural Society’s 150th anniversary during the 3rd week of August. I hope to connect up with you soon. My phone #508-696-1959.
    Jim

  5. 11

    Great write up – Thank you!
    I was hoping you could share some addtional logistical information. My husband and I are headed to Martha’s Vinyard this weekend. We live in Colorado. We will be there just one day and so dont have a hotel…we are trying to find someplace that has luggage storage lockers. I called MV Chamber and they said there arent lockers on the entire island. I called the Ferry in Woods Hole and they dont have them either. Any suggestions? PS. Found you by googling luggage storage in Falmouth.

    • 12

      Hi Erin,

      That’s exciting that you’ll be visiting “the Vineyard” this weekend. Strangely, I’ll also be there this weekend! We’re in Cape Cod right now. Are you just going over for the day on a ferry (no car)? Are you getting around on the bus? I’ve never seen any lockers, but there very well could be at Vineyard Haven harbor. You could try calling “The Steam Ship Authority”, who runs the ferry. They may know. You can also look up either the Vineyard Haven port or the Oaks Bluff port, and see if they can help you. It seems like I kind of remember seeing lockers around there. If you really get in a pinch, just contact me directly through my blog, and I can help you more!

  6. 13
    Karen Gourley Lehman says:

    Josh, get your dates strait about the Black Dog. Not ’69, … ’71. Easy to look up.
    Met you on Sara’s porch, Irish music. I like your blog!
    –kgl

  7. 15

    I just stumbled on this post when googling the pond for kayaking! MV is one of my favorite places on earth.. I just did a post on it this morning!…. we will be staying at The Kelley House in Edgartown at the end of September, looking forward to it. Glad I found your blog, your photography is stunning!

    • 16

      Karen, thanks for visiting JoshLovesIt.com! Yes, the vineyard is amazing…I’ll be there again in August. I’m glad you found me. And thank you for the compliment. I hope you’ve subscribed & spread the word!

  8. 17

    Nice article 😉 I live here!

    • 18

      Thanks for your comment Tara! Where do you live in Martha’s Vineyard? (P.S. Sorry for the late reply to your comment..for some reason, these comments haven’t been emailed to me lately).

      • 19

        Hi,
        We have lived in Oak Bluffs for years but just recently bought a house in Vineyard Haven. We got quite a bit of snow these last couple of weeks. The latest gossip is that ABC Family is shooting a reality show here this spring. There are mixed reactions to this by locals, of course. Do you come every year? My husband used to work at the Harborview.

        • 20

          Hi Tara, thanks for your comment! That’s funny about ABC family shooting a reality show…hope it doesn’t spoil the area. Yes, we come every year, and stay in Edgartown, but I also love Vineyardhaven, because of the wooden boats.

  9. 21

    I’m another fan of MV. However, haven’t been there for years (35?). I now on the west coast. I’m sort of related to Jim Powell in a very round about way. Stayed at his house when he was in elementary school. He was doing a school project on the sounds of MV. He ended it with the sound of a flushing toilet. Enjoyed your pictures, especially of Gay Head. I kept a little piece of the red clay from the cliff for years.

  10. 23

    Great article. Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for the tips
    We r planning a trip end of Aug.

    Do you have anything similar for Nantuket?

  11. 25

    Hi Josh,
    Thanks for the great info. In early July, my husband, 15-year-old daughter, 13-year-old son and I will be driving from Long Island and have more than a week to get to a wedding in Montpelier, Vermont. I haven’t been to the Cape Cod area, and was wondering how you suggest spending the time. I’m not sure where to stay and take day trips or to whether to stay in a few different places for a couple of nights each. Also, when should we bring the car and when should we just take the ferry? Thanks for your suggestions.

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