By Hillary Latos
As a favorite summertime destination for US Presidents from the Kennedys to the Obamas, Martha’s Vineyard is a quintessential New England island destination for the rich and famous, old money families, and those who come to appreciate the low key attitude, nature reserves, fine dining and gorgeous coastline. As the summer season is kicking off this month, we spoke to Nancy Gardella from the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce to find out her favorite island activities.
“If people are brand new to Maratha’s Vineyard they tend to think of the Vineyard as three very busy port towns. Edgartown is a very historic area with old captain houses, a little bit on the sophisticated side or the Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. Maratha’s Vineyard is all about being outdoors. It’s a place where there are no chain stores, no chain restaurants, no chain hotels, nor malls. Over a third of the island is protected from ever being built on. So that means there are lots of things to do on the water if you are a beach person like me. There is hiking, riding your bicycle, as well as arts and culture. The thing that seduces people is that it’s a really romantic place with the natural beauty of the island and being outdoors all day, all the while getting that farm to fork ocean to plate experience and luxuriating in that.”
Edgartown was the first town to be settled with white picket fences and seaside homes dotting the coast. The historic town features plenty of farm to table and seafood dining options with cute boutiques selling preppy wares that embody the island spirit. Visit Vineyard Vines to pick up whale embroidered pants with a matching polo to dress like a local. Step back in time and experience Old World grandeur at the romantic Relais & Chateaux Charlotte Inn befitting of an Edwardian European hunting lodge and gardens that has been meticulously decorated with exquisite antiques sourced from around the world.
Oak Bluffs has a younger vibe attracting surfers to its renowned waves and beach scene. Charming gingerbread houses line the coast and town squares and surf shops. If you are a clam chowder aficionado be sure to stop by Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Co, which has earned the well-deserved title of Best Chowder in New England.
Though it’s the least populated town on the island, Menemsha is a fishing town serving the best seafood on the island. Visit Larsen’s fish market before sunset to watch the fishing boats come in with their fresh haul, bring a bottle of rose and enjoy fresh steamed New England local lobster while sitting on the docks, taking in the sunset.
With the extensive and efficient bus system, the island can be easily explored by the Vineyard transit system which runs into the wee hours of the night with affordable options running from daily to weekly passes.
The fastest way to get here from NYC is on Jet Blue’s direct flights from JFK, and in less than an hour you can be whisked away from the city and experience everything this tony island has to offer.
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