By Christopher Pape and Kate Ryan
The year was 1997. And, by some twist of fate, Mom forgot the passports. Our then family of five found ourselves stranded at O’Hare International Airport—not an ideal situation for a family with toddlers. Dad decided to try Boston, followed by Martha’s Vineyard, after being inspired by an article he read. Before I knew it, my family was on the auto ferry, bound for a seemingly undiscovered island. Thus began my first fateful journey to the island
of Martha’s Vineyard.
As the thick, morning fog settles on the curling waves of the Sound, and the faint silhouette of an island appears on the horizon, the hum of the plane’s engine could lull you into a trance. There is an indescribable feeling that overcomes all who journey to the Vineyard. The voyage is a rite of passage. For those less inclined to travel by land and sea, Cape Air provides travelers with a variety of accommodating options to reach this magnificent island. Flying directly into MVY, the Vineyard’s airport, is quite the luxury. A hassle-free, hospitable process, the Cape Air motto, is a wonderful way to start your weekend getaway to this tranquil island. There is a sense of peace associated with the Vineyard. And, to all who have the privilege of calling this twenty-three mile stretch of sand off Cape Cod “home”, it seems just shy of perfection.
Whether you enjoy exploring locally grown farmers markets for the best fresh vegetables, such as Morning Glory Farm, or digging your toes in the warm sand while eating a brown-bag lunch on South Beach as antique biplanes swerve overhead, the Vineyard offers endless opportunities to submerge yourself in its unparalleled culture. Swim across the glassy waters of Uncle Seth’s Pond, near Lambert’s Cove; it is a feat accomplished by few, especially considering the snapping turtles. Or join tourists and local kids and take the leap-of-faith 20-feet off “Jaws” bridge at State Beach, into the icy Atlantic. Attend concerts and lectures at Oak Bluffs Tabernacle where people, old and young, enjoy the magic of the Vineyard. You could even try your luck at the oldest carousel in the nation, Flying Horses, in snatching the “gold ring” before your ride is up. Martha’s Vineyard is full of hidden wonders, including John Belushi’s grave, stonewalls resembling those of Ireland, and multi-colored cliffs that meet foaming waves 150-feet below.
Sold yet? If not, the Vineyard is also home to some of the most historic and celebrated hotels and resorts on the East Coast. The Harbor View Hotel was opened in 1891, and escorted in a new era for Martha’s Vineyard. The hotel was faced with 100,000 cedar shingles imported from New Brunswick and offered guests the modern conveniences of the day, including a single telephone line and gas lights. The hotel quickly gained the name the “Grand Dame” of Vineyard hotels. Possibly its most alluring feature is the large veranda that wraps around the front of the hotel, equipped with rocking chairs, overlooking the Edgartown Lighthouse, Edgartown Harbor, and Chappaquiddick Island; the perfect location to enjoy the stars and a cigar on a warm summer’s night. The hotel is flanked by historic homes from 19th Century whaling captains, and is a short stroll from the center of Edgartown.
If you are looking for even more history, look no further. The Kelley House Hotel ,sister property of the Harbor View Hotel and Resort, opened for business in 1742, 100 years after the first Europeans settled on Martha’s Vineyard. Originally a tavern, it pressed through the Revolutionary War and the whaling era that followed, and is now a registered Historic Inn of America. A cherished Vineyard destination, the Kelley House Hotel is located just a short walk from Memorial Wharf and the Edgartown harbor. The property includes the popular Newes from America Pub, a favorite local restaurant, known for its beer sample trays. Edgartown is considered the most picturesque town on Martha’s Vineyard, not to mention host to a fabulous
Fourth of July parade.
Martha’s Vineyard is a beautiful place for reasons aside from its nature preserves, bike trails, and fishing villages. It is an environment that attracts people from all walks of life. The Vineyard has managed to remain simple, honest, and cultured. And, it continues to call upon kindred spirits to embark on a journey and share in a truly unique experience on a
truly remarkable island.
Harbor View Hotel & Resort
131 North Water Street
Edgartown, Massachusetts 02539
Toll Free: 1-800-225-6005