By Elizabeth Valerio
Located approximately three miles south of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard is a tiny island, measuring only 87 square miles, where tourists and locals alike tan on vast beaches, lick massive ice cream cones and wear sweatshirts with black dogs on the front. People shop, stroll and eat their way through the adorable main streets of each town as they admire the beach houses that line the ocean harbors.
Where To Stay
Though the island is comprised mainly of homes and estates, there are small bed and breakfasts for couples who don’t want to rent a cottage. Finding a resort experience is difficult on such a small island. The Winnetu Oceanside Resort (winnetu.com) located in Edgartown is one of the only luxury resorts on Martha’s Vineyard offering rooms, suites and homes for rent.
A five-minute walk from South Beach, The Winnetu has room packages beginning at $195 a night. Most rooms have ocean-side patios, dual baths, king-sized beds with fine linens and luminous kitchens with coffee makers, microwaves and refrigerators, and many have newly installed flat-screen televisions. Suites have up to four bedrooms with multiple pullout couches and chairs in sitting areas to accommodate family and guests. Luxurious spa bathrobes hang in the closets for use in-room while listening to the crashing waves or, perhaps, while receiving a couples’ massage in one of the inn’s treatment rooms.
The Winnetu’s reservations-only restaurant, Lure, boasts fresh local catch and tantalizing desserts. The chef’s tasting menu features braised lamb paparadelle and potato crusted local fluke for $75 a person. For dessert try the vanilla bean crème brulée or the chocolate chip cookies with coffee ice cream and chocolate sauce, both $10.
Where To Eat
Arguably the most popular fried seafood on the island, the old fishing village of Menemsha is the home of The Bite. The tiny blue shack doesn’t seem like much, but the seafood, such as fried clams ($17.95) or fried scallops ($8.95) are caught fresh daily and cooked to order. Bite fries (cuts of baked potato fried to perfection) make French fries a thing of past, and the Quahog chowder is rich and creamy and can be eaten while you wait for your seafood. Dine at the few small tables or stroll toward the beach for a picnic.
The Wharf Restaurant and Pub is known for its nighttime bar crowds, but not because its menu is sub-par. The nautical-themed pub features local catch and American specialties such as the seafood pasta with mussels, clams and scallops for $30 or the daily market-priced boiled lobster.
Out of the hundreds of ice cream parlors on the island, the most reliable is Mad Martha’s (madmarthas.com). With locations in every major Martha’s Vineyard town, Mad Martha’s features both hard and soft serve flavors ranging from Martha’s Vineyard black raspberry to mint Oreo. A small is only $3.50, so plan on stopping in a couple times – daily.
What To Do
Despite its name, Martha’s Vineyard only has one vineyard. Chicama Vineyards (chicamavineyards.com) was founded in 1971 on 11 acres of West Tisbury land. Chicama offers daily tastings, usually featuring about four different wines. Additionally, Chicama produces a wide variety of spreads, mustards and oils that are handmade and sold. These locally produced wines are available throughout the island in stores and in restaurants.
Viewing art is also a popular pastime on the island. Small galleries showcase local and international artists’ painting, photography and sculpture throughout the Vineyard. The Granary Gallery (granarygallery.com) in West Tisbury houses antiques as well as art and has an impressionable collection of photojournalism. Most of their work is for sale, as well. The Field Gallery (fieldgallery.com) also located in West Tisbury has a beautiful sculpture garden unlike any other gallery on the island.
For some natural attractions, visit any of the island’s beaches for a stroll. The western tip of the island is located in the town of Aquinnah, and the Gay Head lighthouse and cliffs should not be missed. A few restaurants and shops surround the viewing area. Tourists can watch the Atlantic waves crash over the rocky cliffs and see one of the only remaining Vineyard lighthouses.
The one activity that should not be missed, no matter your age, is the Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs. For $1.50, tourists can ride America’s oldest carousel — a historical landmark. Try to get the brass ring – you’ll be competing with children, but don’t let that fool you – the winner gets a free ride.