Featured Stories & Articles from Cape Cod Travel Magazine: Ode to Martha's Vineyard
Hundred square-mile Martha’s Vineyard lays just seven miles off Cape Cod, accessible from the Cape by an under-an-hour ferry trip or a 20-minute plane ride. Several ferry services also run from mainland locations. So with minimal travel time, anyone can be ‘on-island’ and enjoying this world-renowned vibrant vacation spot.
Martha’s Vineyard is the largest island in New England, providing visitors with the perfect opportunity to explore the various towns, each with their own unique vibe. “Down-island” includes the more populous towns of Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven and Edgartown, while “up-island” encompasses the quieter, farm-filled towns of Chilmark, Aquinnah and West Tisbury.
Modern-day Martha’s Vineyard is a brilliant blend that celebrates both its roots as a rustic paradise, heralding the original Native-American Wampanoag tribe and, much later, a thriving maritime industry, and a beach-filled summer paradise filled with upscale hotels and historic inns. Architecture aficionados are certain to enjoy the island’s four centuries of architecture, ranging from humble historic beauties to 19th-century Victorians built by wealthy city-folks seeking seaside sanctuary to soaring contemporaries.
Most visitors arrive by ferry in beautiful Vineyard Haven. Just a short bike-ride away (rent one or bring your own over on the ferry) are the villages of East and West Chop. Each of these picture-perfect hamlets is home to a working lighthouse. Others can be found in Edgartown, atop the famed clay cliffs of Aquinnah, and at Cape Poge.
Vineyard Haven is anchored by an inviting Main Street filled with restaurants, shops and galleries and the not-to-be-missed Williams Street treasure trove of National Historic Register homes
Clockwise from Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs is liveliest of six sibling towns with its abundant eateries and nightlife. It was here that Methodist camps were all the rage, beginning in 1835, drawing thousands to Trinity Park Tabernacle where communal tents evolved into “Cottage City,” a grid of 300 Victorian wooden ’Carpenter Gothic’ cottages adorned with gingerbread trim and playful primary colors. Oak Bluffs evolved into an immensely popular Victorian resort and is now home to Circuit Avenue’s “restaurant row,” the Flying Horses Carousel (America’s oldest), dozens of shops and galleries and gentle Vineyard Sound beaches.
Edgartown is extraordinary: an amalgamation of elegant black-trimmed, white-clapboard Greek Revival whaling captains’ houses, the venerable Old Whaling Church, now an arts center, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and so much more. Dock Street’s On-Time ferry conveys passengers to Chappaquiddick Island, an
ideal place to spend the day, in moments. While here, visit Mytoi Gardens, Wasque Reservation and Cape Poge. Back in town, Felix Neck Sanctuary offers sightings of water fowl and shore birds while a bevy of shops, boutiques, galleries, restaurants and Edgartown Light await.
Up-Island towns move to a decidedly slower rhythm. Agrarian Chilmark is filled with a bucolic splendor of white-sand ocean beaches, productive farms and rolling fields rimmed with ancient stone walls. Menemsha is a minuscule fishing village, worthy of a daylong exploration capped off with heart-stopping sunsets. Aquinnah is highlighted by dazzling mile-long clay cliffs, a National Historic Landmark, topped by Aquinnah Light. The cliffs alone merit the trip up-island. West Tisbury is quintessentially New England, with its landmark white church, Alley’s General Store, countless acres of farmland, Polly Hill Arboretum, a stunning 70 acres filled with native flora that’s open to the public, and beautiful beaches
In fact, on Martha’s Vineyard, the beaches seem almost limitless. Crisp and cool in the spring, sunbather-filled in the summer, bathed in an ethereal light in the fall and nearly deserted in the winter, they are everywhere. From Vineyard
Haven’s State Beach, famed for being featured in the film Jaws, to tough-to-find but so-worth-the-effort Lucy Vincent Beach in Chilmark to Katama just outside Edgartown, the Vineyard is a sandy paradise.
This is Martha’s Vineyard. From presidents and movie stars, to fishermen and the faithful, the island has long proven the perfect place to spend a day…or maybe a month. Either way, visits are too short and then the longing to return begins.Back to Cape Cod Travel Guide Stories