Nantucket Island is a renowned East Coast summer spot, attracting visitors from around New England and around the world. About 30 miles south of Cape Cod, it's famous for its seafood, Atlantic beaches, whaling history and charming historic architecture.
Within a long walk or a short bike ride of downtown is Jetties Beach. It's great for families, with lifeguards, a playground, changing rooms, bathrooms, showers and a concession stand. There's also a sitdown restaurant with delicious clam chowder. Surfers will enjoy Cisco Beach, bodysurfers will appreciate Surfside and nudists will feel at home at Miacomet (no kidding).
If you're looking for a less salty way to spend a day, take a stroll around the island's many wharfs. Commercial Wharf, Straight Wharf and Old South Wharf are filled with boats, lined with cottages and stuffed with shops selling merchandise from whalebone carvings to garish T-shirts.
Visit the village of Siasconset to see some of the island's trademark old cottages. A great way to tour the town is via Bluff Walk trail, which wends between the coast and the beautiful seaside homes--and through a few backyards. The residents usually don't mind strollers in the neighborhood, since most visitors respect their privacy.
At the north end of Nantucket is windswept Great Point Beach and the historic Great Point Lighthouse. It's a dramatic site with views of the dunes and it's accessible only by renting a 4-by-4 vehicle or mountainbike at Straight Wharf.
Shopping and Dining
Over the years, the shops of Nantucket (like the residents) have evolved toward the chic and trendy, which means you can find not only island souvenirs and nicknacks but also branded luxury items like Jimmy Choo shoes and Ferragamo handbags in boutiques like David Chase. For those who want to bring home an authentic Ankasa throw pillow or lovely decoupage plates created by resident artist John Derian, visit the Trillium store.
For good food and great views of the water, point your compass to the seaside. Straight Wharf Restaurant, which has been around for over three decades, is one of the island's most popular spots. It serves a range of entrees, many from its woodburning grill. Ask to be seated at the back for a breathtaking view of the harbor. A posh choice in the historic downtown is American Seasons, which features creative seasonal dishes prepared from local ingredients.
Nantucket is loaded with hotels of all shapes, ages and sizes. One of the most interesting is Hotel Green, the island's first and only eco-hotel. The furniture is made from recycled materials and the walls are painted with milk-based paint. It's a kid- and pet-friendly place where even the cleaning products are biodegradable. If you prefer a more traditional hotel, the Wauwinet, at the island's north end, has a lot of cottages for couples and families. Try the spa, where the specialty is a caviar facial!