Nantucket is the perfect getaway—a lovely little island located near Cape Cod in Massachusetts, it has a beachy, relaxed vibe that blends well with its charming downtown and gorgeous scenery. Though there’s enough to keep travelers busy here for an entire vacation, Nantucket can easily be transformed into a fun day trip--easy to get to, it’s just a convenient ferry trip away from the mainland--making it ideal for day-trippers everywhere.
Getting To Nantucket
There are plenty of ways to get to Nantucket via ferry (there’s even a ferry from NYC!) During the Summer season, ferries are plentiful; however, there are still ferry trips available into Autumn as well. There are three ferry options: Fast Ferry, High-Speed, and Traditional, and visitors can choose their options for each from either New Bedford, Harwich Port, Hyannis, or Martha’s Vineyard.
The prices and schedules vary, but an adult round trip is anywhere from $68 to $90 (excluding NYC). Learn more about ferry rates and schedules here. Be sure to take the earliest ferry available to have the most time in Nantucket!
Things To Do In Nantucket
There’s something for everyone in Nantucket—from beach bums looking for sunny skies and relaxation; to busy go-getters who want to walk the trails and bike their way through this charming beach town.
Nantucket can be explored on foot, by bike, or by car. However, the best way to make the most of this lovely spot is to see it at your own pace—therefore most travelers prefer to rent a bike or leisurely stroll from place to place. Nantucket is small; so even if you take your time, chances are you will be able to see many of its myriad attractions in a single day.
Calling All History Buffs
Nantucket has plenty of museums to explore for those who want a taste of the region’s history. To make the most of your trip, choose one or two that are of particular interest in order to make time for other destinations.
- Take a walk through the Nantucket Whaling Museum to learn all about Nantucket’s whaling industry. Don’t forget to climb the stairs to Tucker’s Roofwalk and take in the spectacular view
- The Egan Maritime’s Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum pays homage to those who have risked their lives to save those shipwrecked on its shores (aka the ‘graveyard of the Atlantic) in the 19th century. Take the free guided tour and be sure to check out the scenic outdoor area
- The Maria Mitchell Association and Loines Observatory is a family-friendly spot featuring a Natural Science Museum; an aquarium; two observatories, and more. Go in the evening for an amazing look at the Nantucket night sky through their research telescope
See Siasconset Town
Perfect for laidback explorers, Siasconset (shortened to ‘Sconset’ by locals) is a small village in Nantucket that many consider its most picturesque area. Filled with charming 18th-century cottages; a gorgeous white sand beach; and scenic walks galore, Siasconset captures Nantucket’s beach-town vibes perfectly.
- Get your camera ready and head to the Sconset Bluff Walk, a curving path that takes travelers along the cliffside for some of Nantucket’s most stunning views
- Check out the Sankaty Head Lighthouse, built in 1850 and rising majestically on the horizon (photo op!)
- Get on your bike (or lace up your hiking boots), and head to the Gardener Farm Walk. There are several trails to choose from, including a 20-minute loop that winds through the forest. Keep your eyes peeled for local birds and wildlife
Best Of The Beach
Nantucket is known for its beautiful white-sand beaches—so even if you’re just here for the day, it’s worth checking out at least one of these gems.
- Families will love the Children’s Beach. Close to town and easy to get to, this beach is known for its calm waters that are great for swimming. There’s also a playground and a grassy lawn for the kiddos to play
- Brant Point is one of the most well-known attractions on Nantucket. A lovely area perfect for relaxing, boat watching, and of course, taking some Insta-worthy pics of the island’s first lighthouse—Brant Point Light
- For those who want a beach a bit off the beaten track, Dionis Beach is a nice spot for taking a walk and enjoying the sea air. Bring a bucket for some great shelling ops
Where To Eat In Nantucket
Spending the day in Nantucket means travelers will have the opportunity to try some of the island’s best restaurants (and maybe a coffee in between).
- Start the day right with breakfast (and maybe a mimosa?) at Island Kitchen. Be sure to try their homemade buttermilk pancakes or their famous breakfast sandwich “The Animal”
- Eat in or grab a sandwich to take down to the beach at Something Natural. Known for their amazing bread, any sandwich you order is sure to be great (and there are several vegetarian options, too!)
- Need a pick-me-up after all that exploring? Then be sure to stop in at the downtown gem Handlebar Café, considered by many to be the best coffee shop on the island. Try the Iced Cup of Sunshine for a healthy boost
- Hungry for fresh, delicious seafood with a view? Then have a stop for dinner at Straight Wharf Restaurant, one of the most popular spots on the island. The menu changes daily, but you can’t go wrong with the scallops
Other Things To Do On Nantucket
Believe it or not, there are still more things to do on Nantucket if you have any time left in between beach walks or before taking the last ferry back.
- Check out the adorable shops downtown—and don’t forget to grab some top-notch fudge at Aunt Leah’s Fudge
- Beer connoisseurs will love Cisco Brewers. They also have food trucks and a picnic area for those who want a mid-day snack
- Want to scope some wildlife? Then head to Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, home of everything from coastal forests to tidal ponds
Nantucket is the perfect day trip for anyone visiting Cape Cod (or the surrounding areas). Easy to get to on a short ferry trip, visitors can spend the day walking or biking around this lovely, charming island while exploring its top attractions and beautiful beach scenery.