Just off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts is the stunning island of Martha's Vineyard. It is a popular and affluent summer colony where people flock to get some R&R. Celebrities with their summer houses as well as urbanites seeking a peaceful getaway are all part of the crowd that the island draws. Visiting Martha's Vineyard is a key part of any Cape Cod getaway.

Martha's Vineyard is the third-largest island off the East Coast of the United States (the larger ones are Long Island and Mount Desert Island). One can include it as part of a Massachusetts road trip if one has the time. While in the New England region, tour The Breakers - a prestigious and historic mansion in Rhode Island.


What To Know Of Martha's Vineyard

The island was renamed (the people of the Wampanoag Native American Tribe called it "Noepe") in 1602 by the British. A British sailor called Bartholomew Gosnold called the island after his daughter, Martha. And the "vineyard" is a reference to the viney undergrowth on the coast - not because it has any vineyards.

  • Vineyards: There Are No Vineyards On the Island
  • Micro-Breweries: There Are Micro-Breweries On the Island but No Vineyards

Most of the homes there are seasonal with a permanent year-round population of 16,500 residents. Many of the permanent residents are musicians, artists, and people who seek to get away from it all and back to nature. But the summer swells to 100,000 to as much as 200,000 as people flock to the island. As an affluent summer destination, the cost of living is also significantly more expensive than the national average.

  • Resident Population: Around 16,500 Residents
  • Peak Summer Population: 100,000 to 200,000

One of the draws to Martha's Vineyard is that it remains largely untouched by the runaway commercialism that characterizes much of the country. One will not find a single chain restaurant on the island. Vineyard is full of chef-driven restaurants, cozy inns, green farms, and peaceful beaches.

  • Largest: Martha's Vineyard Is The Largest Island In New England
  • Authenticity: There are No Chain Stores, Restaurants, or Hotels On The Island
  • Vibrant: There Are Arts and Culture Scenes Year-Round with Galleries, Theater, Dance, Live Music, and More

Related: Which Rhode Island Beach You Should Visit, Based On Your Favorite Beach Activity

What to Expect On The Island

"If your idea of romance is being out all day, enjoying the robust natural beauty in any number of ways, and then enjoying a fabulous meal or delightful entertainment or a cozy blanket on the beach for sunset, then you can’t help but fall in love."

Martha's Vineyard

There are 50 local farms on the island with a local commitment to sustainable agriculture. One can enjoy the locally grown food - or freshly caught fish in the waters. In the summer, the Farmers Markets are a great attraction to go and see. There are also walking taste tours to enjoy during Autumn and spring to enjoy local curated foods and more.

  • Tip: Take Time To see The Local Farmer's Markets

As one chats with the locals on the island, one will hear the local stories of who almost everyone was an extra in the movie JAWS - or how they met President Clinton once. The atmosphere on the island is all very relaxed and casual.

Related: Est. 1673! Grab A Beer At "America’s Oldest Tavern” In Rhode Island

Getting Onto The Island And What To Do There

The only way onto and off the island is by boat or plane (unless one feels like swimming the 7 miles to the island). There are plenty of ferries that one can take to get to the island.

  • Getting There: by Ferry or by Plane

If one is short on time, it is even worth visiting the island on a day trip if one is already staying in Cape Cod or New Bedford.

If one is into sightseeing, then there are plenty of sightseeing tours on the island that run almost every day from May through November. Options include aerial, water, and walking tours around the island. Activities on the island include fishing, biking, hiking, farm tours, spa treatments, theatrical plays, art exhibitions, water sports, and more. There are plenty of things to keep anyone busy while visiting.

While the island is more pricey, one can do it on a budget. Just plan ahead and do some research about the costs of activities and transportation on the island.

One can plan one's accommodation, activities, restaurants, and more on Martha's Vineyards dedicated website.