Martha's Vineyard is one of my favorite places to visit for so many reasons. There are no chain stores, hotels, fast-food restaurants, or traffic lights. The natural beauty of an era gone by embraces you the moment you arrive. You think of what it was like when it was a whaling community in the nineteenth century. Many walking trails meander past marshland and ponds. It is casual; dress up is when you switch your beach flip flops for a pair of sandals at night. My usual attire has a chill vibe— shorts, t-shirt, sandals, and a sweatshirt for cool nights and beach breezes. The art community is vivid there, and local artists seem everywhere.
Where is Martha's Vineyard?
Martha's Vineyard is a small Massachusetts Island located just 7 miles off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. It is the third-largest island on the East Coast of the United States. It is 9 miles wide and 26 miles long, spread over six small towns, each different in their own way.
AQUINNAH is a town located on the western end of the island. Formally known as Gay Head, it is known for its natural beauty, over-water sunsets and beautiful clay cliffs.
CHILMARK has winding scenic roads, is less populated, and more private.
WEST TISBURY is the Agricultural heartland of the island.
VINEYARD HAVEN is the main point of entry for most visitors coming over on a ferry.
OAK BLUFFS has broad attractions for kids.
EDGARTOWN is an historic whaling and shipping Village.
CHAPPAQUIDDICK is known as “Chappy” is a small island considered part of Edgartown.
Martha’s Vineyard was named in 1602 by a British explorer named Bartholomew Gosnold. He supposedly named it after his daughter Martha because of the viny undergrowth found along the coast. Most people think the name came from it the abundant wineries. Ironically there are no vineyards on the island.
Summer is a beautiful time to visit. The population year-round is close to 17,000 in the summer; there can be as many as 200,000 people on the Island. I prefer to stay in the spring or early fall when there are fewer people.
How to Get to Martha's Vineyard
Martha's Vineyard is located within 85 miles of two major airports: Boston Logan and Providence T.F. Green. Visitors arriving at either of these two cities can arrange transportation to Martha's Vineyard via connecting air service, limousine or taxi, bus, or by renting a car.
This Island is easily accessible by ferry. A year-round car ferry service from Woods Hole, Falmouth, MA (on Cape Cod), a quick one-half-hour ferry ride. This ferry docks in Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs. Advance car ferry reservations are recommended ahead of time. Check the Steamship Authority website for complete details.
Where To Stay
Charles and Charles— a quaint Bed and Breakfast located in Vineyard Haven. What a gem!
It is easily walkable from the Steamship Authority Ferry landing dock. I found this place about eight years ago, the first-year Charles opened. Since then, I have been going there for a week every summer (except covid year). Charles never disappoints.
The rooms are nicely decorated with unique touches. His breakfasts are one of the highlights, and they are delicious. He loves to share his joy of cooking. His fresh, healthy juices are something I crave off-season. He is also very knowledgeable about the Island. He's always willing to help with anything from dinner recommendations to great locations for walking/hiking. So, if you don't know what to do or where to go, make sure to ask.
The Hob Knob Inn is a Luxury Boutique and Spa located in Edgartown. It has a lovely relaxed, elegant setting. I love the wrap-around front porch, which is great to enjoy breakfast. You would need transportation by ferry because it does not come into Edgartown.
My two favorite towns are Edgartown and Vineyard Haven.
Edgartown has all the charm of a historic whaling and shipping village. I love to stroll the streets, browsing in the many quaint shops. I enjoy walking on North Water Street among the stately white mansions of the 19th-century that belonged to whaling Captains and wondered what it was like back when this was a whaling community.
A small town with many cute shops. Home to The Black Dog Tavern is a local place located on the water near the ferry. I love the burgers and clam chowder.
Places I Love to Visit
Morning Glory Farm— grows and sells the best produce and home-baked loaves of bread and pies.
Chilmark General Store-great sandwiches/ local feel. I love to sit on the dark green rocking chairs that line the front porch.
Bunch of Grapes Bookstore-Vineyard Haven.
Gingerbread Cottages located in Oak Bluffs.
Espresso Love in Edgartown.
Mocha Motts in Vineyard Haven.
Mad Martha's for ice cream. Located in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown.
Humphries for fresh for sandwiches. Located in Edgartown and Vineyard Haven.
Among the Flowers Café located in Edgartown.
I hope that you visit this beautiful island—You just might fall in love with it like I did!
© 2022 Susan Frances Morris
Susan Frances Morris is the author of The Sensitive One, a memoir dealing with childhood trauma, abuse, health, and healing. Susan was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, and has been vacationing on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket since she was a child.