Martha’s Vineyard – 2016 island profile
A mecca for tourists, a retreat for presidents and the home of Island Alpaca, The Black Dog and Jaws—the 1974 thriller was famously filmed here—Martha’s Vineyard is a short ferry ride from both Woods Hole and Hyannis . . . and a very special place.
At just under 100 square miles, the Vineyard is comprised of six towns, each with its own unique history and culture. Visitors arriving aboard the Island Queen from Falmouth commence their stay in Oak Bluffs. Circuit Avenue, the town’s main thoroughfare, is lined with shops and restaurants, and it’s hard to miss the free-spirited vibe. Stop in Murdick’s Fudge for a quarter-pound of chocolate, rocky road or Cape Cod cranberry.
Next up, stroll through the remarkable gingerbread houses. Numbering more than 300, the cottages date back to a religious camp meeting community in the mid-1800s and are dolled up in pastel colors and creative cutouts. Another must-visit is the Flying Horses Carousel. Take a nostalgic ride—and try to capture the brass ring—on the country’s oldest platform carousel.
Dining in Oak Bluffs? Sink your teeth into a burger or burrito at Sharky’s Cantina, or try the steak and seafood at The Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company. Another great island restaurant is Menemsha’s Beach Plum Inn, which creates its menu from scratch each day—utilizing fresh local ingredients.
Surrounded by water, the Vineyard has a bevy of wonderful beaches. South Beach (a.k.a. Katama Beach) in Edgartown faces the Atlantic; and on the west of the island, Aquinnah Public Beach offers amazing views of the region’s red clay cliffs.
Additional island attractions include The Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Edgartown—a great place to explore the island’s rich history—the recently re-settled Gay Head Lighthouse and Alley’s General Store, a popular West Tisbury market that offers snacks, sundries and souvenirs.
Staying longer? Check out the many miles of island bike trails, or board the On Time II ferry to Chappaquiddick; there, visitors will discover the peaceful MyToi Garden and the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, a swath of pristine land featuring a lighthouse, a lengthy beach and captivating scenery.