Nantucket Travel Guide
If there was a place on this planet that truly gets me to the core, it would be Nantucket. I know, that's a big statement, but there is no other place that makes me feel the way Nantucket makes me feel. The moment I round Brant Point, I always get this wave of being so incredibly grateful. And I suppose I'm thankful to this magical island for giving me that gift. The gift of being truly present. Of appreciating every cobblestone, every sunset, every single shingle. On Nantucket, my brain is there and nowhere else - and that's something I always pay attention to.
Now, I know so many people come to Nantucket to see and be seen. That sort of scene has been evolving just in my lifetime alone. And if that's your thing, wonderful. But I do the exact opposite. I go to disappear. I go for the endless beaches, the long mornings on the porch sipping coffee, actually getting to go to the beach (and swim!) with the dogs, the winding walks through my favorite little neighborhoods, the flowers, the vistas that make me want to cry, the aesthetically pleasing EVERYTHING that just makes my heart so happy, the architecture - you see what I mean. I go for the soul of Nantucket.
And she has so much soul. So even if you come out for the next big social event of the season - I encourage you to make some time in your itinerary to get to the core of this sweet little island 30 miles out to sea. Get to know her history (it's so fascinating), her people (true Nantuckerers are some of my all-time favorite people), and her heart. I hope this guide helps you do just that.
Nantucket is overflowing with perfectly appointed places to stay. From chic to antique, nautical to nouveau - there is literally something for everyone. Keep in mind, booking during high season means planning in advance. If you are going to bring a car, make sure to book that reservation ASAP if you are coming during one of the turn-over days (usually Friday or Saturday) - otherwise you will be at the mercy of standby (which is not always pretty during busy season)!
When we come out for extended periods, we always rent a house rather than stay at a hotel so we can bring the dogs and spread out a bit. You can find great options via AirBnb, VRBO or via one of the local real estate companies (we worked with Jeanne - @nantucketfineliving - at Lee Real Estate this past summer and can't say enough amazing things about her!). It's helpful to know where you want to stay when you are looking as well. Everyone has their favorite parts of the island, and sometimes it takes a few times out to decide if you are a Town person, or someone who likes being on the outskirts a bit. We tend to like the latter! Sconset is our all time favorite part of the island - but some people feel it's a tad removed. It really is such a personal preference! If you are staying in a hotel, here are some of our favorites:
Amazing location right in the heart of Nantucket. A great place if you want to walk to everything (and who doesn't). Beautifully decorated.
A wonderful place for a special occasion, staying a the Wauwinet is a true experience. Five star all the way, it's an amazing place to truly get away.
A beyond stylish and gorgeously appointed luxury hotel with a prime location makes this beautiful hotel a must visit. Every detail is just beyond.
A lovely spot right in town with views that can't be beat. Overlooking the harbor, it's sunrises and sunsets can't be beat. A fabulous option.
With it's fabulous Brant Point location and every amenity you can imagine, it's no wonder this hotel has been such an island favorite for years.
A place where you can bring your pups and overlook the boat basin? How can you go wrong? Such a great spot for those traveling with dogs (and those who aren't!).
Some of my favorite restaurants in the world just happen to be on this island. The food scene is just incredible. We so look forward to where we are going to eat when we come to Nantucket, because it's truly an experience. I find that it's crucial, however, to break your restaurant options up between those you go to when you want to just grab something in your beach cover up, and then those you make reservations for when you actually want to shower and put on a fun dress (or a button-down for you gents out there).
I love this place with all my heart. The food is amazing, and the vibe is equally good. Keep in mind, it's the place to be after a sunset. Also, read up on Millie. She's a badass.
There new location on Main Street is everything, and their food might be even better. From avocado toasts to juices - Millennials, look no further.
She might be small, but she is mighty. The sandwiches here are so fresh and delicious, I'm drooling just writing these sentences. A must for a Sconset beach day.
Sometimes I just want to eat on the beach when I'm on vacation, and Sandbar is just the spot to make that happen! A super fun and casual scene.
A great spot for those nights you just want an amazing burger but you don't want have to deal with a fancy restaurant or Stop & Shop.
No lie, I dream about these sandwiches. They are the size of my face, and I have no shame in saying I can eat the entire thing no problem. Get the Portuguese bread.
I guess I like sandwiches? Another amazing spot right as you get off the fast ferry. Making your sandwich dreams come true the minute you get on island.
Famous for their doughnuts before doughnuts where even cool, this spot with a diner vibe hasn't lost it's old school Nantucket soul.
A fun little meeting spot for pups and humans a like, I think I love the vibe of this place as much as I love their coffee! Don't miss their cozy little oasis out back!
Looking for a jolt before you board the ferry (or when you get off) this is a super convenient spot. My kind of cup of jo to go.
Our morning routine in Sconset always involves coffee at the market. And maybe to pick up some "fancy groceries". This market makes my heart happy more than I should admit.
A happy little spot in the middle of town, this shop is a favorite for visitors and locals alike. Super laid back, without any pretension.
Another sweet little spot in town, this is a great option for those who want equally good ice cream without the lines. And they offer doggy cones!
A legendary Nantucket spot, you'll know you are there by the line that wraps around the corner. Homemade ice cream and waffle cones, need I say more?
Another fabulously old school Sconset establishment, The Summer House is a true Nantucket experience. Head down to the pool bar for a more casual vibe.
With it's gorgeous location, amazing decor and delicious food - it's no wonder this spot is on everyone's must visit when on Nantucket.
Pop by the bar, sit on the patio or dine in - wherever you are the foods is fabulous and the people watching is even better.
With a beyond interesting menu of coastal cusine with a wordly vibe, The Pearl is a favorite year after year. Don't miss a chance to sit a the Chef's table!
With classic coastal food that never disappoints and an always vibrant scene - this is a no fail spot for dinner during your time on the island.
Dining here makes you feel like you have taken a step back in time, and then entered a magical fairy garden. If that doesn't sound special I don't know what does.
This spot is on the casual side, but you have to reserve a table that day - so it's one you have to plan ahead for. The food is to die for.
If you are looking for amazing Italian food, look no further. Andrew loves it here (and I do too) - and the bar in the back is a fan fav.
If you are looking for an old school Nantucket experience, this is your spot. With a menu that changes every night and two seatings - the experience is one of a kind.
A Nantucket staple for years, this cozy little spot is romantic and charming and delicious. Inside or outside, it's got charm for days.
Recently renovated in stylish yet fun manor with a menu that will make your mouth water, I love coming here with a group so I can sample all the tastes.
A great spot if you want to drink a glass of bubbly while watching the sunset with your toes in the sand. Great people watching too!
You simply can't mention Nantucket without raving about her beaches. Honestly, if all the restaurants and shops were gone, I would still visit Nantucket for what I think she does best - beach. The Nantucket shoreline honestly can't be beat, and there is something for everyone. Want to jump or surf big waves to your hearts content? Head to the South Shore. Want to float around in calm waters all day? The beaches on the North Shore will be your answer. Want to be completely alone in the middle of August? Drive down a less than traveled dirt road to some unnamed beach, and voila! - summer crowds are a distant memory. It's as close to heaven as you can get.
Sconset is my happy place, so this beach is one of my all time favorites. Always a bit quieter - and if you walk far enough, you can have it all to yourself.
For an easy beach day with calm waters and bathrooms - I love Dionis. I could float all day on this perfect shore overlooking the sound.
This is a fan fav for a few reasons - parking, bathrooms, food & a gorgeous beach. It does get a tad busy in the summer, so plan accordingly!
Another popular pick, Cisco is great for riding waves, surfing and socializing. It's got Nantucket written all of it's beautiful coastline.
An instagram favorite and for good reason - it's so beautiful (see above photo). Worth the steps down (and up) for the insanely gorgeous views.
I love Madaket's personality, and it's beaches are the same - rough and wild and truly Nantucket. Being out here makes me feel like I'm on the edge of the world!
Grab a sandwich at Bartlett's and then keep driving down a dirt road that leads to a beautiful south shore beach (often less crowded than popular Cisco & Surfside).
Just down the road from Surfside, this smaller spot (no bathrooms, etc) is a great alternative if you want to avoid the crowds a bit.
On the vision board Oprah told me to do - I have a Nantucket home decorated by the ladies at Looms. I LOVE their store, even if I can't have an entire island house (yet).
I always want every single thing in this perfectly curated store. That should tell you something. Pretty sure my entire summer wardrobe could come from here.
From cover ups to bags and accessories you covet, this pretty place is like one stop shopping for all things stylish. .
A perfect little spot to bring a piece of Nantucket home with you. Great spot for hostess gifts, or a little gift for yourself - no judgement.
It never fails, I love every single frock that calls this lovely store home. Beautiful currated with enviable pieces in all price ranges.
Every time I walk into this fabulous home decor store I want to walk out with every single thing on the shelves. So many gorgeous goods.
Very often I get to Nantucket with a bucket list of sorts in my head of things I simply must do while I am there. Some of them are so simple (ie: make time for sunsets every night or get muffins at the market), but these are some of the little moments I like to curate to make me feel like I truly got my fill when I board the ferry home (where I'm usually crying).
This might be my favorite Nantucket tradition. I love packing a bottle of wine to watch the biggest show on the island. And then looking back to see the entire island joined me.
My favorite stroll in my favorite place on the island - I've done this walk a million times, and it never gets old. The views (and homes) are just out of this world good.
Whether you get there by boat or by jeep - the journey is half the fun. A truly beautiful place to explore (make sure you check out all the rules before going!)
Part brewery, part food truck haven, part happy place. This little piece of heaven is always a good time. Go when there is live music. Pups are welcome!
If I were to dream up a perfect market, it would be Bartlett's. With everything you could dream of - this place makes groceries an experience rather than a chore.
Hop on board The Endeavor for a true Nantucket experience. There is nothing like seeing this beautiful island from the water.
Here's the thing about Nantucket, it's magic. And I mean it. If you take a second to savor it, you'll feel it too. Above anything on any guide out there in the world wide web, that would be my biggest recommendation. Slow down. Soak it up. Find the part of Nantucket that makes your heart sing. And thank your lucky stars you got to stroll along her stunning shores.