10 Places Everyone Should Visit in Nantucket, Cape Cod

10 Places Everyone Should Visit in Nantucket, Cape Cod

North America

Nantucket is a small but charming island located 30 miles south off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Also known as the “Little Gray Lady of the Sea,” the island has been declared a National Historic District and has some of the most beautiful beaches, vast areas of preserved land and wildlife, and unique sites to see and experience.

It has a wide variety of beautiful vacation homes, cottages, villas and other residences, which visitors can rent for the entire Nantucket summer season or just for a week or a few days.

Although the island is only about 3.5 miles wide and 14 miles long, it is home to more than 700 historic buildings, including three of the oldest lighthouses in the country. It is also a place where you can taste some of the most delicious seafood and delicacies in the country and practice all types of water sports and activities.

If you want to see and experience the best of Nantucket, add these ten spots to your vacation plans.

Nantucket, Cape Cod

1. Whale Museum

This museum has been voted the best place on Nantucket for years. The unique museum is housed in an 1846 building that used to be a whale oil candle production factory. It is located in the heart of the historic center. It displays thousands of artifacts and exhibits from the glory years when the island was considered the whaling capital of the world.

Some of the museum's most impressive pieces include a gigantic sperm whale skeleton and the first Fresnel lens in the US, which was first used at the Sankaty Head Lighthouse.

The museum includes several handmade items including scrimshaw, lighthouse baskets, art and portraits from the whaling years.

You can learn more about the captain and crew of the whaling ship Essex that inspired famous American novels like “Moby-Dick” and “In the Heart of the Sea.”

The museum has another unique feature – an accessible observation deck on its roof, where you can admire and take photos of panoramic views of the city, Nantucket Sound and harbor.

2. ‘Sconset Bluff Walk

This short path that passes through the village of Siasconset, called Sconset for short, is one of the most scenic walking paths in the country.

It is just a kilometer and a half long and covered in white shells. The path will take you past the famous shingle-style historic houses, adorned with creeping roses and surrounded by manicured gardens of the small village.

The path also offers some of the most stunning views of the ocean from the cliffs on Nantucket's east coast.

You can walk to the top of the cliffs and then head to Siasconset beach and the historic Sankaty lighthouse nearby.

3. Cisco Brewers

Cisco Brewers is more than just a local brewery. It was named “the happiest place on Earth” in a 2017 article in Men's Health.

The company comprises local craft brewery, Nantucket Vineyard and Triple Eight Distillery. So there is a drink of choice for every taste.

Best of all, it's a favorite hangout for locals, millionaires, and everyday tourists alike, and it's much more casual than many of the island's upscale restaurants and bars. It is also suitable for children and dogs.

The place has a large beer garden with lots of tables and benches. There are three bars and several food trucks on site, where you can order the best drinks, mixes, seafood and other local delicacies.

Live music is played every day during the summer.

Additionally, you can sign up for some fun tasting tours at the brewery, vineyard and distillery and purchase some of the unique local drinks like Gray Lady Wheat Ale, Whale's Tale Pale Ale or any other local spirits, beers and wines as souvenirs and gifts from your Nantucket vacation.

4. Brant Light Point

Brant Point Light is the second oldest operating lighthouse in the U.S. and has guided ships, boats and other vessels and saved the lives of sailors for more than 270 years.

It is the first structure that receives those arriving by ferry and by sea in Nantucket Harbor.

The lighthouse, built in 1746, has been destroyed and rebuilt ten times over the years. Today's tower dates from 1901.

Brant Point Light is famous for being decorated with a large daffodil wreath in April when the annual Nantucket Daffodil Festival is held. At Christmas, the lighthouse features a beautiful Christmas wreath, and on the 4th of July, the tower is decorated with the American flag.

One of the local legends states that when leaving the island and passing the lighthouse, you must throw in two cents if you want to make a wish come true and if you want to return safely to Nantucket someday.

5. Passos Beach

Steps Beach is less famous, crowded, and noisy than some of Nantucket's popular beaches, like Jetties, Cisco, Surfside, or Nobadeer.

This beach is considered “a hidden gem” despite being

situated between the popular Jetties and Dionis beaches on the coast of Nantucket Sound, north of the city.

The only way to get to it is via a narrow, steep wooden staircase, which makes access difficult and therefore less popular.

The beach itself is beautiful, the water is warmer and there are gentle waves.

But the panoramic views from the top of the stairs make Steps Beach especially special and one of the island's highest-rated spots.

You can admire fantastic views of the harbor, boats and yachts, Nantucket Sound, and lush green coastal plants from the cliff top above Steps Beach.

6. Praia dos Molhes

Jetties is one of Nantucket's most popular beaches due to its proximity to the city, its amenities, and the fact that it is on the shore of the warmer, shallower, and calmer Nantucket Sound.

There are lifeguards throughout the summer, as well as a playground, tennis court, skate park, beach volleyball nets, restrooms, pavilion and restaurant on the beach.

You can reach Jetties Beach by walking just 10 minutes from town and spend the entire day lounging, swimming, looking for sea glass and shells, and participating in your favorite beachside activities.

The beach restaurant and bar offers delicious fresh oysters, lobster rolls, snacks, meals and incredible cocktails and drinks, which you can enjoy at tables and bars located directly on the sand.

7. The Juice Bar

The Juice Bar at 12 Broad Street has been selling the best homemade ice cream, smoothies, juices and baked goods to island residents and visitors for over 45 years.

Despite being a small store, you'll probably have to wait in a long line if you want to buy delicious ice cream at the Juice Bar, especially in the height of summer.

The restaurant offers more than 40 different creamy flavors of ice cream and healthier options like sorbet, yogurt and low-fat ice cream. Everything, including the mouthwatering waffle cones, is made at the Juice Bar.

In this store you can also order various refreshing juices, smoothies, other specialties, cakes and unique homemade ice cream pies.

8. Nantucket Shipwreck and Life Saving Museum

This museum is not as big and famous as the Whale Museum, but it is definitely worth visiting.

The Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum, located 3.5 miles from the town on Polpis Street, pays tribute to the hundreds of local people who risked their own lives in an attempt to help and save the crews and vessels that often wrecked near the coast of island.

In fact, there are more than 750 documented shipwrecks in the last 300 years on and around Nantucket Island.

The small museum, founded by the Egan Maritime Institute, has some fascinating exhibits, art and models of the ships, as well as portraits and stories of the local heroes who saved them.

9. Restaurante Straight Wharf

This exquisite harborside restaurant is among the island's best high-end restaurants.

It offers some fantastic takes on traditional American and seafood cuisine, with dishes prepared using the freshest, highest quality and sustainable local ingredients, including the catch of the day.

Keep in mind that you'll need to reserve a table at least two weeks in advance if you want to enjoy an unforgettable meal at this elegant restaurant. Straight Wharf is only open during the summer and has been welcoming celebrity guests for 48 years.

For the best experience, arrive early and enjoy some of the tastiest craft cocktails and other local beverages before your dinner or special event.

10. Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge

Local conservation organizations and authorities have worked tirelessly to protect as much of Nantucket's land, wildlife and natural resources as possible for decades.

Thanks to their efforts, nearly half of the island's land is protected and undeveloped.

The Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge is among the most attractive locations for nature lovers, bird watchers and adventurers.

It is spread across the two peninsulas on Nantucket's north coast and can be accessed by walking, cycling or with a 4×4 vehicle with permission to drive on the beach.

Once there, you can stroll along the undeveloped barrier beaches and admire the seabirds, seals, deer, birds of prey and other wildlife and coastal plants and trees. The Refuge is home to the region's largest red cedar savanna and the historic Great Point Lighthouse, which sits at the northernmost point of the island.

Conclusion…

To make your life easier, we made a list:

  1. Whale Museum
  2. ‘Sconset Bluff Walk
  3. Cisco Brewers
  4. Brant Point Light
  5. Passos Beach
  6. jetties beach
  7. The juice bar
  8. Nantucket Shipwreck and Life Saving Museum
  9. Restaurante Straight Wharf
  10. Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge

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