What to Do on Martha's Vineyard, MA
Updated: Apr 7
Martha's Vineyard, a Massachusetts island, sits in the Atlantic just south of Cape Cod. A longtime New England summer destination, it encompasses everything summer in Massachusetts is known for: harbor towns, seafood, sandy beaches, lighthouses and farmland. While I would definitely consider myself more of an expert on Nantucket, in recent years I've been lucky enough to spend some time on the Vineyard as well.
Martha's Vineyard is about 13 miles out to sea from Cape Cod or a quick and easy 35 minute ferry -- which makes it perfect for a day trip! You can take ferries from as far away as New York and New Jersey but Falmouth, Hyannis, New Bedford are the most popular.
Where to go:
The Vineyard is home to six uniquely picturesque towns: Oak Bluffs, West Tisbury, Chilmark and Aquinnah, Tisbury (Vineyard Haven), Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. For the sake of a day trip, it makes the most sense to stick to Oak Bluffs, Edgartown and Vineyard Haven. The ferry drops off at either Oak Bluffs or Vineyard Haven -- make sure you double check the timing and port of your return ferry so you don't end up in Oak Bluffs for a 5pm ferry when it was really leaving out of Vineyard Haven!
You can get around the island by VTA (Vineyard Transit Authority) bus. Bus fares are low and they come around frequently but be warned - summer weekends they can get pretty crowded. It's also popular to bike around the island as there are ample biking paths connecting the different towns. You can also arrange in advance to take your car over to the island on the ferry but this requires pre-planning and can be expensive.
Where to eat:
Among the Flowers: One of my favorite little cafes for a big salad, panini or brunch special. I love the waffles with fruit!
Behind the Bookstore: A dreamy little cafe located behind a great bookstore. Also an awesome work spot if you do find yourself needing to send a few emails from the island.
Bad Martha Brewery: A must when I visit MV! Is there anything better than an island brewery? Located in a sunny garden, this spot has great music, great beer and beautiful charcuterie boards. I love biking here.
What to do:
Shop the many adorable boutiques in downtown Edgartown. My favorite is Portobello Road.
Bike ride around the island, its the often the easiest (and fastest) way to get around! I really enjoyed renting an electric bike.
Grab an ice cream cone at The Scoop Shack!
Jump off of Jaws bridge: The bike ride to the "Jaws Bridge" from Oak bluffs this is about 3.1 miles via Seaview Ave. This bridge was famously included in the movie Jaws and is now a popular spot to jump off of. If you’re not in the mood to jump off a bridge, you can also sit and watch on the beach.
Where to stay in Edgartown:
The Harborview Hotel: With a picturesque wraparound porch and view of the Edgartown lighthouse, the Harbor and the Atlantic Ocean, the Harbor View Hotel is in an unbeatable location. The hotel is also within walking distance of Fuller and Lighthouse Beaches, shopping in Edgartown Village and the natural habitat of Chappaquiddick Island. We loved having cocktails by the poolside bar.
Where to eat:
Back Door Donuts: The apple fritter is a fan favorite and they sell out quick! The main cafe is open by day but by night they sell hot and fresh donuts out of the back door until 1 am.
What to do:
Flying Horses Carousel: Fun fact, legend has it that this is America's oldest carousel! It's a real classic, especially for kids visiting MV for the first time!
Gingerbread Houses: Originally a Methodist campground, this cluster of ornately decorated "gingerbread" houses are a must-see for your first visit to the island. Each one is unique and straight out of a storybook.
Where to eat:
Larsen's Fish Market: Fair warning, there is going to be a line. But trust me on this: it's WORTH IT. The hot lobster roll pictured below is life-changing!!
Outermost Inn: Run by Michelin star chef, the restaurant at Outermost Inn is a full-experience. Lewis and I went there for dinner on our wedding "mini-moon" and it was so perfect for a special occasion. You do need to make reservations months in advance.
What to do:
Aquinnah Cliffs and Gay Head Lighthouse: Aquinnah cliffs and Gay Head Lighthouse, the most Northwestern spot on the island. It's a bit of a drive if you are staying in Oak Bluffs or Vineyard Haven but it's worth it for some incredible views. You can park along the road leading up to the cliffs, there are clearly outlined parking spots that need to be followed. Then you can head up to the Aquinnah cliffs lookout point. It’s breathtaking, but also windy, so most people don’t linger too long.
Watch the sunset...
This is just a scratch on the surface of all of the incredible things to explore, eat and do on Martha's Vineyard. While the peak of summer is the most popular time to go late June and early September offer great weather and less crowds. It's a super doable day trip from Cape Cod or even Boston (if you're feeling ambitious) but you could easily spend a whole summer enjoying the island lifestyle.
What do you enjoy most when you visit Martha's Vineyard? Let me know what you tried and loved or what I need to try next!