Whatever it is, it’s definitely a very special place to visit and draws in tourists from around the world.
The island itself is relatively small, but it is home to several very diverse towns and even its own tiny island, nicknamed Chappy. And although it is known for being a summer getaway for the rich and famous, if you plan ahead, a visit can be affordable for everyone.
The Vineyard’s most popular towns are Vineyard Haven (AKA Tisbury), Oaks Bluffs and Edgartown. They are all easily accessible by the bus system that runs across the island. For a few bucks you can ride all the way from Vineyard Haven on the Northern side of the island, down to Oaks Bluffs, and Edgartown. From Edgartown you can take another bus all way south to Katama and South Beach. You don’t need a car unless you stay further inland on the island, like Chilmark, where President Obama stayed, or Aquinnah.
Vineyard Haven, AKA Tisbury, is very low key and that may have something to do with the fact that this is a dry town. What does that mean exactly? It means that there are no liquor stores or bars. Beer and wine only may be purchased if you are seated for a meal.
It is also home to the famous Black Dog Tavern. I’m sure you have all seen someone walking around with a black dog silhouette on their t-shirt and chances are, it came from a Black Dog store.
The Black Dog has certainly taken on a life of its own on the Vineyard. There is still only one Tavern, but the Black Dog stores, featuring everything from sweatshirts, to dog collars and mugs, can be found all over the island and Cape Cod.
Is it a little cheesy? Yes. But it’s also fun! I’ll be honest; I don’t rock my Black Dog stuff on the East Coast. I wait until I am on the West Coast, and then I'm like “Yeah, I summer on the Vineyard, so what?”
(Note: I just realized I’m wearing a black dog sweatshirt in about 75% of the photos I took – That’s only because it got chilly at night and I didn’t bring a sweatshirt. It was the only choice =)
Oaks Bluffs, or OB as the locals call it, is where the party is at. Younger crowds and those looking for some libations flock to OB. Perhaps the most famous bar of all is Nancy’s, where President Obama recently stopped by to pick up some fried oysters and onion rings. But what they didn’t show in the photo was the President picking up his food at Donovan’s Reef. This famous bar features the one and only "Dirty Banana." The lines are always ridiculously long and slow, and the bartender takes his sweet time perfecting each and every drink he crafts, but you just can’t visit OB without trying at least one Dirty Banana.
Oaks Bluffs offers more than just booze. The streets of OB are lined with “Gingerbread Houses;” homes that have been painted in bright colors and decorated with ornate trims and porches.
In the center of town you will find America’s oldest carousel. The Flying Horses Carousel features antique horses and is housed in a red barn. Its fun for all ages and some people really get into collecting the rings. If you get a brass ring, you win another ride!
There is also a beautiful grassy area with a gazebo and small pond that is perfect for Frisbee, kite flying, or just relaxing.
Edgartown is a bit more sophisticated and high end. Most of the fine dining restaurants are located in Edgartown as well as high end shopping. Perhaps a bit more exciting than expensive stores, however, is that fact that Edgartown is home to several famous scenes from Jaws! The “Jaws Bridge” or “The Big Bridge” if you are a local, or the American Legion Memorial Bridge if you’re a stickler, is located on the dividing line between OB and Edgartown. It was under this bridge that the shark swam into the “safe” inlet where it scared Brody’s son. Although there are numerous signs that clearly state there is no jumping of the bridge, it’s understood that it’s ok. In fact, yours truly took the leap! I ended up injuring my toe while getting out of the water and a nice police officer bandaged me up. I won't show you photos of that, it was gross!
So what else is there to do on Martha’s Vineyard? Here is what I did during my 4 days on the Vineyard!
Lots of eating and drinking – including Nancy’s and Black Dog Tavern
Breakfast at the Black Dog Tavern
Dirty Banana from Nancy's
A visit to Alpaca Island
Spent some time relaxing on South Beach and Owens Park Beach
Rode the Flying Horses Carousel
Jumped of the Jaws Bridge
And bought a "I jumped off the Jaws Bridge" t-shirt
Rode Bikes - Sorry no pics, not safe to bike and snap!
Although I did not partake, you can also rent a kayak, canoe, boat, paddleboard or take a sunset cruise on a sailboat or catamaran!
Martha’s Vineyard is a pretty great place to visit if you are looking for a unique, relaxing vacation. If you plan ahead you can most definitely find affordable lodging in a great location, or even better, gather up a group of friends and rent a house for the week!
If you liked this post or want to share your thoughts about Martha's Vineyard and New England, please leave a comment!