It’s time to pack your sandals, put on some stripes and hop on the ferry to Massachusetts‘ Martha’s Vineyard. From gorgeous beaches, to enriching American history and exquisite dining experiences, Martha’s Vineyard is a treasure that locals rave about, and tourists dream about.
With an entire island to explore and six, charmingly quaint towns to see, it’s time to experience island living in New England. Try some oysters, grab a lobster roll, and relax among the vibrant sunsets and watch as the joys of Martha’s Vineyard surround you on your holiday.
Here are 36 things to do in Martha’s Vineyard that are going to make you fall in love with this island too.
GETTING TO MARTHA’S VINEYARD
Martha’s Vineyard is a short ferry ride from Cape Cod, and the ferry is essentially the best and most convenient way to arrive on the island. The main ferry terminals from Cape Cod are Hyannis Harbor, Falmouth Harbor or Woods Hole and take you to either Oaks Bluff, Vineyard Haven or Edgartown.
During the summer months, you can catch the passenger ferry regularly, but — and I cannot stress this enough — please book ahead. Ferries are also available from Rhode Island and New York for those traveling out of state for day trips.
For those looking to arrive in style, Martha’s Vineyard does have a small airport that offers a few flights.
Known by locals as Chappy, Chappaquiddick Island is separated from Edgartown by just a slither of water. Grab a ferry, and in a few short minutes you’ll be in paradise with pristine beaches and secluded walking trails.
Many say Chappy is the perfect place to go and do nothing, somewhat like a quiet retreat. However, the island is home to a historic scandal and tragedy that involved Senator Ted Kennedy. Head on over to Dike Bridge and see where Ted Kennedy crashed his car into the water. Find peace or seek history on 18 miles of bliss found here.
MYTOI JAPANESE GARDEN
Step into tranquility and see the small Japanese Garden of Mytoi. With a lovely pond, a serene bridge, and exotic plants, explore this unlikely escape on Chappy Island. Home to native species as well, take time to stroll and ponder on the simpler things in life.
Keep an eye out for turtles, fish and other species at Mytoi, before making your way to the salt marshes. Follow footpaths, reflect on benches, and marvel at the beautiful trees on this meditative experience.
CAPE POGE WILDLIFE REFUGE
Explore this stunning barrier beach and see sandy shorelines, strong currents, and striking salt marshes. With moderate hiking trails, walk the beaches and come across Wasque Point, Cape Poge Lighthouse and much more!
Keep an eye out for piping plovers and other native species in the refuge, while exploring the dunes, trials, and beaches. If possible, think about renting a car and getting a beach pass for the day to drive on the beach.
OLD WHALING CHURCH
Martha’s Vineyard island has a prominent history in New England and around the world as being a successful whaling capital and the Old Whaling Church is a testament to whalers and fisherman. The church was made by skilled whaling captains, and is even considered a great Greek architectural wonder.
The craftsmanship and design makes the church feel ahead of its time, especially for island standards. From its gorgeous 92-foot clock tower to its featured events and concerts, stop by and gaze at this important piece of the island’s history.
THE FARM INSTITUTE
It’s time to visit Katama Farm and see the connection between land and community. Visit animals, walk in pastures, and get a hands-on educational experience all in a day’s work.
This active farm shows the importance of community, education, and agriculture. From the farm animals, like cows, chickens, and goats, to its charming vegetable garden and local farm stand, this will be a joyous experience for not only children, but all members of the family.
Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse is calling your name. This 45-foot lighthouse has the important job of looking out for Edgartown from the treacherous seas and harsh conditions.
Marking the entrance to the harbor and Katama Bay, this cast-iron tower is surrounded by a breathtaking beach and is a must-stop lighthouse destination. Wander in from town to see a historic attraction and beautiful lighthouse.
KATAMA (SOUTH) BEACH
Katama Beach is probably one of the most popular beaches on the island. With great surf and perfect waves to jump and swim in, this Atlantic Ocean beach is perfect to set up shop for the day.
Put on some sunscreen, grab your beach towel and head over to Katama Beach. From its pristine sand to its fierce waves, this beach breathes adventure. Bike from town to get ready to play beach games or read a book on your New England beach getaway.
MORNING GLORY FARM
From fresh veggies, breads and all-around yummy foods, Morning Glory Farm is a must-see. Pick up supplies for the week or pop in for afternoon snacks to make your Martha’s Vineyard holiday even better.
Make sure you try some of their delicious baked goods before going to the beach, but go early, as they are very popular and sell out quickly. Enjoy!
BIKE RIDE THE VILLAGE
Sometimes the best way to explore Edgartown and find tucked away treasures is by biking. Renting bikes is such a fun and easy outdoor activity for all ages. From biking to different beaches, to cruising over the Jaws Bridge, you’ll find adventure on your bike.
Pick up sandwiches, have a picnic, and become completely engrossed with island life. With panoramic beauty wherever you look, have fun biking with family and friends with endless scenic backdrops to enjoy.
FELIX NECK WILDLIFE SANCTUARY
Wander through meadows, hike on trails, and explore the spectacular shorelines at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary. This 350-acre sanctuary is home to many species, native flora, and magnificent wildlife, ready for you to come across.
Take an afternoon and stop by to have a relaxing moment in nature with your family. This wildlife sanctuary really gives you time to reflect, reset and enjoy outdoor activities while visiting Martha’s Vineyard.
VINCENT HOUSE MUSEUM
Walk through time and understand centuries of this island’s history at Vincent House Museum. This museum is a relic of time, with each room depicting a different time period. With its thick wood flooring, post and beam construction, this home is truly special.
From the apple bottom trees in the front garden to the small orchard, walk the grounds and understand what life once was in 1672 Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard.
THE TERRACE AT THE CHARLOTTE INN
Are you looking for a special experience? Make a reservation for a delicious meal at The Terrace at the Charlotte Inn. From its beautiful Edwardian interior, to outstanding service, a visit here is a moment to share with someone special.
This elegant bistro features fresh seafood, delicious cocktails and a farm to table experience. Enjoy patio seating among gorgeous trees and plants while visiting Martha’s Vineyard.
MANUEL F CORRELLUS STATE FOREST
Go inside an enchanted forest and experience life away from the beach. This state park sits in the middle of Martha’s Vineyard and offers endless outdoor activities to entertain all ages. From biking and hiking, to leisurely strolls, this state forest is ready to be explored.
However, if you are looking for an adventure and want to see the forest from a new view, try horseback riding through Manuel F Correllus State Forest. With over 14 miles to explore, trade in those flip flops for closed toe shoes and begin exploring.
MARTHA’S VINEYARD CAMP MEETING ASSOCIATION
Stop by this nonprofit and see the colorful cottages, an amazing museum, and vibrant life everywhere you look. This historic national landmark is home to the famous gingerbread cottages, the Cottage Museum and much more.
Known as Martha’s Vineyard “campground,” feel free to wander the property or rent a cottage for your stay. The meeting association has changed so many lives for good and the history is quite astounding.
Finish off your stay at the gift shop to get something special to remember this colorful community.
AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY TOUR
This East Coast island has a rich and important history when it comes to people of color. Stop off at 16 properties on the tour that encompass black history through an app, so you can do the tour in your own time.
Stop off at Senator Brooke’s house, who was the first African American to have a senate seat, then walk or bike through the remaining tour at your chosen pace. Understand life and differences throughout the tour and gain new knowledge to take back home with you.
FLYING HORSES CAROUSEL
Step aboard the oldest working carousel in America, and ride ponies all day long. This magical carousel is not only a treat for children, but a fun afternoon activity for adults too. The hand carved horses are gorgeous and will make you want to take plenty of pictures.
With vintage arcade games close by, today’s the day to be a kid again or watch as children have the time of their life! Don’t miss the brass ring when going round and round the carousel.
Inkwell Beach happens to be a part of the African American Heritage Trail on Martha’s Vineyard and is extremely insightful on African American heritage. Learn at the beach, but also relax. The calming waters of Inkwell and the nearby State Beach (more below) are perfect for quick dips and light swimming for children.
This beaches are close to shops, downtown and the ferry terminal, so stop by for a midafternoon break. If you do end up swimming, wear water shoes, as the bottom can be rocky.
JOSEPH SYLVIA STATE BEACH
Step onto the shooting location for the iconic Jaws movie and have a legendary day on a beautiful beach. Joseph Sylvia State Beach, commonly referred to as just “State Beach,” is a 2-mile sandy beach is truly great for paddle boarding, swimming, and loads of beach games. It’s right next to Inkwell Beach, as mentioned above.
Bring your umbrella, pack your lunches and grab cold drinks because you will not want to leave this classic New England Beach. On your way to or from the beach, pull over and jump off “Jaws bridge” for an exhilarating adventure.
ISLAND ALPACA COMPANY
Martha’s Vineyard is full of quirky, family fun activities. However, in my eyes, the Island Alpaca Company takes the cake. From Alpaca yoga to just general meet and greets, learn about Alpacas and their great life on this island.
Get up close to Alpaca, pet them and even meet the babies. This really is a fun experience that you need to try when you visit Martha’s Vineyard. Grab your cameras, as this is a fantastic picture moment.
EAST CHOP LIGHTHOUSE
Visit a classic East Coast lighthouse while overlooking Vineyard Haven Harbor at the same time by visiting East Chop Lighthouse. East Chop Lighthouse is an easy walk through stunning neighborhoods from Downtown Oaks Bluff.
You can only access it on Sunday evenings during the summer, but you can see it from the street overlooking the bluffs the rest of the time.
FARM NECK GOLF CLUB
Try your hand at a new passion, past love, or current obsession at Farm Neck Golf Club. Sitting right next to the ocean, this semi-private golf club could not be more beautiful. This well-manicured course has been golfed by past presidents and needs to be golfed by you!
Stop off at the country club for a mid afternoon lunch and bask in the luscious setting that surrounds you. From catching up with friends to making new ones, this outdoor activity will make you fall in love with that classic New England lifestyle.
BEN & BILL’S CHOCOLATE EMPORIUM
Calling all chocoholics and sweet tooth lovers! From unbelievable chocolates, to quite possibly the best ice cream shop on Martha’s Vineyard, explore flavors and treat yourself to something sweet. Looking to try something new and crazy? Give Ben and Bills lobster ice cream a try.
Sit outside and enjoy ice cream with family and friends after a long day of exploring Oaks Bluff. Take some treats home to savor the flavor longer!
LONG POINT WILDLIFE REFUGE
Have a splash in calm waters, go for stunning hikes, or paddleboard along the water’s edge at Long Point Wildlife Refuge. With a quiet and calming beach at your fingertips and a divine pond to be played in, choose a water destination that works for you.
Keep your eyes peeled for seals and other aquatic species, as this refuge is home to diverse wildlife. Wind through single lane dirt roads to come across this massive refuge, and enjoy a day of discovery and solitude.
MARTHA’S VINEYARD MUSEUM
From personal stories, to artifacts and photographs from the entire island, a visit to MV is incomplete without heading to Martha’s Vineyard Museum. Learn about the people, events and history of the island in the old Marine hospital and gorgeous grounds.
With an interactive touch gallery for children and fascinating exhibits for adults, deepen your understanding of the rich and diverse heritage that is MV. Tap into the island’s history and prepare for the future.
Have a fine dining experience that is like no other in Vineyard Haven with a visit to Garde East. This beachfront restaurant works with local fishermen and farmers, to produce a fresh and delicious menu that all will enjoy.
Sit inside, on the patio, or eat with your toes in the sand during your unique, one-of-a-kind meal overlooking Vineyard Haven Marina. Splash out on a decadent meal or go for an afternoon cocktail during your holiday.
THE BLACK DOG TAVERN
Looking over Vineyard Haven Harbor sits a legendary New England establishment — Black Dog Tavern. From its rustic design to its laid back atmosphere, the Black Dog Tavern is a top stop within the Martha’s Vineyard food scene.
Grab drinks, enjoy tasty dinners and walk the wharf at the end of your meal! The Black Dog has grown from a restaurant into many shops, so be sure to pick up a classic t-shirt before leaving the island. Come to the tavern for a good time, leave like a local.
WEST CHOP LIGHTHOUSE
Among the many lighthouses on the entire island of Martha’s Vineyard, I believe West Chop Lighthouse to be the most unique. Drive to West Chop Lighthouse, park on the street, and come across the lighthouse that’s situated among homes.
Unfortunately, you cannot get up close to it, but the view from the street is quite spectacular. Bike from Vineyard Haven and cruise along the picturesque streets and neighborhoods along the way to the lighthouse.
MARTHA’S VINEYARD GLASSWORKS
Come, explore and understand the art of glasswork at Martha’s Vineyard Glassworks. With attached galleries and the unique option to watch the spectacle of glass blowing, see how glass comes to life and the color it brings.
Do not blow by this place! With masterful creators and glass blowing performed throughout the day, learn about a new craft and take something home to remind you of Martha’s Vineyard.
POLLY HILL ARBORETUM
Step into a secret garden and let the magic of Polly Hill Arboretum take you away. With rare trees, shrubs and plants placed within the stone wall and fields of the arboretum, let go and see true beauty.
Open from sunrise to sunset, get out early to view the misty grounds or stay late and watch as the evening glow sets upon the lush gardens. From just seeds to full grown botanical wonder, this tranquil and gorgeous landscape is worth the trip.
FARM. FIELD. SEA.
Discover what you’re eating and talk with the people who produce it at Farm.Field.Sea. Martha’s Vineyard has an abundance of fresh produce, meat, and fish. At Farm.Field.Sea, you can experience the water and go on an Oyster Farm Tour to learn about the life of oysters and how they help the ecosystem, while sailing among stunning salt marshes.
Try local specialists, become informed on the local community, and get to the bottom of your foods source. Have an authentic experience through community, food and laughter.
GAY HEAD LIGHT
Take in the cliffs and hurry on over to Gay Head Light. Sometimes referred to as the Aquinnah Lighthouse, Gay Head Light is not only a functioning lighthouse, but offers outstanding 360° views for all to see. This is one of the original lighthouses built on Martha’s Vineyard, and sits among the striking Aquinnah Cliffs.
See where the lighthouse once stood and understand the changes that have occurred on the island due to erosion and strong weather patterns. Climb to the top, see the sights, then take a lovely trail down to the beach and look up in awe.
With epic clay cliffs and stunning views onto the Atlantic Ocean, Aquinnah Cliffs is a must-see tourist attraction. Explore the lower sands of Moshup Beach and walk along the shoreline amongst cliffs formed millions of years ago.
I would highly suggest taking the day to explore the natural beauty of Aquinnah Cliffs, the lighthouse, and surrounding communities by bike. It truly is stunning and something you would never imagine seeing in New England.
Roam the rocky cliffs, jump over rugged landscapes, and feel the wind in your hair at Menemsha Hills. Looking over the Vineyard Sound, hike 3 miles of rustic landscape across Elizabeth Islands and climb to the second highest peak on the island. Bring a camera, the views are outstanding.
Stop off at the calm and stunning Menemsha Beach for the most exciting and vibrant sunset on all of Martha’s Vineyard. This public peach is great for families and has endless capabilities of fun to be had.
LUCY VINCENT BEACH
With gorgeous rock formations and surf that is out of this world, this small and rare beach is unlike any other New England beach. Unfortunately, this beach is for residents only, so to see it you must go off season to view its true beauty and unkept treasure.
With years of strong coastal currents and the ever-changing environment his beach is always shifting, so get down and see it.
FIELD GALLERY AND SCULPTURE GARDEN
Feeling curious and creative? Stop off to see some contemporary art, with a strong Martha’s Vineyard twist, at Field Gallery and Sculpture Garden. View local art and see how the arts community has a huge impact on the entire island.
Show children the fun sculptures in the garden and see the changing exhibits from photography to paintings in this charming and eclectic whimsical gallery and garden. With fabulous art to be seen, stop by and see how they encapsulate the heart of Martha’s Vineyard.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO MASSACHUSETTS
- NANTUCKET: 20 Fun Things To Do In Nantucket You Can’t Miss
- CAPE COD: 28 THINGS TO DO IN CAPE COD YOU JUST CAN’T MISS
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WHERE TO STAY IN MARTHA’S VINEYARD
Close to Beach. Summercamp is a historic Martha’s Vineyard hotel, located in Oak Bluffs and offers oceanfront views. The hotel is steps away from the beach! This renovated property was built in 1879, providing the history and comfort you may be craving.
Best Luxury Option. Harbor View Hotel offers stunning views in an unbeatable location – steps away from Fuller and Lighthouse Beaches, shopping in Edgartown Village and the natural habitat of Chappaquiddick Island. This is the place to stay if willing to splurge and do Martha’s Vineyard like a Kennedy.
Cottage on a Budget. Sea Glen Cottage is a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house that sleeps 6. The rates are great here, and of course you’ll do even better in the off-season. Edgartown is 6 miles from Sea Glen Cottage while Vineyard Haven is 1.6 miles from the property. I’s located inland but close to Lagoon Pond.
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