CLAIM TO FAME: Oldest Merry-Go-Round in the country, Site of Jaws filming
HISTORICAL BRAGGING RIGHTS: Legendary home of numerous artists and musicians, famous presidential vacation spot
BEACHES: Aquinnah Beach, East Beach, Joseph A. Sylvia State Beach, Lake Tashmoo Town Beach, Lobsterville Beach, Menemsha Beach, Oak Bluffs Town Beach, Owen Park, South Beach, Wasque Beach
DON’T MISS: Edgartown Lighthouse, Menemsha for quiet getaways, Main Street Edgartown, Island Alpaca Company, Flying Horses Carousel In Oak Bluffs, Gay Head Clay Cliffs
The third-largest island off of the eastern coast of the U.S. is comprised of seven towns, including Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, West Tisbury, Chilmark, Aquinnah and Menemsha.
Located seven miles southwest of Cape Cod, the island of Martha’s Vineyard is a kaleidoscope of candy-colored gingerbread houses, pristine beaches, unique shops and stately white mansions.
Edgartown is the oldest town on The Vineyard, founded in 1642 by Thomas Mayhew. In the summer, various musical and dramatic productions are offered here, and in the off season the church serves as the town meeting place. Edgartown has the highest population of the towns on The Vineyard, and is considered by many to be the most fashionable. A stroll along the narrow streets provides glimpses of old sea captains’ houses surrounded by white picket fences and rosebushes.
For over three centuries, Vineyard Haven was among New England’s busiest seaports. Located on key sailing routes, whaling vessels and trading ships frequented this port to take on supplies, waiting for favorable winds or tides. Close to 14,000 vessels from across the globe passed through this Island port in 1845.
The 1975 cinematic landmark Jaws, directed by Steven Spielberg, was mostly filmed in Chilmark and Menemsha and many locals were cast for the production.
Martha’s Vineyard nearly defected from Massachusetts in 1977 after losing a guaranteed seat in the state General Court. Officials considered becoming the nation’s 51st state or joining up with Vermont or Hawaii, but decided to keep the status quo. Separatists flags displaying a white seagull, orange disk and a sky-blue background can still be seen around the island.
The Town of Aquinnah (previously known as Gay Head) is unique in being the only community in Massachusetts that continues to have a substantial Native American presence in the 21st century. The name translates to “land under the hill” in the Wampanoag Wampanaak language.
Martha’s Vineyard Information
Chamber of Commerce
24 Beach St.
Vineyard Haven, MA 02568