Summer Bucket List: Visit the Islands!

Welcome to’s Summer Bucket List series, brought to you by the good folks at Cape Cod Calling. Each week, we will bring you a new idea for you to enjoy your summer here on Cape Cod.  

One can hardly say “Cape Cod” without including, “and the Islands.”

Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket simply can’t be ignored.

Each breathtaking and picturesque in their own way, the two islands off the Cape coast are easily accessible by boat or plane, and are definitely places you should visit.

The Vineyard

There are six towns on Martha’s Vineyard, each with its own character, attractions, dining, lodging and more – Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury. Day trips to the Vineyard, which is only seven miles off the coast, are a popular choice for those visiting Cape Cod.

With easy ferry service out of Woods Hole, Hyannis, Falmouth or even New Bedford, visitors can enjoy the three main port towns and all their unique charm, points of interest, and shopping options – or, if arriving early enough, the beautiful and iconic cliffs at Aquinnah can also be added to the day.

The Vineyard offers miles of beautiful beaches, and is home to spectacular architecture, live theater, a thriving arts community, and several live music venues and dance performances throughout the summer.

You can explore the island’s whaling history and native Wampanoag Indian culture at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. For outdoorsy types, hiking, biking, sailing, fishing, and wind and kite surfing are all available.

There is also an astonishing array of restaurants for an island of its size and, thanks to vigilant local zoning laws, only one franchise (a Dairy Queen in Edgartown). You’ll discover many fine-dining options, as well as good food at reasonable prices. Reservations are an absolute necessity in-season, and most kitchens shut down at 10 p.m. Kid-friendly fare includes the usual pizza, burgers and fish and chips. Family-owned ice cream shops abound, so be sure to bring your appetite.


Nantucket Island’s downtown architecture has changed little since the 17th century and never fails to captivate visitors with its cobblestone streets, stately facades and quaint wharf cottages. Inside many of those buildings, visitors will find gourmet restaurants, the finest traditional and contemporary art, quirky collectibles and many unique items that make Nantucket shopping such an adventure.

In the peak of the season, the network of docks, wharves and moorings in the harbor teem with the activity of one of the busiest ports in the Northeast.

For your stay, you can choose anything from an historic bed & breakfast to a luxurious, full-service hotel or a private rental. With over 80 miles of pristine beaches, all of which are open and free to the public, Nantucket’s maritime allure is second to none. 

There’s a beach to suit every taste, from the calmer waters of Children’s, Jetties and Surfside (perfect for children and families, with food, restrooms and equipment rental) to the rougher waters of Cisco (a magnet for surfers), Miacomet, Madaket (featuring spectacular sunsets) and Great Point, a fantastic scene of wildlife that invites visitors to bring their automobiles over sand to enjoy a day of fishing and adventure.

Travel to the islands is as easy as boarding a boat or plane. You can get travel rates and information from the Steamship Authority, which runs ferries year-round from a variety of South Coast, New York, Rhode Island, Northern New Jersey and Cape locations, and you can even bring your car if you wish, for an additional fee.  If you feel like flying, Cape Air, as well as Jet Blue, Delta and American Airlines fly in from different points of the East Coast. 

For more information on visiting Martha’s Vineyard, check out the Chamber of Commerce website at If Nantucket is more to your liking, visit

Check Out Other Summer Bucket List Ideas on the Cape!

If you are interested in seeing what else is out there to do on the Cape during the summer, check out our Summer Bucket List with some other ideas.

About Cape Cod Calling - Summer Bucket List Sponsor

Inspired by the beauty and magic of Cape Cod, its people and their many creative talents, Cape Cod Calling was founded by two washashores, Don and Denise Montgomery, who now call Cape Cod home. Cape Cod Calling is a subscription box and gift box curation service. Each box includes a variety of treasures made locally on Cape Cod by the talented Cape Codders and washashores who call Cape Cod home. For more information on Cape Cod Calling, click here.
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