When a good friend asked if I wanted to spend Memorial Day weekend in Nantucket, I was thrilled. The small island off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts sounded like the perfect retreat for a girls’ weekend.
My family had taken me to Cape Cod for several vacations throughout my childhood, but I had never been to Nantucket. For those of you who have also never been, I encourage you to visit this New England sanctuary.
The tiny island (only thirteen miles in length and three and a half miles wide) is only accessible by ferry or plane. Vehicles are permitted on the island, but it is encouraged not to bring a vehicle during the Summer season. The town accommodates visitors with public transportation and bike paths that connect to the town center and town-owned beaches. The ferry service from Cape Cod offers two options: the slow ferry (2 hour ride) and the fast ferry (1 hour ride). Our crew chose the slow ferry, but only by default– the fast ferry can be booked in advance and is usually filled far in advance, especially during holiday weekends.
The Memorial Day weekend is special for Nantucket because of the traditional Figawi boat race. The sail boat race takes competitors from Hyannis to Nantucket and back again. The race lasts for the entire weekend and includes party festivities throughout the town. The name of the race originates from the phrase “Where the f*ck our we?,” said in the Boston accent, which was said to be uttered during the first race because of the fog conditions that settle over the Nantucket Sound.
Our incredible weekend started Friday morning when we departed New York, heading north. The long trek, which included about a four and a half hour drive and the two-hour ferry ride, was well worth it. Our hostess greeted us at the port and we were headed for our accommodations, the “Bunny House.” (It is highly recommended to find a house or apartment to rent on the island if you are staying for more than three nights, as there are very few hotels that tend to be pretty expensive). Luckily, we were hosted by a lovely family friend who let us stay with them. You can find a property for your trip here.
Things to do on the island are abundant, and in our short visit, we certainly didn’t have enough time to experience everything. Since Nantucket is rich in history, there are several museums and galleries that celebrate the island’s past. There are three lighthouses on the island that are endlessly photographed and painted by artists; we visited Sankaty Lighthouse, pictured here. Unfortunately, our long-weekend on the island was mostly cold and rainy, but in warmer, dryer times, the town-owned beaches are free for the public and easily accessible by public transportation.
Town is the place to be when your not exploring the cultural and natural aspects of Nantucket. Town is also accessible by public transportation and features the original cobblestone streets (heels are not suggested, ladies). Town is where a lot of popular restaurants, shops, and bars are located, and it is busy all day and all night. You can also watch the boats coming in from the race on the docks here. If you want a great gift to take home, look for authentic Nantucket baskets (buyers beware: they are a bit pricey). And for the loved ones at home, don’t forget to check out Aunt Leah’s Fudge, and coming from a Jersey girl, you know it’s good fudge!
The nightlife was extremely fun, especially because of the large crowds that came out for Figawi weekend. There are several bars in town that are within walking distance, so it was fun to bar hop and meet some of the racers. Make sure to try the Grey Lady beer with a shot of Triple 8 blueberry vodka, a Nantucket tradition. It’s delicious, but beware, it can knock you to the ground!
Both the beer and vodka come from Cisco Brewers. You can visit Cisco on Bartlett Farm Road and sample Cisco Brewers beer, Triple Eight Distilleries liquor, and Nantucket Vineyards wine, all in one place. A great day-trip experience, as they usually have live entertainment and food trucks, you can sample delicious island-made alcohol and relax with friends.
Although we tried several restaurants, I would highly recommend A.K. Diamond’s for dinner. We had a delicious meal with appetizers and wine, and everything was reasonably priced. I would also highly recommend stopping at Downyflake Doughnuts for breakfast. There serve delicious, freshly-made, old-fashion doughnuts that are worth breaking your diet for.
Overall, our Nantucket trip was phenomenal, and I cannot wait to go back to revisit the places that we saw and to also experience all of the places that we missed. Although Nantucket is a small island, it certainly has a lot to offer and it is welcoming to guests of all ages.