Where Laid-Back Meets Luxury
Located seven miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard is an island full of unspoiled natural beauty, historic whaling villages, sprawling beaches, rustic farms and bib-ready fish shacks. But while the more popular beaches may swell with hippies, artists, politicians and celebrities, there are still secluded spots to call your own. Here, the best ways to find your haven.
Where to Stay
Get a room with a view
The Harborview Hotel
The seaside-chic Harborview Hotel in Edgartown has 114 guest rooms and several spacious cottages complete with kitchens and laundry rooms. (You know, if you’re planning to extend your stay indefinitely.) Henry’s, the hotel bar, is a great spot for cocktails and small plates (think: gin and tonics and grilled oysters), and the cozy wraparound porch is nothing to sneeze at either.
Where to Eat
Fresh lobstah right this way
Larsen's Fish Market
This family-run Menemsha fish market is a Martha’s Vineyard tradition. There’s no restaurant, so to speak--just a long dock with overturned lobster traps and crates that serve as tables and chairs. Pick up a lobster, caught earlier in the day, and a bag of steamers or Katama oysters, then enjoy your feast while watching the fishermen unload their catch. (Don’t forget to BYOB!)
Red Cat Kitchen
A restaurant as quirky and eclectic as the Island itself, Red Cat is a cozy kitchen in Oak Bluffs with a notable cocktail list and constantly changing menu. (When we went, the Seared Big-Ass Sea Scallops and Island Fresca cheesy-corn-and-tomato soup were on offer.) You could essentially eat there every night all summer long and always find something new to try.
If you didn’t know better, you might overlook this Victorian-style house on Edgartown’s Main Street. Walk past Atria’s well-manicured garden into the main floor and you’ll find an elegant restaurant with a seafood-centric menu (don’t miss the signature two-pound fried lobster). Head downstairs to the rustic brick cellar bar for beer, burgers and truffle fries.
What to Do
Go where the crowds aren’t
The Eastern portion of Martha’s Vineyard, called “down-Island” is home to the densely populated summer villages of Oak Bluffs, Edgartown and Vineyard Haven. And while these spots are great, we recommend a trip “up-Island” to really escape the crowds. Start in West Tisbury with a visit to the Saturday farmers' market before passing through the sleepy fishing village of Menemsha. Stop in Aquinnah around sunset to see the iconic Gay Head cliffs and lighthouse, and end the day with a cocktail at the Outermost Inn’s picturesque garden.
Bike on Chappaquiddick
Nicknamed “Chappy,” this small peninsula off the coast of Edgartown is about three miles long and accessible only by twin ferries. The best way to explore Chappy’s scenic beaches and wildlife refuges is by bike. The rural island--home to some of the best beaches, fishing and sandy dunes on Martha's Vineyard--is where celebs like Meg Ryan and Lady Gaga go to get off the grid.
Great Rock Bight
The Vineyard’s most popular public beaches (State and South Beach) are gorgeous and well maintained, but they can be overrun with tourists in the height of the summer. Great Rock Bight Preserve, which overlooks the Vineyard Sound in Chilmark, might be the island’s best hideaway. Follow the 1.5-mile trail until you catch a glimpse of the huge stone jutting out of the water. Then plunk down your beach chair and settle in for the day.
What to Skip
Don't go in the water
The Jaws Bridge
"Jaws Bridge," the scene of the famous Spielberg shark attack, has become quite the mecca for 12-year-old boys with an adventurous side. (Drive by and you'll see them lined up to take a dive.) But do yourself a favor and skip the scene. Do you really want to cannonball off a bridge anyway?
What to Pack
“Grown-local” is a way of life here, and the Vineyard has no shortage of great, organic farms to grab your lunch from. Pack yourself a picnic and head to the beach, cute blanket in tow.
Since biking is hands-down the best way to get around the island, pack a sturdy pair of sneaks (and change into your flops once you get to the beach).
About half of the towns on Martha’s Vineyard are considered “dry,” so pack a couple bottles of vino in your suitcase--and bring your own corkscrew to make sure you can drink them.