Nantucket Day Trip

October 11, 2014

by M.A. Barrett

View from Nantucket fast ferry

View from ferry on the way to Nantucket for a day trip in August, 2014

A day trip to Nantucket in August was just what I needed to give my Cape Cod vacation a bit of adventure and of course, shopping. I've been busy this summer visiting Scenic Shopping towns and exploring New England beaches and unique shopping. As I headed out to Nantucket on the fast ferry from Hyannis (only one hour) the wake from the ferry churned up the sea spray. The ferry was comfortable and the ride across Nantucket Sound was beautiful as well as calming -- getting me into island mode as I left the traffic of Cape Cod behind.

Nantucket Harbor, Nantucket, Ma.

Nantucket Harbor, downtown Nantucket (August, 2014)

After disembarking from the Iyanough at Steamboat Wharf, beautiful Nantucket Harbor views met me as I made my way down Easy Street. Little shops such as Benji's Boutique with its well dressed mascot, and Current Vintage caught my eye. Benji's Boutique sells women's clothing and accessories. Current Vintage offers clothing, home decor items and wine.

Benji's Boutique, Easy St.,  Nantucket, Ma.
cobblestones on Main St., Nantucket, Ma.

Benji's Boutique on Easy Street; cobblestones on Main Street, Nantucket

As I arrived at Main Street, the thick chunky cobblestones and the red brick sidewalks charmed me. They reminded me of Beacon Hill but on this picturesque tree lined street I could imagine the horse and carriages of old instead of all the cars and SUV's. There are horse and carriage rides still available today which are popular for weddings -- I had seen one on my last trip to Nantucket years ago! There were many shops, galleries, cafes and boutiques. I noticed some similar shops to those on Charles and Newbury Streets in Boston, such as In the Pink, Jack Wills and North River Outfitter.

In the Pink, S. Water St., Nantucket, Ma.
North River Outfitter, Nantucket, Ma.
Jack Wills, Nantucket, Ma.

In the Pink and Jack Wills on South Water St., Nantucket (also on Newbury St., Boston); NRO on Straight Wharf, Main Street, Nantucket (also on Beacon Hill in Boston)

Bicycling and walking are the preferred modes of transportation and racks are lined up on Main St. to allow cyclists to hop off their bikes, grab lunch and shop. Walking up Main St. and right on Centre street, you will find high end clothing stores, women's fashion boutiques, art galleries, jewelry stores, beach home decor stores and a variety of other shops (think shoes, books, chocolate and cupcakes!). Vis-A-Vis, Murray's Toggery and Breezin' Up lured me in with windows displaying colorful, casual summer clothing. The Nantucket Pharmacy has an old time lunch counter and soda fountain with ice cream floats and frappes. Mitchell's Book Corner has a nautical themed elevator up to a cozy library style room of books about Nantucket and other summer reads. I had to try the chocolate cranberries at Sweet Inspirations for myself to taste this island born treat that I had heard so much about, and yes, they were delicious and worth the ferry ride over here to try them.

Main Street, Nantucket, Ma.
Vis-A-Vis, Main St., Nantucket, Ma.

Busy shopping day on Main Street; Vis-A-Vis Shop on Main Street, Nantucket

Murray's Toggery, Main St., Nantucket, Ma.
Main St. & Centre St., Nantucket, Ma.
Breezin' Up, Main St., Nantucket, Ma.

Murray's Toggery Shop on Main St., Mitchell's Book Corner on Main & Centre Sts., Breezin' Up Shop on Main St.

As you continue down Centre Street you come to the Jared Coffin House. This restored inn was built in 1845 as the home of sea captain and boat builder, Jared Coffin. I really like the federal style of this three story red brick mansion with its grand entryway, large windows and traditional interior furnishings. There are additional rooms available in the Daniel Webster House next door. The Jared Coffin house is open seasonally (it reopens for Stroll Weekend in December) and the Daniel Webster house is open year round. I had been to Nantucket years back and this is the one building I remembered and fortunately it is still here and lovingly cared for as part of Nantucket Island Resorts. Next to that is a compact and well-stocked Nantucket Bookworks. A few steps down on the left you come to the Nantucket Whaling Museum which has an informative movie, and exhibits describing Nantucket's whaling industry, as well as walking tours of downtown historic houses and sites. Two information centers (one on Centre Street and one at the bus terminal on Washington Street) can connect you with tours of the island, bus schedules, bicycle rentals and dinner menus.

Jared Coffin House, Broad St., Nantucket, Ma.
Nantucket Bookworks, Broad St., Nantucket, Ma.
Nantucket Whaling Museum, Broad St., Nantucket, Ma.

Jared Coffin House, Nantucket Bookworks and the Nantucket Whaling Museum all on Broad St., downtown Nantucket

The buses run pretty regularly to many parts of the island so I took a side trip to Siasconset (also known as Sconset ) Beach which was itself a scenic ride. The pretty beach and the cottages had me plotting a return trip for a longer stay. The Sconset Market was well stocked with all of the things you forgot to bring with you plus toys, soaps and souvenirs. Cyclists who venture out here can grab a snack and rest at the tables nearby, as well as walk along beautiful Sconset Beach.

Sconset Market, Sconset, Nantucket Island, Ma.
Siasconset cottages near Main St., Siasconset, Ma.
Siasconset Beach, Siasconset, Nantucket Island, Ma.

Siasconset Market, Siasconset Beach and nearby cottages, Siasconset (a.k.a. Sconset), Nantucket Island (almost 8 miles from downtown Nantucket)

Back in town in search of an early dinner, I walked several blocks out of downtown to find Sayle's Seafood, a fish market with a small front porch and a few tables. They prepare take out meals and sell fish and lobsters to cook at home. I had delicious clam chowder, fried cod and steamed red potatoes. The lovely view in this out of the way spot made me glad I didn't give up trying to find it.

View from Sayle's Seafood Fish Market, Washington St. Ext., Nantucket, Ma.

View from deck of Sayle's Seafood Fish Market, Washington St. Extension, Nantucket

Toward the end of the day I discovered Straight Wharf which is the arrival point for the Hy-Line ferries also from Hyannis. It is chock-full of little boutiques, gift shops, sweatshirt and t-shirt shops, and beachy home decor stores. The end of the wharf was the original home of the Nantucket Nectar "juice guys, " now The Juice Bar Homemade Ice Cream. The red shack has a bench to rest on and take in the beautiful marina and harbor views, after getting some tasty ice cream or juice. Aunt Leah's Fudge has candies, chocolates and lots of very fresh and very delicious fudge. The Best of the Beach shop has fabulous home decor items as well as women's clothing and accessories.

View from Straight Wharf, Downtown Nantucket, Ma.
Nantucket Ice Cream & Juice Guys Shack, Straight Wharf, Nantucket, Ma.
Best of the Beach, Straight Wharf, Nantucket, Ma.

Nantucket Harbor view from Straight Wharf, Nantucket Nectar's "Juice Guys" at the end of Straight Wharf, Best of the Beach home decor and women's clothing shop on Straight Wharf, Nantucket

Nanetiquette Brochure from the Town of Nantucket, and Comet

Eventually I had to make my way back to Steamboat Wharf to head to the mainland. The Streamship Authority's ferry, the Iyanough departing at 8:45 p.m. was the last one of the day which gave me as many hours for exploring as possible. Time to say goodbye to the tree lined cobblestone streets, the beaches and the shops. As I hurried back to catch my ferry, I grabbed a brochure at the in-town pay public valet parking lot on Candle Street and thought "what kind of town has a public valet parking service?" Nantucket does! In summer and during special events, there is pay valet parking at the National Grid building on Candle Street. The brochure, called "Nanetiquette A User Guide to Island Etiquette," published by the Town of Nantucket, (which I later showed to my "co-worker") gives you parking advice and travel tips as well as explaining island customs. It mentioned slowing down, not littering, obeying trafic regulations, being safe and generally using good manners. Although I didn't discover this until the end of the day, I have to say I noticed the different way that people behaved on the island -- they made an effort to be polite! I guessed that with all that sea air and incredible scenic beauty around, you became calmer and full of good will toward your fellow travelers and islanders, which I realized is how I felt too. The beauty of the island had a wonderful effect on the harried traveler. I left feeling I had shared a great secret -- that Nantucket is a very beautiful and special place to be enjoyed and treasured. I can't wait to go back!