16 Jan An Afternoon on Martha’s Vineyard
Em here: Confession. Thanks to those darn Gilmore Girls I’ve always wanted to explore Martha’s Vineyard. We had the chance to go back east for a couple of weeks fall of 2016. And it was amazing! It was a jam-packed trip and as soon as we started to plan it, I knew Martha’s Vineyard had to be a stop. First, a little bit about Martha’s Vineyard. It is an island located south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts and is divided into six towns. It’s primarily known as a summer colony, with a population reaching over 100,000 in the summer months. It is accessible only by boat or air. In early October, we took the Steamship Authority Ferry from Woods Hole, MA to Martha’s Vineyard. Or at least that was the plan. We ended up taking a little longer playing in Rhode Island, and missed our original ferry that was set to leave at 11 am and our backup ferry- but just barely! (I know–how did we miss both?!) The off-site parking lot for the ferry is a few miles away in Falmouth, MA, where after parking, a complimentary shuttle transports you to the port. We didn’t realize this and would suggest you plan to arrive at least 30 minutes (or an hour, during peak summer season) prior to your depart time. Thankfully, we were able to take the 45-minute-ride via cargo ship from the same port, which had limited seating for the public (pictured above). Tickets are available the same day, unless you plan to take a vehicle with you. If you plan to take your car, you do need an advanced reservation. To find more information about the ferry we took, visit here. There are several other ferry options available, through different companies that we personally haven’t tried out, that depart from Rhode Island (1 1/2 hour ride), New York and New Jersey (about a 5 hour ride for both). You can find out more about those options here and here.
There are five lighthouses on the Island:
The West Chop Lighthouse, East Chop Lighthouse, Edgartown Lighthouse, Gay Head Lighthouse, and Cape Poge Lighthouse (Pictured from left to right). Images courtesy of Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce.
Aren’t they all beautiful?!! I’m so sad we weren’t able to visit all of them. We only had time for one, the East Chop Lighthouse.
Another stop on our quick tour of the Island: the Gingerbread Houses! More than 300 Victorian Homes in Oaks Bluffs are known as the ‘Gingerbread Cottage Village,’ some of the cutest and most colorful homes you’ll ever see. Check out this Image Gallery from Country Living here). Once home to the Methodist Summer Camps, these darling cottages replaced the tents originally used. During the summer, there is even a special day where, for a fee of about $30, you can tour six of these homes (aren’t you dying to get a peak inside??) and includes a treat. Find more about this one day special event here. There is a museum as well that is open during the entire summer season and gives you a glimpse of what life on the campgrounds in the 1800s would have been like. Find more information about the Cottage Museum and Shop here.
Maybe the only bummer about traveling in the off season to this most ‘summery’ Island, was that we missed out on riding the Flying Horses Carousel (only open on weekends during off-peak). This is the nation’s oldest carousel, originating from Coney Island, New York. It costs about $2.50 to go ’round and ’round. Find more information here.
We grabbed some delicious ice cream from Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium and ate it outside, pretending it was about 30 degrees warmer and easily imagined what summers must be like on the Island.
The many different shops were charming and fun to explore.
And thankfully, we did make it on time for our return ferry. The vessel is very large, filled with tables and soft seats. If you’re worried about sea sickness, it traveled just slow enough that we didn’t feel any effects (unlike our Whale-Watching Cruise– haha!). There are restrooms, snack bars, free wi-fi, tv, etc. Our kids did great round trip. I know I’ve typed this a few times, but we definitely hope to go back and spend a few days on the Island, hopefully during the summer- crowds and all!