Time to ditch the pastels, penny loafers and the notion that Martha’s Vineyard is too haughty for the plebeians—aka most of us.
While the island might’ve been second homes for the likes of John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama, it’s also a hotspot for some of the freshest seafood around, innovative restaurants and scenery ranging from postcard-worthy beaches to verdant, mythic glens reminiscent of Ireland.
If you’re thinking Martha’s Vineyard isn’t for you, or is out of your budget, we’ve got the lowdown on how to save, where to splurge and what you absolutely can’t miss.
How to get around:
Take the ferry from Wood’s Hole. Bringing a vehicle costs $44-$79 (one way, depending on size), while it’s $15/day to park in Wood’s Hole. Most people forego cars and get around the island via local bus, bicycle, taxi or hired car (Uber and Lyft rates vary).
For schedules and fares, visit steamshipauthority.com.
GOOD Farm’s Jefferson Munroe opened this farm stand specializing in local, whole animal butchery and products such as specialty cheeses, bone broth, sauces, sandwiches and more. Grab provisions here before heading to the beach. 342 State Rd., Vineyard Haven, thegood.farm
Larsen’s Fish Market
A flapping screen door welcomes you to this rustic waterfront market, where fishermen are frequently seen hauling in their catches. Everything is impeccably fresh, from the oysters shucked in front of you to the stuffed scallops and lobster bisque. Eat out back at the few picnic tables lining the harbor, or take some filets to grill at home.
56 Basin Rd., Chilmark, larsensfishmarket.com
Meals to remember:
The service — and the seafood — is impeccable at Garde East, where you’ll dine overlooking Vineyard Haven’s sherbet sunset. Yes, it’s a little white-tableclothy, and there is a foie gras dish on the menu, but if you want a feast for the senses and can splurge on dishes like sea bass crudo or squid ink chitarra, then you really should. The restaurant just got a liquor license, too, which is a godsend on a mostly dry island.
52 Beach Rd., Vineyard Haven, gardeeast.com
Chef Jimmy Alvarado brings a Peruvian twist to this family-owned Italian restaurant in Edgartown. The daily catch ceviche features tiger’s milk and Peruvian popcorn called cancha, but the Spanish braised octopus with roasted garlic hummus will set your world ablaze. If you’ve had enough seafood, the handmade pastas and pizzas never disappoint.
19 Church St., Edgartown, isolamv.com
Get your freak on:
This Oak Bluffs waterfront institution is known for its no-frills seafood platters and the infamous Dirty Banana, a blended concoction with a little banana and a lot of alcohol. Try one right before heading across the street to dance the night away at the Ritz.
29 Lake Ave., Oak Bluffs, nancysrestaurant.com
This crème de la crème of dive bars features live music every night of the week—and dancing too. Founded in 1944, the Ritz has purportedly hosted the likes of James Cagney, Burl Ives, Frank Sinatra, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Diana Ross, Carly Simon, James Taylor and even Elvis Presley.
4 Circuit Ave., Oak Bluffs, theritzmv.com
One of the hippest spots in Oak Bluffs, this gastropub is all about craft beer, charcuterie and cheese. It won’t break the bank, either—try a mason jar of smoked bluefish for $11, or a $12 oyster po’boy. But save room for dessert, because 20byNine serves s’mores.
16 Kennebec Ave., Oak Bluffs, 20bynine.com
Where to shop:
Not for the faint-walleted, this boutique is worth a browse even if you’re on a budget. From handmade copper tables and desks to yerba mate mugs, Oaxacan blankets to paintings, Island Copper is a home decorator’s dream.
15 Mechanic St., Vineyard Haven, mvislandcopper.com
Artist Nicole Mayhew curates this seasonal shop with items from around the globe—everything from rugs to leather goods to animal skulls, these are one-of-a-kind treasures you’ll keep forever.
5 Winter St., Edgartown, lodestonebrooklyn.com
What to see:
Gay Head Cliffs
For some “Game of Thrones”-esque scenery, bike over to Aquinnah for this national landmark of multi-colored cliffs. Don’t forget to pack a picnic.
State Rd., Aquinnah
Long Point Wildlife Refuge Beach
A slow drive down a long dirt road is worth it when it leads to bird-watching, walking trails, a freshwater pon, and miles of coastline. $10 per car and $5 per person.
Hughes Thumb Rd., West Tisbury, thetrustees.org
Where to stay:
Imagine if Wes Anderson opened a hotel inspired by nostalgic, summer sleep away camps of your youth, and you’ve got this bright harbor side retreat in Oak Bluffs. You won’t find a better spot to step out into nearby nightlife and restaurants or stroll the waterfront. $249-$509/night.
70 Lake Ave., Oak Bluffs, summercamphotel.com
This cozy inn has 14 guest rooms and plenty of charm. High season room rates run from $225-$325, but the inn also offers last-minute specials (call to inquire) and midweek rates (Thursday-Sunday) that won’t take a shark bite out of your savings.
65 N. Water St., Edgartown, edgartowninn.com