Though Nantucket swells to about five times its year-round population during the summer season, it is possible to find areas on the island that make it feel like you’re the only one there. Or for a truly exclusive feeling, you could wait a few weeks for what the islanders call the “shoulder season,” the very happy medium between the crowded peak and their desolate winters.
If you can get into one of the 12 rooms at the Union Street Inn,
they can turn you into an island insider within a day. The innkeepers
supply guests with self-guided walking tours and learned conversation
that will make you feel like you’re on a first-name basis with anyone
who owns a local business. Plus, their rotating made-to-order breakfast
menu demonstrates an understanding that running a truly exceptional bed
and breakfast depends on paying attention to both B’s.
While we’re on the topic of delicious food, American Seasons
is a comfortably funky eatery a few blocks away from the cobblestone
hustle and bustle. Those in the know take the extra walk to delight in
chef Michael LaScola’s artistic menu choices. We can’t recommend enough
the Crispy Pork Belly and Seared Octopus on a bed of homemade kimchee.
If you like their pig, you may want to go to the island on the second
week in October for their Hogtoberfest. Another top choice for dining is
Corazon del Mar with Mexican cuisine so authentic that it may finally dispel the myths of the island as a lily-white enclave.
Speaking of unexpected, the Nantucket Whaling Museum
has taken what could have been an embarrassing relic of a cruel and
outdated economic engine and turned it into an informative and
entertaining ex-perience. The island has come to terms with its whaling
past and details it with multimedia presentations, weapon demonstrations
and lively live narration about how before the island transitioned into
tour-ism, it was for a brief time the center of the world. This is all
done underneath a gigantic whale skeleton.
If there is any part of your journey to Nantucket that is a “how the other half live” exploration, then you need to do the 20-minute bluff walk in Siasconset. Stretching along the elbow of the island, the path literally takes you through the backyards of some of the most beautiful homes on the island, preceded by the quintessentially quaint Nantucket cottages on Front Street.