Martha's Vineyard is historically a blue-blooded summer spot, but the island is welcoming a new generation of jet-setting visitors. Though the vineyard does remain the ideal escape for those who wish to rub elbows with the who's who of the Northeast, it's also relatively affordable in the offseason. (Note: We did say relatively.) Explore cutting-edge culinary delights, a bustling shopping scene and stunning landscapes that will take your breath away during any season of the year.
How to get there
The island is easily accessible by boat and air, so you can spend less time in transit and more time relaxing. You'll fly from Philadelphia International to a connecting flight from Cape Air. Just don't be alarmed when the flight crew asks how much you weigh -- you may be flying in a tiny propeller plane with about 10 other people.
If you have the time and don't mind traveling by sea, ferry service to the island is offered from N.Y.C., Highlands, N.J.; New Bedford, Mass.; Hyannis, Mass.; Quonset Point, R.I. and several other East Coast cities.
Where to stay
The Harbor View Hotel (131 North Water St., 508-627-7000) in Edgartown -- one of the island's six charming towns -- offers unparalleled waterfront views of the harbor and the Edgartown lighthouse. This 121-year-old Victorian-style hotel has all of the modern amenities we crave on vacation (late room service, plush robes, milk and warm cookies in the evenings), but gives off a regal Kennedy-like aura. The hotel offers 114 guest rooms and suites, each uniquely different, and eight spacious Captain's Cottages are available to rent or purchase if you really fall in love with the island.
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What to do
Obviously, there are miles of pristine beaches to explore, but Martha's Vineyard offers much more to see and do than catching sun and sand. Charter a boat, like the 1966 Bunker available through Harbor View's waterfront concierge, and get a tour of the island from the water.
Don't miss the eclectic shops scattered throughout the island's towns. You'll find designers like Lilly Pulitzer and non-descript vintage jewelry shops with hidden treasures scooped at sales from the island's elite estates.
Where to dine
It's a sin to leave the vine-yard without indulging in a lobster roll. The traditional style of chilled lobster in a light mayo atop a buttered roll is the favored style of local seafood stands -- and it works for them. Go to Faith's Seafood Shack (33 Aquinnah Circle, 508-645-4080) and eat your delicious spoils (don't forget an order of perfectly crisp fries) on a bench at the nearby dock, or take them with you to the beach -- if you can wait that long.
If you're looking to go the classier route (after all, to see and be seen in the vineyard is part of its flair), reserve a table at Water Street (508-627-3761) -- the Harbor View Hotel's fine-dining restaurant. Don't leave without trying the oysters and Chef Shaun Brian Sells' New England clam chowder with pork belly and chive oil.