Worldwide //  North America //  United States //  Massachusetts //  Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket

Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket

Cape Cod is a 65-mile-long peninsula that extends east from the Massachusetts mainland and then curls north, cat-tail like, to form Cape Cod Bay. The islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket are situated off the Cape's southern coast, in Nantucket Sound. 

The craggy ...

Cape Cod is a 65-mile-long peninsula that extends east from the Massachusetts mainland and then curls north, cat-tail like, to form Cape Cod Bay. The islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket are situated off the Cape's southern coast, in Nantucket Sound. 

The craggy, lighthouse-dotted coasts of the Cape and the islands are etched by wind and sea and saturated with history, from the Mayflower's landing at Plymouth Rock to the Kennedys' photogenic vacations at Hyannis. The area blossoms between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when tables at taverns, stately summer homes and colonial inns overflow with fresh shellfish; local churches hold chowder suppers; and the Cape Cod Baseball League entertains families enjoying sun and ice cream. 

This is old American whaling territory (many of the picturesque villages on Cape Cod retain the character that Melville described in Moby-Dick), and the sea is still the center of industry and, more prominently, of recreation. Fishing, sailing and yachting abound, and whale-watching excursions run from May to October. In the spring, the annual Cape Cod Maritime Days event celebrates the area's rich nautical history with art exhibits, lectures and kayak excursions.

The Cape Cod National Seashore, under the auspices of the National Park Service, comprises 40 miles of beaches, marshes and ponds accented by lighthouses and cranberry bogs. At the southeastern "elbow" of the Cape, the historic village of Chatham is a picturesque jumping-off point for coastal recreation.

Martha's Vineyard lies about seven miles off the southern coast of Cape Cod and adjoins the smaller island of Chappaquiddick. "The Vineyard" has attracted presidents from Ulysses S. Grant to Bill Clinton, and in centuries past, it was a haven for Boston sea captains and merchants. Despite its high-profile visitors, Martha's Vineyard has retained a cozy, low-key New England charm. Stone fences and sheep farms thread through gently rolling hills; lobstermen sell their catches fresh from the boats; old churches and schoolhouses overlook picture-book harbors; and the country's oldest continuously operating carousel turns handcarved horses as it has for nearly a century and a half.

Once a tranquil refuge for those in search of a nostalgic family seaside vacation, Nantucket is now a chic summer playground for the rich and famous. Trophy mansions rise up where simple cottages once stood; Nantucket Town’s delightful cobbled streets are choked with summer traffic; and local residents even grumble that popular Surfside Beach has been ruined by the incessant whine of private jets taking off from the nearby airport. During the hectic months of July and August, visitors often outnumber the 10,000 or so natives by a ratio that exceeds 5- to-1, and high-season prices for just about everything have escalated from the merely breathtaking to the downright absurd.

That said, Nantucket remains a very special place, and the ongoing metamorphosis has resulted in the opening of hotels, restaurants, shops and galleries that meet the demands of a discriminating clientele. Each season has its enduring moments, with our favorite Nantucket time being midweek between Labor Day and mid-October. Without the major summer crowds, things start quieting down and the island reclaims its authentic character and natural rhythms. Daytime temperatures average in the mid- to upper 60s; relatively empty beaches beckon for leisurely walks; and even the Gulf Stream sea is still warm enough for a swim. Hotels and cottage rentals are also less outrageously priced; the leading restaurants are no longer fully booked; and the bluefish/striped bass season is at its height.

  How can we help you?
Become a Member
SIMILAR REGIONS TO Worldwide //  North America //  United States //  Massachusetts //  Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket
Contact a Travel Advisor
Hideaway Report members have access to travel advisors at our partner Andrew Harper Travel. Learn More
Call Andrew Harper Travel:
1 (800) 375-4685
OPEN M-F 8AM-6PM CST