Fall Nantucket A to Z
A Nantucket fall is especially wonderful during the months of September and October. Most of the summer tourists have left and the island settles into a pace that is more relaxing and enjoyable. The weather is lovely, the water still warm and the sand between your toes on uncrowded beaches is the best kind of Fall escape as far as I’m concerned.
With nearly 50% of the land on the island given over to conservation, you’ll find an awesome getaway 30 miles out to sea. The Nantucket Conservation Foundation have made preserving the island’s character a priority by permanently conserving, maintaining, and managing natural areas and habitats for all to enjoy. Here’s my best of Fall Nantucket from A to Z.
This post was originally published in 2014 and has been updated to reflect current information.
Off the coast of Cape Cod, visitors will find an island originally founded in the 1600’s as a fishing village and whaling capital. Today, Nantucket is a New England charmer and a three season tourist destination that shines in the fall months. While the pristine beaches are often viewed as the main event, visitors will find top notch restaurants, shopping and museums.
With a strong historic foundation, Nantucket has retained much of its original late 18th and early 19th century charm. The town of the same name is designated a National Historic Landmark District, its weathered grey shingled cottages match the fog that mysteriously rolls across the island alluding to its Grey Lady nickname.
The Best Things to Do for a Nantucket Fall Getaway
#ACK– the airline code for Nantucket. Leave your car at home. There is great ground transportation with the public bus system–The Wave. If you are staying in town you can walk to everything. Travel to the island is by ferry or small plane. Cape Air has invested heavily in solar powering their corporate headquarters and is working towards net-zero electricity usage. They are an EPA Environmental Award Winner. Best of all-it’s just a short 15 flight ride from Cape Cod’s Hyannis Airport.
Bartlett Farm – Visitors can get a local produce and just about anything else you’ll need for your stay. Fall brings freshly harvested vegetables and sunflowers in all their glory.
Clamming – whether you dig them yourself like we do in our house, or purchase at my favorite fish store – 167 Raw, these are some of the sweetest clams you’ll ever taste.
Distillers– Cisco Brewers and Distillery is just down the road from the farm. You’ll have hand crafted brews and Triple 8 Vodka in a folksy laid back atmosphere while listening to live music.
EAT-insiders know that the fish from 167 is the freshest around. Their bluefish pate is legendary. Visitors will also find a wide variety of world class dining on the island and in the fall, you can actually get a reservation without planning months in advance.
Festivals take place throughout the year in Nantucket. Fall brings the Cranberry Bog Festival on Milestone Road and Nantucket Grown Festival featuring local ingredients. In 2020, the Cranberry Festival has been cancelled and the Nantucket Grown will be a virtual event.
Gazing –Star gazing is inevitable on this island. If the Maria Mitchell location is open, you can look through a telescope, but the stars are so bright, you really don’t need one.
Hydrangeas are still in their glory and reign as Nantucket’s favorite flowering shrub all over the island.
Island Time-to get into the groove quickly take a Jog on any of the miles and miles of unpaved roads and unwind.
Kid friendly bike paths. You can bring your own bike on the ferry or rent at one of several locations. With over 30 miles of paved paths to choose from, you’ll get a great workout with incredible views.
Locate the Sconset Bluff Walk and you’ll have found one of the great unadvertised gems of the island. Taking you along the beach and some of the areas fanciest of houses, it is at times jaw dropping.
Madaket Mall – If you’re a flea market shopper, head out to the Nantucket Landfill, AKA Madaket Mall for those in the know. You’ll find an area called Take it Or Leave It. All kinds of goods change hands for free. A reduce, reuse, recycle heaven. The way they handle trash on the island is kind of fascinating.
Nantucket Farmers and Artisans Marketplace presented by Sustainable Nantucket to support and strengthen the local economy, entrepreneurs and growers takes place on Saturdays downtown.
Pumpkin Pond Farm-a unique place for organic vegetables, home decor and garden delights.
Quesadilla – head out to Millie’s in Madaket (named after the famous Nantucketer) for a go to spot to watch the sunset and great Mexican food. They also make a mean Mystery drink.
Restaurants are many. Fresh fish is my go to of choice just about anywhere around town. The dining you’ll find is world class. Restaurant week happens in the spring and fall.
Scallop – fall is the season-when they shine-enough said.
Tomatoes – ditto the above. Get thee to Bartlet Farm and you can thank me later!
Under the bridge, on your bike, you will find the east end of the island in Sconset. Off the beach, the next stop is Spain. If your legs have had enough on the 6.8 miles ride out Polpis Road, the Wave public bus transportation has racks on the front of the vehicle so you can hitch a ride back.
View – sunsets are spectacular from many vantage spots. Find the best beaches all around the island.
Whaling Museum has a fabulous collection of all things relating to what was once one of the richest whaling stations in the country. Other interesting museums on the island can be found here.
X-tra long boards can be rented for late season surfing.
Yoga and SUP are especially popular. Look for a class on the beach.
Zipcode – 02554 You know when you step off the ferry, this zip code is a ticket to a piece of paradise and the ultimate beach vacation.
So there you have it, my Fall Nantucket from A to Z. Make sure during your visit to take a photo op at one of the three light houses. On your return trip to the mainland, drop a penny in the ocean, a tradition that insures you’ll be bACK to this slice of heaven in the sea.
Note-Many of the above listed spots have limited hours in the Fall and close after Columbus Day. Make sure to call first.
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