Nantucket Baxter Road

After visiting Nantucket 4 times in the last 3 summers, I figured it was about time I put together a travel guide to Nantucket for y’all! I’m the type who loves to travel to new places often, but will return to those extra special spots that just feel like a true home away from home. Palmetto Bluff is one such place for me {Harbour Island is topping that list as well}, and I can honestly say the same about Nantucket. I find you often hear people describe Nantucket as ‘magical’, and it may seem like an overstatement. Except it’s not. This little, 14 mile long island off the coast of Cape Cod has been a beloved vacation spot for generations, which is a true testament to its’ undeniable charm.

All I can say is if you have the opportunity to visit – GO! Go without hesitation, without reserve, and an open pocket book haha. Trust me, you’ll need it.

When is the best time to visit Nantucket?

Most would say summer: June-August. But I also really love the shoulder months: May + September. You’ll just be prepared for some chillier temperatures, and know that not every shop + restaurant may be fully open.

  • JUNE | Temps can still be a bit chilly, but the summer crowd is just starting to arrive, so prices are manageable.

  • JULY + AUGUST | High season has arrived! The island will be bustling with visitors, all the stores + restaurants are open. You’ll find climbing roses, hydrangeas and all sorts of gardens varietals in full bloom.

  • SEPTEMBER | Kids are back in school, and the island gets much quieter. Temps are still pretty warm around Labor Day Weekend and then signs of fall creep in. Keep in mind some restaurants start closing end of September/early October for winter, but there’s still plenty to do and see. Just don’t forget your layers!

  • OCTOBER | I personally haven’t visited in October, but have heard it can still be lovely! Pretty chilly, but town things are still open and prices are much more manageable. I would recommend sticking to the earlier half of the month.

How to get to Nantucket

BY PLANE | Traveling by plane {especially from the south} has become much easier over the years, as direct flight offerings continue to expand. There are a lot of direct flights from Boston, NYC, and Charlotte which make connecting from Charleston {or anywhere in the US} fairly easy. JetBlue, United and American all provide multiple flights a day, so you’ll have a decent selection of options to suit your schedule. The ACK airport is teeny tiny {and oh so cute}, so it won’t take long to de-plane and collect your bags. Just something to keep in mind when making plans upon arrival.

BY FERRY | I haven’t personally taken the ferry to Nantucket. But according to my research {and chatting with friends who have traveled over by sea}, there are two ferry lines that run daily, year-round service from Hyannis, MA to Nantucket. Both run high-speed passenger catamarans with a travel time of about an hour. The Steamship Authority also runs a traditional car-and-passenger ferry, with a 2 ΒΌ hour cruise time. Seastreak also offers transportation to Nantucket from NYC + New Bedford, MA.

How to get around once you’re on island

Rental cars on Nantucket will cost you a pretty penny. But may be your best option depending on where you’re staying, length of trip, and how many people are in your party. Everything within the main ‘town’ hub is pretty walkable, but you will need transportation to/from the airport, out to Sconset and to a lot of the surrounding beaches. If you’re open to it, I would highly recommend checking out Turo.com for a rental. It’s essentially like Airbnb for cars. Some girlfriends and I rented through the site this summer since rental car rates sky rocketed during Covid times, and it was a great experience.

Taxis and Uber are also fairly easy to find! Just keep in mind with Uber, it’s easy to secure a ride from town, but may be tricky to get a ride back from Sconset or a more remote beach. There are several reputable taxi companies, including Roger’s Taxi and Val’s Cabs that can often pre-schedule rides as well.

Nantucket Bluff Walk | Baxter Road

How long should I visit?

As long as you can! But really. No, in all honesty – there are people that summer on Nantucket for the entire season {DREAM}, but I love that the island really does lend itself to a quick weekend stay or something much longer. If you only have a weekend to get-away, Nantucket is definitely still a good option to explore! Since the island is so small, you really can get a good taste of the area in a short amount of time. I would suggest a minimum of 3-nights.

Where to stay on Nantucket

This is dependent on how long you’re planning a visit, and if you’re traveling with your partner, family or friends! I’ve personally stayed in Sconset several times, as well as ‘in town’ and love both for different reasons. Sconset is more spread out, quieter and more of a suburban neighborhood feel {in the best way}. There are still some great food options {and a small convenient store} within walking distances, but more limited. Town is hustling + bustling with locals, tourists + day trippers alike. It’s also super walkable, so you have tons of restaurants, coffee shops, shopping, the docks, etc. right at your fingertips.

If you’re popping over for a long weekend, staying in town is the best way to see the most. If you’re renting a home on island for a week, I’d still consider town if you’re with girlfriends or friends. Sconset would be lovely if you’re renting for a longer period of time with your family!

Nantucket Hotel Recommendations

While I haven’t personally stayed at any of the below hotels, they’re ones I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about, and would consider staying myself in future.

5 Things to do on Nantucket

Aside from the usual suspects: eating and drinking, the island is full of spots to discover and things to explore.

Book a sail aboard the Endeavor. Getting out on the water is always a good idea in my book, but the Endeavor is a special experience. Captain Jim built this boat himself when he was a youngster, and some 20,000 trips later, has been sailing charters out of Straight Warf since 1982.

The ‘Sconset Bluff Walk is not to be missed! You can rent a bike for the trek, or coordinate a taxi ride if the weather isn’t great or you’re not feeling adventurous. The Bluff Walk is about 2 miles {be sure to loop around on Baxter too}, that takes you alongside the cliff line of the island, through private yards. Giving you a special peek into some of Nantucket’s most beautiful homes! It’s truly one of my all-time favorite activities on the island.

See the Lighthouses! There are 3 in total on island, and while some would say Brant Point Lighthouse is the most popular, I prefer the Sankaty Lighthouse {as seen here} out in ‘Sconset.

Spend an afternoon at Cisco Brewery. A crowd favorite! I feel like I could literally spend the entire day here and be so content. Cisco is more than just a brewery, they’ve built out an amazing area that supports live music, multiple bars, food trucks, and merchandise. It’s always good for some people watching too.

Grab a sandwich from Provisions or Something Natural and head to the beach! This is an almost daily occurrence for me when I’m on island. The turkey terrific at Provisions should NOT be missed. And with more than 15 beaches around the island, there are plenty to choose from to suit your location. I personally love Ladies Beach and Fisherman’s, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them!

Nantucket Hydrangeas

Dining Recommendations

Continuing down the line, what would a travel guide to Nantucket be without food recs!? Like most of my travels, the majority of the itinerary when I’m on island revolves around where are we eating + drinking. And rightfully so! There are just so many incredible options, you’ll want to try to squeeze them all in! Each year I visit Nantucket, I try to sprinkle in a few new-to-me spots, while maintaining loyalty to my favorites. Here’s my list of personal favorites {along with some other notable recommendations via other referrals}, broken down by meal time.

BREAKFAST/BRUNCH

CORNER TABLE | Great grab + go spot {their breakfast sandwiches hit the spot every time}, and also have a decent amount of indoor/outdoor seating if you needed to post up and get some work done while on vacay.

ISLAND KITCHEN | First time I visited, I didn’t expect anything out of the ordinary, however upon having their eggs benedict, I would say quite the opposite. The food here is amazing, and everything I want/need in a breakfast set up!

BLACK EYED SUSAN’S | Still can’t speak to this one from personal experience, but Black Eyed Susan’s is an establishment on Nantucket. Be prepared for a wait! I hear their french toast is out of this world.

LUNCH

PROVISIONS | Four words: get. the. Terrific. Turkey. and thank me later. Even if you’re not a ‘thanksgiving flavor’ lover, this signature sandwich is not to be missed! Crave worthy.

SOMETHING NATURAL | The perfect grab + go spot on your way to the beach. Delicious sandwiches {their roasted turkey and curried chicken salad are my person favorites}. Don’t pass on the chocolate chip cookie! Also a great, casual spot for families – picnic tables on the lawn are great for no-mess with kiddos.

LEMON PRESS | Great, casual spot in town serving up some healthier options. No reservations, so expect a wait. Drop your name and do some shopping in the meantime.

DINNER

MILLIE’S | Low-key, casual spot for Mexican. Menu stand-outs: fish tacos and poke bowl.

THE PROPRIETORS | Hands down, consistently my favorite food wise on the island. The small plate set up of their menu is my jam, and everything is so flavorful + seasonally focused. From summer to fall, I have such fond memories of meals here.

CRU | Favorite ambiance in town. Nothing beats a CRU dinner; drinks flowing, seafood towers {if that’s your thing}, round of french fries. CRU is right on the water and boasts some incredible views, but is also the spot to be {and been seen, shall I say} night after night.

CHANTICLEER | Quaintest, most romantic restaurant on island. This sweet little spot is tucked away in Sconset, but absolutely worth the drive from town for a lovely meal in the garden.

LOLA 41 | Sushi/Asian fusion style restaurant {with really good fries haha}. Great outdoor dining set up!

THE NAUTALIST | Menu is a bit on the ‘funkier’ {and slightly spicer, in my experience} side in my opinion. Really fun, unique flavor pairings, and a great after dinner scene.

VENTUNO | Haven’t been personally, but hear rave reviews about this cozy Italian spot on island. Definitely on my list for the next time I’m in town!

What to wear on Nantucket Island

More on this front can be round in this post – What to Wear on Nantucket in the Summer.

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