There's nothing quite like summer in New England. It's such a great time of year of explore this part of the country with its idyllic beaches, historic towns and fresh local seafood. One of my favorite New England destinations is Nantucket. I visited Nantucket with friends a couple summers ago and was so happy to make it back and spend a few days on the island after a wedding in nearby Cape Cod. Here's my guide for what to eat, where to stay and what to do on Nantucket.

Nantucket is an island off of Cape Cod only accessible by ferry or plane. It's a summer paradise with scenic beaches (some you can drive on), cottages drenched in roses and seafood shacks galore. It's also a small island about 7 miles wide and 14 miles long, so it's easy to explore by bike. The island is rich in seafaring history and had the world's largest whaling industry in the early 1800's.

The island has a downtown district, where ferries drop off, with cobblestone streets lined with restaurants and shops. This is the main "happening" part of the island. The other areas of the island, from 'Sconset out east to Madaket out west, are quainter.

Nantucket has a population of around 12,000 which grows to around 55,000 in the summer months. While it's a charming island year-round, summer is the ideal season to visit. Many shops and restaurants close for the season and the island is known to have occasional blackouts during winter storms. 

Depending on where you live Nantucket may be easy or pretty difficult to get to. But the trip is definitely worth it! Regular and high speed ferries leave the Hyannis port daily in Cape Cod, but if you're driving to the ferry plan for heavy beach traffic in warm months. You can also fly to the island from large cities (NYC, Boston). 

-The weather can be temperamental. Even if you're visiting in the summer, light scarves and jackets will be necessary at night, and sometimes during the day
-Nantucket's nickname is 'The Grey Lady' for the thick fog that rolls through the island
-It's not a budget destination. Hotel prices skyrocket during the crowded summer months, so it's important to plan early and check out a variety of accommodations like VRBO or Homeaway

As mentioned, island accommodations can get pricey during the high season. If you're watching your budget, check out Bed and Breakfasts and home-renting websites like Air B&B, VRBO and Homeaway. If you want a traditional hotel, The Wauwinet is a classic and was one of the first hotels built on the island and The Jared Coffin House is a great Inn.

Nantucket is full of great restaurants and bars. Some of the best seafood places I've ever been to are on the island. My must-do spots are:

Millie's- Located in Madaket, this Mexican spot is perfect for a casual lunch and boasts an amazing drink menu

The Nautilus- A tiny spot downtown with fabulous, inventive dishes served tapas style (many have an Asian twist) and an extensive cocktail menu

Cru- Gorgeous, nautical restaurant right on the water in downtown. Perfect for a special night out! Don't miss the lobster roll here, it won our personal award for best on the island (and we tried A LOT!)

Galley Beach- Stunning setting right on the beach. Perfect spot to end the day and watch the sunset

Cisco Brewers- The island's craft brewery. Delicious craft beer, and also a distillery and winery on-site. A great spot to spend the afternoon in their outdoor seating area that's complete with local food trucks and live music

The Juice Bar- *The* spot for ice cream on the island. Get your scoops in a waffle cone or bowl and don't miss the homemade hot fudge. The line can be long, but it goes fast

Beach- Of course Nantucket is known for its beaches, many of which you can drive on! My favorites are Nobadeer (to drive on), 'Sconset (mellow atmosphere) and Surfside (popular with families and groups)

Bike- Rent a bike and explore the island. While the downtown is amazing, there's so much more to Nantucket, and even though it's a small island you'll need wheels to get out far. Young's is a good spot for a bike rental, and you can also rent cars from them too

'Sconset Bluff Walk- For me, no trip to Nantucket is complete without going out east to 'Sconset and strolling along the Bluff Walk. The Bluff Walk is an inconspicuous trail through the backyards of gorgeous homes overlooking the ocean. You may feel a little weird walking through people's yards, but it's expected! Admire the ocean vistas, and some of the island's most charming homes, of which many are drenched in flowers

Shop- The downtown area of Nantucket is chock full of adorable shops. My favorites are The Skinny Dip, Salt and In The Pink

Have you ever been to Nantucket? What about New England in general? I'd love to know your favorite spots!


  1. Nantucket looks like absolute paradise! Thank you for writing such a detailed guide about it! After living in Sweden for three years and experiencing "Swedish summers," aka no summer, I think I could handle that temperamental Nantucket weather...At least I hope.

  2. Such beautiful photos! Is there a history behind the Jared Coffin house name?