Travel Guide: Martha's Vineyard

Story by Desiree Spinner of La Petite Peach
Photographs by Greer Rivera

Thirty-five minutes off the coast of Cape Cod, by ferry, you will land on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard. You might think though, you have transported to Ireland or even England, when you get there. Rolling hills, wild horses, cattle, and stonewalls for miles, run right through the middle of this beautiful place that makes you forget for a second, that you are in New England.

I am filled with nostalgia as I arrive for the week with my husband and kids in tow. I take the same ferry as I did when I was my son’s age, and we arrive in Vineyard Haven as I did many times with my parents. I have been coming here for over 15 years. Vineyard Haven is a creative, and old-school type of town with some of my favorite shops on Island. Although the shops have come and gone, some remain, some have moved further down Main Street, and some have moved towns  completely. I can always count on a fun shopping day in town. The air is salty here, and there is always a gentle crisp New England breeze.

Although the three major towns, Vineyard Haven, Edgartown and Oak Bluffs are always fun to spend a day shopping, I prefer to stay up-island where things are a little slower, and quieter. One of my favorite places to stay is the Beach Plum Inn, in Chilmark. It may have a little to do with the free Lucy Vincent Beach pass you get upon arrival, but it has everything to do with the close proximity to all my favorite  places on Island.

Traveling here with my family is a lot different than it was back in the 90’s when I was sitting in the back seat of my parent’s car. However, this part of the island hasn’t changed a bit. I can always count on the fried seafood at the Bite, and that Menemsha beach will have a crowd at 7pm to watch the sunset (and that everyone will cheer when the tip of the sun finally hits the horizon). As we take a long drive up to the cliffs in Aquinnah, my family laughs when I tell them about how my dad was always driving out to Oak Bluffs, last minute, to get wine before dinner at the Chilmark Tavern. Most of the towns on Island are dry so come prepared (or be prepared to venture out) with your favorite bottle — you’ve been fair warned! My  son asks a million questions, laughing, when I tell him his Aunt and Uncle got the same "melty" soft serve that we wait in line for at the Menemsha docks. I smile when I think what he will tell his children about our family memories.

When my little girl curls her toes in the sand at Lucy Vincent Beach, I am reminded of my past; my soul is complete here. I will always wander, and daydream about what their adventures will be like on this wondrous, and magical Island.

My perfect Martha’s Vineyard Day: There are SO many amazing places on Island but here are some “up-island” favorites...

Wake up at the Beach Plum Inn, Menemsha, and grab a quick coffee in the lobby to go!

Watch the sun come up in a Aquinnah over the cliffs

Head down Middle Road toward Tisbury for the most gorgeous sites on the island. Rolling hills, stonewalls, and herds of cows.

Beat the breakfast rush and head to the Scottish Bake House in Tisbury. Order the egg sandwich on their homemade spinach/garlic/parmesan’s perfection!

Drive to Vineyard Haven for some amazing shopping. You have to check out Citrine, which has an amazing selection of local artisans, clothing and more! Don’t leave without stopping into Carly Simon’s shop Midnight Farm for chic, and vintage home décor. Don’t forget to pick up her children’s book by the same name!

Head back up island (stop at Fiddlehead Farm and grab some fresh veggies and local sodas) to Chilmark (this time take state road) and head to the Chilmark General store for lunch and some amazing people watching. You simply have to get the hummus there.... it’s homemade and delicious!

If you are staying in Chilmark or at the Beach Plum Inn, make sure you get a beach pass for Lucy Vincent Beach. It is one of my favorites on Island.

Make sure to make reservations at the Homeport in Menemsha for amazing seafood right off the boat. For the less adventuresome (with kids in tow) check out The Bite. It’s a little seafood shack you can grab and go some food and head to the Menemsha beach for a perfect sunset (keep a look out for the harpooner).

Must have: the fried zucchini!

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