5 Great Family Activities to Enjoy in Nantucket

The island of Nantucket, which is 30 miles south of Cape Cod, and at the same distance from Martha’s Vineyard, is known for its beautiful beaches, beautifully preserved historic buildings, and unique vibe.

Even though just recently, an anonymous buyer spent a record high sum of 33 million for one of its waterfront properties, Nantucket is still a viable option for an upscale family vacation for non-billionaires.

This is because there are many residences that are available for short-term rent in all of its neighborhoods. Some of them are perfect for families with kids and come with large yards, pools, and beach toys.

You can choose a place to stay closest to the family-friendly beaches on the northern shore of Nantucket or anywhere else you prefer.

Plus, they all have kitchens and everything you will need to prepare breakfast, snacks, and other meals for the family without breaking the bank for eating out all the time.

If you are heading to Nantucket for a family vacation, here are some insider tips to make your holiday even more enjoyable and memorable both for you and for the kids.

  • Explore museums and historic sites

The New England island has a long and intriguing history. The original inhabitants were from the Wampanoag tribe, and a few of them still live in Nantucket and on Martha’s Vineyard.

The first Englishmen arrived on the island in 1602, and by the 1700s, the people there became famous for their whaling industry and ships. Many of the buildings from those years, including exquisite colonial-style captain’s mansions, still stand alongside the quaint cottages and some Greek revival-style buildings. You can see them on the cobblestone streets of Downtown and in the villages on the island.

There are many notable sites where you and your children can admire the perfectly preserved historic buildings. Some of them are the oldest working windmill in the USA (Old Mill), the Old Gaol (the old prison), and the Old House, which is the oldest preserved house in Nantucket, built in 1686.

Of course, there are three iconic lighthouses – Brant Point, Great Point, and Sankaty Light. They have been guiding the ships and saving mariners for centuries, and they are still working.

Since whaling played such a massive part in the island’s history and still influences the architecture and the island’s lifestyle, it is no surprise that one of the top-rated sites to see in Nantucket is the Whaling Museum.

Your kids will love exploring the hundreds of artifacts from the whaling years and seeing an actual 46-foot-long skeleton of a sperm whale hanging from the ceiling.

There, you will learn the real story of the Essex whaling ship and its captain, which inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick.

Some other museums and historical sites that will be fun for you and the children include the Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum, the Lightship Basket Museum, the Maria Mitchel Association, the Loines Observatory, and the Atheneum.

  • Ride bikes across the island

Nantucket is a dream come true for people who like cycling and prefer getting around by bike rather than by car. There are extensive bike lanes that cover the entire island. So you and the children can easily get from one point to another while enjoying the fresh air and stunning ocean views.

You can take your own bikes with you on the ferry for a small fee or rent some when you get to Nantucket.

If you are lucky, your rental house will include bikes as part of the amenities included in the fee.

  • Go for a walk in the nature

The local authorities and conservation organizations, along with the tight-knit community of Nantucket, have dedicated all their efforts and millions of dollars to buying and preserving the land in its natural state.

In fact, today, more than 50% of the territory of the island is owned by the local Land Bank, and any kind of construction and development is forbidden there.

There are several stunning Wildlife Refuges in Nantucket. There you and the children can view the beautiful island flora and fauna and spot birds and animals like seals.

There are many walking and hiking trails in these areas, most of which are suitable even for young children. You can enjoy leisurely walks, picnics, and time among the beautiful unadulterated nature.

Some of the most popular places to visit are the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, the Masquetuck Reservation, Tupancy Links, the Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge, and others.

  • Enjoy amazing local seafood

The island is a foodie haven and is home to some of the best restaurants in coastal New England. There are fine dining restaurants, more casual eateries, food trucks, or beach bars where you can eat some mouthwatering locally caught lobsters, clams, oysters, and other seafood straight from the ocean.

For a waterfront view and a delicious clam bake, you should book a table at Cru or at Brant Point Grill.

If you prefer a casual atmosphere, you can take the family to Sayle’s or the Straight Wharf Fish Store for the freshest seafood snacks and meals.

There are also some excellent family-friendly eateries, including Millie’s, Black Eyed Suzan, Lola Burger, Surfside, and others, with foods that all kids love, including pizzas, tacos, sandwiches, and more.

Cisco Brewers is a great place to go to try the local craft beers, wines, and liquors while the kids enjoy the playground and the live music and eat snacks from the food trucks on site.

  • Go on a cruise

The best way to get a complete panoramic view of this stunning island is from the sea. You can go on one of the many harbor tours, and cruises offered there. Some are perfect for kids, such as the Ice Cream or the Critters Cruises. Others are suitable for older kids, such as some historical, pirate, whale-spotting, and fishing-inspired ones.

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