There are so many things to do on Nantucket this summer! Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway with your significant other, an overdue girls trip, or a summer vacation with the whole family, Nantucket has things to do for everyone. Keep reading to learn all the details for planning your trip to the best things to do on Nantucket!
In the summer, Nantucket has endless things to do for everyone! From quaint streets to beautiful beaches. Below are some of my favorite things to do on the Island that should be at the top of your summer bucket list!
Walking the Sconset Bluff was one of my favorite things I did on Nantucket! It’s the epitome of Nantucket style and ambiance. From the charming houses and gardens to endless costal ocean views! If you only do one thing on this list, it should be doing this walk!
Tips on finding the path:
Once you get to Sconset, you’ll follow the white broken shell path between the most charming houses [seen in the photo above]. Eventually, it will come to grass with a faint path where you’ll see a sign for where the official Sconset Bluff Walk begins. It will feel like you’re walking through people’s yards, but you are on the correct path!
Please note, this is meant to be a peaceful walking path. No running, loud music, or disrespectful behavior. Also, most of the beach access steps are private on this path. There are a few public access points so make sure that you don’t trespass while heading down to the beach!
The last half mile of the grass path ends due to erosion. The path is re-routed to the road where you’ll walk down pavement the rest of the way to Sankaty Head Light.
One of my favorite ways to see an island is from the water! I would highly recommend booking a sunset sail with Endeavor Sails on your trip to Nantucket. It’s a family run business with the great service! The owner actually built the sail boat himself over 40 years ago.
Fun Fact: You can actually see Great Point Lighthouse off in the distance in the above photo on the left.
You can’t visit Nantucket without spending an afternoon walking around and shopping in many of the quaint shops! Lots of places to get Nantucket attire, stylish clothing, or even home decor. Even if you don’t plan to buy anything [prices tend to be $$$], it’s still fun to window shop!
The walk down to Steps Beach is one of my favorite walks to a beach I’ve ever taken! It’s lined with beautiful flowers and greenery. After walking down a decent amount of steps, it’s no secret where the beach got its name.
Steps Beach not just a great place to enjoy during the day. It’s a perfect place to watch the sunset! Pack a picnic, hang out with friends, and watch the colors fill the sky as the sun sets.
Great Point Lighthouse is a great place to go if you’re looking for a little more adventure! The lighthouse is located in the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Reserve. It’s only accessible by 4×4 wheel drive vehicles [or 7 mile one way walk down the beach]. If traveling by vehilce, you will need to an Oversand Vehicle (OSV) permit. Some rental Jeeps [like from Young’s] come with the permit, but if not you can purchase a permit at the Gatehouse in Wauwinet. Before driving out on the beach, you will also let a little air out of your tires at the Gatehouse so that you don’t get stuck! You can refill your tired [for free] upon leaving.
Sadly, during my trip I didn’t realize we needed a car to get there [we thought we could bike/walk]. We biked 20 miles to be told it would be a 12-14 miles round trip to walk down the beach since we didn’t have a car…they didn’t recommend. So we decided we would next time we visit Nantucket!
Brant Point Lighthouse is probably Nantucket’s most famous landmark. Luckily, it is just a short walk or bike from town. It’s not far off the paved path and onto the sand that you’ll see the Lighthouse! While you cannot go inside, it’s a great place to walk around, relax nearby, or take photos with. You probably saw the lighthouse while riding the ferry over to the island, but it’s fun to see it up close!
Cisco Brewery is one of the most iconic places on Nantucket! It has a much more laid back vibe than most of the other places on the Island. You can take a tour of the brewery or just enjoy a drink with friends! Cisco Brewery is not a full service restaurant but it is partnered with a few different food trucks that you can eat at.
The Whaling Museum is located in the heart of downtown Nantucket. While it may not be on the top of every tourists list, it’s a great place to learn more about the history of whaling and how Nantucket became the place it is today. You’ll probably walk by it multiple a times a day – take a chance and explore the museum, even if it’s on a rainy day!
One of my favorite things about Nantucket is that you can do lots of activities or nothing at all to enjoy yourself! Relaxing with a good book is sometimes all you need. Plus, there’s a endless options of Bed & Breakfasts to choose from. Many of them have backyards, patios, or quaint gardens for you to curl up with a good book.
The North Shore of Nantucket tends to have calmer water, unlike the South shore with more strong currents and waves. If you are looking for a place to enjoy with the whole family, I’d recommend going to a beach on the North Shore, specifically Jettie’s Beach!
Jettie’s beach is very accessible – short bike from town, plenty of parking, and a stop on the NRTA shuttle bus. There’s also lots of facilities at the beach that enhance any beach day! From restrooms, showers, and lifeguards to playgrounds and restaurants! With the water being calmer, it’s the perfect place to get a tan and cool off while swimming in the water!
I brought my Out of the Woods bag with me on this trip and it was the PERFECT bag! While I used it walking around town, it was also a practical beach bag. It held my towel, snacks, water, books, and more! I highly recommend purchasing this Pure Shopper Tote bag for your trip to Nantucket! It’s the perfect combination of stylish, practical, and sustainable for the environment.
The cooler bags are another great addition to a beach trip! Or even just a summer picnic at the park with your friends.
During busy season, restaurants can fill up quickly! I would recommend making a reservation before your trip if there’s a place you really want to eat ate. One thing I was shocked by when visiting was how expensive everything was, but especially the food! Be prepared to spend a pretty penny each day to eat.
If you are a big foodie, I would check out this blog! It goes into a lot more specifics about a few of the restaurants mentioned above.
Before arriving on Nantucket, there’s lots of information you should know before traveling to the Island. Nantucket’s season is from Memorial Day to Labor Day. If you go before or after those weekends, there’s a high chance everything will be still closed for the season. Keep reading to decide what makes the most sense for your trip!
If you didn’t know already, Nantucket is an ISLAND. There are a few different ways you can get there but driving is not one of them. From Boston, you can rent a car to drive yourself, take a bus, or a train to get to the ferry port. You can also take a plane. All of these options are broken down in more detail below!
It’s about a 2 – 2.5 hour bus ride from the Boston Airport to the Hyannis Bus terminal Here is a link to the Plymouth & Brockton bus schedule. From the bus terminal, it’s about a 10 minute walk to the Steamship Authority ferry terminal. Here is a link to the 2022 Steamship Authority Traditional ferry schedule. It’s about a 2 hour and 15 minute ferry ride. You can take also take the High Speed Ferry that’s only 1 hour, but a little more money. Here is a link to the 2022 Steamship Authority High Speed ferry schedule. The High speed ferry tends to full up fast during peak season so I would recommend purchasing your tickets in advance!
If you do drive yourself, make sure to book a ferry ticket that allows you to drive onto the ferry!
The CapeFLYER is a weekend passenger train from Boston to Hyannis. The train is only in service Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. It’s about a 2.5 hour train ride Boston to Hyannis [Cape Cod]. If you’re going for a weekend trip, this is a great option! Here is a link to the CapeFLYER Schedule and lots more details about riding the train.
For the ferry, the information is the same as above!
Nantucket does have a small airport on the Island. There is a direct flight from Boston on Cape Air. Click here to read more about which airlines have direct flights from which airports.
When I visited on Memorial Day weekend 2022, it was the most cost effective for us to fly into Boston, take the bus to Hyannis, then ferry to Nantucket. It did take quite a bit of time so if you have the money to fly directly to the island, I’d recommend that!
While Nantucket isn’t a huge island by any means, you will want to think ahead for getting around on the Island. There’s so much to do and it’s not always super close together.
Biking is a great way to get around the island! Within town you cannot bike on the sidewalks and must stay on the road. Once you get out of the main part of town, there’s lots of bike paths to take you all around the island! I would recommend renting from Young’s Bicycle Shop.
If you plan on going to different parts of the Island every day or have your entire family with you, then I would recommend renting a car. Biking 20+ miles per day can get tiring – trust me ha! Parking can be a major issue during peak season so keep that in mind when making your decision! There aren’t many places to rent cars on Nantucket so it may make more sense to rent a car on the mainland. You could rent one in Boston, drive down the Hyannis, and take the it on the ferry over to the Island.
While a bus may not take you to the exact location you’re going, it will get you to the general area. This is a great option if you don’t want to rent a car but want to spend a day on a further spot on the island. Click here to learn more about the Wave Shuttle bus, routes, and fares.
Keep in mind that you are on an Island! While it may be warm during the day, once the sun goes down it can get chilly. One thing most people don’t realize is that it doesn’t start to get warm enough for swimsuit beach weather until mid to late June. I would recommend packing layers and being prepared for chilly and warm weather! The first day of our trip I was in a tank top and shorts, then next day I was in jeans and a cable knit sweater lol!