Soft sand dunes and a pace of life that the average native New Yorker would find unfathomable, Nantucket is nothing if not a pleasantly different world. Sitting pretty just 30 miles south of Cape Cod, the island of Nantucket is the place you dream about spending family summers. But for many urbanites, it’s not just a dream. In the summer months, the population skyrockets from 10,000 to 50,000.
And we can see why. With blinking lighthouses, beachside cottages and every inch of the 50 square mile island ready to be explored, it has all-American charm and history without reaching either extreme of over-the-top-preppy or boring.
Back in the 19th Century, Nantucket was the world’s top whaling port, and earned its wealth this way. Traces of that still remain, with old whaling captains’ mansions lining the shore and plenty of fishing opportunities. But if sea life isn’t your thing, fear not. Nantucket has been an arts beacon since the 1920s, harboring scores of painters, performance artists and authors. The Maria Mitchell Association is well worth looking up. Inspired by the life and work of astronomer Maria Mitchell, it’s an umbrella for a variety of spaces in Nantucket included a natural science museum, an aquarium and two observatories.
But art is a welcome extra for visitors. Nantucket’s real offering is scenery. Think cobbled streets of yesteryear, and everything glinting through rose tinted glasses. Part of that panoramic view is the real estate. In 2008, Nantucket had some of the highest home values in the whole country, so whether you’re looking for home envy or not, that’s what you’ll get. The same goes for hotels, too. While Nantucket is brimming with beautiful inns and B&Bs, you don’t get a finer mixture of quaint and luxe than The Wauwinet. Standing proudly on the northern tip of the island, a good 20 minutes from town, the hotel gives you a real getaway, without unwanted hikes or long car rides. From the hotel, take the central path to an endless, private beach promenade and gaze out to sea one way and Nantucket Bay the other. The interiors are luxe too, with all 32 rooms decked out in marble and cream décor and neat, white shutters.
Just as some crave the calm, others crave action, and Nantucket excels at both. Chicken Box is a popular spot, just outside of town, where music and socializing are the names of the game. If you’re looking for something more casual, try The Muse, a hang-out known for it’s live music and relaxed vibe. Before the party starts, remember to indulge at American seasons, headed by up Chef Michael LaScola, and famed for its regional and seasonal produce – with a twist. The boutique all-American wine list, put together by Sommelier Orla Murphy, is a must as often the dishes are created with the tipple in mind.
Whether you whisk your partner away for a blissful romantic weekend, or spend a week with your family idly perusing what the island has to offer, Nantucket is always a good idea.