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Massachusetts Spotlight: Nantucket

Cape Cod and the Islands

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Posted by Henry Zeng, guest blogger of Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Ever been to a place that does not have any traffic lights? With the nickname of “The Little Grey Lady of the Sea”, due to its appearance from the ocean when it is fogbound, Nantucket is a must-visit destination this summer: a place of trendy shops and boutiques. Nantucket is an island 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod. Due to its location, the eastern coast of Nantucket was the first place in the U.S. to see the first sunrise in the new millennium.

The name “Nantucket” is adapted from similar Algonquian names for the island, meaning “faraway land or island”. Due to its roots with the Native Americans, Nantucket has the largest concentration of Native American place names in the country. There are also over 800 structures that pre-date the Civil War. Being named as the “finest surviving architectural and environmental example of a late 18th– and early 19th-century New England seaport town” by the National Park Service. With its wide variety of beach and boating activities; its historic town, villages, and museums; its cultural activities; and its abundance of restaurants and inns, Nantucket will offer you a different twist to your visit to Massachusetts; something you can’t get from big, metropolitan areas such as Boston.

Nantucket beach/boating activities

With more than 10 beaches on Nantucket spread throughout the island, there is no shortage of beach and boating activities for you to do. The waters surrounding Nantucket are teeming with fish of all kinds, from fish as big as the striped bass to shellfish as small as steamers. You have the chance to visit numerous fishing charters throughout Nantucket to get hands-on fishing experience. There are also numerous boat charters where you get a chance to get acquainted with Nantucket’s maritime history and see sights along the waterfront through whale and seal watching trips and boat rentals.

Museums and Sites

There are more than half a dozen museums and sites that are open to visitors year round, featuring Nantucket’s whaling history, Nantucket shipwrecks, Nantucket Lightship baskets, different types of island art, numerous lighthouses, and more. Nantucket has a deep history with whaling as it was known as the whaling capital of the world during the late 18th and early 19th century, making it one of the wealthiest communities in American during that time. The story of Moby Dick, written by Herman Melville, was based on the true story of the Nantucket whaler Essex which departed on its fateful trip in the summer of 1819.

Restaurants and inns

Other than its beautiful beaches and unique whaling history, Nantucket is also a place known for its vibrant food scene and home to a variety of restaurants and bars. Some of the most well-known foods on Nantucket are the ice-cream at The Juice Bar, where a long line of hungry customers will be lining up around the block every night; The Downyflake doughnuts that Nantucket natives hold near and dear to their hearts. With the bodies of water surrounding Nantucket, you just have to eat seafood. Many restaurants are located along the seashore, which means you are able to experience fresh seafood while looking at a beautiful sunset.

With so many amazing restaurants, charming stores, and historical museums, there is no shortage of traditional guesthouses, beach-side cottages and classic inns on Nantucket. With places such as the 76 Main, the Century House, and the White Elephant, you’re sure to have a unique experience.

Events in Nantucket

Every summer, Nantucket’s event calendar is packed with a wide array of ways to experience the island and showcase local artistic talents. Some of the biggest events on Nantucket this summer is their annual book festival, film festival, and comedy festival. Nantucket also has their annual restaurant week from late September to early October to celebrate the superlative culinary tradition found in Nantucket.

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