Ah, summer. And the living is easy. This is a time for vacations and weekend getaways — and with perfect weather all around the country, there are plenty of places to fit the bill when it comes to fun under the sun. If the beach beckons you this summer, there’s no need to head to the Caribbean or the local shore.
Residents of New England have been turning to the intimate charm of Martha’s Vineyard for summer getaways since before the turn of the century. Located in the Atlantic Ocean just south of Massachusett’s mainland, this was originally a whaling island–home to a quarter of the world’s whaling fleet. Nowadays, the island is home to nearly 15,000 year-round residents and is only accessible via ferry and small plane. Six towns make up the Vineyard, as it is know to locals and returning visitors: Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, West Tisbury and Vineyard Haven.
The charm of the Vineyard will most certainly greet you as you steep off the ferry in Edgartown. The tree-lined streets with red-bricked sidewalks meander through quiet neighborhoods with large, clapboard homes, which have grayed from the salty air. Picket fences draped with blooming rose bushes and hydrangeas create the perfect spot to lean a bike against — temporary parking as you empty the wicker bike basket containing wine and cheese for a picnic on a secluded, dune-covered beach. Church steeples peek out of the trees, as if you were on a postcard of New England dated 50, 100 or even 150 years ago. The preserved Edgartown Light house stands guard over the harbor.
Also overlooking Edgartown Harbor is the Harbor View Hotel a respite for romance during your stay on the island. The hotel with its commanding wraparound porch — yes, lined with rocking chairs — has been entertaining lovers both young and old since 1891.
Enjoy the hotel’s pool, or rent a bike and pedal to the shore. Whale-watching tours leave the island daily, so you can combine marine history with nature while witnessing the majesty of the mammoth whales surfacing in the cool ocean. Stroll the streets of Edgartown for some quaint shopping, but be sure to make your way to Vineyard Haven for a meal at the popular Black Dog Tavern — don’t forget to pick up your T-shirt; proof you’ve become an official visitor of the Vineyard. Also swing by Oak Bluffs to ride the Flying Horses Carousel, the oldest operating platform carousel in the U.S., which has been running rates since 1884.
Martha’s Vineyard and the Harbor View’s quiet and laid-back atmosphere provide an ideal setting for travelers truly wanting to relax while getting away.