A Weekend Away: 24 Hours in Nantucket

Just a 40-minute flight from NYC you will find Nantucket, a small island 30 miles south of Cape Cod. Together with the small islands of Tuckernuck and Muskeget, it constitutes the Town of Nantucket. And what a glorious getaway it is.

Don’t feel like flying? Ferries leave from Manhattan and Montauk daily during the summer months. In fact, if time is on your side, the ferry might just be the best way to travel…you can start unwinding while enjoying the ocean breezes with cocktail in hand.

Where to Stay

The-Nantucket-Hotel-Aerial-New-LargeJust 20 minutes from the Nantucket Airport and walking distance from the ferry terminal is The Nantucket Hotel and Resort. This historic venue has something for every traveler: those with children, couples, and even those on a solo jaunt.

Located a couple of blocks from Children’s Beach, the stately resort’s main building dates to 1891. Rooms run from smallish studios to standalone two-bedroom cottages, and all are appointed with the utmost care and attention to detail. Many suites have decks, fridges and kitchenettes, and the cottages add washer/dryers and vintage tubs.

The bright, comfortable rooms are part of the charm, but the location helps as well. The Nantucket is a five-minute walk from downtown’s museums, shops and four-star restaurants. From the hotel, you can literally walk to wherever you want to be.

Those with children will enjoy the heated family swimming pool and the Kids Club, where tweens were spied on a rainy day enjoying a game of Monopoly while happily sipping on fruit juice. The Kids Club, which is just and extra $25 per night for hotel guests, enables kids to make new friends and participate in many different fun activities (Can you say s’mores by the fire pit?) while parents have some alone time.

Need a massage? Wrap yourself in one of the luxe robes that can be found in your room and head to the ground floor. The massage we had was one of the best we’ve ever experienced, and the cherry on top was slipping into a warm, deep bath back in the room just moments after the pampering was completed.

Arriving on a Monday? Head downstairs at 5pm for the free wine-and-cheese happy hour (that lasts until 7pm). It’s a great way to meet your fellow guests and, if you’re lucky, the super friendly owners of the hotel, Gwenn and Mark Snider, will be making the rounds as well. Everyone on the island knows them, and they are happy to share tips for what to see and do.

What to Do

You can literally see the entire island of Nantucket in a couple of hours on a bike. Rent one from the Young’s Bike Shop, located on Broad Street right near the ferry terminal.

Learn the History
Whaling is the reason why Nantucket flourished, and island natives still hold the history close to their heart. Learn in all in an hour at the Nantucket Whaling Museum, just around the corner from the hotel. Restored in 2005, the museum features a restored 1847 candle factory, a huge exhibition space, a fully accessible rooftop observation deck overlooking Nantucket harbor, and a full sperm whale skeleton. Fascinating for kids and adults alike!

Historic Walk
Ask the concierge in the lobby of the Nantucket for a walking map of the close-by historic areas. You can visit the oldest house on the island (The Jethro Coffin House), which is just five minutes away; and walk by the gorgeous and regal historic houses, that are a huge part of Nantucket’s history. The area was originally designated as a local historic district in 1955, making it one of the earliest historic districts in the United States.

See a Tiny Lighthouse
Nantucket 20
Head out of the hotel, make a left and walk down Easton Street until it terminates (a 15-minute walk, max) at a mostly-vacant beach that has a tiny lighthouse and a small, mysterious building. The Brant Point Lighthouse was first erected in 1746, and is America’s second oldest lighthouse. The Brant Point Light is only 26 feet tall, making it the shortest lighthouse in all of New England. The existing structure has lasted for over 110 years and is emblematic above all; visitors toss a penny into the sea as they round the point leaving the harbor to ensure that they return someday to the Grey Lady’s (what locals call the island of Nantucket) welcoming arms.

Hit The Beach
A 20-minute walk from the hotel is Jetties Beach, which has lifeguards, changing rooms, playground, volleyball nets, restrooms, showers, a restaurant and take-out food service (in season).

The water is calm and warm, perfect for swimming. There are volleyball nets, tennis courts, a skateboard park and a playground. Windsurfing, sailboating and kayak lessons and rentals available. Beach accessible wheelchairs are available.

Don’t want to walk? The Nantucket has jitney service to and from the beach several times a day.

What to Eat

Head down the road to Something Natural, a local favorite for sandwiches and soups. Staples like roast beef, turkey and, of course, lobster salad are on the menu and there are dozens of garnishes you can add to make the creation your own. Also offered is a good selection of vegan sandwiches and salads. Meals can be bagged up for your day at the beach or eaten on site at one of the picnic tables outside. Be sure to pick up a house-made chocolate chip cookie…the locals rave about them!

If the weather is gorgeous, head to Brotherhood of Thieves on Broad Street, just steps from the Whaling Museum. Perfect for a sunny day, the Brotherhood’s patio and biergarten showcases local Nantucket beers. If a burger is what you crave, go for the Sympathy for the Devil Burger: Black Angus Beef chili, fresh jalapeno, monterey jack cheese and a lovely tequila mole. Need something lighter? The seared tuna salad with ginger sesame vinaigrette and soy marinated rice noodles, is fantastic. Start with the oysters…so fresh and briny we ordered more.

After a long day of seeing the sights, you’re going to be tired. Luckily, just a block from the hotel is the amazing American Seasons. Owner and chef Neil Ferguson has quite a pedigree, heralding from four-star restaurants on Paris, New York and London.

Expect dark woods and a quiet atmosphere. Ask for a table close to the bay windows that look out onto Centre Street to set the mood for a delightful, upscale meal.

The menu is seasonal, and the highlights for summer include the terrine of rabbit and foie gras, truffled artichoke salad, grilled sourdough, and the roasted sea scallops, fennel bulb, vinaigrette antiboise, with herb and leaf salad for starters; The muscovy duck, parsley root, medjool dates, apple vinegar jus, and arctic char filet, honey roast parsnip, cavalo nero, fenugreek broth for entrees.