Nantucket Island is a small island about 30 miles off of Cape Cod. It is a popular summer destination as a quick getaway from New England. Nantucket vacations are all about beaches, biking, historic houses, cute shops and great food. It is a relaxing vacation and a great family destination.

If you are looking for great information about what to do in Nantucket, where to go, where to stay and great Nantucket vacation tips, you have come to the right place! Travel is our jam and we have great travel tips for Alaska Cruises, Iceland, London, the Mediterranean and more!


Nantucket - everything you need to know

What to do in Nantucket

Beaches, Shopping and Food. Those are the big three in Nantucket. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not all there is to do there, but if you like those 3 activities, you will love Nantucket!

Nantucket is full of adorable historic homes, museums, amazing beaches (see below), local shops (you won’t find chain stores here), beautiful boats and miles and miles of beaches. If you love to bike ride, you can get your fill here. The island is very bicycle friendly and many opt for a bike rather than a motorized vehicle (again, see below)

How do you get to Nantucket

Nantucket is an Island and can only be reached by boat or airplane. Boston has many reasonably priced flights that leave regularly and only take about 20 minutes to get there. There are many places to get ferry’s to Nantucket Island. Probably one of the more popular ports is Hyannis. They have a regular passenger ferry and a car ferry. The high speed ferry from Hyannis took about an hour.

How long do you need on Nantucket? Can you do a Day Trip?

We were in Nantucket for 3 nights. For us, it was the perfect amount of time. 2 nights would have been enough, but we loved the extra day on the beach! You could absolutely do a day trip to Nantucket. If you are planning a day trip, I would go to the beach in the morning and spend the afternoon browsing the shops and the docks (it is so fun to look at the huge yachts).

Do you need a car on Nantucket

If you are staying anywhere near Nantucket town, then no… not only do you not need a car, you really don’t want one. The traffic and driving around the main area is really bad. Rather than using a car, the bike is a preferred method of transportation.

Can you rent bikes and scooters?

Bikes and scooters (or mopeds) are plentiful and easy to find and rent. You can rent them by the day, 2-days, week or whatever. You do not need to make a reservation beforehand, you can just walk up and rent your bike on the spot. They provide helmets and locks with all rentals. Prices are reasonable and there are great bike routes around the island.

If you are not wanting to do the hard work of biking (although it is pretty flat on the island), they also rent scooters. These are great if you are planning on exploring the entire island, it’s more remote locations and all that it has to offer.

Again, rentals are available for varying amounts of times depending on your needs. They have single and double scooters (we got the double) If you are planning on renting a scooter, it is recommended to either hold it the night before you need it (you can always cancel with no fee) or get there early to make sure they are available.

If you are planning on renting a bike, consider bringing one of these cell phone bike mounts. While it is a pretty small island, we did manage to get lost. The GPS works great, but it would have been awesome to not have to keep pulling over to look at it to see where we were going!

Where should you stay on Nantucket

Nantucket has tons of inns, hotels, Bed and Breakfasts and rentals (AirBNBs and VRBOs.) We stayed in a quaint little B&B in town. The location was great, everything was pretty much in walking distance.

You can find accommodations outside of town, but if this is your first time coming, I would recommend staying by town. There is so much to do there, it is nice to be close and have it easily accessible.

Where should you eat in Nantucket

There are countless great restaurants in Nantucket. We enjoyed all of our meals. Some of the restaurants we visited were The Fog Island Cafe. This was a delicious breakfast/brunch place! We loved our blueberry pancakes and egg scrambler. The coffee was great and while it looked like it would take a long time to get a table, we were seated within 15 minutes.

One of our favorite dinners was the popular Nautilus restaurant. They don’t take advance reservations, but you can get same day reservations at noon the day of. People were lining up by 10 am. TIP: if you get there right when they open, you can get bar seats. You can also wait for a bar seat (this is what we did). The drinks, while pricey, are amazing and worth it! The food was great. We loved the scallion pancakes and blackened octopus. The crab fried rice looked amazing…we will have to wait until next time to get that!

We also ate at Station 21. This is a newer restaurant on the island. It is more on the contemporary side, with very reasonable prices (for the island). We had the pizza and pappardelle and meatballs. Both were delicious and again, the drinks were outstanding. Great service and reservations are available.

There is an ice cream store called The Juice Bar that always had a line around the corner every time we waked by it. Finally, our last day, we felt like we had to try it. I am not a huge ice cream person, but I must say….it was pretty darn good (but pricey)!

What beaches should you visit on Nantucket

Nantucket is known for its beaches. There are tons of options depending on what you are looking for. Here are a few that we visited:

  • Jetties Beach – this is the closest to town and the busiest. It has a good restaurant called The Sand Bar, right on site. They have good burgers and quick lunches. They are known for their Buck-a-Chuck oysters from 3-5 PM. They also have chairs and umbrellas to rent. The water on this side of the island (the Nantucket Sound) is much warmer than some of the other beaches. While it is a busy beach, we had no problem finding a nice spot to sit and enjoy the view.
  • Cisco Beach – this beach is about 3.5 miles from town. We had a really nice bike ride there. It was pretty flat and easy. On our way to the beach, we stopped at Cisco Brewers (this is a must visit if you are on Nantucket). This is a local brewery with tents, live music and food trucks. The beer was cold and delicious, but note, there is a $10 cover charge to get in. Back to the beach. Cisco beach is beautiful and less busy than Jetties. There is pretty much nothing there besides a hotdog cart. It has great waves for surfing and boogie boards, however the water is cold!
  • Sconset Beach – We took our mopeds to get here, although it is bike-able (but a long bike ride). There are no facilities here at all. Basically just a lifeguard stand and beach. The beach is very pretty and very quiet. There is a small town walking distance from the beach with a small sandwich and coffee shop.
  • Surfside Beach – Surfside beach was a lovely spot to hang out for the day. Less busy than Jetties, but more than the others. They have a nice concession stand with pretty good burgers and salads. There was a taco food truck, but it doesn’t open until 4 PM. They also rent chairs and umbrellas. Great beach to bring the kids to.

What should you pack for a Nantucket vacation?

It really depends on the time of the year and the weather forecast. We visited at the beginning of July and had perfect weather. High 70’s/low 80’s during the day, mid 60’s at night. It was pretty hot during the day, and we wore mostly beachwear. Evenings got pretty cool with the sea breeze, so you will want a light jacket or sweatshirt to throw on after dinner.

The streets are cobblestone and horrible! Do not…. I repeat, do not wear heels. I had a pair of wedge sandals that I wear everywhere and they didn’t make it out of the suitcase. The sidewalks are treacherous!

So, bathing suits, light and casual dresses, salmon shorts (if you are a guy…. everyone was wearing them). If you are traveling with your kids, you have to check out these adorable “matching family bathing suits”. My kids are thanking their lucky stars that they are not little anymore.Matching Family Bathing Suits

Dinners are generally on the casual side, but there are some places that are more dressy than others. I basically went Saturday Night Out dress for our dinners. Jeans are okay with a cute little top. All of the restaurants we visited were fine with the men wearing shorts and nicer tee. Pretty much anything goes! 

Other tip and notes about Nantucket

  • Walking tours – we didn’t do any tours during the day, but we did do the evening Raven’s Walking Tour. This was a Ghost Walk of the downtown area led by Robin, who is a character and pretty entertaining! If you are looking for actual ghosts, you probably won’t run into any, but it was a great way to hear about some of the history of the island. They also do other walking tours as well.
  • Should it rain while you are visiting, there is a quaint movie theater with first run movies
  • One of our favorite activities was our sunset sailing tour on the Endevour with Cap’t Jim. It was 90 minutes, which was the perfect amount of time. You could bring your own beverages and snacks and we got a fabulous view of the island from the water. You couldn’t get a get a better way to see the beautiful sunsets.
  • Groceries – There is a Stop and Shop right in town. It is great to pick up waters, beer, snacks, etc. for the beach. If you have a collapsible cooler, I would recommend throwing it in your luggage. Also, we wished we had our YETI cups (my husband almost bought two while we were there, but I wouldn’t let him). Our drinks on the beach got warm super fast, would have been nice to have a cold drink throughout the day.

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