Nantucket is one of the most charming places to visit. With its historic downtown, shingled houses with white trim, and miles of coastline, you can spend a whole summer exploring the island! Here’s the ultimate Nantucket travel guide with tips on what to do, see, and eat.
How to Get to Nantucket
You have two options for getting to Nantucket: ferry or airplane.
There are two ferry companies operating out of Hyannis. Both Hy-Line Cruises and the Steamship Authority offer highspeed options that take about an hour. The highspeed ferries are pedestrian-only. If you want to take a car, you will need to take the traditional ferry offered by the Steamship Authority which takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Cape Air is the main airline providing year-round service to Nantucket from Boston and a few other locations in Massachusetts. Some of the main airlines like JetBlue, Delta, and United provide seasonal service from Boston, DC, and the New York area. If you are flying from elsewhere, you will likely have a connection in Boston. You can read more about flight options here.
Where to Stay on Nantucket
Nantucket has tons of hotels and bed and breakfasts in town. Here are some top choices:
- White Elephant: This is the top luxury option located on the harbor with a price tag to match!
- Life House Nantucket: This newly renovated boutique hotel opened in July 2020 and has a hip vibe. We stayed here and enjoyed little touches like free continental breakfast and evening cocktails on the porch.
- Greydon House: This hotel has one of the best locations for those who want to be right in town.
If you are looking to stay elsewhere on the island, the Wauwinet, located near the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, is a great choice.
Larger groups may want to consider Airbnb. Click here to get up to $50 off your first stay.
Things to Do on Nantucket
Here’s a list of things to do on Nantucket:
- Hit the beach (more on that in the section below)
- Brant Point Lighthouse
- Shopping in town
- Cisco Brewery
- Sankaty Head Lighthouse
- Siasconset Bluff Walk
- Rent a Jeep and drive to Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge and Great Point Lighthouse (more on that here)
- Rent bikes and ride on Nantucket’s miles of bike paths
Check out how we fit these activity into a four day itinerary here.
Visiting Nantucket’s Beaches
Nantucket has beaches on all sides…it’s an island after all! For calmer waters, stick to the north shore which is protected by Nantucket Sound. The most popular north shore beaches in walking distance of town include Jetties Beach, Children’s Beach, and Steps Beach. Jettie’s Beach is good for a full day at the beach since there is a restaurant called the Sandbar located on site. We found Steps Beach to be the most beautiful.
Cisco Beach is a popular south shore beach located close to Cisco Brewers. For those looking for strong surf waves, check out Madaket Beach on the west side. It’s located near a restaurant called Millie’s which is perfect for getting takeout for a beach picnic. Madaket is also the best spot for watching the sunset.
If you want more options, check out this complete guide to Nantucket’s beaches here.
Where to Eat on Nantucket
For a small island, Nantucket has surprisingly good restaurants!
- Black-Eyed Susans: The most popular breakfast spot in town…prepare to wait in line!
- The Downyflake: A family-owned diner with famous donuts
- Bartlett’s Farm: Located between town and Cisco Beach, Bartlett’s Farm has amazing breakfast sandwiches.
- Born & Bread: A bakery in town with huge, delicious scones
- Millie’s: Millie’s is located near Madaket beach and has the best tacos, quesadillas, and po’ boys.
- Sandbar at Jetties Beach: The name says it all. This restaurant is located at Jetties Beach so it’s easy to grab food while enjoying the beach.
- Provisions: Located near the Hy-Line Ferry, this sandwich shop is famous for its Turkey Terrific.
- Claudette’s: A grab and go sandwich spot in Siasconset
- Cru: An upscale raw bar right on the harbor
- The Nautilus: Delicious Asian fusion small plates
- Galley Beach: Fine dining directly on the beach
- American Seasons: Known for its seasonal new American fare
- Lola 41: A popular sushi restaurant with gourmet burgers
Reservations are highly recommended for dinner, especially during the summer.
Nantucket Travel Guide Final Thoughts
There’s tons to do on Nantucket besides just hitting the beach, though that’s certainly part of the fun! This ultimate Nantucket Travel Guide provides a comprehensive breakdown of how to spend your time on the island.
Anything I missed? Comment below!