Category Archives: Martha's Vineyard

My Bucket List, or Day Trip to Oak Bluffs on Marthas Vineyard

September 27, 2014 by Beth Colt

Visit from Woods Hole InnI recently ran into a gaggle of women of a certain age from Ohio on the streets of Woods Hole.  They were wearing matching yellow t-shirts which were titled “My Bucket List” and included Las Vegas, New York City and you guessed it, Martha’s Vineyard.  I hear this a lot at the front desk of the inn: “We are headed over to Martha’s Vineyard — it’s on our bucket list!”  It might surprise you to know that Vineyarders never refer to their island home using the full name — they call it “the Island” or sometimes “the Rock.”

Summer keeps me pretty darn busy, but yesterday dawned clear and warm — one of the most beautiful days of September — and I hopped the ferry to get on the Rock.  The boat leaves about 50 yards from the front door of the Woods Hole Inn, and I walked on with other passengers up the ramp to the left of the terminal (round trip $16).  The 45 minute trip across Vineyard Sound was uneventful, just lovely views over Nobska Lighthouse, West Chop, Vineyard Haven with gulls circling above, tourists posing for pictures.

The Oak Bluffs ferry landing is offered in summer only, and this was one of the last days one can ride directly to “OB” as the locals call it.  By the time we pulled into the slip, the wind and waves made the landing challenging and I heard that later ferries were diverted into Vineyard Haven which is a much more protected harbor.

a daytrio from Woods Hole



In Oak Bluffs, I met an old friend from high school and we wandered down to the harbor looking for a great spot to eat.





Daytrip from Woods Hole Inn

We found it on the second floor deck of a gingerbread cottage turned restaurant called “Lobsterville,” where we sat in the sun overlooking the harbor and enjoyed a delightful meal.  Catching up with old friends in this kind of venue is unique — you want to talk about the last thirty years, but there are so many interesting things to look at and see that sometimes the conversation gets derailed, like Yes, then my father died oh look at that beautiful wooden sloop.  (Maybe those two thoughts are not so disconnected anyway.)




Woods Hole Inn close to Marthas Vineyard

At Lobsterville, I ordered the steak appetizer on the recommendation of the waiter.  It came on a puff pastry with tomatoes and melted mozzarella.  It was enough for a full meal with two pieces of steak, a drizzle of reduced balsamic and this delightful sprig of rosemary ($16).








visit Marthas Vineyard

After lunch, we wandered the streets of Oak Bluffs past hamburger joints, moped rentals, t-shirt shops, fudge and candy stores and of course the famous 100+ year old “Flying Horses” Carousel.  We strolled into several wonderful Inns (the Dockside, a new place which looks super chic) and the Oak Bluffs Inn, a charmingly renovated authentic Victorian.








Daytrip from Woods Hole

Oak Bluffs Inn owner Eric showed us the tower atop his building with wonderful views of Circuit Avenue and the ocean in the distance.  He was really nice, taking time out of a busy day to give us a full tour.  Here is a webcam of the view from this tower!








We also strolled the Campgrounds, also known as the Gingerbread Cottages.  This unique community of 1880’s miniature Victorian houses circles around an open air wooden meeting hall which was used for Methodist Revival Retreats back in the day but now is a gathering place for summer concerts, lectures and other cool things like a summer taping of the “Moth Radio Hour.”  Last year when I walked through the Campgrounds, Wynton Marsalis was playing.   This is hallowed ground, a national landmark and one of the most charming neighborhoods you will ever visit.  It is a very short walk from the ferry.


day trip from the Woods Hole InnGingerbread Cottages breat day trip from Woods HoleVisit Marthas Vineyard from Woods Hole MA







On the way back to Woods Hole, I managed to get a photo of the new Quicks Hole Tavern (our new year round restaurant opposite the ferry) which was a new angle on the building, especially photogenic on this lovely blue sky day before the leaves start to turn.

IMG_5860 IMG_5873 IMG_5881







Back in Woods Hole that evening, a local band called “Brother’s Rye” was playing in front of Quicks Hole Taqueria and le tout Woods Hole was out on the streets to enjoy the last gasp of summer weather.

As the day ended, I thought about the nature of friendship and travel, that I can get away to this incredible island next door,  pick up a conversation with an old friend from the tenth grade, enjoy the crisp, clear fall weather on Cape Cod, and return home to my friendly village with music placing in the streets.

I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did, my day trip from Woods Hole to Oak Bluffs (aka The Rock) would most definitely be on it!




MV Chilifest on January 24, 2015

September 7, 2014 by Beth Colt

MV Chilifest (also known as the Big Chili Contest) is right around the corner on January 24, 2015 this year!  Start getting excited for the fun of the ferry ride packed with happy people headed to the big tent with all you can eat chili donated from local restaurants, live music and plenty of cold beer.  Sponsored by mvyRadio, this day of wintery fun and games benefits the local Red Stocking Fund and raises over $30,000 for local charity.

The ferries leave Woods Hole starting early with eager restauranteurs carting hot chili for the MV Chilifest.  There are free buses on the Martha’s Vineyard side to the PA Club in Oak Bluffs where the crowd gathers under a huge tent with heaters.  About 3,000 people attend, and the party lasts most of the day, at least until all the soups are consumed and prizes handed out for winners.  Tickets to the  Martha’s Vineyard Big Chili Contest are hard to get, mostly sold at local bars and hangouts both on the island and in Falmouth.

This year, the Woods Hole Inn is offering a special MV Chilifest package with free Chilifest and ferry tickets included in your two night stay.  Conveniently located across the street from the Steamship Authority ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, our two night package is a great deal.  You can see all the details on our specials page.  Book now while supplies last.

Here are some snapshots of all the fun from prior years, or go ahead and dive into the blog archive for the full story.

Woods Hole Inn Chilifest Special

Having fun at the Marthas Vineyard Chilifest.

Woods Hole Inn Chilifest Package

Over 3,000 people attend the MV Chilifest in January on Martha’s Vineyard

Woods Hole Inn close to ferry to MV

Great fun with live music all day under a tent in January on Martha’s Vineyard near Woods Hole MA.

Woods Hole Inn package for Chilifest

Free chili and lots of beer at the Martha’s Vineyard Big Chili Contest on Cape Cod in winter.

Woods Hole Inn Chilifest package

Move aside Mardi Gras, we have FUN on Cape Cod in wintah.

Relax in Edgartown, nearby Edgartown MA lodging

August 11, 2014 by Beth Colt


Relax in Edgartown MA

Sea-washed shingles, neatly trimmed cottages, cheerful flowerbeds, and a scenic harbor full of yachts and sailboats make Edgartown one of my favorite spots to visit on Martha’s Vineyard. Edgartown seems to emanate summer and relaxation, beckoning me back every year.

Ferry boat to Martha's Vineyard from Woods HoleThe easiest (and most economical) way to get there is to take the Woods Hole Steamship Authority ferry to either Oak Bluffs or Vineyard Haven, which is the perfect solution for finding Edgartown MA lodging. From either of these Vineyard towns, catch Martha’s Vineyard bus #1 or #13; they leave every fifteen minutes and cost a few dollars.




Coffee in Edgartown MAOnce in Edgartown, I head immediately to Murdick’s Café for a perfectly brewed iced coffee and a taste of their homemade fudge. The chocolate peanut butter variety is decidedly indulgent, but who can argue with a recipe that dates back to 1887!




Things to do in Edgartown MALikewise, Edgartown is arguably one of the best places for boutique shopping: luxuriant cashmere sweaters donning nautical patterns at 20 Main, sailboat-embroidered shorts at Island Outfitters, and uniquely Vineyard necklaces and bracelets at numerous fine jewelry shops. There are also preppy name-brand stores like Jack Wills, Lilly Pulitzer, and Vineyard Vines. My favorite store is Backwater Trading, featuring outerwear, fishing paraphernalia, and casual beach attire – summer anyone?



Delicious food nearby Edgartown MA lodgingFor classic Vineyard fare, wander down Dock St. to the Seafood Shanty. Their calamari is fresh and local and delicious and the rooftop dining provides spectacular views of the harbor and the Chappy Ferry’s “back and forth” between the Vineyard and Chappaquiddick Island, a 527 foot passage!




Edgartown MA lodgingI discovered two new treasures this year in Edgartown: Edgartown Books and the Edgartown Lighthouse. The bookstore is located right downtown and was a welcomed oasis from the bustling town. Cozy seating areas tucked between aisles of this historic building brings browsing for the perfect beach read to a new level. And don’t miss the awesome stairs! After unwinding, I was ready for a trek to Edgartown Light, my first time to venture out to this totally picturesque lighthouse. Wandering past the historic Edgartown Public Library, stately seaside homes, and the gorgeous Harborview Hotel makes the trip even more worthwhile.


Woods Hole InnBefore catching the bus to Oak Bluffs for the ferry and to complete my summer escapade, I grabbed a freshly made frozen “Arnold Palmer” from MacPhail’s Corner Café – refreshing! So, whether you want to walk along the harbor or spend the day browsing boutiques, Edgartown will become your summer pleasure. –Guest Blogger, Gwen Martin




Cafes in Edgartown MA

Shopping in Edgartown

Woods Hole Inn Day Trip

Day trip from Woods Hole MA

Downtown Edgartown MA

Edgartown Public Library

Chappy Ferry

Shopping in Edgartown MA

Edgartown MA books

Homes in Edgartown MA

Shopping in Edgartown

Ferry boat to Vineyard Haven

Day trip to #OB

August 20, 2013 by Beth Colt

Cape Cod

Did you know over a million people a summer take the Steamship Authority Ferry to the Vineyard from Woods Hole?  Hard to imagine, until you live in Woods Hole and you watch the people streaming on and off the boats.

And while we spend the summer at the front desk advising people about how to navigate the island, you would be surprised how infrequently we actually have time to head over ourselves.  So it was with some excitement that I boarded the Island Home this Saturday to explore.

Highlight of the trips are many, but it all starts with the ferry ride itself — bright sunshine, sparkling water over Vineyard Sound, seagulls following the boat, wind in your hair on a hot day.  Fantastic.

On arrival, we walked the beachfront with the great expanse of ocean and sky to your left.  Down on the sand below you, there are people, boats, towels, beach chairs and so much fun happening both in the water and out.

After our fill of the beach views, we strolled to the Methodist Camp often referred to as the “Gingerbread Cottages.”  Built in circles surrounding an open air wooden gathering place from the 1880s, these historic landmark cottages are a sight to see all dressed in their Victorian finery, many colored facades and rocking-chair stuffed porches.  The lucky occupants were sipping wine spritzers with their feet up on balconies, enjoying the promenade of people walking through and the sound of  Wynton Marsalis playing under the glorious tabernacle.

From the Campgrounds, we returned to the hustle bustle of Circuit Avenue and jostled our way past pizza, donut, fudge and burger joints.  We window shopped all the hangouts and chose the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company.  I was dutifully impressed with their milky and authentic clam chowder — winner of this year’s Yankee Magazine Best Chowder in New England award!  Yum.

The boat ride back was just as great as the way over, except now sunset over water and a lot cooler.  I got some good snaps of the scenery — plus the Quicks Hole churros we enjoyed in Woods Hole at dusk — and I will share it all with you here.  A fine summer’s day.

Cape Cod, summer fun Vineyard Haven harbor view







Gingerbread Cottages Gingerbread Cottages in Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard






Oak Bluffs Martha's Vineyard ferry terminal Churros from Quicks Hole in Woods Hole Sunset over Vineyard Sound on ferry home to Woods Hole

Lap of Luxury

January 8, 2013 by Beth Colt

The summer people (those who own houses and visit Woods Hole mostly in the summer) really know how to live — yachts waiting at the end of long deep harbor docks, vegetable gardens brimming with hyper-local fare, rose cutting gardens and tennis courts perched above private beaches.

Martha's Vineyard vacation

Surrounding the charming village of Woods Hole (where the Woods Hole Inn is located) with it’s busy shops and wonderful restaurants are estates, docks and yachts that would put the most status-oriented Hamptonite’s teeth on edge.

But Woods Hole wealth is so low key that you probably have never heard of the families that reside near here, captains of industry who choose to remain anonymous, who cherish their private personas and their hidden invitation-only estates.  Cape Cod has sections where it’s all about status, where public dinners in expensive and impossible-to-get-into restaurants are de rigueur (ahem, Nantucket) but Woods Hole is decidedly not one of them.

Woods Hole people are more impressed with your latest published book, your hike up Kilimanjaro or your Nobel prize than they are with the length of your driveway or the new varnish on your Woody.  (Yes, that is a real Woody waiting to squire this Woods Hole family around Buzzards Bay after dinner.)

Woody waits in Cape Cod driveway.


One such prominent Woods Hole clan entertains guests on a series of dark blue power yachts for sunset cruises to Vineyard Haven and Edgartown (harbor towns on nearby Martha’s Vineyard), finally acquiring so many different boats that they bought a local marina in order to dock them all nearby.  Another local grande dame told me, upon touring her house laden with China Trade era antiques: “We don’t buy furniture, we have it.”  The Dowager Countess on Downton Abbey could not have said it better.



Private beaches on Cape Cod

But keeping it real is part of the game — I have had cocktails on the verandah of a fabulous Penzance Point house only to see it’s occupants headed out of Job Lot the next morning, arms laden with items priced at $1.  Or arrived on the porch of the finest property and shared laughter and deep insights into current events along with stale saltines and watery lemonade.

This must be how the rich get richer, I muse.  I just continue to feel lucky to live amongst the beauty and eccentricity that is Woods Hole — the best kept secret on Cape Cod.


map of Cape Cod






Winter Visits to Martha’s Vineyard

December 8, 2012 by Beth Colt

romantic Cape CodLast week I wandered across the street from the Woods Hole Inn and breezed onto the Martha’s Vineyard ferry for a short trip to a place we neighbors refer to as “The Vineyard.”

The winter is a wonderful time to visit, because you see real live Islanders, those hardy souls who choose to live year round on this gorgeous 18-mile stretch of sand and beech groves.

In terms of the look of the population, it is not much different than here in Woods Hole — more grey beards than I ever saw in LA, many people in thick work clothes, the creased faces of hardy sea-farers, boat builders, carpenters, artists and chefs —  plus the former summer people who own shops or have retired from busy careers to run non-profits or serve the demands of the busy summer trade.

There is a sense of distance, even in casual conversation, and my probings about island life are often met with bemused smiles and arch grins.  This cluster of small villages set three miles off the mainland seems to have some sort of secret power, and those who fall under it’s siren song are likely to never leave the place.   They refer to it as the Island, and the rest of the world as America.  As in, “We went to America last week on a BJ’s run.”  It’s like the moat that is Vineyard Sound creates a buffer between the two worlds, a separation that inspires poetry, and peregrinations from urban areas to this secret pocket of urbanity set apart from the rest.

This is one of many reasons why a winter day trip over there is so interesting — it is like visiting a secret world.  Not to mention a gorgeous one.  It takes only 45 minutes to be transported there, and I highly recommend you check it out, especially in winter when you get a better chance at meeting and talking to the locals.  Here are a few other images from my short sojourn.

easy day trip to Martha's VineyardI love the empty seats in the gloaming of dusk.

And arriving in Vineyard Haven at last light.  I do hope my next trip allows more time to explore.

romantic Cape Cod

Boating on Vineyard Sound

August 22, 2012 by Beth Colt

Exploring VIneyard Sound in a boat

Re-discovering Cape Cod from the water is one of my favorite parts of summer.  As the days started to get shorter, and the crispness of autumn snuck into the air, I rushed to take my boat out onto the Sound.  The warmth of the summer water made me feel bold, and we packed the boat with kids and set off in our small vessel last week.

We departed from Woods Hole in the late morning with the goal of visiting Lake Tashmoo on Martha’s Vineyard, and making it up to Menemsha to get fresh fish for dinner at Larsen’s Fish Market.  Some people would take that time to go fishing themselves — I would rather buzz around with a boat load of kids, see the sights and purchase my fresh catch from one of the world’s best fish markets.

Martha's Vineyard boat trip

So off we set with sunscreen, bathing suits, beach towels and plenty of cash to buy our fabulous fish.  First stop, Lake Tashmoo, just about 20 minutes across the Sound on a clear calm day like this one.  Storm clouds hovered over this part of the Vineyard, and I am usually the first to wimp out in the face of real weather but the rest of the sky seemed bright enough and we pushed on.  Brave!

Summer visit to Marthas Vineyard by boatLake Tashmoo was once a pond and the entrance has been opened to a small channel that then lets you into a rather large protected harbor.  We slowed way down to avoid leaving a wake (waves would disturb the other boaters moored and anchored about) so it took the better part of half an hour to putt putt all the way in and see the whole thing.  There were scads of lovely boats, and houses with great green lawns yawning down to the sandy shore below.  It was exciting to peek in the back yards of the valuable waterfront real estate on Martha’s Vineyard and we were not the only ones snooping along the shore.

At the entrance, there is a barrier beach that was packed with people enjoying a lovely day in the sun:

Visiting the Vineyard by boat

Onward we traveled to Menemsha!  The Vineyard is not small (18 miles long) so we powered at full speed for about 20 minutes along the coastline to get to this tiny little town at the very end of the island.  A channel with a strong current flowing let’s you into a beautiful protected harbor packed with real fishing vessels.

Menemsha Harbor with lovely red fishing vessel

We struggled to get a spot to tie up, then found one along the pier and ran to get our fresh fish from Larsen’s.  The kids clambered along the island road to the local ice cream shop, and the day was so hot that it was a challenge to eat the ice cream before it melted all down your arm.  The smarter members of our crew bought “frappes” which is the New England way of asking for an ice cream shake.  Yum.

colorful fish signs in Martha's Vineyard up islandLarsen’s is an institution up island on the Vineyard (you can read more about visiting Up Island as a pedestrian on our blog).  I have seen Larsen’s t-shirts proudly worn in Los Angeles and New York, a way insiders telegraph to each other that they are “in the know” about what is cool on the Vineyard.  It was lunchtime when we got there and people were clustered around lobster trap tables enjoying the fresh fare and harbor views.

Larsens Fish on the VineyardI especially liked the look of this meal, but there were too many kids with us to indulge in a lobster feast.   Gotta love those all-American paper cups:)  Next time!

Lobster meal on paper plates in rustic setting

We explored the Menemsha harbor a wee bit more, then read a few days later of a shark sighting right near there.  I guess they come for the same reason the fisherman like these waters — plenty of fresh fish!

I love my annual peregrination to Menemsha, and I will be back soon before the weather turns the water cool again.  You simply can not beat a day on the waters of Vineyard Sound.  You can re-create this journey with one of many local charter boat captains.  Book a room at the Woods Hole Inn and with a little advance notice we would be happy to set a day trip just like this one up for you.  Sharks, lobster and all:)

Visiting Vineyard Sound

Visiting Beautiful Up-Island Martha’s Vineyard

August 16, 2012 by Beth Colt


Blog Post by Megan Jensen

My early trips this summer to Martha’s Vineyard kept me close to the main island towns of Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. Each town is unique and has plenty to offer for the casual journey to an offshore isle. But, for my last sojourn to the island before heading home, I decided I was up for something more adventurous – Up Island, as the locals call Menemsha, Chilmark and Aquinnah.

It was a rainy and cloudy day but I decided to brave the weather and optimistically bought a day pass for the bus hoping to see all of the up-island hotspots, from the Menemsha fish markets to the Gay Head lighthouse.


Taking the bus is my absolute favorite way to get around the Vineyard and I love the helpful and informative bus drivers. They really are the true guides to the island. They’ll drop you off anywhere along their route, and make sure you get picked back up again. They can point out anything from Jackie Onassis’s property to the greatest breakfast stop, and will tell you the best and fastest route to get where you are going.

To head up island you will need to take the number 2 or 3 bus. I would recommend buying an all-day bus pass for $7, otherwise its $1-2 every time you get on and off the bus. When I took the bus I went to Menemsha first because I wanted to have lunch in the historic fishing village, but the bus driver told me it would have been much easier if I had first gone to Aquinnah and then worked my way back to Menemsha.


This tiny, historic fishing village offers visitors a chance to see and experience a different way of life. I was beyond excited to try the fresh seafood and it really was incredible, just-caught fresh and I found myself trying one of everything. The fish markets are little more than one room shacks and you have to eat your meal while sitting outside on lobster traps at makeshift tables. Menemsha Harbor offers a great public beach and beautiful sunsets. For five dollars, you can take the bike ferry across the water to the bike path that leads all the way to the Gay Head cliffs and lighthouse. If the scenery seems vaguely familiar to you, it might be because parts of the movie Jaws were filmed here. Give yourself a few hours here – and keep in mind the bus only comes once an hour.





Chilmark offers a great in-between stop on your way from Menemsha to Aquinnah (or vice-versa). The Chilmark Store is sure to be busy, and here you can stock up on groceries, local produce and grab lunch – the pizzas are delicious and homemade. Down the street is the Chilmark Chocolate Shop known for a constant line out the door.  I found it to be a great place to relax and refuel before heading to Aquinnah.




Aquinnah may arguably be the most beautiful place on the Vineyard.  The name was changed from Gay Head in 1998 to reflect the year round Native American population that still lives there.  This town is known for its stunning clay cliffs, lighthouse and Jungle Beach.  Located near the lighthouse there are quaint rows of shops where you can buy beautifully crafted jewelry or have a bite to eat. Be sure to give yourself 2-3 hours here – there is plenty to see and do. Although if it is really rainy I’d come back a different day, as all activities are outdoors.



Exploring this side of the Vineyard gave me a very different look at the island and personally I prefer the up-island area to the bustling towns. I love the remote feeling, the broad vistas and the sense of peace.  I hope you get a chance to visit this less-seen part of the Vineyard and find it as beautiful and memorable as I did!

Eight fun things to do in Oak Bluffs

July 20, 2012 by Beth Colt

Hot days in July sometimes cause sudden thunderstorms.

This week was hot, hot like life on the proverbial tin roof, so I lit out for the open air of the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, hoping to catch a little wind on the way, and see the sights in Oak Bluffs.  I have been to the Vineyard many times before, but never explored every nook and cranny of this hip little island town, so here — after an afternoon of beating the streets  — are my favorite to things to do in Oak Bluffs:

1. Hunt for a Souvenir.

Island life is filled with long dusk walks, ice cream cones and trips to the beach.

From Soft as a Grape to Menemsha Blues to the Black Dog, there is a t-shirt for everyone on the main strip which is called Circuit Avenue.  I wandered into the Black Dog and admired their fluffy sweatshirts with the ubiquitous large retriever.  Tip for shoppers: While there appears to be a Black Dog on every corner, the “outlet” store sells much of the same stuff at a discount in a small shop down by the marina called the Dockside Premium Outlet.

2. Go Upscale.

Oak Bluffs now has a Vineyard Vines.

Since the Vineyard was discovered by the masses in the last decade or so (much to the chagrin of the folks who have loved it for centuries), the shopping has gone upscale, especially in Edgartown and Vineyard Haven.  But even rough and tumble Oak Bluffs now has a Vineyard Vines, so don’t miss this wonderful shop painted navy and hot pink at the end of Circuit Avenue.

3. Eat an  Ice Cream.

Ice Cream on Martha's Vineyard.

Do not leave OB without an ice cream cone.  Mad Martha’s, Ben and Bill’s —  doesn’t matter much which place you choose, you will be sure to leave with that blissed out, I-am-on-vacation-and-I-just consumed-three-days-worth-of sugar smile.

4.  Visit the Gingerbread Cottages

Illumination Night is a famous time to visit this incredible neighborhood.Just behind Circuit Ave sits the neighborhood known as the “Gingerbread Cottages.”  This incredible collection of brightly-painted Victorian summer cottages was originally a Methodist campgrounds but is now on the National Register of Historic Places and is a cherished spot for visitors and residents alike.  Stroll back in time on the tiny pedestrian streets, their yards cluttered with day lillies and porches jammed with Kennedy rockers painted every color of the rainbow.

5.  Grab an iced coffee.

A visit from the Woods Hole Inn to Oak Bluffs for the day.

Plenty of choice here for the quintessential frosty coffee crammed with ice.  I went with decaf and lots of milk, and the cup in my hand kept me cool for several extra blocks of exploration.

6. Ride the Flying Horses.

Near the ferry terminal in Oak Bluffs is a 100 year old carousel.

This 100+ year old carousel is just as charming as it looks in photos.  You will see it immediately as you get off the ferry in OB, and be sure to wait for a ride — it’s worth it!

7.  The Beach.

You don't have to go far to find the beach on Martha's Vineyard.Is there anything better than a beach right next to a ferry terminal?  The Jersey Shore has nothing on this, with calm waters, a waterfront park and the shops a stone’s throw from the sand.  Feeling ambitious?  Rent a bike and ride towards Edgartown.  You will come upon the “Jaws” bridge — with kids jumping off the causeway into the tidal currents below just like they did 30+ years ago in the movie.

8.  Ride the ferry home to Woods Hole.

Ferries leave about hourly all summer long between Martha's Vineyard and Woods Hole.Nothing better at the end of a full day of sightseeing than flopping into an ocean-view seat for the cool ferry ride home.  Watch the gulls circle above the deck and feel the southwesterly breeze on your face.  Well-earned relaxation at it’s very finest.

Home from a long day in Oak Bluffs, happy to be back in Woods Hole.

Martha’s Vineyard Chilifest 2012

January 24, 2012 by Beth Colt

The Martha’s Vineyard Chilifest is coming up this weekend, on Saturday January 28th in Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard.

I blogged a lot about this last year so look here OR here for more photos and information about my experience at the 2011 version.

FAQ’s about Chilifest –

How do I get tickets?  This is hard but not impossible.  You could have mailed a request to WMVY but that is sold out now.  Here is what the MVY Radio website has to say about it today:

Tickets are on sale now at Shirley’s True Value Hardware in Vineyard Haven, Trader Fred’s in Edgartown and they go on sale at The Courtyard in Cataumet on Wednesday, January 25th at 6pm.  A limited number of tickets will be available at the door on the day of the event.

How much are they?  Tickets are $30. Limit of 4 tickets per person.

How do I get there?  Steamship Authority from Woods Hole.  See the schedule here.

Who is playing this year? This according to the MVYRadio website:

Under  the tent
12n-1pm Mexico Lindo
1pm-2pm Entrain
2pm-2:45pm Mexico Lindo
3pm Awards
4pm-6pm Entrain

Inside in the New Bar
12-4  Syndicate
4-6.30 DJ Alvzie

Will I have fun?  Oh yeah.

What about the chili?  Lots to pick from, all free once you are inside.  Well worth the trip.

Where can I spend the night in Falmouth?  Usually I would say the Woods Hole Inn but we are closed for renovations.  Try the Palmer House in Falmouth, the Holiday Inn in Falmouth or Inn on the Square in Falmouth if you decide driving post the Chilifest is not a great idea.

Good luck and tell me how it went!

High School Dating…

December 29, 2011 by Beth Colt

Construction blogging is like high school dating.  You flirt, you kiss for the first time, and then all of a sudden you have nothing to say to each other.  Yes, hard to imagine but I have run out of clever things to say about wood framing, Marvin windows and drywall.

In truth, quite a bit of drama unfurled at the Woods Hole Inn as we hurdled towards 2012.  But I can’t really go into it in any detail without hurting feelings or pissing people off.  There was the fight over an 8 foot hole in the roof (abated), the struggles with NStar (we gave up), the drama of the chimney flues (unnecessary) and the saga of crumbling masonry (ongoing).  There were highs and lows, and suffice it to say that so far, the highs have it. Could I really ask for more than that?

The sub trades came and went.  I met with the contractor and architect weekly.  The bills came monthly and I kept a difibrulator in the office in case of heart attack.  (Wow, stuff is expensive on Cape Cod! )  The bank visited to be sure we are actually spending the money they lend us for the building.  There are cautionary tales told, about borrowers who bough Ferrari’s instead (hmmm) and people over 90 days in default (oooh, that sounds uncomfortable).

But we plowed onward.  The wind blew yesterday, too hard for the roofers which was a disappointment as it was otherwise fortuitous :  clear, dry and not too cold.  We are gunning for the “rough framing, plumbing and electric inspection,”  the first big step toward completion.  After we pass that, then we can insulate, sprinkler and drywall.   It’s all downhill from there with finish carpentry, painting and decorating.  Sounds easy, huh.   And here is what you came for, the photos of progress and action as of late December 2012:

Construction at the Woods Hole Inn, December 2011

We struggled with Marvin Windows as their lead time is much longer than other companies, and they are pricey.  But they look really nice once installed.  If they last a nice long time in the salt spray, I will be happy.  Call me in fifteen years.

Woods Hole Inn windows installed, December 2011

And the views through those windows.   Wow…

View from the Woods Hole Inn as the ferry lands on a windy December day.By late afternoon yesterday the wind was howling and it was clear why the roofers decided to wait a day as this ferry was swept sideways trying to get into it’s slip.

Woods Hole Inn December 2011Taken from the street on Christmas Eve, here is the Woods Hole Inn in late afternoon light.

Thanks for following along and see you all this summer…

Rain or Shine…ing Sea Bike Path

June 12, 2011 by Beth Colt

Local sculpture at the 3 mile mark on the Shining Sea bike path in Falmouth.

The sky was glowering when I biked out of Woods Hole on the Shining Sea bike path yesterday, with a blustery wind blowing from the southeast which is where the summer storms blow in from.  The breeze was warm enough, it was cool and pleasant, a perfect day to explore.

The bike path, which is one of the biggest draws to Falmouth, is on the reclaimed path of the old railroad tracks (abandoned in the 1960s).   This means it is a nice straight line, far from any road except a handful you cross along the way.  How rarely do we get to bike on a paved road nowhere near a car? A special experience, it makes me wish that cities and towns across the country would have to foresight to install a unique right of way such as this one.

The bike path was extended last year, and now runs 11 miles from Woods Hole to North Falmouth. I dream that someday it will extend (as the abandoned train tracks still do) all the way to the Cape Cod Canal and hook up with the path that swoops out toward Provincetown making all of the Cape safely bike-able and connecting us in a green way to our neighbors in Chatham, Wellfleet, Truro and beyond.

I am working towards riding the whole thing round trip, and yesterday I made it past the five mile marker.  The first mile out of Woods Hole is in the shady beech forest, passing over several old wooden bridges the bike wheels going thump thump thump on the weathered boards.  There are glimpses through the trees of the houses on Fay Road that line a private beach looking out at Vineyard Sound.  Tiny intriguing foot paths veer off to the right and left with small painted “private please” signs.

About a mile up, you get your first big reveal of the ocean.  Surf Drive, one of the most beautiful of Falmouth’s many beaches, stretches two miles before you, surf crashing today over the breakwaters, the shore dotted with little cabins on stilts.  I think of the people who used to come here on the train, most headed to the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard,  and imagine that this view was an exciting moment as they emerged from the woods and saw Vineyard Sound for the first time, caught a whiff of that distinctive smell of eel grass drying in the sun, and felt the cool breeze off the water.  I can only imagine this was the first real taste of summer vacation.

View of Surf Drive from the bike path on a stormy day.

Yesterday, the southeasterly wind buffeted my bike as soon as I emerged from the woods.  I passed the Trunk River which is a tidal pond that empties into the ocean.  Herring run here in season, and fisherman gather at the breakwaters to catch fish drawn to the current.  There is another small wooden bridge, and a sign about the life of the tidal river that is worth a quick stop.

From here, the path veers inland, back into the lee, past several conservation sites with salt-water pond views and walks, toward the main streets of Falmouth.  The vista to the left across the Oyster Pond is particularly delightful, even on a gray day, with the Spohr Gardens in the distance.  Once in Falmouth, you can take a right off the path at the bus station for a pick-me-up at the locally-run Coffee Obsession on Palmer Ave., or continue onto Main Street for ice cream, homemade fudge, cupcakes and lots of fun local shopping.

I did not stop, as the weather was still threatening.  Past the village, from the path you can see the back side of the bus station, the back corners of the Steamship Authority parking lot, and the cooking vents of Seafood Sam’s  then you are back in the woods again, the canopy high above you and the light filtered green with the glow of the spring leaves.

I made it up to the Sippewisset Marsh, about mile five, before the rain started coming down in those large droplets that you can almost dodge between but indicate that much more is likely on the way.  I paused to look out over the marsh and read a sigh posted there about the Wampanoag.  It says, among other things, that “Sippewisset” means “place of the brook” and that this was a sacred site for Native Americans on their annual peregrination towards the fishing holes and summer hunting of what we now call Woods Hole and the islands.

History buffs will enjoy learning that this marsh is also the site of Rachel Carson’s 1950’s era scientific exploration into the devastating effects of DDT (a pesticide) on the environment which inspired her to write “Silent Spring” the book that launched the environmental movement in the US, ultimately inspiring the US Congress to ban the use of DDT.  Were she alive today, she would reflect again on the sacred beauty of this marsh, again filled with osprey and many other shore birds that have returned due to her clarion call.  Even with the threatening rain, I pause for several minutes to appreciate this achievement, a nice confluence of the scientific with the spiritual.  Louis Agassiz would approve.

View point from the Shining Sea bike path in Falmouth.

The ride home, I pick up the pace as the rain starts to come in earnest.  It is all subtlety downhill now,  I realize as soon as I turn around, and the trip back is faster and easier.  I fall into a trance as the rain drips softly from my hat and the view in reverse rushes past.

Rolling back into Woods Hole, almost two hours and ten miles later, I am ready for a snack and a place to put my wet feet up.  Lobster taco time!  Thank god for Quicks Hole, the restaurant on Luscombe Avenue across from the Landfall, the perfect spot for a dripping wet biker to unwind a bit before heading back to that comfortable suite at the Woods Hole Inn.

Chilifest on the Vineyard. Fire in the Hole!

February 4, 2011 by Beth Colt

The Martha's VIneyard Chilifest rocks!

So I keep hearing about this Chilifest thing, like “Ooh, you are living here now?  You HAVE to go to Chilifest…” and I am like, what is Chilifest?  Well, as I learned last weekend, the Martha’s Vineyard Chilifest is an INSTITUTION.  And it’s a whole lot of fun, so let me take you on my little initiation journey.

It all started days before actually, when we began testing chili recipes and trying on costumes.  We settled on “Fire in the Hole” – a spicy braised short rib chili with a hint of Mexican chocolate.  Steph really knocked herself out on this one and after a few sample batches I agreed, this is the one!  We cooked and prepped all Thursday and Friday — smoking fresh peppers and chilis in our outdoor grill, shaving Mexican chocolate, braising an enormous pile of short ribs.

I braved snow and ice to drive to the Costume Company in Arlington (thank you Jeannie!) to rent a huge pile of Revolutionary War costumes — Fire in the Hole, like Woods Hole, get it?     I lived at Staples printing banners, menus, handouts.  I hired an actress to help hand them out.   Yes, I am really committed to making this a big event for Quicks Hole, our groovy casual farm-to-table taco stand on the ground floor of the Woods Hole Inn.

Finally, the actual day dawned and I was up early walking from my house in the village to the Inn.  The light in the early morning in Woods Hole was so stunning (I’m not out of my house this early usually!) that I wore my camera around my neck and snapped a few pictures:

Woods Hole at dawn, morning of the MV Chilifest.

Cold but so still, the early morning light on the channel to the Eel Pond.

Guests of the Woods Hole Inn were happily dining in the front room and I dashed through the office to grab costumes, menus, signs and more.  Steph and Jay lugged gallons of cold chili in covered buckets across the street to the ferry.  Amy and I followed shortly thereafter.  The ferry was so packed with people, they asked 45 people to get off!  Volunteers, they said.  No one budged.  The girl next to me snickered — she had just poured four shots of peppermint schnapps into her Dunkin Donuts extra large.  She was NOT getting off and neither were we.

Once we arrived at the vast tent at the Portugese American Club, we warmed up and tried a few of the other chilis — there were 40 contestants there and more than 2000 tasters.  The Corona beer was flowing freely, plenty of limes, and a great Jimmy Buffet style band was playing all your island favorites.

Giving you a feel of the TONE of Chilifest.

The place was packed by noon and we handed out a ton of our Chili to consistently good feedback.  The security guy standing next to our table was moonlighting from his day job as a warden in the MV jail. He kept noticing people who had come into the jail drunk and disorderly — not a bad guy, he would say, but let’s just say We Know Him Well.

Well, we lined right up and passed out thousands of little cups of our chili.  The Chilifest is a fundraiser for the Red Stocking Fund, a really great island charity.  WMVY the local radio station supports it, helps judge and sells all the tickets with their promotions.  We met a bunch of the DJs and so many other locals, it was really cool.  Here we are as we got ready to serve the crowd:

Amy Campbell, Beth Colt, Jason Malone and Stephanie Mikolazyk of Quicks Hole restaurant in Woods Hole.

There were regular people, drunk people, people in outrageous costumes, TV personalities, official tasters from WMVY, lots of our friends and business associates from Woods Hole and so, so much more.  A picture is worth 1,000 words so here is the rest of the day in photos:

Partiers taste our “Fire in the Hole” chili — Quicks Hole 2011.

Man urgently tastes chili.

Doreen Boidleau Barton and Christina McMenamy have a ball at the #MV Chilifest tasting the Quicks Hole chili.

Great hats!

Andy Salthouse and Chris Kazarian get lucky.

These glasses were popular at Chilifest 2011.

Dina Pandya enjoys Chilifest at the Quicks Hole stop.

For the record I was not “Captain Morgan” but I did enjoy a laugh with neighbor Kevin Murphy (owner of “Shuckers”).

In the end, all ten gallons of our chili was handed out with a smile.  We won nothing more than the joy of spending the day on Martha’s Vineyard listening to good music and laughing with new friends.  We were tired, oh so very tired, but it was worth it!  A great day.  See you all there next year — 364 days and counting.

Steph and Jay haul all our stuff back on the ferry. Thank God Quicks Hole is just across from the ferry landing!

Dark by the time we got back home — happy to be back amongst our neighbors in WoHo!

Chilifest on Martha’s Vineyard

January 19, 2011 by Beth Colt

Leaving America behind on the short ferry ride to Martha’s Vineyard from Woods Hole.

Mid winter gets cold and lonely out on Martha’s Vineyard.  And that is why we have MV Chilifest!  An annual ritual that draws thousands of participants from on the island and off, Chilifest 2o11 is on Saturday January 29th this year, starting at 11 am on the island.  Hosted by WMVY, the local radio station, Chilifest raises money for a local charity.  And is the hottest ticket on the island in winter.

What is Chilifest?  A four hour party under a tent in Oak Bluffs, complete with all the chili you can possibly eat from local eateries (each competing for the blue ribbon of “Best Chili”) PLUS alot of beer, mariachis and fun.  See a video of last year’s event right here.

Chilifest has a cult following, and getting tickets can be frustrating.  Which is why you are happy you have friends at the Woods Hole Inn.  We are selling a Chilifest package that will rock your proverbial red sox off.

Here are the details:  Three days, two nights at the Woods Hole Inn which includes free parking in Woods Hole and a wonderful gourmet breakfast, two tickets to Chilifest 2011, plus ferry tickets…all for $249?!  That is a sweet deal.  The small print: first come, first served; queen room only at this price.

Book now, ONLY BY CALLING 508-495-0248 during business hours — you will not regret it.

Vineyard Haven in January, where you will dock when you come to Chilifest.

Spring daytrip to Martha’s Vineyard

April 15, 2010 by Beth Colt

Daytripping to the Black Dog Tavern from the Woods Hole Inn.

It was 70 degrees and sunny last week when we hopped the noon ferry to Vineyard Haven to see the sights on the famous island of Martha’s Vineyard.  We sat on the front deck of the ferry, which leaves just steps from the front door of the Woods Hole Inn, and watched the gulls soar over our heads.  We munched our snacks from “Pie in the Sky” until it got too breezy, then moved into the inner part of the ferry where there are tables and a snack shop.

It takes about 45 delicious  minutes to make the crossing.  The views of Vineyard Sound and the islands are quite stunning especially with the perspective of being so high off the water.  The kids loved making flattened pennies in the old-fashioned crank machine (fifty cents to ruin a penny but what the heck, you only live once:)  It’s still the off season so the boat was filled with real Vineyarders returning to their island home.

When we pulled into Vineyard Haven, we got a little confused about exiting the ferry and ended up walking out where the cars come off — one of the stevedores yelled at us but it was really OK.  I suggest following the crowd as the exit only happens on one side of the boat.  As you walk off the ferry, you are smack in the best spot on the Harbor.  Lovely houses stretch up the hill to your right, moorings and boats fill the harbor and the commercial street is just one block up.

We beelined it to the Black Dog Tavern, famously the first restaurant to operate year round on the island back in 1971.  This place is an institution, fabulous ship timber decor and smack on the beach with a great view.  We got a table right in front (nice benny of going off season — I hear the wait is crazy in summer) and were served a terrific lunch of chowders and salads.

Get the Chowdah with the paprika croutons.

With our bellies full, we walked up the hill to the main drag and explored the shops.  There is a terrific independent bookstore called “Bunch of Grapes” where we bought a few kids books and the staff was really helpful.  I loved “Midnight Farm” which is Carly Simon’s funky furniture and clothing store — think Anthropologie but better.  I also enjoyed watching artist Kara Taylor painting in her gallery, and admired her abstract aerials of the Vineyard coastline.  We drooled outside the window of Martha’s Fudge shop, but sadly they were not open yet for the season.

After exploring town, we briefly thought about taking a taxi to Oak Bluffs but settled on a walk along the sand instead.  Our boys skipped stones across the flat harbor as my husband and I enjoyed watching the sloops and lobster boats swaying in the light breeze.  We caught the 3.45 boat back to Woods Hole, home to the Inn by 4.30.  It was another great Cape Cod day.

Don't miss the Black Dog general store for great tshirts and more.

If you miss the boat, don’t Miss The Boat…

June 12, 2009 by Beth Colt

Any season. Especially summer! You DON’T want to miss that last ferry to the Vineyard.

You find yourself, cold-knuckling it on the last bus down from Boston (or up from NYC). Over the Bourne Bridge, through the rotaries on Route 28. You are glancing nervously at your watch…will I make the boat? You glide into Woods Hole, the distinctive curve of little Harbor and your first glimpse of water to the left. And there she is out on the horizon, your eyes on the prize… Martha’s Vineyard shimmering in the moonlight. You mutter to yourself, damn it that boat better still be there.

And then, the slip is empty! The dock deserted. The ticket window closed and dark. You have joined legions of travelers who over the years have missed the last boat.

So, when you miss the boat…don’t Miss The Boat. Walk 100 yards up Luscombe Ave and ring the doorbell at the Woods Hole Inn. If we have room, we will welcome you with open arms. Relax onto your pillow top mattress and dream about the morning ferry, the early one with your “New York Times” and a hot cup of Joe. The one where the bow of the ferry seems to separate the fog bank and the sleepy gulls drift after you looking for scraps. The one that gets you there with a great night’s sleep behind you.

The Woods Hole Inn. The place to go when you miss the boat.

Spring has come to WoHo

May 12, 2009 by Beth Colt

I like to call it WoHo. And when spring actually arrives, watch out ’cause it’s really gorgeous. When you glide into the ferry landing from Martha’s Vineyard, you can see the inn commanding the harbor in all her grey-blue shingled glory. Water views! I love being in the middle of everything but also able to meditate on the water from my room.

In WoHo this time of year, everyone is sweeping their stoops and shaking off the winter blues to get ready for the summer season. I saw Donny Estes of the famous Landfall Restaurant — he opened a few weeks ago offering customers the best waterfront view in town. And my friend Erik Gura who runs “Pie in the Sky” was puttering behind the counter even though he sliced his hand fixing his expresso machine last week.

At the inn, we have been closed for a few weeks to finish some construction on the ground floor. Our incredible construction partners (Lauren, Dan, Kat you rock) have been hustling to get it all done. We put in a new sprinkler system and upgraded all the walls and ceilings to “2-hour fire ratings” which means our old Victorian is now updated to current building code which is pretty darn cool. Born in 1878, made modern in 2008.

We have a new T-shirt shop (Cape Cod Sweats) opening on the ground floor in a few days, and we are rushing to get our burrito bar/restaurant called “Quick’s Hole, wicked fresh” open by Memorial Day. More to come on that subject.

But the weather! Can I wax rhapsodic for a minute? It’s sunny, not too hot, gentle breeze off the still wintery waters. So crisp and clear, it looks like you can reach out and grab the Vineyard. Like, who-needs-the-ferry-I’ll-swim, kinda clear.

I took my bike out of the basement and rolled up the Shining Sea bike path to where the woods melt behind you and Surf Beach yawns out like a crescent. I had to stop and just gape, it was so gorgeous. I turned back and cycled straight to “Pie” — in WoHo, a 20 minute ride earns a latte and popover.