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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Guest Post from blogger Megan Jensen
My favorite part of being an intern here at the Woods Hole Inn is the opportunity it gives me to explore Woods Hole and Cape Cod. So when I found out part of my job was to take weekly driving tours and write about what I saw and did, I was ecstatic!
Last week I took my first driving tour along the coast from Woods Hole to the Bourne Bridge. I started at the Inn early in the morning on a hot and sunny day, and drove up along the coast to the Bourne Bridge. It’s a fun and easy drive, with lots of great places to stop, for both locals and those coming from out of town.
Here is what I saw, did, ate…and highly recommend.
1. Visit the Knob
Just a few minutes drive from the Woods Hole Inn, the Knob offers a great short walk and beautiful views of the water and harbor. There is free parking available near the knob, on Quissett Harbor Road. The path is easy to find and the small conserved forest offers two trails, both ending up at the end of the “knob.” I recommend taking the right hand path, it will take you through the forest and along the water – offering great views, sunshine and an optional stop at a small beach. At the end of the path are benches where you can sit, relax and look out onto the water.
2. Stop and grab breakfast or lunch at the West Falmouth Market
As you continue your drive along the coast stop at West Falmouth Market for food, drinks and anything else you might need. When I got there it was nearly noon and very busy. They have a fresh deli – where you can choose one of their signature sandwiches or you can make your own. You can also order pizza to go. They have all the picnic essentials – coals for the grill, paper plates, and a good selection of beer. When I stopped I also grabbed a tempting looking muffin – all their bakery items are homemade each morning!
3. If it’s a beach day head for Monument Beach
Driving along the coast I passed by popular beaches with steep parking signs (20 -30$) and crowed shorelines. While Chapoquoit and Old Silver are great beaches, I recommend continuing north into Bourne and stopping at Monument Beach. When driving north it will be on your left, and can be easy to miss. Parking is free along the side of the road, and the beach is just across the railroad tracks. There is parking if you have a beach sticker, and there are also public restrooms and an outdoor shower. I loved swimming in the peaceful harbor, and the beach is great for all ages!
4. If it’s not a beach day stop and explore the Little Bay Walking Trails
These walking trails are a great way to spend an afternoon. Found alongside Shore Road in Bourne (before you get to the beach) there is a small area to park your car and take a walk in the woods. There is a map located at the beginning of the trails.
5. Grab dinner at the Lobster Trap
Only one mile north of Monument Beach this restaurant is a great place to eat after a day at the beach. Lots of parking and indoor and outdoor seating – this casual seafood restaurant has something for everyone. Next door to the restaurant is a fresh seafood shop where you also have the option of buying your own food and cooking it at home, or at the beach. I got a stuffed Quahog to go, and am in love. Being from the Midwest I’ve never tried this before and loved eating my meal off of a shell.
6. Drive across the Bourne Bridge
The last destination on my drive was to drive across the Bourne Bridge. I’ve always thought it was fun to drive across bridges (maybe a Minnesota thing?) and this one is really great. The bridge is huge and the views of the Cape Cod Canal are awesome. I also love driving back onto the cape and seeing the “Cape Cod” bushes welcoming me!
7. On the way home stop for ice cream at Somerset Creamery
This can be done at anytime during the drive. Located in Cataumet off of Route 28A, this is a good stop on your way out or back home. The ice cream is delicious and there are a ton of flavors to choose from. I opted for the waffle cone (they are homemade and have ingenious no-drip bottoms) with ginger flavored ice cream.
This was a great drive and can take as little or long as you would like. I suggest following the coastal roads for a better view and more places to stop along the way. Route 28A is a quick alternative however, and each stop is easy to navigate to from the main road.
This is the route I took Woods Hole Inn to Bourne Bridge.