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.
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.