Taking a Day Trip to the Vineyard

September 2, 2022

Catch a ferry… 

Catch a ferry to experience the beautiful island of Martha’s Vineyard for the day! There are a few ferry options to get across the water which allow you to travel by foot, bike, or car.

Steamship Authority’s Martha’s Vineyard ferry through the Woods Hole terminal in Cape Cod to Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven (about a 45-minute trip). The Steamship Authority is the biggest of the four boat companies that provide trips to the island. Ferries are available year round from 6:00 am – 9:45 pm, with frequent departures throughout the day. They are the only ferry service that carries vehicles to Martha’s Vineyard. 

It is not necessary to bring your car as there are shuttle buses, car rentals, bike rentals and easy walking throughout towns. Other Martha’s Vineyard ferry companies include Hy-Line Cruises, Island Queen, and the Falmouth-Edgartown ferry. The Hy-Line cruises operate between Hyannis Harbor to Oak Bluffs and are about 1 hour long. The Island Queen is a 35-minute ride from Falmouth to Oak Bluffs. The Falmouth-Edgartown ferry operates from Falmouth to Edgartown and is a 1-hour long trip.

Once you arrive… 

Sights to See

Gingerbread Houses

Start the day in Oak Bluffs to see the Gingerbread Houses. These Victorian houses are painted in colorful pastel shades with intricate wooden trim. In 1835, local Methodists came to the area and pitched tents to hold religious camp meetings on their half-acre of land. The construction of the cottages began around 1864 to replicate the tents with their narrow footprints and peaked roofs. Most cabins have double doors, porches, and second-floor balconies to mimic the always-open flaps on the tents. 

Flying Horses Carousel

While in Oak Bluffs, visit the Flying Horses Carousel. The carousel was built in 1876 and is the nation’s oldest platform carousel. It originally operated as an attraction on Coney Island and was moved to Oak Bluffs in 1884. Not only can you ride this historic carousel, but you can also take a free tour Monday-Friday May 31-June 17 from 11 am-2 pm. 

Lighthouses

Martha’s Vineyard is home to 5 lighthouses overlooking Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Sound!

The West Chop Lighthouse is located at the entrance to Vineyard Haven Harbor. It was built in 1817, and in 1838 the wooden building was replaced by the current brick structure. It was moved back from the edge of the bluff in 1848 and again in 1891. 

The East Chop Lighthouse is located in Oak Bluffs on the site of one of the first telegraph signals in 1828. Previously, the lighthouse was privately owned by Captain Silas Daggett and funded by local merchants passing through the area. Many travelers refused to pay a fee after they arrived at the port. 

The original Edgartown Lighthouse was built ¼ mile from shore in 1828. For the first year, the only way to get to the lighthouse was by boat, so they allocated funds to build a foot bridge. The first structure was replaced in 1983 by a lighthouse rafted to the Vineyard from Ipswich. 

The Aquinnah Lighthouse is a red brick structure built in 1844 to replace a previous wooden tower. In May 2015, the lighthouse was moved 129 feet away from eroding cliffs. The lighthouse was 400 tons and survived the move without a crack. The lighthouse is now available for visits 7 days a week during July and August and Friday – Mon in June and Labor Day – Columbus Day. 

The Cape Poge Lighthouse is the most remote of the island, built in 1801. It was originally made of wood and had a small cottage. The building was destroyed by the sea in 1838 and was rebuilt further inland. After only 50 years, the sea destroyed the lighthouse again. The lighthouse was reclaimed again by the sea in 1892 and was rebuilt as a 33 ft tall tower that lasted another 35 years. The present lighthouse was built in 1922 and is 55 feet high with 12 mile visibility and is located 300 feet from the sea. 

Aquinnah Cliffs

The town of Aquinnah is known for its dramatic clay cliffs and the seemingly endless ocean below. The area is one of Martha’s Vineyards most-beloved and photographed destinations. While you are in the area, visit the Aquinnah Cultural Center for a small museum of Wampanoag exhibits. Enjoy shopping for local artisan crafts along the path to the overlook or stop in at The Aquinnah Shop for lunch! If you are looking to enjoy the day in the sun, you can also lay on the beautiful beaches below the cliffs. 

Jaws Bridge

Did you know that the Jaws movie was filmed on Martha’s Vineyard? The Jaws bridge scene takes place on State Beach and the American Legion Memorial Bridge. In this scene, the shark swims through the water under the bridge and reaches a man boating in the pond. The bridge connects Oak Bluffs and Edgartown and is a sport for people of all ages to ascend the railing and jump into the water below.

Shopping in Edgartown

While you walk through Edgartown, spend your time observing the architecture while shopping for island favorites! Main Street is lined with small businesses and brand named stores. Shops include boutique women’s clothing, candy stores, galleries, home decor, gifts, souvenirs, and more. There is something for everyone! 

Morning Glory Farm

Visit Morning Glory Farm, a family farm on Martha’s Vineyard which features a busy farmstand, bakery, and kitchen. The farm grows food year-round for the island community. Starting in 1975, the owners have grown about 60 acres of vegetables and small fruits to supply to the farmstand which opened in 1981. The farm store features gift baskets, delicious snacks, apparel, and more! 

Chappy Ferry

Not only was the Chappaquiddick ferry a setting for a Jaws scene, but it also served as their main camera boat. The ferry is open for continuous operation in the winter from 6:30 am-10 pm and 11 pm-11:15 pm. In the summer, the ferry is available 6:30 am-midnight. Passengers, cars, bikes, mopeds, and motorcycles are welcome to board the ferry. Chappaquiddick is a small island off Edgartown. Once on the island, you can enjoy cycling, hiking, nature tours, and birding. 

Beaches

Martha’s Vineyard is full of beautiful beaches from Aquinnah to Chappaquiddick. On the northern side of the island, you will find shallow, calmer waters whereas the southern side has rumbling surf. Some beaches are open to the public while others are only available for residents and visitors of the town. To visit these beaches, you will need a parking or town beach permit. 

Public beaches on the Island include: 

  • Moshup Beach and Lobsterville Beach in Aquinnah
  • Menemsha Public Beach in Chilmark
  • East Beach, Fuller Street Beach, Katama (South) Beach, Lighthouse Beach, and Norton Point Beach in Edgartown
  • Eastville Beach, Oak Bluffs Town Beach, and State Beach in Oak Bluffs
  • Lake Tashmoo Town Beach, Owen Park Beach, Tisbury Town Beach in Vineyard Haven
  • Long Point Wildlife Refuge Beach in West Tisbury

Restaurants

Martha’s Vineyard is full of delicious restaurants throughout the island. Some visitor favorites include Among the Flowers, Mad Martha’s Ice Cream, and Black Dog Cafe and Tavern

Among the Flowers serves breakfast and lunch from 8 am-2 pm and is located in Edgartown. Start your day with a delicious breakfast and stop by later in the day to bring take-away lunch to the beach for a picnic!

If you’re looking for a sweet treat, visit Martha’s Vineyard favorite, Mad Martha’s Homemade Ice Cream located in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Vineyard Haven. Their homemade flavors are unique and delicious. Try some of their unique flavors, such as apple fritter and maple walnut!

Visit any of the Black Dog dining options for a delicious treat and an iconic black dog shirt! The Black Dog Tavern is located in Vineyard Haven and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Enjoy a delicious meal at this year-round waterfront dining location. The Black Dog Bakery Cafe, also located in Vineyard Haven, serves a full breakfast and lunch menu, plus specialty pastries. For breakfast, lunch, or a quick snack on the go, stop at the Black Dog Water St. Bakery as your first or last stop by the ferry in Vineyard Haven. Finally, enjoy the Dockside Cafe in Oak Bluffs for breakfast sandwiches, wraps, fruit dishes, salads, pastries, and more!