Wednesday, June 5, 2019
There is nothing worse than spending time and money on a family vacation only to discover the travel brochures exaggerated a bit. Here are 8 reasons why spending time on the island gem of Nantucket will delight everyone in the family:
1. There really is something for everyone. Are you looking for water sports, nature-themed activities, ideas for history buffs, lots of great food, or simply hanging out at the beach? It isn’t necessary to leave the island to find a way to satisfy each member of the family, and the village goes out of its way to entertain even its youngest visitors.
2. Let’s start with the obvious: the beach. Whether you have toddlers or older kids (or both), Jetties Beach is on the north shore within walking distance of town. There is a stroller-friendly walkway down to the beach, a playground, and a restaurant with bathrooms complete with changing tables. There is a toy store for the kids and a bar for the adults. Children’s Beach is another family-friendly choice, located at the end of Harbor View Way near the ferry. Ramps near the parking area (or you can walk from downtown) make the area easily accessible for wheelchairs and strollers. The beach has no waves, but still posts lifeguards for everyone’s safety and peace of mind. Children’s Beach is aptly named since it provides a great playground with outdoor toys, shaded spots, an outdoor theater, picnic tables, and wading areas for the smallest children or non-swimmers. After all that sand, everyone can head to the bathhouse right there at the beach to take a shower before dinner. Cisco Beach is perfect for older kids, with body surfing and boogie boarding. Nantucket Island Surf School is located here and rents all the gear you need, plus offers lessons.
3. Aside from the beaches, other outdoor activities abound in the area. Biking, hiking, snorkeling, sailing, surfing, boogie boarding, kite boarding, hydrofoiling, kayaking, wakeboarding, stand-up paddle boarding, and fishing are ways to get outside and enjoy the beauty of Nantucket. The Office of Culture and Tourism suggests that families bike, walk, or take public transportation while summering in Nantucket, both to see everything the area has to offer but also to protect the island’s environment.
4. How about the abundance of great food? Let the kids enjoy the experience of eating at the retro Nantucket Pharmacy Lunch Counter and Pete’s Soda Fountain on Main Street. Reviewers loved the grilled cheese, milkshakes, ice cream floats, and chicken salad. Or finish your day at Children’s Beach at the Hungry Minnow right behind the playground on the beach. Kid-friendly choices like corn fritters are offered along with allergy-friendly options. Some kids will insist on pizza no matter where they are so try Sophie T’s Pizza at Nantucket Commons. Don’t forget that restaurant at Jetties Beach. The menu includes seafood choices from fish tacos to fried clams as well as sandwiches and burgers. In other words, food is plentiful in Nantucket and offerings will please everyone in the family.
5. Nantucket is one of the oldest settlements in the US; just don’t tell the kids when you take them to some of the great historical sites on the island. The Jethro Coffin House was built in 1686 and is still standing. Your children don’t have many opportunities to experience that kind of history. The museum on this site offers a Summer Fest on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the summer, along with programs about the life of the Wampanoag Indians who also lived in the area. The history of Nantucket focuses on the whaling industry, so head on over to the Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum where they host Family Days that include crafts, games, stories and maritime songs. The Whaling Museum can fill everyone in on the industry that built this area.
6. Nantucket is an environmentalist’s dream with lots of activities designed to build an appreciation for the planet. Maria Mitchell Aquarium is a good place to start since your family is surrounded by marine life anyway. The facility is stocked with local aquatic life which is released back into the wild every year. Then there’s the Critter Cruise, an hour-long tour on the Monomoy with Captain Josh. The Captain will pull up some traps and show the kids what kinds of critters come up. Later they can hold the critters while Mom and Dad get lots of pictures. Kids will also get a Monomoy Critter Cruise Crew T-shirt. The Nantucket Field Station includes several ecosystems, from tidal pools to salt marshes. Your family can wander the 100-acre property and observe a number of rare and native species as they feed, breed, and hide. Or you can take a guided tour provided by the scientists and students studying the ecosystems.
7. Summer can be cultural, too, with a number of events planned each season. Nantucket Bookworks offers writer’s talks and snacks, and the Nantucket Library, called the Atheneum, has a full calendar of both children’s and teen’s events. The Nantucket Story Walk at the Linda Loring Nature Foundation combines literacy with appreciation of the environment. The Dreamland Film and Cultural Center provides films, theater, comedy, and a number of interactive events.
8. Here are some eclectic suggestions for the family member who is hard to please. The Nantucket Film Festival is held in June every year, with offerings for the whole family. Nantucket Island Surf School offers a week-long surf camp for ages twelve and up. The shoppers in the family can spend time finding treasures in the many consignment and vintage stores. Try highly-reviewed Island Treasures on North Beach St. or Seconds Shop on Sparks Ave.
Nantucket is truly a gem for family-friendly vacations, offering everything from world-class beaches to cultural events. Villagers not only welcome families to the island, they delight in entertaining children of all ages. Have a great summer!