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The Best of Nantucket

Public Tennis Courts The Brant Point Racquet Club has the best public courts, but the courts at Jetties Beach are cheaper. Late in the season you can play at the Casino in Sconset on a first-come, first-served, leave-five-bucks-in-the-box basis.

Public Golf Rumor has it the airport once ran out of jet fuel because Wall Street bonus-mavens were leaving their Gulfstreams running while they played a round of golf. The Miacomet and Sconset clubs are open to the public year-round, though tee times aren't easy to get. In fall, you can play at the otherwise private Sankaty Head course.

Tours The longtime favorite is Gail's Tours, but consider also native islander Robert Pitman Grimes (508/228-9382), a descendant of one of the original settler families. For a more formal education, visit the fine museums run by the Nantucket Historical Association.

nantucket lexicon (or, how to sound like a local)

• The town of Siasconset is always pronounced "scon-sit."

• Sesachacha Pond is always pronounced "sack-a-juh."

• The Pocomo area begins with "pock," not "poke."

• Coatue, the scalloped spit of sand that creates Nantucket Harbor, has only two syllables: "co-too." The "co" rhymes with go.

• Madekecham is a valley and a beach, and you say all the syllables, as in "mad-a-ka-sham."

• Sankaty Head, with its cliff-top lighthouse and first views of the rising sun, rhymes with sanctity.

• Moped is pronounced "anathema."

• Martha's Vineyard is generally not pronounced.

where there's always a festival

To lure tourists year-round, Nantucket has an array of weekend festivals, including daffodil (April 28-30), wine (May 19-21), arts (October 3-9), and harvest (October 13-15). It all climaxes in the Christmas Stroll, from December 1 to 3, when residents don their winter finery and go shopping en masse. (If you're looking for a reason to visit Nantucket in November, the annual high-school football game against Martha's Vineyard is big news. You don't need tickets, but go early if you hope to find a seat.) None of the festivals are as hokey as they might sound, but neither are they sufficient reason to visit. An exception may be the film festival (June 19-24). The focus is on the scripts—a good decision, since the Gaslight Theatre (1 N. Union St.; 508/228-4435) has a screen the size of a beach blanket and the Dreamland Theatre (19 S. Water St.; 508/228-5356) is a tiny classic movie house. During the event, you'll spot twentysomething screenwriters dressed in New York black meeting fortysomething producers in pressed L.A. blue jeans for morning coffee at the Cambridge Street restaurant. You can also attend screenings—some worthy, some unlikely for a good Quaker town. Last year's hit was a documentary about a woman who slept with 251 men in one day. For tickets and schedules, call 508/325-6274.

haute wasp

Nantucket regulars have their own fashion sense, which, if you are the type to return from safari in a dashiki, you are welcome to mimic. Gentlemen wear pink pants from Murray's Toggery (called "Nantucket reds") held up by belts embellished with pictures of whales. And surely no handbag complements a cashmere sweater set and a black headband better than a scrimshaw-topped lightship basket. (When in doubt, Gucci is always acceptable.) The young here opt for a single uniform—no socks ever, Oxford-cloth button-downs, chinos—and seem bred to know their place: paradise.


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