Nantucket Travel Guide
Accessible only by ferry, Nantucket is an idyllic island paradise—except instead of tropical paradise vibes, you'll find Vineyard Vine-clad gentlemen and mansions with gray, natural wood shutters. Nantucket is the epitome of summer New England life, though, unfortunately, it means much of the island shuts down in the colder months. Boasting the highest concentration of pre-Civil War homes in the country and 82 miles of pristine coastline, Nantucket is a postcard come to life.
From charming Nantucket hotels to five-star restaurants to the prized Nantucket beaches, this town comes alive in the warmer months. It's a destination that thrives on outdoor dining (think: lobster rolls on the water), boutique shopping, and picturesque walks through town. And certainly there is no shortage of things to do in Nantucket, whether you're partial to walking the beach at sunset, biking to pick up your latte in the morning, or ordering up a dozen oysters with a bottle of good Champagne.
Eastern Standard Time. (Daylight Savings Time is observed seasonally)
Best Time to Go
Summer is the high season in Nantucket, and from Memorial Day to Labor Day, you'll find the best weather, with temperatures around 76° in July and August. Nonetheless, we'd argue that the months of May and September, before Memorial Day and after Labor Day, are the best months to go, because you'll avoid the crowds that flock from Boston in the summer.
Nantucket Daffodil Festival (April), Nantucket Wine Festival (May), and Nantucket Book Festival (June) all draw sizable crowds and are wonderful times to visit.
Things to Know
The entire island of Nantucket is only 14 miles long by 3.5 miles wide. It's 30 miles from Cape Cod and accessible only by ferry.
The most popular neighborhoods to spend time in for tourists are Nantucket's centrally located Historic Downtown and Siasconset (which most refer to as "Sconset") on the east side of the island.
Nantucket Historical Association manages the Whaling Museum and eight additional historic sites around the island, including Hadwen House and Greater Light. The organization, focused on preserving Nantucket's historic beauty, was founded in 1854 and sees approximately 95,000 visitors each year.
Exploring the island by bike is very popular—there are three primary bike trails on the island, each well-maintained: one in Madaket, one in Surfside, and one in Sconset.
Nantucket is known for its seafood, especially their fried clams (whole-belly fried clams are a classic New England treat), oysters, and lobster.
How to Get Around
Buses: The WAVE, an entity of Nantucket Regional Transit Authority, is the bus system on the island. There are a myriad of bus routes and stations throughout the island, and all buses are wheelchair accessible and outfitted with bike racks. There are $2 bus loops (Mid-Island Loop, Miacomet Loop, and Jetties Beach) and $3 loops (Madaket Route, Sconset Routes, Airport Route, and Surfside Beach). You can pay with cash using the fare box. Travelers over the age of 65 ride for half price, and children under six ride for free.
Taxis: You can easily find a taxi at Nantucket Memorial Airport, Straight Wharf, and Steamboat Wharf. There is also a taxi stand at Lower Main Street/South Water Street and another at Main Street/Washington Street. Find a full list of cab companies (with contact information) here.
Car service: You can easily find rideshare services like Uber and Lyft on Nantucket.
Ferry: The ferry to Nantucket leaves from Hyannis on Cape Cod. The Steamship Authority runs a two-and-a-half-hour ferry to Nantucket (which can accommodate cars), and an express one-hour ferry (which does not allow cars).
White Elephant Nantucket
Address: 50 Easton Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (800) 445-6574
Quintessential coastal New England mansions with wooden shutters, salty air coming off the water, and beachfront lobster rolls are the essence of White Elephant Nantucket. The iconic hotel on Nantucket Island has a heated outdoor pool and is close to the town of Nantucket and the Brant Point Lighthouse. Relax on their harborside lawn with a cocktail or walk on the nearby Children’s Beach.
Address: 120 Wauwinet Road, Nantucket, MA 02584
Phone: (800) 426-8718
The Wauwinet, part of the same hotel group as White Elephant, is the only Relais & Châteaux property on Nantucket. They are home to an award-winning seafood restaurant, TOPPER’S, and a private beach along Nantucket Bay. From their bayview rooms to the standalone one-bedroom cottage suites, the accommodations exemplify refined coastal luxury.
Nantucket Resort Collection
Address: 3 Step Lane, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (855) 652-0137
Nantucket Resort Collection encompasses three beautiful properties, each with a unique set of offerings: Veranda House, with 18 rooms and suites featuring personal verandas, the bed-and-breakfast style Regatta Inn, and Chapman House, which feels like a young, hip, boutique hotel. This three-inns-in-one concept at Nantucket Resort Collection is situated in the heart of old town Nantucket, walking distance to the best beaches, shopping, and dining on the island.
Address: 21 Broad Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 228-4749
Boutique hotel 21 Broad features modern island-inspired decor, a beautiful deck with a firepit (perfect for cocktails sipped at any time of day), and only 27 guest rooms. The intimate hotel opens for the season in mid-to-late April, and encapsulates the essence of Broad Street, which is known for hyper-local boutiques and restaurants.
Address: 1 Miller Lane, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (800) 321-8484
A three-star family resort, Nantucket Inn combines the comfort of a bed-and-breakfast with the excitement of a family-friendly, activity-filled hotel. With tennis courts on the property, a complimentary shuttle to bring the whole brood to the center of town, and the guarantee that kids under 18 stay free in their parents’ room, Nantucket Inn feels like an escape from real life at the right price. The property features 100 guest rooms and exclusive offers even in the high season.
Nantucket Hotel & Resort
Address: 77 Easton Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 228-4747
A rarity on Nantucket, Nantucket Hotel & Resort is open year-round. The hotel has its own vintage-looking trolley bus, a heated outdoor pool, and signature seasonal experiences (from private dining to autumnal-inspired cocktails served by the firepit in October). They are also home to The Nantucket Club, a wellness center with personal trainers located right downtown, and beautiful hotel rooms, suites, and separate cottages with nautically inspired decor.
Straight Wharf Restaurant
Address: 12 Cambridge Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 228-4499
Some of the most luxurious dining on Nantucket can be found at Straight Wharf Restaurant. Located right along the harbor, the 45-year-old seasonal establishment serves elevated summer-inspired fare and fresh seafood.
Address: 12 Cambridge Street, Nantucket 02554
Phone: (508) 228-0301
The Nautilus is such an institution on Nantucket that they are now opening a second location in Boston. The menu here is dominated by seafood and fish and has an enticing pan-Asian flair, as well as an expansive wine and sake list.
Corner Table Cafe
Address: 22 Federal Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 228-2665
The Corner Table is typically a year-round cafe. This is where you come for great coffee, and even better comfort food, including their family meals served Wednesday and Friday.
Address: 54 Jefferson Avenue, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 228-2665
Galley Beach is the place to be in the summer, mainly because they offer some of the most charming al fresco dining in town. You can reserve “beach dining” and grab one of their highly coveted tables right on the beach, or dine in their outdoor lounge, steps from the beach with many lounge patrons arriving in laid-back beach attire for a post-beach drink.
Address: 50 Cliff Road, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 228-0504
If you’re looking for an excellent sandwich to pick up on the way to the beach, Something Natural is the go-to recommendation on Nantucket. Locals swear by Something Natural—the hybrid bakery/sandwich shop is known for their chocolate chip cookies, so don’t forget to grab a few when you’re picking up breakfast or lunch.
Address: 6 Oak Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 325-0992
Offering a hip twist on Nantucket fine dining, Queequeg's serves innovative new American cuisine. One of the most charming parts of the Queepueg’s experience is that the restaurant is still housed in a cozy, old Nantucket home. It feels like the perfect marriage of old-school New England and new-age luxury under one roof.
Address: 21 Federal Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 228-4242
Classic Italian cuisine is served at Ventuno for when you need hearty yet high-end comfort food. Their Italian fare is inspired by the seafood Nantucket is known for, so look forward to the frutti del mare served alongside fine Italian wines.
Address: 5 Bartlett Farm Road, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 325-5929
A favorite among Nantucket locals, Cisco Brewers is known for their craft beer and spirits made on the island. While they now have locations across New England, it all started at their sprawling outdoor space on Bartlett Farm Road. Hang outdoors or in the taproom, sampling brews and enjoying live music.
Things to Do
Sconset Bluff Walk
Address: 27 Bank Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Known as one of the most picturesque walks on Nantucket, the Sconset Bluff Walk (also called the Cliff Walk) winds from Sconset to the Sankaty Head Lighthouse. The footpath takes walkers past gorgeous Nantucket homes and offers exceptional views of the ocean.
Address: 59 Milk Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 257-1117
Astronomy lovers must visit Loines Observatory, which serves as an “active research observatory and venue for public astronomical programs.” If you’re visiting Nantucket during any major celestial event, you’ll want to visit Loines Observatory, where you’ll find a 24-inch research telescope, an 8-inch antique telescope, and a welcoming staff to help you appreciate the night sky.
Nantucket Historical Association’s Whaling Museum
Address: 13 Broad Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 228-1894
Run by the Nantucket Historical Association, the Whaling Museum is in downtown Nantucket and is known, among many educational exhibits, for its 46-foot whale skeleton.
Nantucket Bike Shop
What’s a beach vacation without a beach cruiser? Renting a bike on Nantucket is a great way to see the island. Rent from Nantucket Bike Shop, which has two locations in Nantucket Harbor, right near Children’s Beach and White Elephant Nantucket.
Address: 33 Bartlett Farm Road, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 228-9403
A family-owned farm on Nantucket, Bartlett’s sells fresh produce and flowers in a beautifully rustic setting. If you’re staying in an Airbnb or local cottage for a week, make sure to stop by the largest farm on Nantucket to pick up some vegetables and take in the impressive operation.
Great Point Lighthouse
Phone: (508) 325-5395
Great Point Lighthouse, also known as Nantucket Light, sits at the northernmost tip of the island. Seven miles of sand jut out into the ocean, and at the very end, you’ll find Nantucket Light, which dates back to the 1700s, though it has been rebuilt multiple times. The lighthouse towers, at 60 feet tall, sit on a stretch of protected land called the Coskata Coatue Wildlife Refuge.
Of course, there are a myriad of beaches to choose from on Nantucket, from Children’s Beach on the north side of the island to Cisco Beach on the southern side. Jetties Beach is one of the locals’ favorite beaches, situated right next to Galley Beach and the scenic Nantucket Cliffs.
Miacomet Golf Course
Address: 12 W. Miacomet Road, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 325-0333
Offering public tee times and private instruction, Miacomet is one of the best golf courses on Nantucket. It’s also the only public 18-hole course on Nantucket, situated just a mile from the ocean.
Nantucket Wine & Food Festival
Address: 50 Easton Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Looking for the best time to come to Nantucket? Nantucket Wine Festival is a big draw in May each year, celebrating the best of New England food and drink. It’s the perfect way to kick off summer in Nantucket.
Address: 8 Howard Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Touring the historical buildings of the island is one of the best things to do in Nantucket. Start at Greater Light, preserved by the Nantucket Historical Association. It’s an intimate museum just off Main Street, and the building itself dates back to 1790.
Milly & Grace
Address: 2 Washington Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 901-5051
Milly & Grace is one of the most charming boutiques on Nantucket for women’s clothing and accessories. In Nantucket’s downtown historic district, you’ll find this shop, which specializes in high-end, eco-conscious fashion.
Address: 51 Main Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 228-1908
If locally made hand-woven home goods are in line with your home aesthetics, you’ll never want to leave Nantucket Looms. In addition to finding local art and other artisanal home goods, Nantucket Looms sells luxurious hand-woven blankets and throws made of wool, mohair, and other high-quality fabrics.
Parchment Fine Papers
Address: 1 New Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 228-4110
For stationery and home goods enthusiasts, there is nothing better than a downtown paper store in a small town. Parchment Fine Papers has gorgeous notebooks, stationery, invitations, wrapping paper, and gorgeous gifts, all in a charming boutique in the Sconset area of the island.
Address: 4 S. Water Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 228-1128
In historic downtown Nantucket, Salt Boutique is a fine clothing store inspired by luxe New England style. There are plenty of crisp blue dresses and cream-colored sweaters to be found here, and of course, the shopping experience is polished but laid-back—exactly what you’d expect in Nantucket.
Address: 25 Broad Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 228-4000
Nantucket Bookworks has been open since 1972, and the Broad Street location constantly attracts visitors perusing the downtown shops. Whether you’re looking for a vacation read, or a rare manuscript, Nantucket Bookworks is a cozy bookstore with a wide literary reach.
Lilly Pulitzer Nantucket
Address: 5 S Water Street, Nantucket, MA 02554
Phone: (508) 228-0569
The vibrant, floral printed dresses that Lilly Pulitzer is known for are perfect for Nantucket, so it’s no surprise that Lilly Pulitzer has a ready-to-shop boutique in Nantucket, perfect for those trying to find an eye-catching Friday night dinner dress.
Neighborhoods to Know
Downtown: Downtown Nantucket, also referred to as Town or Brand Point, is centrally located near Children's Beach on the northern side of the island next to the Nantucket cliffs. Here, you'll find classic grey wood-shingled homes, many of which have been converted into boutiques on Main Street. You'll also find a high concentration of restaurants, ice cream and coffee shops, and souvenir stores.
Madaket: The western edge of Nantucket is known as Madaket. Six miles from town, Madaket is known for seemingly never-ending beaches and appeals to families keen on some tide pool exploration at Smith Point. You'll catch the best sunsets of your trip in Madaket.
Sconset: On the opposite side of the island from Madaket is Sconset. Sconset, which is actually shortened from its full name Siasconset, is the neighborhood on the east side of Nantucket. Sconset is lined with restaurants and shops, and the winding streets are as idyllic as they come.
Cisco: On the southern side of the island, Cisco is a surfing neighborhood dominated by locals and home to one of the best beaches on Nantucket: Cisco Beach. You'll also find Cisco Brewers and Bartlett's Farm here and a relatively new bike path to explore.
Surfside/Tom Nevers: On the southern side of the island, Surfside is nestled between Sconset and Cisco. The area is home to lifeguarded beaches (perfect for families) and the inviting Surfside bike path.
There's a reason the summer is high-season in Nantucket. It reports the warmest temperatures by far, with highs climbing into the high 70s. It's worth noting, however, that Nantucket will never be a balmy summer destination. The northeastern island is breezy year-round, and those winds can pick up in the winter and spring. November is the wettest month, and February is the driest month.
The following are average Fahrenheit lows and highs by month.
January 25 - 39
February 26 - 39
March 31 - 44
April 38 - 51
May 46 - 60
June 55 - 69
July 62 - 75
August 63 - 76
September 56 - 70
October 47 - 61
November 39 - 53
December 30 - 44