Best time to visit Nantucket MA can be anytime but if you want to make your trip to Nantucket perfect and make the most out of it, then you must have information about the crowds and weather as they can make or break your trip.
Nantucket is a small island located approximately 30 miles off the Cape Cod coast.
The island gained its popularity as a whaling center in the 1700s.
Nantucket Island is famed for its laid-back holiday atmosphere, lovely seascapes and 600 houses dating back to the Civil War era.
This concentration of homes is the highest in the US and this made the island to be designated as a historic district in 1966.
But have you ever wondered which is the best time to visit Nantucket MA?
Life on this island moves at a slower pace. People usually wonder if this is the best island in the world.
Its beaches are always amazingly windswept and you do not even need cars on this island.
Due to these features, the island flocks with thousands of tourists who come to enjoy the fine dining restaurants, brewery, cafes, pubs and the many boutiques.
In this article, I will examine and recommend to you the best time to visit Nantucket MA, by season and crowds.
Let’s get started!
So, What is the Best Time to Visit Nantucket MA?
The best time to visit Nantucket Massachusetts is during the month of OCTOBER. During this period, the island is calm, weather is good and the crowds have left the beaches.
Nantucket is one of the most popular summer holiday destinations in America.
During the summer, the number of visitors visiting the island increases from 10000 to over 60000.
The months of June, July and August record the highest numbers during the year.
During this period, the restaurants are full, beaches packed and the local businessmen inflate prices of various commodities to maximize profits.
Transport and accommodation operators also inflate prices leaving many to incur extra costs while visiting Nantucket.
However, if you visit on either side of the summer period, you will save a lot compared to when visiting during the summer rush.
Early fall period or late spring present the best time to visit and if you do so, you will benefit from lower prices.
The weather during these two periods is favorably warm but can get cold during the night as well as during the summer.
Therefore, it is advisable you park warm clothes when visiting.
Apart from the benefits of easier access to the beaches and restaurants and lower prices during this period, there are other good reasons for you to plan your trip.
Two very famous festivals happen during this period.
The Nantucket Restaurant Week and the Cranberry Festival.
Both of these festivals happen in early October. Below is a detailed description of the two festivals.
Nantucket Restaurant Week
The Nantucket Restaurant Week represents a celebration of culinary tradition in the island.
The celebrations happen twice a year in the months of June and October.
It is a celebration of hospitality, exceptional food and wine. This celebration offers the visitors an opportunity to try something different.
There are over 30 restaurants that take part in this festivity and they offer a three-course meal at a price range of between $25 – 45.
The Cranberry Festival takes place in early October every year on the island of Nantucket.
Farming of berries has happened since 1857 and they are grown on a 257-acre piece of land on the island.
The festival takes place during the harvest time and is filled with fun and music and a show of antique sorters in operation.
During the harvest season, local businesses also benefit massively from the manufacture and sale of tasty treats like chocolates and tarts.
These treats are made from fresh berries. When visiting, ensure you taste some of these tasty treats.
Best Places to Stay in Nantucket MA Off Season
There are several accommodation options for you to choose from if you visit the island of Nantucket.
The accommodation options range from new resorts and hotels to old mansions that date back to the whaling period.
Most resorts and hotels are located close to the town and they offer jaw-dropping waterfront views.
I have compiled a list of some of the best options available for you if you decide to visit the island.
The White Elephant Nantucket
The White Elephant is among the most luxurious hotels and top among the best places to stay in Nantucket.
It is located a few meters from downtown. The hotel has a five-star rating and if you decide to camp here, be assured of luxury.
Their waterfront restaurant offers five-star dining experience and you can sip cocktails from the balcony of your room as you enjoy stunning views of the overlooking harbor.
The Nantucket Hotel and Resort
The Nantucket Hotel and Resort was established in 1891 and since then, it has maintained its amenities.
The resort is one of the pricy on the highland but you have a choice between the cottages and the four bedroomed suites.
Some of these cottages and suites have excellent views of the ocean.
Other amenities in the hotel include an outdoor terrace, two swimming pools and a restaurant that serves 3 meals a day for the visitors.
Once home of the sea captain, the 76 Main hotel is the only hotel or resort located right on the main street.
The hotel has an on-site cafe that treats its visitors to a complimentary breakfast on a daily basis in addition to snacks and refreshments.
The hotel has a courtyard where visitors can congregate in the evenings around the fire pits and unwind as they sip cocktails served by the restaurant.
The Cottages at Nantucket Boat Basin
These cottages are located right down on the waterfront in Nantucket and are among the few accommodation places on the island that are reasonably priced.
The cottages at Nantucket Boat Basin are perfect for family vacations.
Amenities available include a fully equipped kitchen, a balcony overlooking the waterfront and a lounge.
The cottages are located a few meters from the town and there is a shuttle and bus service for those who are interested.
How do I Get to Nantucket MA?
The island is only accessible by air or through water.
Therefore, visitors can get to the island by a ferry or on a plane.
Nantucket has its own airport located in the southern part of the island.
Several commercial airlines fly through this airport and there are other charter flight companies if you would like to use one.
For those interested in using ferry services, there are several ferries that ply this route to various destinations like Harwich Port, New York, Hyannis and New Bedford.
Getting Around Nantucket MA
Navigating Nantucket is easy and can be done on bike, foot, taxi, hired car or shuttle bus.
However, if you are interested in an amazing experience out of town, it is advisable to rent or bring your own car.
Taking your car out on the sand will be an amazing experience on this amazing island.
However, you may experience traffic gridlock during the peak season and parking slots may be hard to come by.
Biking is also popular on the island.
There are paved bike paths within the town and many other unpaved paths around to explore.
Remember all traffic rules apply to even bikers and safety gears like helmets are mandatory for children under the age of 15.
Scooters and mopeds are also popular. Ferrying the bike on a ferry will cost you $7.
Additionally, there are shuttle services cutting across the island.
The shuttles operate from morning hours till 9pm during weekdays and 7pm on the weekends.
Taxis also offer another option. Most of the taxis on the island are vans that can accommodate a large number of visitors.
They are found mainly at the ferry ports and at the airport.
Fun Things to Do in Nantucket MA
Having answered the question “what is the best time to visit Nantucket MA?” Let’s look at some of the fun things you can engage in while in Nantucket MA.
Nantucket is famed for its beautiful beaches, serene environment and sea surfing.
The island provides a serene environment for one to relax and unwind especially on the beaches.
The town’s historic and has several places that are of historical value. The town was famous in the whaling industry back then.
If you are planning to visit the town, here is a list of the best things to do in Nantucket, Massachusetts.
Visit the Whaling Museum
Nantucket island was among the top whaling stations on the planet and this activity made a fortune for individuals until its decline in the late 1860’s.
The Whaling Museum symbolizes the history of the island that spans four centuries.
It is home to thousands of crafts, works of art and numerous galleries.
The key attraction in this facility is the huge Fresnel lens, a 46-foot-long skeleton of a sperm whale that hangs from the ceiling.
If you visit, do not miss checking out the spectacular views of the harbor from the rooftop.
Visit the Lighthouse at Brant Point
Brant Point Light was established in 1756 but the current tower was first lit in 1901.
It is located on the north side of Nantucket Island.
This is the 10th light on this point. The Brant Point Light acted as a guide to the mariners as all vessels passed through this area into the island’s harbor.
In 1987, the was registered under The National Register of Historic Places making it among other thousands of sites of significance in America.
The current structure has been in place for over 110 years making it one of the best places to visit in Nantucket.
You can toss a coin into the sea before leaving to ensure that they return to the Grey Lady’s welcoming arms.
Nantucket’s beautiful beaches and shores coupled with historic architecture and a collection of antique shops, art galleries, book stores and finest shops make it among the best shopping destinations in the state.
Antique and boutique shops fight for their spaces with cafes and ice cream parlors.
The national chain stores do not operate here making it an amazing experience.
Unearth charming local boutiques and shops with a variety of items that include fine linens, lightship baskets, antiques, artworks, hand-made jewelry and apparel.
Maria Mitchell Association
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The Maria Mitchell Association is the science center of the island.
The center offers a conducive environment and opportunities for individuals to nurture a life-long interest in science through exploration, research and education.
The center has an aquarium and two observatories.
Children love hanging around the aquarium as it is home to a couple of marine species.
The indoor tanks are filled with smaller marine species while the outdoor tanks are filled with large fish and sharks.
Take a Walk Along the Bluff Walk
Characterized by a seashell’s surface, the bluff walk traverses through the village and surrounding homes.
The floral gardens and shingled rooves along the walk give you an amazing vibe as the path leads you to the Sankaty Lighthouse.
The lighthouse is among the most famous attractions in Nantucket.
The lighthouse stands158 feet tall and was initially illuminated by a French Fresnel lens and a single wick whale oil lamp.
Stop at the Sconset Beach and watch surfers’ surf.
Visit the Lighthouses and Shipwreck Museum
Nantucket has three lighthouses each with its own unique features and is worth a visit.
The Brant Point Lighthouse is the most popular.
The lighthouse is located on the southern part of Nantucket.
Established in 1746, the lighthouse played a huge role in the whaling and shipping industry as it guided ferries onto the island.
The Sankaty lighthouse helped save ships from sinking in the 1800s.
The lighthouse is popular among the visitors as it offers stunning views of the island and surrounding area.
Great Point Lighthouse is located on the northern part of Nantucket within the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Reserve.
The lighthouse is the most powerful in the area. Due to its location, the lighthouse used to aid mariners navigate.
If you are a history lover, the Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum is the place to go.
The museum is filled with shipwreck stories and those who survived these events.
The museum is filled with a collection of ship models representing the ships that sank at sea.
Go On a Cruise Around the Harbor
Nantucket Island boasts a lot of boats which you can hire and go on a cruise.
These include schooners, tugboats, and considerably larger boats which you can hire and go on a cruise to watch marine life swim and play.
Some boats offer on-board snacks and cocktails.
For fishing lovers, you can hire a chartered vessel and go fishing for tuna, marlin and other game fish.
Explore the Outdoor Cisco Commercial Brewery
The brewery in Nantucket is the only outdoor commercial brewery in America.
The brewery offers a variety of beers for you to choose from.
Some of the favorite brands include pale ale and stout.
The brewery also has a vineyard on site which you can visit and taste their white and red wines.
Adjacent to the brewery is The Triple Eight Distillery.
This distillery produces rum, vodka, gin and whiskey. The brewery has some surprise offers for you.
For visitors who tour the facility between 1pm and 4pm daily until 10th October, you will incur a cost of $20 but you will be gifted with a souvenir glass, two spirits, two tastes of wine and two tastes of beer.
Spend Time on the Beach
The island is surrounded by beautiful beaches with gentle waves and lovely sand.
During the summer, visitors flock to the beach making it lovely with lots of games, live music and food carts.
Additionally, during the off-season period, seaside cafes and restaurants still sell their services and products to ensure you have fun.
So, why don’t you stretch, eat and relax as you watch the gentle waves of the sea?
Visit the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge
The Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge is open throughout the year and it offers a sanctuary to endangered seabirds and other species of birds like osprey.
It has numerous trails where you can take a stroll and enjoy watching wildlife and birds. The sanctuary is also home to another famous lighthouse.
There are no charges for those who enter on foot or by boat.
Motor vehicles entering by sand are charged a fee of $65 but if you want to secure a season ticket, you will have to part with $140.
When Does the Nantucket MA Open for the Season?
Most of the hotels close during the winter when the temperatures drop but the Nantucket Hotel and Resorts opens throughout the year.
The island experiences an influx of visitors from spring to fall although the summer period is the most popular compared to other seasons.
What is the Peak Season for Nantucket MA?
The peak season in Nantucket runs during the summer period in the months of between June and August.
The numbers during this period grow from 10000 to over 60000 in a span of three to four months.
How Many Days Do I Need to Spend in Nantucket?
Nantucket Island is relatively small with a landmass area of approximately 48 square miles.
You will need approximately three to five days to fully enjoy the amazing environment and atmosphere Nantucket has to offer.
Is Nantucket MA Worth My Time?
Definitely YES. Nantucket offers visitors a relaxing atmosphere with a beach experience to die for.
Additionally, there are many activities you can take part in apart from relaxing on the beach.
The highland is blessed with the highest concentration of ancient houses built before the 1850s anywhere in America and all have been well maintained and are in good condition.
The town is also filled with art galleries, shops and museums to keep you busy during your visit.
Which is Better between Cape Cod and Nantucket MA?
If you prefer a laid-back environment on an island, then Nantucket is the place to be.
If you prefer a faster-paced holiday full of fun activities, then Cape Cod is the place to be.
Depends on what you want and how you want to spend time during your holiday season.
The Best Time to Visit Nantucket MA – Final Thoughts
So, what’s the best time to visit Nantucket MA?
The best time to visit Nantucket Massachusetts is during the month of OCTOBER.
During this period, the island is calm, weather is good and the crowds have left the beaches.
The restaurants are full of space and you will have fun and even enjoy taking part in the two festivals that happen during this period.