Showing posts with label Martha's Vineyard. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Martha's Vineyard. Show all posts

Thursday, May 9, 2024

A Whirlwind Tour of Martha's Vineyard

Over the years, I've heard a lot about Martha's Vineyard, but it took a visit for me to understand more about the island inhabited by notable people like Spike Lee, James Taylor, David Letterman and author David McCullough.

For those who are interested in visiting the area, I can recommend the Beach Breeze Inn in Falmouth as a basecamp. The lovely, well-tended inn is just a short walk from the Surf Drive Beach and is a 10-minute drive to Ferry Parking. It even included a pool, which I would have taken advantage of if the weather wasn't in the 50's in late April.

The Beach Breeze Inn.

The logistics of getting to Martha's Vineyard may seem a bit daunting at first, but it appears that people go through the same ritual every day, judging by the huge parking lot that was filled by the time we arrived there at 9:00 a.m. 

To get to the Steamship Authority which runs the Ferry to Martha's Vineyard, you must first drive to the Palmer Avenue Parking lot, then take a waiting shuttle to Wood's Hole where the Ferry docks. The parking charge varies according to season; we paid $13 in April. The shuttle then takes between 10-15 minutes to get to the Ferry, so if you're meeting up with someone, do keep this in mind.

The ferry to Martha's Vineyard runs up to 20 times a day and is operated by the Steamship Authority.

After a comfortable ferry ride, we arrived in Wood's Hole where we browsed in a few cute little shops. If you choose to visit by car instead, there are several additional attractions you may want to consider, like the Nobska Point Lighthouse and the oldest Aquarium in the United States known as the National Marine Fisheries. If you're on foot and you have time before your ferry departs, there's also the Wood's Hole Historical Museum, which, in addition to helping guests learn more about the area's past, also offers walking tours. 

After visiting Wood's Hole, we walked to Vineyard Haven, which, after a few more blocks, led us to the historic town of Tisberry, where we caught a bus to Oak Bluffs to meet Dolores Borza of Home Grown Tours.

Murdick's Fudge has been in operation since 1887 and has shops in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven.

The Black Dog General Store in Vineyard Haven.

Borza is a native of the area and has been conducting tours for the past 15 years. Her comfortable bus also includes a lift to be accessible for those with disabilities.

During the three-hour tour, Borza takes guests through all the major towns and areas in Martha's Vineyard, expounding upon the rich history of the area. For those who have yet to visit Martha's Vineyard, it's comprised of the following:

The oldest town on the island is known for its historic charm, colonial architecture and the Edgartown Harbor Lighthouse. During the warmer months, tourists flock to the downtown area for shopping and dining.

Edgartown's Old Whaling Church, built in 1843.

Borza makes a stop at the Morning Glory Farm in Edgarton where visitors can shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, flowers, baked goods and more.

The Morning Glory Farm sells flowers, fruit, vegetables, baked goods and more.

Oak Bluffs
Oak Bluffs is known for its "gingerbread" houses, which originated from the Methodist Campground meeting grounds. During the summer, the downtown area near Circuit Avenue is filled with people visiting boutiques, restaurants, galleries and cafes. The sculpture below greets visitors to Oak Bluffs as they arrive on the island by ferry. Island artist Jay Lagemann has dubbed it, "The Family."

The Family, by artist Jay Lagemann.
This monument in Oak Bluffs near the dock was erected in honor of the Grand Army of the Republic by Charles Strahan, 21st Virginia Regiment.

Vineyard Haven/Tisbury
Vineyard Haven is also known as Tisbury--a fact that confused me a bit. Its busy harbor acts as a commercial center for the island. Like Oak Bluffs, it's known for its shops, restaurants and art galleries.
West Tisbury is known for its farmstands and is home to the Polly Hill Arboretum

Blue Fathom Art Gallery in Vineyard Haven.

Did you know that Vineyard Vines originated in Martha's Vineyard?
Chilmark is known for its rolling hills and beautiful views. The quiet town is aptly named because it most certainly could be described as "chill."
Borza's bus stops in Menemsha, a historic fishing village where visitors can enjoy delicious clam chowder and seafood fresh off the boat at the Menemsha Fish Market.

Aquinnah, formerly known as Gay Head, is located on the western end of the island and is famous for its cliffs and the Gay Head Lighthouse. The area has ties to the Wampanoag Tribe and Borza stops the bus so that passengers can browse the baked goods at Orange Peel Bakery. The bakery is owned by Juli Vanderhoop, a member of the Wampanoag Tribe, who bakes her products in a pizza oven made of fieldstone. She runs the place on the honor system where customers pay for their goods by leaving cash behind.
The Gay Head Cliffs are a national landmark.

The Gay Head Lighthouse can be seen in the distance.

The Orange Peel Bakery is run by Juli Vanderhoop, a member of the Wampanoag Tribe.

Borza, who runs the tours, suggests booking early as we approach the busy season. She also offers Jaws tours. Those who are fans of the movie likely know that it was shot in the area and that the 50th anniversary of the filming is coming up soon, so now it's more relevant than ever.

Homegrown Tours offers a Jaws-centric tour as well.

Borza operates up to four tours a day: two in the morning and two in the afternoon. You can book your tour at her website at

That's all for now. More posts on the Cape Cod trip will be coming up in the next several weeks. I hope that this short overview was enough to give you a general idea of what it's like to visit Martha's Vineyard, a lovely, out-of-the-way place that spans 100 square miles and attracts nearly 200,000 during the summer months.