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What To Do On A Nantucket Day Trip


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Vida Corrado



Nantucket is a charming island located just off the coast of Massachusetts. Known for its picturesque views, historic charm, and laid-back atmosphere, it’s no wonder that Nantucket is a popular destination for day trips. Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, explore the rich history of the island, or indulge in fresh seafood, Nantucket has something for everyone.


With its cobblestone streets, geometrically aligned houses, and stunning beaches, Nantucket offers a unique experience that is perfect for a day trip. The island boasts a rich history, having been an important whaling center in the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, it’s a quaint and idyllic escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.


Getting to Nantucket is easy, with ferries departing regularly from Hyannis, Cape Cod, and nearby islands. Once you arrive on the island, you’ll be greeted by the charming downtown area, where you can explore local shops, galleries, and restaurants. Don’t forget to stop by the Nantucket Whaling Museum to learn about the island’s whaling heritage and see fascinating artifacts.


To get a feel for the island’s natural beauty, take a stroll along the picturesque Brant Point Lighthouse, which offers stunning views of the harbor and the surrounding coastline. If you’re looking for a taste of small-town charm, head to Sconset Village, with its rose-covered cottages and beautifully manicured gardens.


Nantucket is also home to some of the most breathtaking beaches in the United States. Spend some time soaking up the sun and enjoying the crystal-clear waters at popular spots like Surfside Beach or Madaket Beach. And when it comes to food, Nantucket doesn’t disappoint. The island is renowned for its fresh seafood, so be sure to indulge in a seafood feast at one of the many local restaurants.


Before you leave, make sure to shop for some Nantucket souvenirs, from handcrafted nautical décor to local artwork and boutique clothing. And don’t miss the opportunity to take a bike ride around the island, immersing yourself in the stunning scenery and coastal beauty.


A day trip to Nantucket is a perfect way to escape the ordinary and immerse yourself in the natural beauty and rich history of this charming island. So pack your bags, hop on a ferry, and get ready to discover everything that Nantucket has to offer.


Getting to Nantucket

Getting to Nantucket is a breeze, with several transportation options available to suit your preferences. The most popular way to reach the island is by ferry. Ferries depart regularly from several locations, including Hyannis on Cape Cod and nearby islands like Martha’s Vineyard. The ferry ride itself is a scenic experience, offering stunning views of the water and the opportunity to spot marine wildlife along the way.


If you prefer to travel by air, Nantucket has its own airport, conveniently located just a few miles away from downtown. Several major airlines offer direct flights to the island, making it easily accessible from various cities on the East Coast.


Once you’ve arrived on Nantucket, getting around the island is simple. The downtown area is compact and walkable, allowing you to explore the charming streets and shops on foot. If you’re planning to venture further out, renting a bike is a popular option. Nantucket has an extensive network of bike paths that wind through the island, providing a scenic and eco-friendly way to get around.


Alternatively, you can also choose to rent a car or take advantage of the island’s public transportation system, which consists of buses that service the major towns and attractions. Keep in mind that parking can be limited in the downtown area, so it’s recommended to plan accordingly if you decide to bring your own vehicle.


Whether you choose to arrive by ferry, plane, or another mode of transportation, the journey to Nantucket is part of the experience. The anticipation builds as you approach the island, and you can feel the stress of everyday life melt away as you step foot on this idyllic paradise.


Exploring the Downtown Area

The downtown area of Nantucket is the heart and soul of the island. With its cobblestone streets, historic buildings, and charming shops and restaurants, it’s a must-visit for any day tripper. Start your exploration by taking a leisurely stroll along Main Street, where you’ll find an array of boutique stores, art galleries, and specialty shops.


One of the highlights of the downtown area is the Whaling Museum, located on Broad Street. Step inside to learn about Nantucket’s whaling history and get a glimpse into what life was like during the whaling era. The museum houses an impressive collection of artifacts, including scrimshaw, models of whaling ships, and interactive exhibits that bring the history of whaling to life.


As you continue your walk through town, be sure to stop by the historic churches that dot the landscape. The First Congregational Church and the Unitarian Universalist Church are not only architectural gems but also provide a glimpse into the island’s religious heritage.


The downtown area is also known for its vibrant culinary scene. From seafood shacks to fine dining restaurants, there is something to satisfy all taste buds. Be sure to try some of the island’s specialties, such as fresh lobster rolls, clam chowder, and locally caught seafood.


After indulging in some delicious fare, take a moment to relax and soak in the lively atmosphere of the downtown area. Grab a seat at one of the outdoor cafes or benches and people-watch as locals and visitors go about their day.


And no visit to the downtown area would be complete without a visit to the iconic Easy Street Basin. This picturesque harbor area is filled with colorful fishing boats and offers stunning views of the waterfront. It’s the perfect spot to sit and reflect on your Nantucket adventure or snap a few photos to commemorate your trip.


Exploring the downtown area of Nantucket is an experience like no other. From its rich history and unique architecture to its vibrant shops and delicious dining options, there is something to delight every visitor. Take your time, soak up the charm of the area, and create lasting memories in this enchanting part of the island.


Visiting the Nantucket Whaling Museum

No trip to Nantucket is complete without a visit to the Nantucket Whaling Museum. Located on Broad Street, this museum offers a fascinating glimpse into the island’s rich whaling heritage and provides a deeper understanding of its significance in shaping Nantucket’s history.


The museum’s collection is extensive and includes artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that bring the whaling era to life. As you enter the museum, you will be transported back in time to the 18th and 19th centuries, when Nantucket was the whaling capital of the world.


One of the highlights of the museum is the skeleton of a sperm whale, which hangs from the ceiling, showcasing the sheer size and magnificence of these creatures. This impressive sight is a reminder of the integral role whaling played in the island’s economy and the courage of the Nantucket sailors who ventured out to sea in pursuit of these majestic creatures.


As you explore the museum, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about the techniques and tools used in whaling, as well as the daily lives of whalers aboard the ships. The exhibits are informative and engaging, mixing historical artifacts with multimedia displays to create an immersive experience for visitors.


One of the standout exhibits is the collection of scrimshaw, which are intricate engravings on whalebone and ivory. These creations provide unique insights into the daily lives, experiences, and artistic talents of the whalers during their time at sea.


Additionally, the museum offers a series of educational programs and events for visitors of all ages. These include lectures, workshops, and hands-on activities that further enrich the understanding of Nantucket’s whaling history and its impact on the island and its people.


Visiting the Nantucket Whaling Museum is a captivating and educational experience that provides a deeper appreciation for the island’s past. It offers a unique opportunity to learn about the whaling industry, its significance in Nantucket’s development, and the brave men and women who played a crucial role in it. Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about the island’s heritage, a trip to this museum is a must-do on your Nantucket day trip itinerary.


Strolling through Brant Point Lighthouse

No trip to Nantucket would be complete without a visit to the iconic Brant Point Lighthouse. Located at the entrance of Nantucket Harbor, this historic landmark offers a picturesque setting for a leisurely stroll and breathtaking panoramic views of the coastline.


As you approach the lighthouse, you’ll be greeted by the sight of its distinctive red and white striped tower, standing tall against the backdrop of the sparkling blue ocean. The lighthouse has been guiding ships to safety since 1746 and is still operational today, maintaining its important role in ensuring the safety of vessels navigating the waters around Nantucket.


Take your time to explore the area surrounding the lighthouse. The scenic walkway that leads to Brant Point offers stunning views of the harbor, dotted with sailboats and fishing boats. You might even catch a glimpse of a ferry as it arrives or departs from the island.


One of the best times to visit the lighthouse is during sunset. As the sun dips below the horizon, the sky comes alive with hues of pink, orange, and purple, creating a breathtaking backdrop for the lighthouse and the surrounding landscape. It’s a truly magical sight that shouldn’t be missed.


While strolling around Brant Point Lighthouse, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn about its history and significance to the island. Informational plaques are located nearby, providing insight into the lighthouse’s construction, its keepers, and its role in the maritime history of Nantucket.


For those who are looking for a more active experience, the area surrounding the lighthouse is great for fishing. Try your luck at casting a line off the nearby dock, or simply enjoy watching others as they reel in their catch.


Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the beauty of Brant Point Lighthouse. The stunning vistas and charming atmosphere make it a photographer’s dream. Whether you’re an avid photographer or just want to capture some memories of your Nantucket day trip, the lighthouse will provide ample opportunities for stunning shots.


A visit to Brant Point Lighthouse is a must for anyone exploring Nantucket. It offers a chance to immerse yourself in the island’s maritime history, enjoy breathtaking views, and create lasting memories. So, take a leisurely stroll along the walkway, breathe in the salty air, and experience the magic of Brant Point Lighthouse.


Exploring Sconset Village

Located on the eastern end of Nantucket Island, Sconset Village is a picturesque coastal village that exudes classic New England charm. This idyllic and historic community is the perfect place to escape the crowds and immerse yourself in the tranquility and beauty of the island.


As you wander through the village, you’ll be captivated by the quaint rose-covered cottages, white picket fences, and perfectly manicured gardens. The village has a timeless feel, as if you’ve stepped back in time to a simpler era.


One of the highlights of Sconset Village is Sankaty Head Lighthouse. This towering beauty sits atop a bluff, offering magnificent views of the Atlantic Ocean. Take a stroll along the bluff walkway and marvel at the stunning vistas. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a peaceful moment and soak in the natural beauty that surrounds you.


While in Sconset Village, be sure to visit the Sconset Market, a charming general store that has been a local institution for over a century. Here you can pick up a delicious picnic lunch or browse through a selection of unique and locally sourced items.


If you’re in the mood for a leisurely walk, head to the nearby Sconset Beach. This picturesque stretch of sand is known for its crystal-clear waters and pristine shoreline. Take a dip in the refreshing Atlantic or simply relax on the beach and soak up the sun.


As you explore the village, you’ll discover hidden pathways and secret gardens that add to the enchanting atmosphere of Sconset. From colorful hydrangeas to fragrant roses, the flora and fauna of the village are a sight to behold.


One of the joys of visiting Sconset Village is simply walking the streets and admiring the architecture of the cottages. Each one has its own unique character and charm, with flower boxes overflowing with vibrant blooms and inviting front porches.


For history enthusiasts, a visit to the Sconset Chapel is a must. Built in the 19th century, this quaint chapel is steeped in history and offers a peaceful respite from the bustling world outside. Take a moment to step inside and appreciate the simple beauty and serenity of this cherished place of worship.


Whether you’re looking to relax on the beach, wander through picturesque streets, or simply enjoy the peaceful ambiance, Sconset Village is a hidden gem on Nantucket Island. Immerse yourself in the charm and beauty of this idyllic coastal village and savor the slower pace of life that it embodies.


Enjoying the Beaches

Nantucket is renowned for its stunning beaches, offering a paradise-like experience for beach lovers. Whether you’re seeking relaxation or adventure, the island’s pristine shores provide the perfect setting to unwind and enjoy the beauty of the Atlantic coastline.


One of the most popular beaches on Nantucket is Surfside Beach. Just a short distance from downtown, this expansive stretch of white sand is ideal for sunbathing, beachcombing, and strolling along the shoreline. The crystal-clear waters are perfect for swimming and, if you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try your hand at surfing or bodyboarding.


For a more secluded and tranquil beach experience, head to Madaket Beach. Located on the western end of the island, this picturesque spot offers breathtaking sunsets and a tranquil atmosphere. Pack a picnic and enjoy a leisurely lunch while watching the waves crash against the shore.


Another beach worth visiting is Jetties Beach, located near downtown Nantucket. This family-friendly beach is equipped with amenities such as restrooms, a playground, and a beachside restaurant. Grab a beach chair, relax under an umbrella, and soak up the sun while enjoying the refreshing ocean breeze.


If you’re up for a bit of adventure, head to Great Point Beach. Located on the northeastern tip of the island, this remote and rugged beach requires a 4×4 vehicle to access. Once there, you’ll be rewarded with unspoiled beauty, dunes, and the opportunity to spot seals and other wildlife.


When visiting Nantucket’s beaches, it’s important to respect the environment and follow any rules or regulations in place. Pack out what you bring in, leave only footprints behind, and be mindful of the fragile dune ecosystem.


While the beaches are enjoyable throughout the year, summer is the peak season for beach activities on Nantucket. However, even during the shoulder seasons, you can still appreciate the beauty of the beaches and soak up the peaceful ambiance.


Remember to bring essential beach gear, such as sunscreen, towels, hats, and plenty of water. Keep in mind that during peak hours and weekends, parking at the beaches can be limited, so plan accordingly or consider utilizing public transportation options.


Whether you’re looking for a tranquil escape or an active day by the shore, Nantucket’s beaches offer a slice of coastal paradise. So grab your beach gear, feel the sand between your toes, and enjoy the rejuvenating and invigorating experience that only a day at the beach can provide.


Trying Fresh Seafood at Local Restaurants

When it comes to culinary delights, Nantucket is synonymous with fresh seafood. Being surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the island boasts an abundance of delectable seafood options that are sure to satisfy even the most discerning palate.


From local clam chowder to succulent lobster rolls, Nantucket’s restaurants offer a wide range of delicious seafood dishes that highlight the island’s coastal flavors. Many of these eateries pride themselves on sourcing their seafood directly from local fishermen, ensuring the freshest and highest quality ingredients.


One of the popular seafood dishes to try is the raw oysters. These briny delicacies are harvested from the pristine waters around Nantucket and are served on the half-shell, accompanied by a tangy mignonette or zesty cocktail sauce. Enjoy them at one of the oyster bars in town for an authentic Nantucket experience.


For a quintessential Nantucket meal, indulge in a classic clam bake. This traditional dish typically consists of clams, lobster, corn on the cob, and potatoes, all cooked together in a flavorful broth. The combination of fresh seafood and hearty sides is a true taste of the island’s maritime heritage.


If you’re a fan of lobster, you’re in for a treat. Nantucket is known for its delicious lobster rolls, filled with chunks of tender lobster meat, lightly dressed with mayonnaise, and served on a buttery toasted bun. Pair it with a side of crispy French fries for the ultimate indulgence.


When dining at local seafood restaurants, don’t forget to explore other popular options such as pan-seared scallops, grilled swordfish, and the catch of the day. These dishes showcase the flavors of the ocean and highlight the skillful preparation of the island’s talented chefs.


While seafood takes center stage, Nantucket restaurants also offer a variety of non-seafood dishes, providing options for every palate. From farm-fresh salads to succulent steaks, there is something to satisfy everyone in your dining party.


Pair your seafood feast with a glass of wine or a locally brewed beer for the perfect complement. Many restaurants on the island have an extensive beverage list, featuring both local and international selections that pair beautifully with the flavors of the sea.


When dining out in Nantucket, it’s a good idea to make reservations, especially during the peak season. The island’s restaurants can get busy, so securing a table in advance ensures you won’t miss out on these culinary delights.


From casual seafood shacks to upscale waterfront restaurants, Nantucket offers a diverse range of dining options for seafood lovers. So prepare your taste buds for a savory adventure, and embark on a culinary journey that highlights the ocean’s bounty and the island’s rich culinary traditions.


Shopping for Nantucket Souvenirs

No trip to Nantucket is complete without bringing home a piece of the island’s charm. From nautical-themed treasures to locally crafted goods, there are plenty of unique souvenirs to be found on the island.


Start your shopping adventure on Main Street, where you’ll find a wide variety of boutique shops and specialty stores. Browse through the offerings of Nantucket-themed clothing, jewelry, and accessories. Look for items adorned with anchors, lighthouses, and sailboats, as these are popular motifs that reflect the island’s maritime heritage.


For those interested in art and photography, Nantucket is home to numerous galleries featuring works by local artists. Admire the vibrant seascapes, charming landscapes, and stunning photography capturing the island’s natural beauty. Consider purchasing a piece of artwork that resonates with you, allowing you to bring a slice of Nantucket’s aesthetic into your own home.


Another popular souvenir option is handwoven Nantucket baskets. These intricately crafted baskets are made using traditional techniques that date back to the 19th century. Look for a reputable shop where you can find these unique and highly sought-after baskets, perfect for storing small items or simply as decorative pieces.


If you’re a lover of literature, explore the island’s bookstores for titles that delve into Nantucket’s history, culture, and captivating stories. From historical accounts of the island’s whaling past to contemporary novels set against the backdrop of Nantucket, there’s a book to suit every interest.


For a taste of Nantucket’s culinary delights, consider purchasing some locally made food products. Look for items like homemade jams, artisanal chocolates, handcrafted honey, or even a bottle of locally produced wine or spirits. These gourmet treats allow you to savor the flavors of Nantucket long after your trip has ended.


For a truly unique souvenir, visit the island’s craft fairs and markets. These events showcase the talents of local artisans, offering a wide array of handcrafted items such as pottery, glasswork, woodwork, and textiles. Take your time to peruse the stalls and find that one-of-a-kind piece that speaks to you.


When shopping for souvenirs, be sure to support local businesses and artisans. By doing so, you not only bring home a special memento but also contribute to the island’s economy and support the thriving community of artists and craftsmen.


Before leaving Nantucket, don’t forget to pick up a few postcards to send to loved ones, capturing the beauty of the island in images. And of course, indulge in some delicious Nantucket-made chocolates or fudge to enjoy on your journey back home.


Shopping for Nantucket souvenirs allows you to bring a piece of the island’s history, culture, and beauty into your own world. So explore the shops, immerse yourself in the island’s creativity, and find the perfect treasures to commemorate your Nantucket getaway.


Taking a Bike Ride around the Island

Exploring Nantucket by bike is not only a fun and adventurous way to see the island but also a popular activity among visitors. With its flat terrain and well-maintained bike paths, Nantucket offers the perfect setting for a leisurely bike ride around the island.


Start your cycling adventure by renting a bike from one of the many rental shops on the island. Whether you prefer a classic cruiser or a sleek road bike, there are options available to suit every preference and skill level. With the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, set off on an unforgettable journey around Nantucket.


The island’s network of bike paths stretches across the entire island, allowing you to explore at your own pace. The paths are well-marked and offer a safe and scenic way to navigate the island. As you pedal along, you’ll pass through picturesque landscapes, tree-lined paths, and sweeping coastal vistas.


One of the popular routes to consider is the Enoshima Bicycle Path, also known as the Polpis Bike Path. This scenic path takes you through the serene Polpis Harbor, offering breathtaking views of the water and the surrounding marshes. Keep an eye out for wildlife, as the area is home to various bird species.


Another picturesque route is the Surfside/Cliff Bike Path, which leads you along the southern shores of the island. As you ride, you’ll be treated to stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean and the pristine beaches that Nantucket is renowned for. Take the opportunity to stop and dip your toes in the refreshing waters or simply bask in the beauty of the surroundings.


A bike ride around Nantucket also provides the opportunity to discover hidden gems and secluded spots. Consider venturing off the beaten path and exploring the lesser-known areas of the island. You might stumble upon a quiet beach, a scenic overlook, or a charming picnic spot.


Remember to bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and snacks to keep you fueled along the way. It’s also a good idea to have a map or GPS device with you, as well as a lock to secure your bike when you make stops along the route.


Whether you’re an experienced cyclist or just looking for a leisurely ride, biking around Nantucket offers a unique and immersive experience. It allows you to fully appreciate the natural beauty of the island, soak in the fresh sea air, and truly embrace the island’s laid-back vibe.


So hop on a bike, feel the freedom of the open road, and savor the enchantment of Nantucket as you pedal your way around this captivating island.



A day trip to Nantucket is a journey filled with beauty, history, and unforgettable experiences. From exploring the charming downtown area to visiting the Nantucket Whaling Museum, strolling through Brant Point Lighthouse, and immersing yourself in the tranquility of Sconset Village, the island offers a myriad of activities to make your day trip truly special.


Nantucket’s stunning beaches provide the perfect backdrop for relaxation and adventure, while the local restaurants tempt your taste buds with fresh seafood and culinary delights. Shopping for unique souvenirs allows you to bring a piece of the island’s charm back home.


And don’t forget to take a bike ride around the island, immersing yourself in the natural beauty, exploring hidden paths, and creating memories along the way.


As your day trip comes to an end, take a moment to reflect on the beauty and tranquility that Nantucket offers. Whether you’ve soaked up the sun on the beaches, delved into the island’s history, or simply enjoyed the laid-back vibe, Nantucket leaves a lasting impact on all who visit.


So pack your bags, plan your itinerary, and embark on a day trip to Nantucket. Experience the magic of this captivating island and create memories that will stay with you long after you’ve left its shores.