My Staycation…

Originally written for and soon-to-be posted on Parkway Boston:


Well, it looks like the Bellevue HillBilly was thinking the same thing as me this weekend — “how about a post on what I did over my vacation?” I guess what they say is true — great minds think alike… 😉

As most of you know, my family and I spent the last two weeks of August on
Martha’s Vineyard (as documented on my blog by a series of photos and quirky comments).

In addition to the
daily photo updates I provided, I thought it might be nice to include a summary of what we consider “The Best of Martha’s Vineyard – Year 1”. I say Year 1 because we hope to go back again (next year)… but even more so — because even though we spent two full weeks on the island, we didn’t even come close to visiting or seeing all the places and things we wanted to.

MV is quite large. Based on what I read, it’s approximately 20 miles long by 10 miles wide. According to Wikipedia, it’s 87.48 square miles — quite a lot of ground to cover in a one or two week period (especially when you spend most of you day laying on one of the many beaches).

First, a little history… (Also from Wikipedia)

Originally (and still) inhabited by the Wampanoag Indians, Martha’s Vineyard was known in their language as Noepe, or “land amid the streams.” It was named Martha’s Vineyard by the English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold, who sailed to the island in 1602. Gosnold’s mother-in-law and his second child, who died in infancy, were both named Martha. Though, it’s not known who he actually named the island after.

The island is primarily known as a
summer colony, and is accessible only by boat and by air. Nevertheless, its year-round population has grown considerably since the 1960s. Currently, records show approximately 15,000 people live there year-round.

The island received international notoriety on
July 18, 1969, when Mary Jo Kopechne was killed when a car driven by U.S. Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedydrove off the Dike Bridge. The bridge crosses Pocha Pond on Chappaquiddick Island(a smaller island connected to the Vineyard and part of Edgartown). The incident tarnished Kennedy’s reputation enough to kill his chances of following in his brothers’ footsteps with a Democratic presidential bid.

Our Trip…

Using I began my search to find a house on the Vineyard where there would be enough room for The Husband, the 3-yo and myself – but also one that allowed and had a yard to accommodate our two (50lb) dogs. I was successful and we stayed just a mile up the road from downtown Vineyard Haven – a town that I was told houses the highest number of year-round residents.

We had never stayed on the Vineyard before, nor did we know much about it. So I did some research and was fortunate to have a friend provide me with a “go-to list” (from having spent 15 years vacationing on the Vineyard himself). Additionally, the owners of the home provided us with a list of their favorite places.
All resources — combined and with a little exploration – and we were able to see a good deal of the island and had a great vacation!

BFW’s Favorite Beaches:

Joseph Silva State Beach – This was our favorite and most visited beach. Arrive before 11am on weekdays and 12pm on weekends (people start their beach day late here) to secure parking on the road. Slow, gradual grade into the water — so perfect for little ones. Calm, warm and breezy. Watch out for the crabs though!

Long Point Beach – I wish we had ventured here earlier in our trip, as we absolutely loved this place. There is both an ocean-side beach as well as a fresh-water lake. The lake was awesome… with a VERY slow grade out to deeper water. Our 3-yo absolultely loved it here. The fresh water side gets crowded earlier than other beaches… arrive no later than 10am for a good spot.

Lake Tashmoo Town Beach (also known as Herring Creek Beach) – A small beach, down a twisting (and hard to find) dirt road (SUV vehicle recommended). This is a fun excursion offering good fishing, a beach that faces Vineyard Sound as well as a small beach that faces the inlet into Lake Tashmoo. The current can be strong in middle of the inset (which you are not supposed to swim anyway) so be careful. It’s very nice and calm right against the beach though — where the 3-yo found and caught HUNDREDS of jellyfish! (the kind that don’t sting) Needless to say, it was one of his favorite places.

Menemsha Town Beach – Gentle water, but rocky. Wear beach shoes. Great place to watch the sunset and an adorable little fishing village to poke around. Can order lobsters at Larsen’s Fish Market (they will cook them for you — but be warned, this place gets PACKED). You can also get takeout from The Bite. It was very good, but also very pricey.

Chappaquiddick East Beach – Not to be missed! From the 3-car ferry ride over, to the quiet roads and beautiful drive — make your way across the island down to Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge. Cross the Dike Bridge and you’re there. Very windy, to rough for small ones to swim, but well worth the trip. It’s beautiful.

BFW’s Must Visit Locations:

Vineyard Haven
Oak Bluffs
Chappaquiddick Island

BFW’s Dining Recommendations:

Zephrus (Vineyard Haven) – This place got trashed on a few foodie sites, but I have to tell you. We went there (child in tow) and had a really good meal. The food was delicious (and mostly local) and the service was great. I definitely recommend it.

Jimmy Sea’s Pan Pasta (Oak Bluffs) – For ridiculously HUGE and delicious traditional Italian pasta dishes. It doesn’t get great reviews on the foodie sites, but it’s what to be expected in a tourist town. The service is so-so and the meals aren’t spectacular… but they are GOOD, the portions are big enough to last a few meals and they are very kid-friendly. They do not take reservations though… so go early.

The Net Result (Vineyard Haven)- Best lobster rolls (that I tried) and also has sushi. Their fresh fish market comes highly recommended by most folks.

Murdick’s Fudge (Multiple locations) – The best I’ve ever had… and I have had a LOT.

Beetlebung Coffee House (Vineyard Haven) – Some swear by Mocha Motts (wasn’t a fan) or others, but these were the only lattes on the island I could stomach. Straight-up coffee may be a whole different story (I wouldn’t know). They also have cool duds.

Fiddlehead Farm(Tisbury) – For local, organic and all natural produce, cheeses, meets, breads and goods.

BFW’s Miscellaneous Recommendations:

Best Massage Therapist: Jason Peringer at
Center for Therapeutic Massage in Vineyard Haven

Great MV Resource:

Martha’s VineyardGlassworks (we were lucky enough to score three of thier coveted pumpkins!)

Grand Illumination Night in Oak Bluffs. This occurs toward the end of August and is a “not-to-be-missed” event.

West Tisbury Agricultural Fair – A great small town fair with a midway, great food and lots of animals and other 4-H exhibits. We had so much fun we went twice.

Flying Horses” in Oak Bluffs – The infamous carosel.

MV Obsession – A local blogger.

Homeaway Traveler – Martha’s Vineyard (great resource for hidden gems and for finding rentals).

BFW’s coulda, shoulda, didn’t (but wish we had):

Island Alpaca Company

West Tisbury Farmer’s Market (Wednesday’s and Saturday’s)

Moshup Beach – Aquinnah

Renting Bicycles and riding between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown

Hiking – Menemsha Hills, Gay Head & Cedar Tree Neck

South Beach/Katama

Any other cool things I missed (I’m sure there are a ton) ? We need more ideas for next year!!!

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