10 Oct Day Tripping on Martha’s Vineyard
Martha’s Vineyard was high on my list of places to visit in New England. I was hoping to experience a small slice of idyllic island life; pretty lighthouses, rugged beaches, sailboats and salty air – and that was pretty much what we got, along with cute gingerbread houses and a stunning sunset.
*Update: you can read our complete 2016 New England Fall Foliage Guide here. This includes tips on where on when to see the best foliage, what to eat, which festivals to visit, how much our fall trip to New England cost and our favourite destinations in New England.*
Visiting Martha’s Vineyard
The Vineyard is well-known for being an affluent summer getaway and holiday home to celebrities such as Bill Murray and Meg Ryan; the Obamas visit almost every summer. Martha’s Vineyard also served as the fictional Amity Island in the film Jaws and boasts a selection of colourful gingerbread houses, which visitors travel from far and wide to photograph.
The only drawback to visiting Martha’s Vineyard is the price. Even in late September, we found that accommodation prices on the island were too much for us, so we hatched a plan to take a day trip to the island instead, catching a ferry from Falmouth. We disembarked early in the morning at Vineyard Haven, a small harbour town where we ate eggs on toast and slurped hot tea in a cosy diner.
We caught the local bus over to the Island’s largest hub, Edgartown, where we strolled along the waterfront and followed a sandy path out to a beach spotted with patches of green grass and bright yellow flowers. At the sea’s edge sat a short and stout white lighthouse, men fished in the shallows on the beach next to us and boats sailed by in the distance or bobbed on their moorings in the harbour.
Oak Bluffs and the Gingerbread Houses
We spent most of our day in Oak Bluffs, a town I fell just a little bit in love with. Since the summer crowds had dispersed the island was fairly quiet; Oak Bluffs had the most bustle to it with a short stretch of lively restaurants along the seafront, a high street lined with shops and a handful of beachgoers camped out in deckchairs on the sand, a few people were even braving a dip in the cold, choppy water.
Our favourite part of Oak Bluffs was the warren of candy-coloured, gingerbread houses. I could have walked the streets for hours gazing at the collection of fairytale-esque homes, each uniquely decorated and lovingly cared for. Porches were decked-out with flowers, ornaments, rocking chairs and wind chimes; window frames were brightly painted, roof trimming was elaborately carved and lawns were carefully manicured. It was all very Disney, but in a good way.
When we’d pulled ourselves away from the gingerbread houses we walked up to another lighthouse, this one on a hill looking out towards the thin stretch of Cape Cod. After stopping in town for a cup of tea and a donut, we wandered along the windy beach, feeling the salt air seep into our hair and coat our skin. The sand was littered with the alien-like shells of horseshoe crabs and clutches of tangled seaweed while the sea was rocky and churning in a way that reminded me of the seaside back home in England.
As the afternoon sun turned lemony and the nip in the wind grew stronger we boarded a ferry back to the mainland. The crossing was choppy and we stood on deck, braced against the fierce wind to avoid getting seasick; as we neared the coast we were given a final gift from our day at Martha’s Vineyard, a warm orange-red sunset which stained the sky in shades of melting butter.
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