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Monday, June 24, 2024

9 Things to Do in Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard

Don't miss out on these must-do activities in this charming New England island town.

The Martha’s Vineyard town of Edgartown, one of New England’s most elegant communities, proudly stands as the Island’s inaugural colonial settlement. Its captivating allure lies in the meticulously maintained white Greek Revival houses, once the residences of whaling captains, now transforming the town into a living museum of the early 19th century.

While the majestic square-rigged ships that sailed the world’s oceans no longer grace Edgartown harbor, the legacy of those vessels and their captains lives on. For the past century, Edgartown has evolved into one of the world’s premier yachting centers.

At the heart of Edgartown stands the iconic Old Whaling Church on Main Street, a living relic from 1843 at the peak of the whaling industry. Now a performing arts center and sought-after wedding venue, the church shares its historic space with the Dr. Daniel Fisher House, a former residence dating back three years prior.

Venture to Chappaquiddick, an island in Edgartown Harbor, home to stunning private residences and untouched natural beauty. Limited parking encourages a car-free exploration—pack a lunch, take a bike ride via the On Time Ferry, and discover the Cape Pogue lighthouse, explore the serene Mytoi Japanese garden, or simply revel in the island’s natural splendor.

Edgartown’s enchanting streets are adorned with charming boutiques offering everything from authentic scrimshaw carvings to elegant evening gowns. Its diverse dining scene, spotlighting local seafood, ranges from fine dining to family-friendly establishments. As the sun sets, Edgartown comes alive with sophisticated nightlife, making it the ultimate destination to see and be seen. What are the sites that stand out as not to be missed? Keep reading.


relax at south beach

This expansive and picturesque beach stretches along the Atlantic Ocean, offering visitors a serene escape with its soft, golden sands and rolling dunes. Accessible by car, bike, or public transportation, South Beach provides a quintessential Martha’s Vineyard experience. Whether beachcombing along the shoreline, basking in the sun’s warmth, or taking a refreshing dip in the Atlantic waters, visitors can relish the diverse offerings of this coastal haven. The beach’s popularity extends to surf enthusiasts, who flock to its shores to ride the waves. With stunning sunset vistas, opportunities for birdwatching, and a commitment to environmental conservation, South Beach is a cherished destination that encapsulates the allure of Martha’s Vineyard’s coastal treasures.


tour the edgartown lighthouse

In 1828, the original Edgartown Lighthouse emerged on a small man-made island in Edgartown harbor, funded by an Act of Congress. Initially located a quarter-mile from shore, the project was completed with additional funds, including an $80 payment to Seth Vincent for a right of way. Accessible only by boat for the first year, a footbridge was later constructed with a $2,500 allocation. In 1938, the original structure was replaced by a lighthouse rafted from Ipswich, reclaiming the original site, which had been filled in by sand over the years. Positioned onshore, the current Edgartown Lighthouse stands as a testament to the island’s maritime history. The island contends with challenging seas, influenced by tides from Boston to Rhode Island, hosting reefs, rocks, and the perilous Devil’s Bridge off Aquinnah, infamous for the tragic wreck of The City of Columbus in 1884.


shop, stroll & savor downtown

Edgartown’s Main Street in Massachusetts seamlessly blends the pleasures of shopping and dining, creating a captivating experience for locals and visitors alike. As you wander through the historic thoroughfare, an eclectic mix of boutique shops, charming cafes, and inviting restaurants unfolds. Explore quaint storefronts showcasing a diverse range of treasures, from coastal-inspired fashion to locally crafted souvenirs. Amidst the shopping options, Main Street’s culinary scene beckons with a tempting array of eateries offering everything from fresh seafood to gourmet international cuisine. Enjoy a leisurely stroll, alternating between delightful retail discoveries and indulgent culinary delights, as Main Street in Edgartown weaves together the best of shopping and dining in a setting that exudes New England charm and coastal sophistication.


journey to chappaquiddick

Chappaquiddick Island, nestled  just across the harbor from downtown Edgartown, is a captivating gem that beckons adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike. Accessible by a short ferry ride, this island paradise offers a serene escape from the bustling mainland. Hop off the ferry with your car or bike and explore pristine beaches that frame the island, each boasting its own unique charm and tranquility. Nature preserves and walking trails unveil a rich tapestry of flora and fauna, inviting outdoor enthusiasts to immerse themselves in the island’s natural beauty. Chappaquiddick’s iconic landmarks, including the Cape Poge Lighthouse, add a touch of history and mystique to the landscape. Mytoi Gardens is a serene botanical oasis, enchanting visitors with its Japanese-inspired design, landscaping and peaceful walking paths.

Whether it’s a quiet retreat or an exploration of the island’s scenic wonders, Chappaquiddick Island promises an unforgettable journey into the heart of coastal New England charm.


visit the carnegie trust

The Carnegie Trust Museum in Edgartown, MA, stands as a captivating testament to the town’s rich history and cultural heritage. Housed in a historic Carnegie Library building (it was once the town library), the museum seamlessly combines architectural charm with insightful exhibits. Visitors are taken on a journey through Edgartown’s past, exploring artifacts, photographs, and displays that chronicle the evolution of the community. From maritime tales to the island’s whaling history, the museum offers a comprehensive narrative that captivates both locals and tourists alike. With its commitment to preserving the region’s legacy, the Carnegie Trust Museum provides a unique and immersive experience, inviting patrons to connect with the vibrant tapestry of Edgartown’s history.


take an oyster farm tour

Explore the maritime charm and culinary treasures of Katama Bay through Signature Oyster Farm Tours in Edgartown, MA. Named after its Native Wampanoag meaning “crab-fishing place,” Katama Bay offers ideal conditions for cultivating the sought-after Katama Bay Oysters. Managed by Ryan Smith of Signature Oyster Farm, this family-run business embodies a passion for aquaculture, with Ryan’s journey stemming from his father’s concerns about the future of commercial fishing. Despite the initial challenges, Ryan’s dedication led to the successful cultivation of oysters, recognized for their unique flavor and pristine quality. The farm’s meticulous processes, including hand-stirring seedlings and innovative tumbling techniques, contribute to the exceptional quality of the oysters. The family’s commitment extends to Oyster Farm Tours, providing an immersive experience where visitors witness the entire farming process, indulge in freshly harvested oysters, and enjoy the picturesque views of Katama Bay. With a warm family touch and a commitment to sustainability, Signature Oyster Farm Tours offers a unique and unforgettable culinary adventure on Martha’s Vineyard.


head to morning glory farm

Explore the rich history and deep roots of the Athearn family on Martha’s Vineyard, spanning an impressive twelve generations since their arrival from England in 1650. As the proud stewards of Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown, founded in 1975 by Jim and Debbie Athearn, the family cultivates a diverse array of vegetables, fruits, and flowers across 65 acres of land. The farm stand in Edgartown offers a delightful selection of artisan breads, fruit pies, baked goods, soups, salads, prepared foods, and preserves, all held to the highest standards. Simon, the current chief of operations and son of the founders, passionately upholds the family legacy. The farm’s commitment extends to a generous Community Supported Agriculture program, providing shares of seasonal produce to the public. Simon’s love for farming is encapsulated in the simple yet profound concept of “Rinse and Repeat.” The farm’s enduring generosity, even in festive displays like a pumpkin patch, reflects its commitment to serving the community—a true bounty that goes beyond the produce they offer.


take a walking tour of whaling captain homes

Water Street in Edgartown, MA, unveils a mesmerizing collection of Whaling Captain homes, each residence a testament to the town’s seafaring history. These historic homes, situated along the picturesque waterfront, belonged to the captains who once commanded whaling expeditions, symbolizing Edgartown’s prosperous maritime past. Adorned with timeless architecture, these houses on Water Street stand as living artifacts, echoing tales of maritime adventures and affluence. Their elegant facades and well-preserved details transport visitors to an era when Edgartown thrived as a bustling whaling port. As you wander along Water Street, the stories embedded in each Captain’s home unfold, offering a captivating glimpse into the rich heritage of this charming coastal town. Local Architect Patrick Ahearn has become reknowned for reimaging and preserving the archictecture of these magestic and historic properties. Read more about his work here


take a harbor tour

Embark on a captivating harbor tour in Edgartown, MA, to discover the enchanting coastal beauty that defines this historic town. As you set sail, the panoramic views of the Edgartown Harbor unfold, showcasing a picturesque blend of maritime charm and New England elegance. Marvel at the iconic Edgartown Lighthouse standing sentinel at the harbor’s entrance, providing a stunning backdrop against the blue waters. Glide past charming Whaling Captain homes along Water Street, each narrating tales of the town’s seafaring legacy. The harbor tour offers an intimate perspective of Edgartown’s coastal architecture, from classic sailboats to luxurious yachts, all bobbing gently in the harbor’s embrace. Whether on a narrated boat excursion or a tranquil kayak adventure, exploring Edgartown’s harbor provides a serene and immersive experience, allowing you to appreciate the town’s maritime heritage from the tranquil embrace of the sea.


BONUS: soar above the island in a bi-plane tour

Experience the magic of Martha’s Vineyard from a new perspective with biplane tours at Katama Airfield. Nestled in the heart of the island, Katama Airfield offers an exhilarating adventure as you take to the skies in a vintage biplane. The open cockpit provides an unobstructed view of the island’s scenic wonders, from the sprawling landscapes to the iconic coastline. Flying over landmarks like Edgartown Lighthouse and the historic Whaling Captain homes, you’ll be immersed in the island’s rich history and natural beauty. The unique charm of the biplane adds an extra layer of nostalgia to this aerial escapade. With the wind in your hair and the thrill of flight, a biplane tour at Katama Airfield becomes a truly unforgettable and picturesque journey over the enchanting Martha’s Vineyard.

Edgartown is the ultimate destination, offering a perfect balance of scenic beauty, historical treasures, and outdoor adventures. Get ready for an unforgettable getaway on Martha’s Vineyard!

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