Edgartown was a major whaling port in the late 1700’s and early 1800's and the charm of that era is evident around every corner. Picturesque and chic, it's the perfect home base for discovering a variety of Martha's Vineyard activities during your island vacation. Further afield you can explore funky Oak Bluffs, nautical Menemsha, bustling Vineyard Haven, and much more.
Looking for exclusive travel to the island? Check out Linear Air or Cape Air for unique air shuttle options.
Here are our suggestions for exploring Edgartown and beyond:
1. Edgartown Lighthouse
Stroll left out our front door, meander through town and on through the neighborhood of historic captain's homes to Edgartown Lighthouse. You'll love the beach scene surrounding the structure, but for the best experience, pay for a tour and climb to the top for panoramic views of Edgartown Harbor.
2. Kayaking & Kiteboarding
Rent from Island Spirit Kayak and paddle your way through the island’s rich wildlife for one of our favorite Martha's Vineyard activities. Spy shellfish beds, ospreys and their nests and small islands inhabited by rare Piping Plovers. Or, paddle into the calm waters of Sengekontacket Pond to watch the kiteboarders lift off the water into flight. (Or for the really adventurous, try kiteboarding lessons yourself with Skyhigh Kiteboarding.)
3. Biking and Hiking
Martha's Vineyard features miles of biking and hiking trails all over the Island. Hop on a bike (there are a few great rentals within a block of our Edgartown hotel) and peddle the 5-1/2 mile round-trip journey to South Beach or the 14 mile round-trip route to Oak Bluffs. Both are mostly flat and offer lovely rides along the water. For hiking, trek through the stunning scenery of the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, Sheriff's Meadow, or Mass Audubon's Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary. We'll give you directions and tips for these popular Martha's Vineyard activities.
4. Beaches for Every Occasion
Lighthouse Beach/Fuller Street Beach
This nearby beach strip is a quick 10 minute stroll from The Christopher. Plop down and watch the boats cruise in and out of the harbor or hunt for a quieter spot further down.
Joseph Sylvia State Beach
Calm waters and plenty of sand space make this a gathering spot for many visitors. It's an easy bike ride fromThe Christopher. Call on your inner movie buff and join the crowds jumping off “Jaws Bridge.” Search for sea glass along the water line.
A bit further afield, this expansive and sprawling Atlantic Ocean beach is all about volleyball, romping in the tide and summer fun. Be careful in the water as the waves can get large and undertows are common.
5. Edgartown Art Galleries
Gallery hopping is one of our favorite Martha's Vineyard activities. Don’t miss these distinctive art galleries -- all located just a short stroll from The Christopher:
Traditional art, including impressionism and expressionism, has been displayed at Christina Gallery for 34 years. Sailing buffs will enjoy the collection of antique maps and nautical charts.
North Water Gallery
Talented local and national artists have a creative home on the walls of North Water Gallery, including island favorite Ray Ellis.
With a focus on bold expressionism, the exceptional Eisenhauer Gallery features a diverse body of work from more than 50 artists.
6. Fishing and Boating Excursions
Embark on a daytime cruise, set out to sea as the sun sets over the horizon, enjoy a one-of-a-kind bachelorette party, or witness a 4th of July fireworks show you’ll never forget––all possible aboard the Plan Sea. With the capacity for up to 22 passengers, this sea vessel offers indoor and outdoor seating, plus a wet bar and is sure you to leave you with memories of a lifetime.
Sailing daily (in season) from Memorial Wharf, the Magic Carpet is a gorgeous, classic 56’ wooden yawl. True sailing at its best, you'll feel the splash of the sea as this beautiful boat comes about.
This massive catamaran offers two-hour smooth and graceful cruises around the harbor. Enjoy the party atmosphere on board even more with a gourmet snack basket.
For an ocean fishing expedition on the protected waters of Vineyard Sound, we recommend the Skipper out of Oak Bluffs harbor.
7. Island Sightseeing Tour
Hit a Martha's Vineyard activities highlight and learn a lot of island lore on the Martha’s Vineyard Sightseeing bus. The company offers a 2½-hour tour with a ½-hour stop at the Aquinnah Cliffs and Gay Head Lighthouse. The cliffs are a protected National Historic Landmark and clay bricks excavated from the site were used in constructing the lighthouse. We highly recommend this tour for first time visitors to Martha's Vineyard.
8. Historic Oak Bluffs Gingerbread Cottages
Bold and brightly colored, these richly painted, ornately carved cottages were built by Methodist Church campers during the mid 1800’s. The Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association offers tours of the Campground every Tuesday and Thursday in July and August. The central Tabernacle is on the National Register of Historic Places and is still home to weekly church services and a host of cultural events throughout the summer.
9. Mytoi Japanese Gardens in Chappaquiddick
As the locals say, take the "on time ferry to Chappy" and discover the Mytoi Japanese Gardens. Winding footpaths guide you through a birch walk, camellia dell, stone garden, and hillside garden. A rustic shelter offers a broad view of this garden of exotic and native plantings that encircle a serene pond full of turtles, frogs, and goldfish.
10. Polly Hill Arboretum
Located in picture-perfect West Tisbury, this horticultural and botanical landmark features trees and shrubs from around the world set among stone walls, meadows, and fields. Developed by legendary horticulturist Polly Hill (1907-2007) the arboretum displays trees, scrubs and flowers, such as Polly’s famous North Tisbury azaleas, the national stewartia collection, camellias, hollies, rhododendrons, crabapples, conifers, and magnolias.
11. Martha's Vineyard Theater Foundation
Let's go to the movies! Take a cinematic trip back in time with a visit to The Strand in Oak Bluffs and The Capawock in Vineyard Haven, operated by the Martha's Vineyard Theater Foundation. Built in the early 20th century as "places for amusement," both single screen theaters have undergone extensive renovations while retaining their historical island charm. The theaters are seasonal (mid-May to mid-October) and offer nightly showings of blockbusters, classics-in-the-making, engaging documentaries, and local film festival presentations.
For Vineyard events, virtual tours, live web cams and blogs, be sure to consult the Martha’s Vineyard Online or the Chamber of Commerce websites. For ideas on the perfect Martha’s Vineyard weekend getaway, consider this New York Times advice from Danielle Pergament’s 36 Hours on Martha’s Vineyard.