Nantucket is an overlooked but beautiful destination and today, we share the top things to do in Nantucket so you can enjoy the perfect trip.
The island of Nantucket, which is located 30 miles south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is the epitome of the coastal New England town. It has a stunning historic downtown with cobblestone streets and buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries.
It also has iconic lighthouses, endless beaches, wonderful summer homes with cedar sidings, and gardens overflowing with blooming hydrangeas, climbing roses, and flower boxes on just about any window.
If you plan a trip to Nantucket, you may be overwhelmed with the choice of places to add to your itinerary, even though it is a small island.
This guide may help you decide which sites to see and things to do once you set foot in Nantucket. It can also help you decide where to book your stay lodging.
Best things to do in Nantucket
Stroll along the ‘Sconset Bluff Walk
Siasconset is a tiny village on the eastern side of Nantucket and is undoubtedly one of the most Instagrammed spots on the island.
What makes it so special are the centuries-old cottages with weathered gray cedar shake sidings. They are surrounded by trellises with crawling roses reaching to their roofs and blooming colorful gardens behind white picket fences.
When you walk along this 1-mile path, you will feel like you have landed in a time capsule thanks to the village’s vintage architecture and wood signs.
The path passes through the backyards of some of the prettiest cottages in the village. It goes to the market and can take you to either the bluffs or Siasconset Beach. This east shore beach is a perfect place to watch the sunrise, spot seals, and take photos of the ocean and the postcard-like striped Sankaty Head Lighthouse. If you are visiting Nantucket in the Spring then this is the perfect place to start a trip.
Spend a day at Jetties Beach
Jetties Beach is among the most popular beaches on the island, especially preferred by families with young children. The reasons for this are many. Firstly, Jetties is on the island’s north coast, where the water is much calmer, shallower, and warmer than on the other shores.
Also, the beach is within a 10-minute walk from town. And last but not least, it has all the amenities you will need to spend the whole day relaxing while the kids are enjoying themselves.
You can rent a beach umbrella and chair and lounge on the soft sand all day long, gazing at the yachts and boats passing through the Nantucket Sound.
There is a playground, restrooms, changing rooms, and lifeguards on the beach.
Best of all, Jetties is home to the Sandbar Beach Bar and Restaurant. This is a place where you can enjoy drinking a chilled Summertime Frose or one of the many handcrafted cocktails on a table on the beach itself. You can also eat some delicious snacks and meals, including oysters from the raw bar, lobster roll sandwiches, tacos, burgers, and entrées such as lobster fries.
All of this with your toes buried in the fine sand while admiring the fantastic view.
Join a walking tour
Since Nantucket is so small, and also because the local authorities, conservation organizations, and the community are so dedicated to preserving nature on the island, going there with your car is not the best idea.
Instead, you can rent a bike, take the shuttle bus, or walk using the multi-functional bike and walking paths and trails covering the entire island.
If you want to explore the historic Downtown, one of the best ways to do it is to join the walking tour organized by the local Nantucket Historical Association.
It will guide you through all the landmark buildings and sites while informing you of the history and some intriguing facts about each building and the island itself.
The tour is only 60 minutes long and starts at the Whaling Museum. It will take you through the beautiful cobblestone streets to some of the most iconic mansions and buildings, many of which were built in the 17th and 18th centuries.
You will learn more about the island’s fascinating maritime and whaling history and how it shaped its culture and still affects its lifestyle and economy today.
Have a drink at Cisco Brewers
Cisco Brewers is possibly the coolest spot to be if you want to feel the unique energy of Nantucket. All of this is bottled in the best local craft beers, wines, and liquors all in one.
The brewery has a spacious beer garden with a stage for live music and many food trucks in place.
You can eat some snacks as well as enjoy some elaborate seafood and other dishes, along with the unique IPAs, goldens, lagers, and wheat ales produced there. The brewery also combines the local Nantucket Winery and the Triple Eight Distillery, so there is a favorite beverage there for just about any taste.
There are some amazing mixed drinks, as well as four different takes on the classic New England Hard Tea, which you can try.
It is kid-friendly, dog-friendly, and the perfect place to spend the rest of the day after hitting the beach.
Capture moments at the best photography spots
Nantucket is one of the most Instagrammed summer destinations in the USA. You can easily spot this in your Instagram feed, which probably gets flooded with beautiful photos of ocean sunrises and sunsets, lighthouses, endless beaches, rose-covered cottages, and so on.
So, don’t miss the opportunity to join the club and take some of the best Insta-worthy photos during your visit to Nantucket.
Some of the best spots for taking amazing photos include Steps Beach, Brant Point Lighthouse, and the village of Siasconset.
Take the Sconset Bluff Walk as recommended above, or simply stroll through this postcard-like village to take some of the most beautiful photos ever. The gardens and the village are at their prettiest during the summer when the roses and hydrangeas are in full bloom.
Don’t forget to take pictures of the bluff’s ocean views and snap some photos of the prettiest lighthouse on the island – the Sankaty Head Light.
Steps Beach is another top-Instagrammed destination in Nantucket. It is a beach hidden between Jetties and Dionis beaches on the island’s north shore and can be reached only by taking a set of steep steps. The view from the top of the steps is simply stunning. You can see the Nantucket Sound ahead, the surrounding green trees and plants, and some gorgeous waterfront properties.
If you will be arriving at Nantucket by ferry, then there is no chance that you will miss another most Insta-worthy site – the Brant Point Lighthouse. It has been standing at that exact point and guiding the ships and mariners around the point and in and out of the harbor ever since 1746.
The lighthouse itself has been restored ten times.
It is beautiful, especially during the Daffodil festival weekend when it is decorated with a giant daffodil wreath, or on Christmas, when it displays a huge Christmas wreath. Around the 4th of July, the lighthouse is adorned with the American flag.
Eat Lobster Roll at the 167 Raw Food Truck
Although Nantucket is better known for its fresh local clams and scallops, you can also enjoy some of the best lobster rolls while visiting the island.
The lobster rolls are prepared with the best lobster from Maine. You can find it served in both the New England style, which is grilled and chilled on a buttered bun, as well as in Connecticut style, which is prepared with a warm lobster salad with mayonnaise and served on a bun.
One of the best places to eat some delicious lobster rolls is at the 167 Raw Food Truck.
This popular food truck was established by the 167 Raw Fish Market owners. This is one of the best places to buy the freshest local seafood, the best prime meats, the finest cheeses, gourmet foods, and selected wines, beers, and other beverages.
You can buy some delicious lobster rolls, fish tacos, tuna burgers, carnitas tacos, fried fish sandwiches, oyster baskets, ahi poke, ceviche, and 167 guacamole at this food truck in the market garden.