Enjoying Your Vineyard Visit
While you are visiting Martha’s Vineyard, you will discover it to be one of the most enchanting and unique places in America. Each of its six distinct villages has its own history, topography, architecture and, even, demographics. Yet all six villages co-exist on an island of 93 square miles, approximately three times the size of Manhattan, New York.
The island is roughly a triangle. The eastern side of the island, called “Down-Island,” has the three most populated villages: Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs & Edgartown. The very rural western side of the island, called “Up-Island,” is comprised of West Tisbury, Chilmark & Aquinnah. Down-Island and Up-island are time-tested nautical terms.
This diversity is at the heart of touring Martha’s Vineyard. The island is not one or two things, but a multiplicity. To understand the unique nature of the island, a first-time visitor should try to spend time in each village.
When you live on an island in the Atlantic Ocean, the very first question on everyone’s lips is “Where’s the beach?”
Each town offers public beaches. Some are very remote and secluded, where you can while away the hours nestled in the dunes. Closer to villages, there is more activity and lower surf, ideal for swimming. Others are adjacent to rock jetties, perfect for casting for fish. Yet others are near our sailing harbors, for watching sailboats majestically embracing the sea breeze.
At Thorncroft, we have complete information to direct you to exactly the beach that will meet your needs, wherever you happen to be touring.
Wildlife Refuges & Hiking Trails
Martha’s Vineyard is not overrun with commercialization, such as fast food outlets and drive-thru establishments. The environment is our economy and islanders recognize the need to preserve our natural resources. In fact, 41% of our island is owned by a variety of conservation groups.
Most of these wildlife refuges have extensive public hiking trails that wind through stretches of wooded terrain dotted with stonewall-lined fields, like “Vermont in the ocean.” In fact, a number of our public beaches are also wildlife refuges.
Biking around the island is a marvelous way to explore this spectacular place. Paved bike paths, protected from the roads, wind extensively through much of the Eastern and central portions of the island. Most of the bike paths are fairly flat, safely accommodating most casual, weekend cyclists. However, to tour the entire island solely by bicycle would best be done by experienced, everyday bicyclists.
Water Sports Activities of all Types
The Green Room Martha’s Vineyard
Wind’s Up on Martha’s Vineyard
Island Spirit Kayak
There are two public courses on Martha’s Vineyard: Farm Neck and Mink Meadows. Both offer spectacular scenery and water-view holes and both have been played by U.S. Presidents. Those are very good recommendations!
Some of the finest, most unique and highest quality shops on the East Coast are located on Martha’s Vineyard. Just a sampling:
C.B. Stark Jewelers
The Black Dog Shops
The Vineyard Glass Works
The Book Den East
The Bunch of Grapes Bookstore
Menemsha Blues Clothing
The Christmas Cottage
The Allen Farm Sheep & Wool Company
This selection just scratches the surface. Our guests revel in the fact that remarkable shops seem tucked away, hidden around every corner, where you would least expect them. This is especially true Up-Island. A little exploration will fill the trunk of your car with treasures of every sort.
There are more than fifty art galleries on the island. Here are just a few.
Martha’s Vineyard, with no four-lane highways, traffic lights or smoke stacks, is one of the healthiest places to live in the East. Why not take advantage of your stay on the island to work on your own health?
YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard
CrossFit Martha’s Vineyard
We also have the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society, which hosts the annual Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival and a variety of film events throughout the year. It also offers weekly screenings of independent films, movie classics, documentaries, and world cinema. The Society is housed in a state-of-the-art facility with stadium seating in Vineyard Haven.
The history of the island is as diverse as its six villages. Consequently, several museums are necessary to construct the intricate mosaic of island history. However, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum provides a comprehensive background for the history of the entire island.
The Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust owns and operates several properties on the island of great historical significance, such as the Old Whaling Church, the Daniel Fisher House and the Flying Horses Carousel. The Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association owns the land on which the individually owned, Victorian gingerbread cottages are constructed.
The Wampanoag Tribe is the existing representative of Native Americans, who have occupied Aquinnah for 10,000 years, since the recession of the ice age glacier that formed Martha’s Vineyard.
We provide our guests with a complete list of restaurant recommendations by email 10 days before check-in. It’s a list that we constantly update and tweak with the very latest restaurant information. Our list includes choices island-wide.
Inside, Outside and All Around the Towns
Your mode of transportation on the island will dictate how you choose from among these remarkable attractions. There are no wrong answers; all the choices are good. It all depends on your own personal preferences.
At Thorncroft, we pride ourselves in assisting our guests in formulating their travel plans so that they can avoid those “oops” moments that can plague a vacation. Click on “Traveling Here” for complete information regarding transportation to, from and on the island.