Nantucket Island Weekend Guide

Nantucket is as much a sanctuary for wildlife as it is a getaway from daily life, perfect for weekend travel.
By: Jenna Schnuer

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Nantucket looks very much as it did when the whaling industry left town 150 years ago. It's as though time simply stopped here. And whether they're on Nantucket for the first time or the 40th summer in a row, visitors wouldn't have it any other way. It is a very easy place to be -- and incredibly addictive. Called the "elbow of sand" because of its curved shape, Nantucket is as much a sanctuary for wildlife as it is a getaway from daily life. About 40% of the island's 50 square miles has been reserved as protected conservation land.

Where to Stay

The Veranda House
The kind of place that makes a visitor want to overhaul her own home, The Veranda House's interior is airy, light, bringing together mid-century modern and beach-house elements in an elegantly eclectic way. Considering the building's advanced age -- it was built in 1684 -- it handles the retro chic well. Don't tell the owners, but guests say they would happily pay extra for the hotel's complimentary breakfast.

Jared Coffin House
Though practically a toddler compared to The Veranda House, this mansion recently turned 165. The former home of shipbuilder Jared Coffin, the guest rooms are decorated in elegant period furniture. For spa services, guests have access to the spa at the Jared Coffin House's sister property, the White Elephant Hotel.

The Wauwinet: An Inn By the Sea
It'll take all of 3 seconds to start dreaming about ways to take one of the Wauwinet's rooms as your permanent home. The light-filled rooms are plush and comfortable. No 2 rooms are exactly the same but they're all decorated with antique pine furniture and plenty of chintz (and, yes, when done well -- as it is here -- that's a good thing.) It's hard to imagine rooms better suited to lazy mornings spent reading in bed. Sandwiched between the Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, The Wauwinet feels far removed from daily life. Lounge on a chair looking out on the water, take an impromptu aromatherapy nap in the herb garden or, when you need a new book, take a boat ride into town on The Wauwinet Lady. This is not the place for families with really wee ones; kids 12 and over only are welcome.

Where to Eat

Black-Eyed Susan's
It's cash-only at Black-Eyed Susan's. Remember so you don't have to dash out and ruin the bond you've formed with your coffee cup and newspaper while slowly working through Pennsylvania Dutch cakes with Jarlsberg cheese or sourdough French toast with orange Jack Daniels butter and cinnamon pecans. Nap after breakfast. Go back to the restaurant for dinner. If Nantucket bay scallops (perhaps with corn and chorizo risotto?) are on the menu -- and they will be -- order them.

Sushi By Yoshi
Those who insist on incredibly inventive rolls won't fall in love with Sushi By Yoshi -- but people who relish fresh and delicious standard rolls will return Sushi By Yoshi on a regular basis. It's BYOB so if you want some sake to wash down the Nantucket salmon roll, remember to bring it.

The Ships Inn Restaurant
The look of the place is pure Nantucket whaling captain's mansion, but the food? California-French. And it all works beautifully. For romantic dinners, this is one of Nantucket's go-to spots. Though it's hard to imagine ordering anything but seafood when on Nantucket -- Maine lobster, grilled local flounder -- meat-eaters have plenty to celebrate on the menu, including rigatoni with duck Bolognese or boneless beef short ribs with horseradish spaetzle. To continue the experience through the night, book one of the inn's 12 rooms.

What to See & Do

Jetties Beach
One of Nantucket's 10 beaches, Jetties' amenities -- including changing rooms and a playground -- make it an ideal spot for families. Kayak and windsurfing wannabes should also make their way to Jetties for lessons. For before-you-go information about companies that offer lessons or equipment rentals, visit The Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce website.

Browse Art Galleries
Nantucket's beauty has provided inspiration for artists for hundreds of years. See what the current crop of island talent has worked up at galleries including the South Wharf Gallery and Old Spouter Gallery.

Bike Around the Island
Nantucket's roads snarl easily. Avoid driving as much as possible. Instead, take advantage of the more than 30 miles of bike paths around the island. Bring your own bicycle or rent from Young's Bicycle Shop.

After Dark

First-time visitors are usually surprised to find that downtown Nantucket has a genuinely fun nighttime scene. Start by heading upstairs to the bar at the Boarding House restaurant. With a cocktail menu that includes winners like a blood-orange negroni and the Modern Manhattan, you may just stay until closing. Or, move on -- but not far. The Pearl, in the same building, has a cocktail menu that serves up old standards like the mai tai and original concoctions including the Pearl Vietnamese Iced Coffee, with vanilla vodka, Frangelico, espresso, sweetened condensed milk and tapioca pearls.

Travel Channel Insider's Tip: Summer may be high season on Nantucket but early fall is the island's most beautiful season. It's also the time of year when regular joes can harvest scallops. Learn how to find the island's famous seafood crop for yourself. 

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