Nantucket With the Family: What to See and Do

If you have been thinking a long time about that perfect summer family break, Nantucket, Massachusetts, is the right place to be. Don’t be fooled by the size of the island. With an area of 272.7 sq kilometers, this tiny and isolated island has a lot to offer. Whether you are visiting with the kids or enjoying a romantic getaway, the island has the perfect setting.


Starting from sightseeing, sailing, fishing, or simply relaxing in the sun, Nantucket has it all.

Before starting to explore, find a place to keep your extra belongings. Locate a storage locker on Nantucket Island, then go and make some great memories!


Nantucket Whaling Museum

Now here is something that not only your kids will love but you too! Nantucket Whaling Museum is an interactive museum where you get to learn a lot about the island’s maritime history. As one of the most popular things to do on the island is surely not to be missed.


Your kids may not be interested in the history per se, but they will certainly love the exhibits, the collections of whaling tools, or seeing something like the 46-foot skeleton of a giant sperm whale


Take a tour around the museum, watch one of the short documentaries or check out the spectacular harbor views from the rooftop. Having been a regular tourist on the island, Herman Melville’s inspiration to write Moby Dick was drawn from his island adventures.


Surfing lessons

Kids love to play in the water, how about getting up on the water with some surf lessons? When you think of surfing, you normally think of Hawaii or maybe California, but the east coast offers some waves to catch too.


There are a number of surfing schools on Nantucket Island that offer hourly private and group lessons, or you can take a longer surfing clinic. Whatever your children’s (or your) level is, the helpful instructors will get you up and surfing in no time. 


And with so many surfing beaches on Nantucket Island, you are bound to find some good waves and a good time.


Maria Mitchell Aquarium

Not all aquariums are created equal, some are larger than others and some are just more fun. The Maria Mitchell Aquarium is the latter, especially for kids. While the aquarium doesn’t offer whale, dolphin, or sea lion shows, it does offer one of the best hands-on experiences for kids of all ages.


And if you are staying on the Island for a while, there are some great programs for kids ages three and a half to sixteen years old. The aquarium also has special events like their Stargazer Gala and Science Speaker Series for the adults to enjoy.


In the smaller indoor aquarium rooms, they have new displays every week, so your little ones will always have something new to look at. In the Outdoor Circle Tank, you will see horseshoe crabs, large flounders, and baby sharks (sing the song here). But the most popular attraction for the kids is the touch tank, where they get to handle crabs, clams, snails, and more.


Culinary classes for Kids


“Give a person a fish and they eat for a day”, teach them to cook and they will eat fish in a variety of ways. Cooking with your children in the kitchen is one of the most fun and rewarding experiences when growing up. That doesn’t mean you can’t give them a little extra help. 


When your kids take a culinary class, they get to learn some great skills and make a mess. And what kid doesn’t love making a mess? On Nantucket, you will find a few schools that offer classes of all levels. 


At the Nantucket Culinary Center, you will find a state-of-the-art test kitchen and two other classrooms. Working together with your little ones, and creating sumptuous dishes is a great bonding experience. 


And who knows, maybe your culinary genius will teach you why mayonnaise goes great with peanut butter.


Children’s Beach

While there are many beaches in Nantucket, Children’s Beach is one of the best for families. Located on the north shore, at the end of Harbor View Way, the beach is sheltered so you need not worry about waves and strong currents. Lifeguards are keeping a watchful eye and there is a netted enclosure for sharks or other predators. Needless to say, the beach is super safe for you to just relax.


The beach features many kid-entertaining activities, especially during summer. There is a fun playground too and nice picnic spots. Give this beach a try on a hot sunny day, swim or dip your toes in the sand and chill while your kids are entertained to the fullest.


Jetties Beach is another family beach within a short walk from the town. Play tennis, or watch the skaters perform some tricks in the skateboard park. There is a playground for the kids too.

Nantucket Lighthouses

For a small island, Nantucket has three amazing lighthouses that I am sure you’ll have the time to check. One of the most popular and most photographed spots on Nantucket is the Brant Point Lighthouse, built in 1746. For such an old structure, the lighthouse is still in great condition and still welcomes ferries in the harbor. It’s also the closest lighthouse to town.


Great Point Lighthouse is a little further away, but you can make it an adventure trip and rent a jeep. We are sure the entire family will enjoy the drive over sand! Before you leave, make sure you pack some lunch as the site is remote. 


Collect some shells, enjoy the views, take some great photos and create even better memories. Sankaty Head Lighthouse is another picturesque spot in a beautiful setting. You can rent some scooters for more fun and enjoy the breathtaking views from the lighthouse.