Reasons Why Nantucket Is Such a Popular Vacation Destination

The small island of Nantucket is 30 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, MA, and the same distance from Martha’s Vineyard. In the past few decades, it has become one of the leading summer vacation destinations for people of all ages, tastes, and lifestyles.

Photo by Rusty Watson

Although relatively tiny, Nantucket has a rich history, some of the most beautiful beaches, perfectly preserved pre-Civil War buildings, and stunning flora and fauna.

Plus, the island offers a wide variety of accommodation options. You can find a rental house in any of the 15 Nantucket neighborhoods.

If you are still deliberating whether Nantucket is the best place to go on your next retreat, here are some good reasons that may help you decide.

Photo by Ty Finck

Great spot for families with kids

The New England island used to be known as the world’s whaling capital, but today, it is a preferred tourist destination, with thousands of visitors each year.

But the island is not reserved for the young, rich, and famous only, and it is, in fact, an excellent place to spend your family vacation with your children.

Photo by Jonathan Gallegos

You can book a house with a playground, a backyard, a pool, or included bikes, beach toys, and other amenities to keep the kids happy while you enjoy your retreat.

Plus, Nantucket offers various fun activities to keep children of all ages happy, including different playgrounds, free workshops and courses, camps, concerts, and other events. There is even an ice skating rink.

The island also has a variety of family-friendly restaurants, snack shops, juice bars, and other eateries suitable for even the fussiest young eaters.



Photo by Keenan Shepard

Amazingly preserved and charming 

Nantucket is the largest National Historic Landmark District in the country and has the highest concentration of perfectly preserved and restored old buildings, lighthouses, streets, and houses in the USA.

In fact, walking through the cobblestone streets and mansions of the historic downtown or strolling by the rose-covered cedar shake cottages in Siasconset will make you feel like you have been magically teleported back in the pre-Civil War times.

Apart from the infrastructure, the island is known for its meticulously preserved natural resources. All beaches are free and open to the public, and nearly 50% of the land of Nantucket is conserved and protected from any further development. There are various stunning wildlife sanctuaries and refuges, with miles of walking trails that you can explore when staying in Nantucket.



Photo by Mae Mu

Heaven for seafood lovers

Located 30 miles off the coast of mainland Massachusetts, Nantucket and its people have relied on fishing and on the local fresh seafood as a primary source of food for centuries.

Today, the island is home to some of the best seafood restaurants and eateries on the east coast.

In other words, it is a foodie’s heaven, especially if you love seafood.

While there are some upscale fine-dining restaurants comparable to the Michelin-star restos in NYC, there are also more casual and affordable eateries around the island too.

You can even buy some mouthwatering seafood dishes and snacks directly on the beach from nearby food trucks, fish stores, farmer’s markets, and other shops.

Some of the best seafood dishes and delicacies to try during your vacation in Nantucket include the famous lobster rolls, the local clam chowder, the fresh raw half-shell oysters, the delicious scallop stew, the crab cakes and crab boils, and of course, the various dishes with freshly caught ocean fish such as bluefish, striped bass, cod, haddock, and others.



Photo by Autumn Hassett

82 miles of coastline

The pristine 82 miles of coastline on the island of Nantucket consists of more than 25 of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

The north beaches border with the Nantucket Sound, while the others – are by the Atlantic Ocean.

All beaches in Nantucket have white, soft, and fine sand and clear waters, plus unbeatable ocean views.

The north shore beaches, such as Children’s, Jetties, and Dionis, are more suitable for families with young children.

The south shore ones are more popular among youngsters, adventurers, and surfers.

There are also more remote and sheltered beaches, with fewer people for those looking for complete relaxation and privacy.

Other beaches are known for their sunset, sunrise, and panoramic views and, as such, are popular spots for romantic dates and photos.

Overall, with so many stunning beaches, there is a suitable one for just about every taste on the island of Nantucket.



Photo by Benjamin Rascoe

Rich history to explore

The first settlers arrived on the island in the early 1600s.

Later on, at the end of the 17th century, Nantucket became known as the whaling hub of the world and, as such, inspired the novel “Moby-Dick” by Herman Melville.

During those years, the captains of the whaling ships and the locals became some of the most affluent in the USA thanks to their successful businesses and heroic trips to faraway seas.

Today, over 750 perfectly restored or preserved old buildings on the island are still reminiscent of those glorious years centuries ago.

The island is home to three of the oldest fully functioning lighthouses in the USA and to the oldest working windmill in the country.

It is also a place where you can see houses built in the early 17th century, walk through the cobblestone streets, and explore the mansions built for the local captains and affluent people centuries ago.

One of the top-rated venues to visit in Nantucket is the famous Whaling Museum. The unique museum, located in the historic downtown, contains thousands of exhibits, paintings, and other artifacts from the whaling years. It even has a real giant sperm whale skeleton displayed hanging from the ceiling.

There are other museums worth visiting, including the Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum, the Nantucket Lightship basket Museum, and more, if you want to learn more about the fascinating history of the “Little Gray Lady of the Sea.”



Photo by Jack Cohen

Insta-worthy spot on every corner

You don’t need to be a professional photographer to take some beautiful photos on the island of Nantucket.

The fact is that just about every corner you turn and step you take on this charming island is Insta-worthy and offers a million-dollar view.

Whether you want to take photos of the sun setting over the ocean or of the historic lighthouses which have been guiding the ships for centuries, or you want to snap pictures of the iconic rose-covered cottages, the cobblestone streets, the beautiful elevated seafood dishes, the blooming flowers or the unique wildlife and stunning beaches – Nantucket has it all!