What to do and see in Nantucket, United States: The Best Places and Tips

September 17, 2017 Karren Gelb

Windswept beaches, sand dunes, blinking lighthouses and a charming pace of life await on this 50-square mile island. The world's former top whaling port is now designated a National Historic District. Leave the car and take the shuttle or bike around. Seaside cottages, old whaling captains' mansions and historic harbors contain quaint inns, boutique stores, chowder shacks and upscale dining delights. Swim, surf or load up the tackle for Nantucket's excellent striper, bluefish and bonito fishing.
Restaurants in Nantucket

1. Great Point Light

Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, Nantucket, MA +1 508-228-6799
Excellent
89%
Good
9%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 153 reviews

Great Point Light

Towering more than 60 feet, this historic lighthouse was established in 1784, destroyed in 1984 and rebuilt in 1986. Located on the Coskata Coatue Wildlife Refuge. You can get a tour of the lighthouse if you join one of the Trustees of Reservations guided natural history tours.

Reviewed By All_Points_Images - Easton, Pennsylvania

If you have the ability to get to it, Great Point Light is as beautiful a place as I have ever seen on Nantucket. I spent many sunrises there as a young man fishing in the surf for blues and striped bass. So, if you have a four wheel drive then lower the air and get there.

2. Whaling Museum

13 Broad St, Nantucket, MA 02554-3502 +1 508-228-1894
Excellent
75%
Good
20%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 1 reviews

Whaling Museum

Restored in 2005, the Whaling Museum features top-quality exhibits and galleries, as well as daily programs and tours that bring to life the history of this magical island. The museum is home to a 46-foot sperm whale skeleton, a restored 1847 oil and candle factory, and countless Nantucket artifacts and treasures. A relaxing, fully-accessible rooftop observation deck offers stunning views of Nantucket harbor.

Reviewed By Kim O - West Hartford, Connecticut

The Whaling Museum is very informative and well work visiting. Plan to spend +- an hour there. Perfect for rainy days.

3. Egan Maritime's Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum

158 Polpis Rd, Nantucket, MA 02554-2320 +1 508-228-1885
Excellent
69%
Good
29%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 137 reviews

Egan Maritime's Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum

In the 19th Century, hundreds of ships passed by Nantucket Island each day, all navigating without the benefit of modern nautical technology. Unpredictable storms, dense fog and strong currents often caught even the most experienced sailors off guard. Treacherous shoals and inclement weather led to over 700 shipwrecks in the surrounding waters of Nantucket, causing the area to be dubbed "a graveyard of the Atlantic."The Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum preserves the memory of those Islanders who risked their lives to save shipwrecked mariners. These men served in organizations devoted to maritime rescue, such as the Massachusetts Humane Society, United States Life-Saving Service and the United States Coast Guard.The Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum is located at 158 Polpis Road, just 3.5 miles from Nantucket Town. The museum can easily be reached by car, NRTA Shuttle/Polpis Route or by the Polpis Bike Path. We are open from Thursday, May 23 through Columbus Day, Monday, October 14, 2013 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. Admission costs are free for members, $6.00 for adults, $4.00 for youth 5 - 17 and free to children under 5. The Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum is proud to be part of the Blue Star Museum program that offers free admission to active duty military and their families.Come visit the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum and enjoy guided tours, films, new exhibits, family-friendly programs, special events and more, designed to appeal to all ages.

Reviewed By Becky D

Ghost tours are fairly easy to come by in most cities in America - but absolutely none of them can compare to being thrilled by a master storyteller aboard a real working tall ship, surrounded by dark waters and starry skies!

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of taking part in the launching of a new program from Egan Maritime & the Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum. Orion Couling was our guide for the evening and every story was fun, chilling and informative. It is clear that Mr. Couling feels passionately not only about maritime history in general but the history of Nantucket Island specifically. He had his audience enraptured from the moment we stepped onto our launch to the final departure of the evening.

Whether you are an avid supernatural believer or just enjoy a good tale, this is the tour for you! Mr. Couling balances his stories out with enough history and legend to please anybody. He brings a sense of integrity to his narrative that is sadly lacking in many other such tours. He even changes up his stories each night depending on certain bottles that are selected from his chest of items (kids especially will enjoy this interactive experience).

This tour is quickly becoming a "MUST DO" on the island. Don't miss your opportunity to take part!

4. Madaket Beach

Nantucket, MA 02554
Excellent
70%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 226 reviews

Madaket Beach

Located on the south side of Nantucket, this beach is known for its rough surf.

Reviewed By Anna P - Chicago, Illinois

During a recent trip to Nantucket, we rented bikes and rode here. It's worth the trip. The beach is beautiful, serene, and sparsely populated. Due to a passing tropical storm, the waves were huge while we were here. It was a great sight. Skip the tchotchke shops in town and visit this beach instead.

5. Sankaty Head Lighthouse

Baxter Street, Siasconset, Nantucket, MA 02554 +1 508-228-1700
Excellent
68%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 219 reviews

Sankaty Head Lighthouse

Built in 1850, this distinctive brick lighthouse stands on a bluff 90 feet above sea level.

Reviewed By Tracy A - Cape Cod, Massachusetts

We went out to the lighthouse and spent a bit of time just strolling around the grounds. Interesting historical information and a stellar view.

6. Surfside Beach

Surfside Rd, Nantucket, MA 02554
Excellent
65%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 230 reviews

Surfside Beach

Oceanside Nantucket beach.

Reviewed By GMBG - Brooklyn, New York

Big wide beach with ample parking and restrooms. A beautiful and clean place to sit and enjoy the sand and sea. You can walk endlessly in either direction or just dig your toes in the sand.

7. Brant Point Lighthouse

Easton St, Nantucket, MA 02554 +1 508-228-2500
Excellent
61%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 279 reviews

Brant Point Lighthouse

Established in 1746, America's second oldest lighthouse has been in service more than 250 years.

Reviewed By Shelley K - Dallas, Texas

Beautiful lighthouse on the tip of the island is a must see. When I was there, a couple was taking wedding photos - special place! Coast Guard station is down the street.

8. Cisco Brewers

5 Bartlett Farm Rd, Nantucket, MA 02554-4341 +1 508-325-5929
Excellent
65%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
3%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 615 reviews

Cisco Brewers

Who are we? We are just about the coolest place on planet Earth. Having never personally traveled to other parts of the galaxy, we can't quite say "in all the Milky Way" but we're pretty confident that we would make the top 10. Here on Nantucket we have a Winery, Brewery, and Distillery. Nantucket Vineyard was the first arm of our business opening in the early 1980's as a small project of the Long Family. After a few years, Winery employees ended up falling in love with the wine and each other, and voila! - Cisco Brewers was born on the Hudson's stovetop in 1995. Whispers of a brewery floated on the Nantucket wind, catching the ear of a few people, including a Mr. Harman. Using the previously tested and proven formula of starting a business from another business, Winery and Brewery employees enjoyed a few glasses / pints (respectively) together and hatched the idea for Triple Eight Distillery in 2000. All three businesses are constantly evolving, and we now produce a wide variety of world-class wines, beers, and spirits. Come out and enjoy our Nantucket haven- just prepare yourself in case your mind blows up from all the awesomeness. Open everyday year-round, dog and kid friendly!

Reviewed By HyannisSteve - Hyannis, Massachusetts

We ride our bikes here straight from the ferry.
Don’t blink, it’s very unassuming from the side street.

The first time we came, we were surprised that they also have a distillery and a winery framing the compound square. Soon, a smoking wood burning pizza oven gets backed into the square, a oyster bar opens... it becomes a party.

Then the live music starts.

And oh, the beer is great.

Visit, enjoy, repeat.

9. Jetties Beach

Jetties Beach, Nantucket, MA 02554
Excellent
54%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
14%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 215 reviews

Jetties Beach

The best island beach within walking distance of town, Jetties is ideal for kids.

Reviewed By CraftBeers - Plano, Texas

Jetties Beach is a nice place. The proximity to town makes this a go to place. We rode our bikes here and locked them up in the bike racks. The blue carpet pathway up to the beach is helpful. The sand is soft and fun to play with. It does have lots of dried seaweed and broken shells thoroughly mixed in with the sand. The shoreline and jetty are my favorite part of the beach. The jetty reaches way out into the ocean and acts like a breaker. At the same time, the water is fairly shallow. You can walk a long ways out into the ocean. It makes a very nice play area. The lack of waves means you are not pounded every 15 seconds as the next wave breaks. It really is a nice beach.

As an added bonus, there is a bar and restaurant several hundred feet from the beach. Chaise Lounge chairs are set up in the sand with a few picnic tables. There is a covered patio and restaurant with music filling the air. If you choose not to bring your own food, you can run to the restaurant and pick something up. Heading back to town is a quick option too. On the other side of the parking lot from the restaurant is a kids playground. It's fairly simple, but there were kids from the beach playing on it.

10. Nantucket Atheneum

1 India St, Nantucket, MA 02554-3519 +1 508-228-1110
Excellent
74%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 92 reviews

Nantucket Atheneum

The Nantucket Atheneum is the public library for Nantucket, Massachusetts. The institution was formed in 1834 as a private, membership organization and became a public library in 1900. The Nantucket Atheneum offers free access to millions of books, films and music as well as over 1,000 programs for all ages year round. Our iconic building, built in 1846, is located in the heart of downtown and features art and artifacts important to the island's maritime history as the center of whaling. The library also provides a free wifi signal, computer access on the second floor and a beautiful, inviting garden.

Reviewed By RoseDhu - Bluffton, South Carolina

This was a great stop...I love visiting local historic libraries and this one was special, especially the children's room. Very nicely done!

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