Our latest Travel Guide takes us to the beautiful shores of Nantucket. Brimming with New England charm, this alluring little island off Cape Cod is famed for its cedar-shingled buildings, pre-Civil war architecture, long stretches of dune packed beaches, harborside wharves and quaint cobblestone streets lined with elegant hotels, restaurants, and high-end boutiques.
Once a thriving whaling town – Nantucket was the setting for Melville’s Moby Dick – the remote island has managed to retain its sense of history and authenticity, while drawing in the superyacht crowd who have their billion-dollar holiday homes here. Much of the island (affectionately named the Grey Lady for its legendary fog), is protected, there’s a ban on national chain stores, not a traffic light in sight and you’re just as likely to run into a sea-worn sailor as an A-list celebrity. Enjoy our curated guide to the best places to stay, eat, play, shop, and explore in beautiful Nantucket.
Where to Sleep in Nantucket
The Nantucket Hotel and Resort
Nantucket’s grand dame, this historic hotel is a stand out for its prime location, a short stroll to town and beach hotspot Jetties. Stay in any of the nautical-themed suites or cottages and spend your day lazing by the pool and enjoying the resort-style amenities.
Eat + Drink: Book a private cabana and dine poolside at Breeze, the hotel’s on-site restaurant serving up New England coastal and global cuisine. Try the Breeze clambake washed down with a Madaket Mai Tai.
Beauty + Wellness: The Nantucket Club and Spa has two heated pools, gym, yoga, fitness classes, and an indulgent spa treatment menu.
Tucked away on the northeast side of the island, The Wauwinet is a luxe oceanfront hotel hailed as one of the best in the world (it’s the only Nantucket property in the Relais & Chateaux collection). Recently given a high-end makeover, the historic 1875 shingled farm-style property has guest rooms and private cottages decked out in quintessential Nantucket coastal style, many with terraces that open up to the large lawn where you can sprawl out with a crisp glass of rosé and watch the world go by on the bay.
Eat + Drink: TOPPER’S the hotels’ coastal-inspired restaurant overlooking Nantucket Bay is the firm favorite of foodies and Travel Curator tastemakers and best enjoyed for lunch or an early dinner. Winner of the AAA 5 Diamond Award, this gem specializes in seasonally inspired New England fare with a heavy focus on local produce and fresh seafood. Their locally harvested Retsyo Oysters served on the half shell, are considered the best in town. There are over 1500 labels on their expertly curated wine list, so it’s no surprise TOPPER’S also regularly takes out the prestigious Wine Spectator Grand Award.
White Elephant Harborside
The iconic White Elephant on the edge of the harbor, near the Brant Point Lighthouse and town center, is a Nantucket landmark where you can take your pick of accommodation styles. There’s guest rooms, suites, garden cottages, luxe apartments, lofts, and even a historic whaling house, that all exude that classic Ralph Lauren aesthetic.
Eat + Drink: This harborside hotel is home to local fave Brant Point Grill. Order the steak, grilled fish or lobster roll, and a handcrafted cocktail while you sit back and enjoy all the boat action.
Beauty + Wellness: The mantra at The White Elephant Spa by Darya is rejuvenation and purification with the earth’s natural elements and all spa treatments use Amala skincare infused with organic plant ingredients. Try their signature White Elephant Massage or Nature’s Firming Facial.
A recent addition to the Nantucket, this chic boutique hotel in town was designed by Roman and Williams (designers of The Standard and Ace Hotel in New York) who drew inspiration from the island’s whaling-era trade with Africa and the artists’ colonies in nearby Sconset Village. Highlights include the wood-paneled entrance, eclectic artworks and antiques, iron-framed beds, and the hand-painted Portuguese and Moroccan tiled walk-in showers.
Eat + Drink: Via Mare brings a little slice of Italy to Nantucket with a modern take on Venetian-style small plates from the chefs behind Venturo, another island favorite. Try the chef’s Pesce del Giorno made with local ingredients from their onsite greenhouse wished down with one of the restaurant’s cheeky named cocktails; Last Night I Dreamed Of San Pedro.
Beauty + Wellness: Greydon House offers a curated wellness line up featuring paddle boarding, yoga, barre, and pilates classes. You’ll also find a selection of the best can’t live without beauty products in the hotel’s designated ‘Beauty Bar‘.
The Cottages and Lofts at Boat Basin
If you long for a houseboat experience but don’t have the sea legs, The Cottages and Lofts at Boat Basin is the answer. These chic weathered-shingle cottages on Nantucket Harbor wharves exude classic maritime style and most come with their own waterside deck.
Eat + Drink: Bike the cobblestone streets to the Nantucket Meat & Fish Market and grill some fresh local seafood in your kitchenette. Or order from OATH pizza, a local institution beloved for its creative island spin on classic pies, try the Luau with pulled pork and fresh pineapple.
Beauty + Wellness: The lapping sounds of the harbor, seagulls, and foghorns are enough to induce the tranquility and serenity of your own private sailing adventure.
Where to Eat in Nantucket
With its harbor and city views, CRU is loved as much for its location as it’s fresh seafood, extensive raw bar, and handcrafted cocktails. Start with their signature Nantucket Oysters, try the Chatham cod or seared yellowfin tuna with local sweet corn for your entree, and for a sweet ending, order the mint panna cotta served with fresh local raspberries.
Tribe Tip: Indulge in the champagne and oyster pairing at the restaurant’s two bars which are the place to be and be seen come summer.
At Straight Wharf you can eat in the upscale dining room or pull up a chair at the outside bar grill and watch boats going in and out of the marina. Both menus change frequently in accordance with the availability of seasonal ingredients and you won’t go wrong with the house specialties like the brick chicken, grilled swordfish steaks, and legendary clam bake.
Tribe Tip: The bar grill has a more casual menu for post-beach drinks and small plates.
Nantucket Tap Room
A complete renovation of the historic Jared Coffin House, just off cobblestoned Main Street, saw the revival and opening of the original tap house. A quintessential New England Tavern, the Nantucket Tap Room serves elevated pub fare (head here for a great steak, chowder or swordfish tacos), craft beer, and an extensive selection of old and new world wines.
Tribe Tip: Kick off your culinary experience with the heirloom tomato tartare, it’s good enough to rival even the best tuna tartare.
Originally a quaint tea house, private dining rooms, a lush rose garden, and expansive wine list make The Chanticleer one of Nantucket’s most romantic restaurants. Today the menu, once traditionally French, features coveted globally inspired cuisines like New Zealand Lamb and Merguez Sausage Bolognese. Delight in the fresh flavors of herbs, berries, and vegetables infused in each seasonal dish taken directly from the on-site garden.
Tribe Tip: Head here for lunch to enjoy a more casual ambiance and appreciate the gardens in sunlight.
Centre Street Bistro
Nantucket locals and chefs Tom and Ruth Pitts own and operate the cozy Centre Street Bistro at the end of a discreet narrow hallway in the Meeting House building. Boasting a strong loyal following – the works of local artists adorn the walls – regulars continue to return for the creative menu, consistently good food, and house-made dessert. Right now, it’s all about the lemon pound cake with blueberry and mascarpone mousse.
Tribe Tip: A true hidden gem, finding Center Street Bistro can be quite the challenge but it’s worth the hunt.
Things to Do in Nantucket
Sunset Cocktails at Galley Beach
A perennial favorite, especially for a sunset cocktail, Galley Beach was dubbed as the best wedding destination on the East Coast by Oprah. Overlooking the Nantucket sound on the northwest shore this former 1950s’ clam shack is now a hip feet-in-the-sand bar, restaurant, and cool crowd hangout.
Picnic on Cliff Road
Bike along Cliff Road to check out the gorgeous houses and stop for a picnic. Something Natural, near Steps Beach, is the place to pick up fresh hearty sandwiches.
Visit Cisco Brewery
Cisco Brewers, near Cisco Beach, has a reputation for brewing the best beer in New England. Take a bike and make a day of it – along with fresh cold brews, there’s live music, food trucks, and plenty of oyster action.
There’s beaches aplenty on Nantucket and they all offer a different experience. Ladies Beach on the southwest edge is ruggedly beautiful and secluded if you want to steer clear of the crowd but take note, the waves can be heavy and there are no amenities so come prepared. On the far west coast is beautiful Madaket, which is worth the bike ride to witness the stunning sunsets. The more family-friendly beaches are Children’s Beach, Dionis, and Steps and for the surfers or surf lessons head to Surfside or Cisco on the ocean side of the island.
Sconset Bluff Walk
The quaint town of Sconset, walking distance from Wauwinet, is a scene of cute shingled cottages with white picket fences and perfectly manicured gardens. Stop by the Sconset Market and lunch at Claudettes or poolside at Summer House before setting out on the picturesque Sconset Bluff Walk.
Explore Bartlett’s Farm
This seven-generation family institution is now an elevated farm and farmers market with its own greenhouse, garden center, flower fields, grocery store, and farm kitchen where you can feast on their fresh homegrown produce.
The Chicken Box
Head here for Southern Fried chicken, live music, and dancing. The legendary venue, once a vacant shack was opened 50 years ago by Willie House, a black domestic servant from Kentucky to sell fried chicken and became a buzzy evening hotspot for Jazz and Blues.
Luxury Yacht Charter
You have to sail the high seas in Nantucket and there’s plenty of sailing excursions or private charter options to explore. The Endeavor is the longest operating sailing charter in the area and guests can help the crew set sail or sit back and enjoy the ride as Captain Jim talks you through Nantucket history while pointing out famed sights. For a more private experience, Nantucket Mermaid offers luxurious and intimate charters to Tuckernuck, a tiny island to the west of Nantucket known for its secluded beaches, rolling dunes, and unspoiled beauty. You’ll also visit the even teenier island of Muskeget where you may just spot a gray seal.
Check out the Whaling Museum
Given Nantucket’s history, you can’t leave without taking a deeper dive into its legacy. The Whaling Museum, in a historical former candle factory (the candles were once made of whale oil), offers fascinating insight into Nantucket’s whaling era and of course Moby-Dick. Check out photos, memorabilia, and even the skeleton of a giant sperm whale. Go to the roof for amazing 360-degree views of the island, and picture the old sea captains wives anxiously scanning the horizon for their husbands to return.
Where to Shop in Nantucket
With a much celebrated ban on national chains, Nantucket is a treasure trove of one of a kind fashion boutiques, book stores and nautical-inspired antiques and interior stores.
- Milly and Grace
- Murray’s Toggery
- David Chase
- Valentina Kova
- Style Paris
- The Skinny Dip