Over 4th of July weekend, MoS Washington ventured up to Martha's Vineyard. I get up to NYC quite a bit, but my trips north of there are few and far between. Seeing that my only prior experience with Martha's Vineyard was a day trip when I was about 10, I was basically starting from scratch in terms of an itinerary. On the (invaluable) advice of MoS Charlotte I decided to stay in Edgartown as opposed to Vineyard Haven or Oak Bluffs, and I was beyond glad that I did!
We arrived on the Vineyard Fast Ferry from Quonset, Rhode Island on Friday. I'm not quite sure how the Fast Ferry website gets away with promoting the ride as 90 minutes long; it was definitely close to two hours. While waiting in line for the ferry with a plethora of young T. Anthony-toting passengers and gazing up at a G-5 jetting over to MV, I wondered "why would anyone fly when you can take the ferry?" Well, two hours later, after a ride through dense fog, rolling seas, and seasickness that can only be described as feeling like the worst hangover ever, we discovered why flying might not be such a bad option after all!
We arrived in Oak Bluffs and once on land, felt 110% better. We piled into a large van with a bunch of other passengers destined for Edgartown, wondering exactly what we had gotten ourselves into!
Once we reached Edgartown, we realized we had chosen our destination wisely. Edgartown's manicured lawns, quaint downtown, and boutiques are a far cry from the t-shirt shops, scooter rentals, and fudge shops that comprise the downtown area of Oak Bluffs.
When you get to a town where this is the jail (above) and this is the courthouse (below), you realize you are really somewhere special. Jail doesn't look so bad when it's in a historic 19th century clapboard house, now does it?
What do to:
We rented bikes on Saturday morning and held onto them until the last possible moment that evening! Bikes are a must for Edgartown; it's the best way to get around town and soak up the atmosphere. We loved riding around the residential areas- each house is more gorgeous than the next, and roses are in full bloom.
Across the harbor looking at Chappaquiddick, or "Chappy" as the locals call it.
A historic home; I love the whale logo above the door.
The lovely Harbor View Inn (above).
What to eat
We had some memorable meals in Edgartown - we would highly recommend Chesca's and Atria for dinner. I loved the atmosphere (and the food) at Chesca's; it was bustling, but didn't feel too crowded or loud. Likewise, the menu was interesting but never strayed too far from classic food that you'd be happy to eat. The menu at Atria was slightly more exotic, and the atmosphere of the restaurant was more subdued. The service at Atria was a tad on the snooty side- when the table next to us started ordering Cristal, we and our humble Grey Goose martinis were pretty much an afterthought to the waiter! But regardless, we were thrilled to dodge the crowds on 4th of July evening and had a lovely meal.
We also happened upon Wharf Pub & Restaurant near the harbor where we had a laid back lobster roll lunch on Saturday. Above is a view of the harbor from our table on the patio.
Best. Lobster. Roll. Ever.
We hit the stretch of beach between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown. It was nice to get out on the beach, but there's no escaping the fact that New England beaches are just different than what this Florida girl is used to! First and foremost, they were CROWDED. See the cars in the picture above? They are all parked along the beach and the line of cars stretches about a mile. However, the water was lovely and sparkling; the conditions were very calm; and it made for some great people watching!
I wish I could take credit for building the fantastic sand-lion (below), but unfortunately, we just happened upon it on Friday afternoon.
Where to shop
Boutiques abound in Edgartown; I really loved browsing at Nell and 20 Main, though the selection really isn't all that different than what you'd find at similar boutiques here in DC. Same with In the Pink, a Lilly store. But still, I could have spent all day shopping! No, I did not set foot in the Black Dog stores. Or Vineyard Vines.
We popped into a wonderful needlepoint store on N. Summer Street called Needleworks where we chatted with the proprietor about the custom needlepoint belt canvases she paints. Never to early to get some Christmas shopping ideas, though I am not sure my needlepoint skills are up to the task of an entire belt.
I had forgotten a hat and I picked up this fun Jolly Roger with a twist hat at 20 Main!
4th of July: Patriotism, Parades, PEOPLE.
I loved all of the traditional 4th of July decorations all over town. There were flags everywhere, and houses were draped in classic red white and blue banners. It truly looked like a scene from a magazine where you think "do people really decorate like that? It's too perfect to be true!" Well they do in Edgartown!
In the late afternoon, the town hosts a 4th of July parade that can only be described as small-town festivities at their best. The whole town lines up along the route hours in advance! No over the top, flashy floats here- what we saw was a bunch of local people getting in the spirit and having a lot of fun with homemade floats and decorations. It was certainly a treat to be there for it.
The only downside, as is true with any resort destination in the U.S. of A. on 4th of July weekend, is that the holiday inevitably brings atypical, rowdy crowds. In the evening, a lot of jorts-clad tourists and rambunctious high schoolers came out of the woodwork and downtown was unusually crowded.
If you go to MV, I'd highly recommend choosing Edgartown as your home base. You'll truly feel as though you have stepped into another world. And if you really need a henna tattoo that badly, you can always venture over to Oak Bluffs for the day!
I can't wait to go back, hopefully for longer next time. It takes some effort to get there and it's not an inexpensive undertaking, but once you are there you won't want to go home.