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6 Things to Do On a Family Vacation on Nantucket


The island of Nantucket is much smaller than its famous neighbor Martha’s Vineyard. Yet it has an incredible history of once being the world’s whaling hub, and today is one of the leading destinations for summer vacationers, celebrities, history enthusiasts, romantic couples, surfers, anglers, and wildlife lovers.

It is also an excellent choice for a memorable vacation with the family.

One of the best and most feasible ways to enjoy the picturesque island with your family is to rent a local house. The island has a vast short-term rental market, with accommodation options suitable for all preferences, budgets, and lifestyles.

You can book a house, cottage, or another residence with enough room and all amenities you will need to make yourself and the children comfortable and happy. Plus, you can pick one in the neighborhood of your choice, so you are close to the preferred beaches, wildlife reserves, historic sites, or other venues where you plan to spend most of your time.

Here are six things to add to your Nantucket family vacation itinerary so that you make the most of your trip.

Have fun when visiting the touch tanks at the Aquarium

Maria Mitchell is the most famous local scientist, naturalist, educator, and librarian in the island’s history. The local Aquarium named after her includes indoor and outdoor aquarium tanks with over 50 of the most stunning and fascinating local sea creatures and fish.

You and your kids can watch the tropical fish, jellyfish, lobsters, and other local ocean critters swim and interact in almost natural settings.

The Maria Mitchell Aquarium has a touch tank where the youngsters can pet and handle the cute crabs, shrimp, clams, snails, and other critters.

Join the fun at the Discovery Playground

This is a new playground open for kids of all ages. It is located at Hinsdale Park and includes various fun-filled and interactive activity options and equipment that will keep your children and adults active and happy all day long.

The playground, which was founded by the Maria Mitchell Association and the local Land Bank, has a safe walker and wheelchair-accessible soft rubber surface. There are several ZipKrooz zip lines for the more adventurous visitors, a Crazy Dome global motion spinner, a sensory wall, and a wide variety of slides, swings, musical instruments, and other equipment for children and people of all ages and abilities.

If you want to spend a quieter time there, you can enjoy a chess game at one of the more remote checkerboard tables while the kids play and meet new friends.

Go on a walk in the nature

Thanks to the dedication of Nantucket’s authorities, people, and conservation organizations, nearly 50% of its land is protected. So, the tiny island has some stunning wildlife refuges, sites, and landscapes in the country.

There are many easy and short walking trails in all areas of Nantucket, which are suitable even for the smallest children.

If your family enjoys spending time in the wild, walking, hiking, or bird watching, you will have a grand time during your Nantucket vacation.

Some of the best walking trails and nature reserves to enjoy with your children include Sanford Farm, Tupancy Links, and the Miacomet trail.

For the more adventurous, the Coskata-Coatue trail is a perfect place to spend the entire day enjoying the untouched coastal nature, spotting seals, watching the birds, and walking on the most beautiful barrier beaches of this natural wildlife refuge on the north coast of Nantucket.

You can also take the kids on a picturesque short walk through the famous Sconset Bluff Walk, which passes through the rose-covered wood-cladded cottages and their amazing gardens and reaches the east coast and the Sankaty Head Lighthouse.

Grab a waffle cone at Juice Bar

This is a small and unassuming shop that, though, attracts thousands of people and often has mile-long lines of patient customers waiting for their turn to try the best homemade ice cream in Nantucket.

It is located on 12 Broad Street, and you and the kids will get the choice of over 40 unique and mouthwatering ice cream flavors, including yogurt, sorbet, and low-fat healthier choices.

Some of the incredibly creamy amazing flavors to try include the Crantucket, the Brownie a La Mode, the Chocolate PB Cookie Dough, and other ice creams, all served in lip-smacking homemade waffle cones.

The Juice bar, which has been serving customers since 1978, also offers fresh and delicious smoothies, juices, specialties, and one-of-a-kind ice cream pies and cakes.

Drive to Great Point for a picnic

Great Point is located on the northernmost part of the island and is part of the fascinating Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge. It is a stunning 7-mile-long undeveloped barrier beach that connects Coatue to the island and is also where the famous and most powerful historic lighthouse of the island, Great Point Light, is located.

The beach and the refuge can be reached with a special permit and a 4WD vehicle, so you and the kids will enjoy an unforgettable drive over the sand and dunes along the mesmerizing ocean views.

You can watch the large local Atlantic Gray seal colony and other nearby wild animals and birds during your excursion to this beautiful spot in Nantucket.

Since it is a rather remote spot, you can pack some snacks and drinks for your trip there. One of the best places to stop for snacks in Town is at the bakery and sandwich shop Something Natural.

Enjoy a day at Children’s Beach

The island is known for its clean, beautiful, and postcard-like beaches. But some of them are more suitable for families with small kids than others.

Children’s Beach is among the top preferred options for those with babies, toddlers, and young children.

It is located in the actual Town so that you can get there easily by bike or on foot.

Plus, being on the shore of the Nantucket Sound, the water at Children’s Beach is much calmer, shallower, safer, and warmer than other beaches on the Atlantic Ocean’s coast.

The beach has restrooms, picnic tables, a grassy field, benches, and a snack shack. Plus, it is in Town, so there are multiple other restaurants, food trucks, and shops nearby to feed even the fussiest eaters.

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