Top-rated attractions and things to do in Nantucket!

Nantucket is a picturesque historic island located in the Nantucket Sound 30 miles south of Cape Cod, MA.

It is one of the most popular destinations for summer vacations, weekend trips, and even day trips. It is also a summer home for many seasonal residents and the rich and the famous.

The endless beaches, the charming New England coastal weathered shingle-style cottages, the cobblestone streets, the overflowing flowers and gardens, and the lovely vibe are only a few of the reasons why Nantucket is a dream vacation location.

While it is a perfect place for a relaxing getaway from the big city, it is also the location of some of the most exclusive stores, boutiques, and restaurants in the USA.
The all-year-round population is only about 10,000 people, but it can swell up to 50,000 at the peak of the summer season. This is why it is often better to go during the shoulder season, which is in May, June, September, and October instead. Then there are better chances that you will be able to book the hotel room or the rental residence you want at better prices, and also that you can make reservations in the restaurants of your choice without having to wait on a waiting list for months.

Here are the top-rated views and attractions, as well as the things to do on Nantucket, according to the reviews of thousands of tourists and seasonal and permanent residents of the island.

The 80 miles of Beaches

The stunning soft sanded beaches on all coasts of the island are the definite reason number one for coming to the island. Whether you are coming to take a little breather, on a honeymoon, fun vacation with friends, or on holiday with the children, there is a suitable beach for everybody on Nantucket.

Even though the majority of them are private, they are all open to the public and free to access and use. There are beaches that are suitable for families with young children, such as Children’s Beach on the warm and wave-free northern coast. Others like Cisco and Surfside are on the open Atlantic shore and have bigger rollers and stronger currents, which is why they are preferred by surfers, youngsters, and adventurers. There are other quieter and more private beaches, far away from the crowds, such as Siasconset.

Also, the beaches by Great Point in the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Reserve will provide you with extraordinary views and close encounters with the wildlife, shorebirds, and beach plants. Madaket is the beach to go for romantic sunset photos.

The Whaling Museum

Nantucket is a historic town in New England, and its history can be seen everywhere around the island – in the architecture, the shingle-style homes, the old building, and the atmosphere. But the whaling industry was the historical period that seems to have left the most significant influence on the town, the lifestyle, and the people.

Once considered the whaling history of the world, Nantucket was known for its many whaling ships, brave and heroic captains and crews, and the fearless women who took charge of the business on the island while the men were overseas catching whales.

The Whaling Museum is a definite must for anybody who visits Nantucket. It is located in an original old whale oil candle factory and has exhibits and artifacts which tell all of these compelling stories. There is a 46-foot long skeleton of a sperm whale hanging right from the ceiling, and also memorabilia and pictures telling the story of the Essex whaleship and its crew, which were attacked and sunk by a sperm whale. This is the story that inspired two great literary classics – In the Heart of the Sea and Moby Dick.

Great Point Light

This is one of the three historic lighthouses on Nantucket, which are all still functioning and helping ships and boats stay safe and navigate.

Great Point Light is built on the northernmost point of the island. To get there, you need to pass through the spectacular Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Reserve, where you can see shorebirds, wild animals, and plants. The reserve can be crossed with a 4WD vehicle and a special permit, or you can walk through the sand to get to the lighthouse.

The Great Point Light was first built in 1784, and since then, has been destroyed and completely rebuilt twice. Today, the building is a replica of the second lighthouse built from stone in 1816 after the first wood one burned down.

Brant Point Lighthouse

This lighthouse is usually the first and last thing people see when riding the ferry to and from Nantucket.
It is an old lighthouse that was built in 1746 and automated in 1965. Today it is part of the National Register of Historic Places and is still a fully operational lighthouse helping mariners.

While visitors are not allowed inside it, you can freely explore the grounds around the Brant Point Lighthouse. You can take some spectacular photos of the harbor and the beautiful yachts.

Sankaty Head Light

This is the third lighthouse on the island, which is well worth seeing. It is located by one of the most picturesque villages in Nantucket – Siasconset and stands on the island’s easternmost point.
The lighthouse was built in 1850 and was the first in the country to use a Fresnel lens.

Visitors can climb it and get a bird’s eye view of the island and the Atlantic. Best of all, you can get to the Sankaty Head Light via one of the most romantic and beautiful walking paths in the USA – the ‘Sconset Bluff Walk. It passes through the fishing village by all the charming cottages and blossoming gardens, then through the market, the woods, and finally ends at the Sankaty Head Light.

One of the most intriguing facts about this lighthouse is that the local conservation organizations and authorities moved the entire building 400 feet back into the land in 2007. This was done to save the historic lighthouse from collapsing due to the corroding shore.

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