The NEW ENGLAND ISLAND of Nantucket mixes tradition with an emphasis on all things local to create a one-of-a-kind getaway.
As any Nantucket, Mass., resident will tell you, the “faraway island” — 99 miles from Boston — goes to great lengths to preserve its distinctly Nantucket qualities. The island is famous for its iconic lighthouses, sandy beaches and gray-shingled abodes. But within minutes of talking to any Nantucket resident, a strong sense of community and creativity shines through. This former whaling hub attracts people from near and far these days, so it’s not unusual to find sophisticated touches mixed in with the island’s classic New England vibe. Thanks to a year-round ferry from Hyannis, Mass., Nantucket isn’t far away, but this charming island feels like a different world.
EAT/DRINK: The Proprietors Bar & Table, which opened in 2013, blends a distinctly Nantucket feel with a well-traveled palate. The menu changes regularly, depending on what local ingredients are available and what inspires the creative chef (who is also a co-owner). Not to be outdone, the bar manager has developed an impressive cocktail list made from mostly organic ingredients. The Proprietors makes its own delicious shrub drinks from house-made vinegar and fruit juices.
If You Go:
The Proprietors Bar & Table
Val Maitino Antiques
Union Street Inn
DO: Nantucket gained its reputation as an intellectual and progressive community in large part due to the Nantucket Atheneum, which opened in 1834. Some famous minds — like Frederick Douglass, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Lucretia Mott and Henry David Thoreau — have graced the Atheneum’s stage, which is still used for lectures. The Atheneum has more than 1.5 million pieces in its media collections, but it’s much more than a library. With more than 800 programs a year, it functions as the community hub of Nantucket and holds events like an international dance festival in July. The classic portraits, original scrimshaw and whalebone artifacts and ship figureheads found on the second floor are not to be missed.
SHOP: If you see something you like anywhere on Nantucket, just ask; chances are it came from a shop down the street. The Nantucket community staunchly supports independent businesses. The downtown area is full of opportunities to browse and discover hidden gems in everything from antique shops like Val Maitino Antiques to specialized hand-woven products like the ones at Island Weaves. Those who appreciate edible mementos should visit Ambrosia, a shop that sells handcrafted spices and chocolates that were made from organic ingredients or sourced from international organic farms. This being Nantucket, everything ties together: Ambrosia supplies spices for dishes in American Seasons and another restaurant, Ventuno, as well as the in-room chocolates for Union Street Inn.
STAY: Union Street Inn’s recent renovation has placed it somewhere between an upscale boutique hotel and a cozy bed-and-breakfast. There are luxurious and personal touches everywhere, like the inn’s daily teatime, when guests can enjoy a variety of complimentary coffees, teas and homemade baked goods. Unlike other accommodations this close to Main Street, Union Street Inn has a private outdoor space where guests can relax while they enjoy breakfast, snacks, drinks or a good book from the inn’s library.
AMERICAN AIRLINES offers 32 peak daily flights to Boston (BOS) from Chicago (ORD), Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Miami (MIA), New York (JFK) and Los Angeles (LAX). US AIRWAYS offers 80 peak daily flights to Boston from 11 cities, including Philadelphia (PHL), Washington, D.C. (DCA), New York (LGA), Charlotte (CLT) and Phoenix (PHX).