Martha’s Vineyard – not just for the President

President Obama is on Martha’s Vineyard for his annual vacation. Contrary to what you may think, Martha’s Vineyard is actually a very laid back, low key place to visit, which explains the president’s choice over fancier locales. Leave your dress clothes at home – even the nicest restaurants are extremely casual. It’s a surprisingly easy place to visit on a budget – recommendation number one is to take as many of your own groceries with you as you can, as food and other items cost quite a bit more – it is an island. There are some great camping sites – check out for locations and information. If you ever get the chance to visit Martha’s Vineyard, here are some don’t misses:

Take a drive to explore the main towns on the island – each have their own distinct vibe:

  • Edgartown is the upscale shopping area situated around the marina. It’s a great place to walk around,  check out the shops, and grab a bite to eat or some ice cream. Mad Martha’s is one of the island’s most popular ice cream spots.
  • Oak Bluffs is funky and jam packed with people, shops and restaurants. The brightly colored houses you see in photos of Martha’s Vineyard are in Oak Bluffs.
  • Vineyard Haven is where you disembark from most of the ferries and has some great shops as well. The original Black Dog Bakery is here and right next to the ferry.
  • Chilmark is known for its intellectual and literary population – the community center hosts well- known authors and speakers. There is no real town but the Chilmark Tavern is a fun place to have a drink – just be sure to bring your libation of choice as this tavern has no liquor license – it’s BYOB!
  • Aquinnah (formerly known as Gay Head) is at the tip of the island and is famous for its lighthouse and the Aquinnah Cliffs, which are breath taking and a must-see.
  • Menemsha is a low key fishing village with a small stretch of funky shops and restaurants. The Homeport is a popular and very casual (think picnic tables) restaurant here famous for its lobster, which is caught literally in front of the restaurant and cooked in the kitchen.

Hit the beach. There are over 20 public beaches in Martha’s Vineyard which are unbelievably beautiful. Most have lifeguards and some have serious waves.

Black Dog. What started as one small bakery spurred a phenomenon of black lab-emblazoned t-shirts nationwide. There are a number of them on the island and you can outfit yourself and your house in Black Dog gear if you’d like.  Hugely popular with kids. The original bakery in Vineyard Haven has some delicious baked goods.

Farmers markets. Martha’s Vineyard is known for its farmers markets, which are located all over the island. They range from major operations – like Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown which is open daily – to tiny stands with hand written signs on the road. Take time to explore.

Flying Horses carousel in Oak Bluffs. If you have kids, this is a don’t miss activity. Located in the heart of Oak Bluffs, this is the oldest working carousel in the country. The real highlight is trying to catch the brass ring (someone does each ride) to get a free ride.

Alley’s General Store. Located in West Tisbury, Alley’s has everything you need, from groceries to fishing rods to beach chairs. It’s fun to just go and peruse the shelves.

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