Nantucket lighthouse on the water at sunset, day trip to Nantucket

Nantucket, with its quaint cobblestone streets, miles of pristine coastline, delicious restaurants, and boutique shops, is the picture of New England summer. Last June I took a day trip to explore the island. This was a moms’ day out but could easily be adapted to include kids and teens. The trip was a mix of time outside, top-notch food, and shopping. Here are tips on navigating the island and what to do while there.

Getting to Nantucket

The Hy-Line and Steamship Authority high-speed ferries from Hyannis are an hour-long boat ride. If you prefer a more leisurely ride or wish to bring your car, the traditional ferry takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. We opted for the high-speed ferry and took the 8 a.m. to have more time on the island. Ordering tickets a couple of days ahead ensured space and avoided the ticket line. Parking is available right near the dock, making the logistics super easy.

Traveling Around the Island

From the dock, it is a short walk to the bus, which can affordably take you around Nantucket. Since we were only making a few stops, this was ideal for our trip. Renting bikes from Nantucket Bike Shop is another great option if you plan to travel beyond the downtown. There are also taxis and Uber available on the island.

Coffee Stop

Island Coffee is a tiny coffee shop located at 4 Broad Street, right by the Steamship Authority. This is the perfect place to grab a coffee and sit overlooking the harbor.

Bluff Walk & Sankaty Head Light House

The bus took us to Siasconset or “Sconset,” the Eastern side of the island, which was a scenic, thirty-minute ride. The Bluff Walk is a two-mile round-trip trail full of rose-covered cottages, stately homes, tree canopies, and sweeping ocean views. It begins on Front Street and ends on Baxter Ave, where you can continue along the street to the iconic Sankaty Head Light House. While away from the harbor and downtown area, it was worth the drive to see these classic Nantucket sites.

Lunch at Cisco Brewery

We hopped back on the bus to Cisco Brewers, which was a short walk from the nearest stop. The brewery had a vast selection of lunch choices from a variety of food trucks. I finally settled on a lobster quesadilla. After a leisurely lunch, we listened to live music, basked in the sun, and enjoyed the Strawberry Patch Radler. When it was time for dessert, we took Cisco Brewers’ free shuttle back to the center of town.

Ice Cream at The Juice Bar

This homemade ice cream shop is open from April through October. The second we got in line, we could smell their sweet waffle cones, which are made to order and served warm. I ordered a cone of cake batter ice cream, and I’m still daydreaming about it.

Shopping

We spent the rest of the afternoon popping in and out of our favorite shops:

In the Pink

This seasonal Lilly Pulitzer store is sure to brighten your day. It has a large inventory of Lilly dresses and accessories. Look for the Lilly-printed Jeep parked just outside the shop.

Nantucket Bookworks

Since the 1970s, this independent bookstore has offered an assortment of literature and gifts. It has an interesting selection of books and a charming children’s area.

Barnaby’s Toy and Art

Barnaby’s is an art studio and toy store. It offers a variety of kids’ classes taught by local artists and educators. It also has adorable art kits available for purchase. This Nantucket Love craft and this Sailor’s Valentine shell craft kit would make great rainy-day projects.

Annie and the Tees/3 Girls and a Dog

These sister shops are adjacent to one another and carry a variety of Nantucket apparel, such as cozy sweatshirts, tees, and hats.

Peach Tree Kids

This beautifully curated shop offers clothing, shoes, and accessories for infants and children up to size 12. Their Nantucket sweaters and Piping Prints collection are the sweetest.

Murray’s Toggery Shop

Murray’s is well known as the go-to place for Nantucket reds. These baseball caps would be a fun kids’ souvenir.

Milly & Grace

This lifestyle shop is open from April through December and offers a collection of clothing, accessories, and home decor. The pieces are classic with a slight bohemian vibe.

Possible Adaptations for Kids

The Bluff Walk has some sections that are not stroller-friendly. If your child enjoys a hike and is capable of walking several miles, go for it. If not, the Whaling Museum is close to the ferry and could be an alternate activity to substitute for the Bluff Walk or shopping. Cisco Brewers is both kid and dog-friendly, making it ideal for families. After getting ice cream at the nearby Juice Bar, you could take a short walk out to Brant Point Lighthouse.

Nantucket is the ideal day-trip getaway, and June is one of the best times to go. I hope this inspires you to book that ferry ticket for a day trip to Nantucket!

Leah Rockwell
Born and raised on Cape Cod Leah Rockwell grew up with a love for the ocean. She has always found the kid table the most interesting place to be and knew from a young age she wanted to pursue a career working with children. After studying child development at Bates College she moved to Boston where she received her Masters and CAGS degrees in school psychology from Tufts University. Since 2005 she has practiced school psychology. When she isn’t counseling and writing evaluations, you can find her trying to convince her own kids to play soccer. Leah resides on the Cape with her husband and two very energetic sons.

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