The 7 greatest things to do in Nantucket

a boat sailing in Nantucket island

Are you planning to finally cross off Nantucket from your bucket list and visit this enchanting New England island? Then see here 7 greatest things to do in Nantucket!

Even though it is a small island, there are still so many things to see and experience there that it is a good idea to plan your itinerary well ahead of time. The first thing to do is to find a suitable rental residence or hotel for your stay. It is a good idea to rent a dwelling near the beaches and neighborhoods you are planning on spending the most time in.

Then book your ferry or plane tickets, and you can go ahead and start planning your trip to this idyllic island 30 miles south of Cape Cod.

Here are the seven best things to do when visiting Nantucket.

a boat sailing in Nantucket island

The Nantucket Beaches

The island of Nantucket has just over 80 miles of sandy and clean beaches, all free to access. Since there are so many beaches there, it is a good idea to select the most suitable ones for your stay, especially if you are going on a short trip there.

The north shore beaches border with the Nantucket Sound, which is relatively enclosed. Thus the water there is much warmer, shallower, and has gentler surf than that of the open ocean. This makes them perfect for families with kids.

The beaches on the south and east coasts of Nantucket are more suitable for surfers, adventurers, and good swimmers. The western beaches are the most tranquil and relaxing ones.

There are beaches that are preferred by romantic couples and for photo ops. This is especially true for Madaket, where you can experience some of the most beautiful sunsets, and for the beaches where the three historic lighthouses are located.

Overall, you can pick among over 20 beaches, each of which has its own charms and advantages. Some of the most popular ones include Children’s Beach, Cisco Beach, Jetties Beach, Steps Beach, Siasconset Beach, Madaket Beach, and many more.

The historic lighthouses

The three lighthouses of Nantucket are all completely restored and are still functioning. But they have a rich history of guiding hundreds of mariners, whaling ships, and boats through the years.

Brant Point Light is the first of the three lighthouses which will greet you as you approach the island via ferry. It is closest to the historic Downtown.

Sankaty Head is probably the most recognizable of all three lighthouses on the island. The red and white striped lighthouse is on the easternmost point of the island. It stands right next to the picturesque village of Siasconset and the beach of the same name.

Great Point Lighthouse is on the northernmost point of Nantucket. To get there, you will have to pass through the beautiful Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge. Getting there can be done by walking or by driving through the sands with a 4-wheel drive vehicle and an over-sand driving permit.

Explore the island by bike

Taking your car with you to Nantucket is not easy and quite expensive. Also, because the authorities and residents there are dedicated to living a greener life, it is strongly recommended that you leave your vehicle behind and take or rent a bike for your stay there instead.

The small-sized island has multiple bike lanes. They connect all neighborhoods and essential sites and reach all beaches of the island.

There are many guided as well as self-guided biking tours that you can try out during your stay there.

Veranda of a house in Nantucket viewing a river

Spend an afternoon at Cisco Brewers

It was once named “the happiest place in the world”. This brewery is a favorite gathering place and party scene for the locals and for visitors of Nantucket alike.

It has a wonderful beer garden, a playground, and a stage with live music. Also, of course, a lot of unique local craft beers you can taste and enjoy. But even if you don’t like beer, don’t worry. Right next door at the local winery and the Triple Eight Distillery where you can try some of the best locally made wines, roses, and unique liquors.

There are many food trucks on-site. So, you can enjoy all kinds of snacks, seafood, and other meals while enjoying some fun time at Cisco Brewery.

The brewery is family-friendly and dog friendly. No one needs to be excluded when you decide to spend your afternoon or evening there.

Visit the historic sites and museums

Whaling is the industry that shaped the history, culture, and lifestyle of the island. So if you want to understand Nantucket better and learn more about its unique architecture and vibes, you should explore the many historic sites and museums there.

Thanks to the never-ending efforts of the local authorities, historic preservation organizations, and the people of Nantucket, there are over 800 historic buildings from the pre-civil war years which are perfectly preserved or restored, which you can admire.

Take a stroll down the cobblestone streets of the historic Downtown. Over there, you can see all the majestic captain mansions and buildings. You can also visit the Old Mill, the Oldest House, the Old Gaol, and other historical places.

The Whaling Museum is no doubt the most popular attraction on the island. It is located in what used to be a whale oil candle factory. The museum contains some unique historical exhibits from the glorious whaling years. These include a real 46-foot whale skeleton and artifacts and paintings of the captains, ships, and crew members who inspired Herman Melville to write Moby-Dick.

Aerial view of Nantucket

Sconset Bluff Walk

It is only about a mile long. This walking path is one of the most enchanting ones in the USA. The Sconset Bluff Walk passes through the enchanting cottages with gray cedar shingle sidings, roses crawling on trellises. the most beautiful gardens you have seen surroundes the place.

This walk is among the most photographed spots in Nantucket.

It passes through the village of Siasconset and then through the local market. It ends up on Siasconset Beach, where you can head off to see the pretty Sankaty Head lighthouse.

Since it is on the easternmost point of the island, it is the best place to be if you want to enjoy a mesmerizing sunrise in Nantucket.

View the island from the ocean

You can go on any of the sailing cruises and tours offered on the island if you want to enjoy a panoramic view of the beautiful island from the harbor or the ocean.

There are short tours with amenities such as drinks, oysters, and even ice cream. Or you can go on longer cruises to enjoy some fishing, spot whales, or learn more about the history and the stories of the captains of the boats.