View Map

Overview

A hook-shaped spit of sand 26 miles off Cape Cod, Nantucket is not exactly a hidden gem, now that the private-jet set has taken a shine to what was once a stodgy old-money redoubt. The rich and resolutely unflashy have seen their 3 1/2-by-14-mile hideout slowly succumb to McMansionization and attendant ills. Still, about a third of the land is forever safe from development, and the cobbled streets of Nantucket Town (a National Landmark Historic District) remain intact, even if the pre-1840s shops along "Petticoat Row" – so named for the whalers’ wives who kept town commerce afloat while their mates prowled the sea in search of "greasy luck" ...

A hook-shaped spit of sand 26 miles off Cape Cod, Nantucket is not exactly a hidden gem, now that the private-jet set has taken a shine to what was once a stodgy old-money redoubt. The rich and resolutely unflashy have seen their 3 1/2-by-14-mile hideout slowly succumb to McMansionization and attendant ills. Still, about a third of the land is forever safe from development, and the cobbled streets of Nantucket Town (a National Landmark Historic District) remain intact, even if the pre-1840s shops along "Petticoat Row" – so named for the whalers’ wives who kept town commerce afloat while their mates prowled the sea in search of "greasy luck" – have turned to hawking designer baubles. Also unspoiled – and miraculously open to all hoi polloi, not just abutters – are the encircling beaches: the bay, with its wavelets gentle enough for toddlers, and the thrashing open ocean, with breakers tall enough to surf. The rolling moors seem custom-made for leisurely bike rides (paths fan out in all directions), and though nightlife is limited, restaurants on "The Rock" rival the finest back in "America."

Sandy MacDonald
About the Expert

Sandy MacDonald has written guidebooks to Cape Cod and Boston for Frommer's, Access and Globe-Pequot, and for many years has covered Nantucket for Fodor's.

view full overview

Sandy MacDonald for Triporati

Must See, Do

Save It for Next Time

info

If time is short, save these attractions for a second visit.

Compare Flight, Car Rental, and Hotel Rates

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Note: A new window will open for each site you select.

Facts at a Glance

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Between the day-trippers and transient poseurs, summer can be a zoo. Aficionados favor early fall.