What is the Island of Nantucket Known Best For?

Nantucket is a common destination for vacationers as well as for day or weekend trips. Even though the island is quite small, with a length of 14 miles and a width of 3.5 miles, Nantucket is among the top preferred places to go to enjoy the New England coastal scenery and life.

As soon as you land on the island and see the picturesque New England-style houses with shingles, the beautiful pink rose gardens, and the ocean views from every part of the island, you will fall in love with Nantucket.

While it is a small island, there are many historic sites, museums, views, and sports you can enjoy there.

If you are still not sure whether it is worth traveling to the island located less than 30 miles from Cape Cod, here are some of the main attractions and historical facts that may help you make up your mind.

The Whaling Industry

Nantucket was considered the whaling industry capital of the world in the 19th century. It is where the original incident with a whaling ship and a sperm whale inspired the writing of In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick and a little later on Moby Dick by Herman Melville.

Most of the locals on the island were in the whaling industry. The ships would leave in fleets, only to return a few years later with barrels of oil from the whales.

What is the Island of Nantucket Known Best For?

Asknha1894, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You can visit the pop-over on Broad Street or the Whaling Museum in Nantucket, where there is a real giant whale skeleton and other exhibits celebrating the whaling years on the island. The museum is set in the original candle factory of the island, where the tallow candles were made until whaling was outlawed.

The endless fine-sanded beaches

There are more than 25 beaches on the island, and they are often considered some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.

On the north shore, there are beaches that are easy to access, have different facilities, and have calmer and warmer water. These are more suitable for families with young children and for people who prefer a more relaxing beaching experience.

What is the Island of Nantucket Known Best For?

The beaches on the southern shore of Nantucket are closest to the open ocean and, as such, have colder water, bigger waves, and strong currents. These are the beaches that the advanced surfers who visit Nantucket prefer.

The Nantucket Daffodil Festival and the Nantucket Christmas Stroll

The local Daffodil festival is held during the last weekend of April and is one of Nantucket’s most significant local events. You can enjoy the different floral arrangement displays and competitions, the antique car shows and parades, and the locals dressed in fun and quirky costumes.

You can even participate in the Daffodil 5K run during the festival.

What is the Island of Nantucket Known Best For?

The festival marks the official start of the high summer season.

As for the Christmas stroll, which the locals call “the stroll,” this is something that attracts hundreds of visitors during the Christmas holidays that come to Nantucket to enjoy the beautifully decorated shops, which all open for the holidays. You can watch a Santa parade passing through Main Street and try to spot the goose with the golden egg during the Christmas Stroll while enjoying some delicious and comforting hot chocolate.

The Brant Point Lighthouse and the other two lighthouses

The Brant Point Light is the second oldest lighthouse in the USA and is the first thing that people who are arriving in the Nantucket Harbor see.

The lighthouse was first built back in 1746. The grounds are open, so you can spend as long as you want to explore the lighthouse and the area.

What is the Island of Nantucket Known Best For?

The Brant Point Lighthouse is one of the symbols of Nantucket. On the fourth of July, it is decorated with an American flag on the white shingles. During the Christmas Stroll and the Daffodil festival on the island, the lighthouse is decorated with a festive garland or with daffodil flower wreaths.

There are two other lighthouses, including the Sankaty Headlight, which is on the eastern coast of the island.

Main Street

This historic cobbled street is one of the trademarks of Nantucket. The American Planning Association designed it as one of the Great Streets of America. Main Street was built back in 1837.

The street extends from the Straight Wharf waterfront to the iconic Nantucket Caton Circle.

What is the Island of Nantucket Known Best For?

It is ten blocks long, with multiple sidewalk benches, where you visit by foot, bicycle, or car.

There are many high-end stores, restaurants, and bars where you can visit or explore the beautiful historic buildings on the street.

If you are lucky, you can find a rental residence on Main Street or next to it, where you can spend your vacation and be close to this amazing central street in Nantucket.

The Nantucket Bay Scallops

These scallops are caught around the island of Nantucket, and while they are smaller than the larger sea, scallops are considered a delicacy of New England.

The Nantucket Bay scallops are harvested starting November, and then most of them are chucked and frozen for the next summer season.

What is the Island of Nantucket Known Best For?

GW Fins, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

So, if you are planning on visiting the island during the winter, don’t forget to ask for some of the fresh Nantucket bay scallops.

The Cisco Brewers

This is a one-of-a-kind place where you can try out a wide selection of world-class wines, beers, or other spirits.

There are daily tours that will take you through the entire process of brewing and spirit or winemaking. You can sample many of the local specialties during the tour of the brewery.

What is the Island of Nantucket Known Best For?

Photo via Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism by Cisco Brewers

You can also buy some souvenirs or bottles of their famous wine or blueberry vodka from the gift shop at Cisco Brewers.

The Rainbow Fleet

This is a late-august parade that is held every year around Brant Point during the Nantucket race Week.

The parade consists of a fleet of traditional catboats from New England, which are adorned with colorful sails. The boats are used for pleasure or for fishing, and the site is simply breathtaking.

What is the Island of Nantucket Known Best For?

Photo via Massachusetts Office Of Travel & Tourism by Michael Galvin

This parade has been held since the 1920s and has been attracting visitors from all around for over 100 years.

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