I have many memories of sunny August days on the charming island of Nantucket, though September seems like the perfect month to visit the “Grey Lady” now. The crazy crowds have left but the summery weather lingers, and many great restaurants are still open. For those looking for a weekend getaway, I’ve compiled a list of a few island favorites, some old and some new.
The Wauwinet –This classic, luxurious hotel is a bit out from town but its private location on the stunning shoreline only adds to the appeal, allowing guests to fully appreciate the natural beauty of the island. I have not stayed there in many years but the hotel is considered one of the best on Nantucket. The restaurant, Toppers, is also a favorite, serving delicious New American cuisine in this amazing setting. Toppers offers diners who are not staying at the hotel a boat ride from town in the early evening, landing just in time to sit on the deck and watch the sunset over the ocean.
The White Elephant –This stylish, more modern sister to the Wauwinet is located a stone’s throw from town on a swish piece of property overlooking the waterfront of Nantucket Harbor. The rooms are tastefully decorated in nautical fashion and are among the most well appointed on island. Sit outside at the patio of their restaurant Brant Point Grill and enjoy the pretty views while sampling fresh seafood smoked in their special grill.
Surfside/ Nobadeer: As the name implies this beach gets good waves. The Nobadeer section appeals to the younger set that wants to both surf and socialize.
Madaket: Huge beach with killer sunsets, popular with families and fairly crowded in high season.
Cisco: This is a nice beach because of its soft sand; watch out for the strong surf.
Great Point – A perfect day excursion via four-wheel drive
Rent bikes to explore the island at Young’s, enjoy tennis by the sea at The Jetties, or be adventurous and go on a deep sea fishing expedition with Captain Tom Mleczkso and his dapper crew. (Captain Tom’s Charters.)
The organic sandwiches, salads, and cookies at Something Natural always draw long lines- a testament to grub that is worth the wait. Another nice alternative is to grab fresh veggies and produce at Bartlett Farms and make your own picnic for the beach or an evening grill. (Bartlett also offers ready to eat sandwiches and salads.)
If you are feeling a bit fancier, and want an elegant lunch on the water, head to the smartly decorated Cru that bills itself as “Nantucket’s premier Oyster Bar.” The food and service were as good as the views of the water and boats. The denim shirts the waitresses were sporting were adorable; as it turns out Michael Kors is a friend of the owner and designed the styling uniforms. We loved this chic new addition to the island.
Summerhouse Beach Bistro in Sconset is a totally lovely place to have lunch, on the spacious patio between the hotel’s pool and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The food is simple, and sadly way overpriced, but the scenic atmosphere alone is worth a splurge one day.
Cisco Brewery- A great, chill outdoor space with live music boasting a brewery, distillery and winery all of which offer tastings and reasonably priced drinks. This oasis turns into a cool scene in the afternoon post beach or work.
The Bean. If you feel like a little java pick me up instead, go to The Bean. We were impressed that this cute coffee spot carried almond milk- most espresso places in NYC aren’t even that hip to the growing demand for dairy and soy free drinks. Moreover the sweet barista happily tried and succeeded in making deliciously foamy cappuccinos with said almond milk (a bit of a challenge if you have ever tried.)
The Juice Bar Alternatively, if you want to say F the gluten and dairy free diet for the day go for a homemade ice cream at the Juice Bar (don’t let the name fool you- most people head here to indulge their sweet tooth not for any green love.) The yummy smell of their waffle cones emanating from within is kind of heavenly on its own.
The Galley is a beautiful restaurant right on Cliffside Beach that is often a celebratory dinner spot. While the pricey food is fantastic, the best feature is the sick view at sunset, which is the perfect time to stop in and enjoy a glass of champagne at the zinc bar or outside at the beach lounge.
Madaket Millie’s is a slightly more casual, charming restaurant/bar with no less stunning views at sunset. Recommended to us by my favorite childhood swim coach, who now spends summers on island and has all the inside scoop, the food was also some of the best I had on Nantucket. Can’t wait to go back next time!
Fine Dining Faves
Straight Wharf. Definitely one of the best restaurants on Nantucket, Straight Wharf serves up amazing food and wine (the scallops were awesome on a recent visit) in an elegant, romantic candlelit setting. The adjacent bar also turns into a more raucous party later in the eve. The signature drink is a lethal Goombay smash; buyers beware.
The Pearl: I love the sleek design and oceanic décor of this coastal kitchen and cocktail bar. The Pearl is a small gem that breathes a bit more style into Nantucket’s old guard atmosphere. The menu blends seasonal fresh seafood, heritage meats and local produce with spicier notes inspired by off-season travels. Stand out dishes include the wok fried salt and pepper lobster and the sashimi martini. If you are not in the mood for a full meal, sip some rose at the bar, which has the requisite trendy “mixologist menu” as well. The Pearl then later turns into a lounge with a smooth soundtrack.
Lo La 41 (from the same owners as the Galley) was probably the most “sceney” venue we visited on the island this summer; the restaurant is a going out spot with a slightly clubby vibe that also offers tasty sushi/Japanese fare. For those in the mood to keep the night going my friend who lives on island recommended 21 Federal or the Boarding House for the best after dinner action. Things tend to wrap up around 1am leaving you time to rest and recharge for the next day.
Next time I am in Nantucket I am hoping to do a little more sailing, surfing, and shopping…time ran out on this trip. My visit was, as always, a nice way to say goodbye to summer, till next year!