Martha’s Vineyard Travel Guide

Marthas Vineyard Travel Guide

I have been promising a Martha’s Vineyard travel guide for years and it’s finally here. My family and I are creatures of habit, so we often end up going to the same places year after year, but we like to try at least one new restaurant every summer so the list of favorites keeps growing. I’ve divided the guide into breakfast, lunch, dinner, ice cream (duh), activities, and shopping. If you have any favorites on-island that I didn’t include, let me know so I can try them next year!

I get a lot of questions every summer about what to do for a day-trip to the island and my answer is always to try and check out Edgartown and Vineyard Haven. You can go to a beach anywhere, so spend time exploring the towns, eating good food, and doing some shopping. Here are my favorite places to do just that.

Where to stay in Martha’s Vineyard

We always rent a house, so, unfortunately, I’m not very helpful when it comes to places to stay. For years, we rented in West Tisbury which is a little off the beaten path, but now that we have three kids in tow, we stayed closer to town in Edgartown.

I’m going back for a wedding in October and staying at the Harbor View Hotel which I’ve heard great things about. I will report back on the experience then. If you’re renting, I’d say don’t worry about being too close to town or the beach because the prices will be jacked up. Bring your car and drive to wherever you need to go. That said, if you’re looking for more of a bike and walk type of vacation, stay in Edgartown if you can.

Breakfast in Martha’s Vineyard

Art Cliff Diner (Vineyard Haven): For a much better-than-average diner breakfast, check out Art Cliff, a family-friendly restaurant that can get very crowded on weekend mornings. Get there early to snag a seat and some delicious pancakes and waffles.

Rosewater Market & Takeaway (Edgartown): I love this little market and café for breakfast and lunch. It’s easy to order and take food to go or eat there, the food is good, the coffee and tea drinks are great, and they have a cute home shop too. Go for the breakfast jammie or the breakfast bowl.

Mocha Mott’s (Vineyard Haven & Oak Bluffs): Not much to say about this locals-favorite besides that it’s a classic coffee shop that always delivers a solid dose of caffeine when you need it.

Espresso Love (Edgartown): Despite what the name tells you, Espresso Love is more than just a coffee shop. It serves great breakfast sandwiches and bowls along with all the regular coffee shop favorites you (espresso) love.

Backdoor Donuts (Oak Bluffs): The donuts are excellent and if you don’t get an apple fritter from Backdoor, you aren’t living. The not-so-secret secret behind this local-favorite is that they sell hot and fresh donuts for the night crowd from, you guessed it, the back door until 1 am. That’s when you really want to get one!

Black Dog Tavern (Vineyard Haven): The Black Dog is a tourist hot-spot but my dad loves going there for the tradition of it, so we always go for at least one breakfast. The pancakes are incredible!

State Road (West Tisbury):  We used to go here for dinner but found the service to be not-so-great so we started going for brunch and have had better luck. Our family-favorite is the Limpopo pastry which is basically just a giant sugar-coated donut hole but even better.

Scottish Bakehouse (Vineyard Haven): This dog and kid-friendly coffee shop and bakehouse have a big lawn and picnic tables to eat on. It’s not fancy but the food is really good, especially the pastries.

Lunch in Martha’s Vineyard

Rosewater Market & Takeaway (Edgartown): For lunch here, I like any of the prepared food (great kale salads) and the Italian sub. They have a big selection of healthy-ish beach snacks too.

The Net Result (Vineyard Haven): It’s half fish market and half takeout but they make great lobster rolls, stuffies, mussels, crabcakes, and even sushi.

Waterside Market (Vineyard Haven): Another great sandwich spot right in the center of Vineyard Haven. We usually grab their sandwiches and to-go salads for our ferry home if we’re traveling out of VH. They have a good kids menu and outside seating which makes it a great kid-friendly lunch spot.

7a Foods (West Tisbury): If you’re going to Long Point Beach or anywhere near West Tisbury, stop by 7a for delicious sandwiches to go. The Liz Lemon, chicken salad, and pulled pork are my personal favorites.

The Atlantic (Edgartown): This bustling restaurant in Edgartown is definitely tourist-heavy but for good reason. It’s right on the water with great views and the lunch menu is awesome. We try to go once a trip for lobster rolls and fried oyster rolls. It’s also fun to go here late-night for drinks and dancing. It randomly turns into a club of sorts and is a great time.

Edgartown Meat and Fish Market (Edgartown): This is a great little gourmet shop where you can pick up salads and sandwiches for the beach. It’s right near State Beach, making it super convenient. The chicken salad is excellent!

Dinner in Martha’s Vineyard

The Port Hunter (Edgartown): Anel and I like to have one date night when we’re on family vacations, and we almost always choose The Port Hunter because the food and drinks are amazing and the vibe is young, cool, and vivacious. Don’t skip the buffalo Brussels!

Atria (Edgartown): The food here is great, but you definitely want to try and sit outside if you can. The gardens are beautiful. We like to go here for grown-ups only meals.

The Covington (Edgartown): This new(ish) restaurant has gotten mixed reviews for some reason, but I personally love it. It’s a very veggie-f0rward farm-to-table spot right in the heart of Edgartown with really interesting dishes. I’d recommend it for dinner with a group of girls who like to share food so you can try multiple things.

Beach Road (Vineyard Haven): This fish-focused restaurant, the sister restaurant to State Road down the street, is as beautiful as it is delicious. Don’t miss the clams linguini and the fried chicken!

19 Raw Oyster Bar (Edgartown): 19 Raw is one of our favorite restaurants on the island and it’s kid-friendly too! Make an early reservation for outside and your little ones can run around if they get antsy. Obviously, get oysters which are the star of the show here, but the various crudos also delicious. As are the smoked house bluefish deviled eggs. You really can’t go wrong. If you like fish, this is the restaurant for you.

Nomans (Oak Bluffs): Check out this Oak Bluffs based restaurant for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (they have one menu that they serve all day) and enjoy cocktails, tons of craft beers, small bites, and lawn games in the sun. The lawn and patio are pet-friendly so you can bring your pup too.

Woods (Lambert’s Cove): My dad and his wife got engaged at the Lambert’s Cove Inn so they like to take us back there every summer or two. Last year they completely renovated the restaurant and it is beautiful. Explore the grounds and gardens before you eat and enjoy a tasty farm-t0-table meal in a gorgeous setting.

Grace Church Lobster Rolls (Vineyard Haven): Every Friday in the summer, you can get lobster rolls at Grace Church between 4-7pm. We pick up the lobster salad and the buns separately and make them at home for dinner or save them for beach lunch the day after. They’re phenomenal and worth the wait in line!

Ice Cream in Martha’s Vineyard

You can’t have a Martha’s Vineyard travel guide without an ice cream section! Ice cream cones after dinner (and lunch if you’re feeling really crazy) are a summer must, and I have the scoop on the best spots in town. Pun intended.

Ben & Bills (Edgartown): There is a lot of debate on the island about what the best ice cream is, including within my family. Half of us vote for Ben & Bills and half of us vote for Mad Martha’s. This summer we also learned that they make epic ice cream cakes. My dad and his wife got Amalia an ice cream cake for her birthday and it was beautiful and delicious.

Mad Martha’s (Vineyard Haven, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs): A Martha’s Vineyard staple! Mad Martha’s is a must if you’re on the island for the first time. There is one in each town so you can’t miss it. The peppermint flavor is a family-favorite what I always got as a kid.

The Scoop Shack (Edgartown): The Scoop Shack is my personal favorite ice cream shop because they also make snow cones (dairy-free) and soft-serve frozen yogurt so there is something for everyone. And Amalia loves their funfetti cake batter flavor that has sprinkles already mixed in.

Activities in Martha’s Vineyard

State Beach (Edgartown & Oak Bluffs): Out of all the MV beaches, State Beach is our favorite because you can park right next to the path and the walk to the beach is short and easy. The waves are tiny and the sand is really nice and clean. They also have a lifeguard stand which is nice if you’re bringing kids.

Long Point Beach (Vineyard Haven): The parking can be tough here so go either early in the morning or you have to call in the afternoon to see if they’re free after the lunch rush. It’s worth a visit though, because not only is it a giant wildlife refuge, but they have a beautiful beach plus a lagoon where you can paddleboard and little kids can easily play in the water with no waves.

The Farm Institute (Katama): This stunning farm with sweeping fields is so fun for kids. They host summer camps for all ages, including one that parents can attend for 2-4-year-olds. We brought Amalia this summer one morning and she got to feed the goats, play with chickens, and watch the older kids feed the pigs. Also called Katama Farm.

Flying Horses Carousel (Oak Bluffs): Built in 1884, the Flying Houses Carousel is the country’s oldest platform carousel and a must-see. The line is definitely worth the wait and kids can play in the attached arcade to pass the time. When you ride the carousel, the whole schtick is to grab for silver rings as you pass by. There are two brass rings on each ride and if you grab it, you get a free ride. I’ve only gotten it once in 34 years but it was one of my proudest moments as a kid!

The Vineyard Sound: The island’s all-male acapella group is so fun to watch. They do random shows on the street but have more formal shows all over the island throughout the summer. Jackson is absolutely obsessed with them and we all have their CDs in our cars. It’s fun to watch them with kids because they’re funny and pretty good singers too!

Oak Bluffs Library (Oak Bluffs): If you need to entertain little kids on a rainy day, the Oak Bluff’s Library is a great option. They have a huge kids room with activities, dress up, books (obviously), and games. Check out their schedule for organized group activities too.

Rent bikes: There are a ton of bike-rental spots on Martha’s Vineyard but if you’re in Edgartown, go to Wheel Happy, a cute bike shop owned by my friend’s dad!

Shopping in Martha’s Vineyard

Beach House (Vineyard Haven): This is maybe my favorite store on the island. It’s packed full of beautiful handmade table linens and throw pillows, home goods that you might find in a beach house, and a great assortment of hostess gifts.

Katydid (Edgartown): I love their selection of dresses, tunics, tops, and summery women’s clothing and some baby gifts too.

Nell (Edgartown): This beautiful little boutique carries a beautifully curated collection of upscale women’s clothing.

Backwater Trading Co. (Edgartown): This store is half men and half women’s clothing with an outdoor focus, but it has a cool vibe and carries a lot of sustainable brands.

Soft As a Grape (Vineyard Haven): This is the best shop to buy tourist tees, tanks, sweatshirts, sweatpants, and hats. Their selection is on point.

Edgartown Books (Edgartown): We love bringing Amalia here to play and read on the window seat they have in the kids’ section. The store is right downtown and has a really good selection of (adult) books and some great kids ones too.

Rainy Day (Vineyard Haven): Anel calls this the “hoarder store” because it carries such a random assortment of gifts, toys, and clothing, but we all love it and there is something for everyone. The toy section is awesome and can keep your kids occupied for a few minutes while you shop.

Le Roux Kitchen (Vineyard Haven): A beautiful home store with great gifts too.

Bunch of Grapes Bookstore (Vineyard Haven): Fun fact: my family saw Obama in here once. Sadly, I was not with them and I missed it! But Obama-sightings or not, it’s a great bookstore if you’re looking for a last-minute beach read or anything else.

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  1. patty said:

    Love this! I haven’t made it to some of these spots and I am adding them to my list before I catch the ferry a few more times this summer.

    I would add Lucky Hank’s (EDG) for breakfast and L’Etoile (EDG) for white-tablecloth food… but enjoy it in the lounge-like bar in the back.

    8.13.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Oooh I’ve never been to Lucky Hank’s! Will have to try it next summer!

      8.13.19 · Reply
  2. Laura said:

    i would love a comparison between the vineyard and nantucket. sounds like you had a fun trip!

    8.13.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Good idea! I can tell you now, in short, that I feel much more comfortable and at home on MV because it’s more relaxed and not quite as fancy. I’ve only been to Nantucket a few times so I can’t really speak to it as well as I can to MV. In my opinion, Nantucket is smaller and more picturesque, but MV has a better vibe and a lot more going on!

      8.13.19 · Reply
  3. Morgan Roberts said:

    We are missing the most important part. Where do you stay? What town? Do y’all have a house or do you rent a house? Best places to stay in each town?

    8.13.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      I’ll add that in now! We always rent a house so I can’t speak to hotels very well unfortunately.

      8.13.19 · Reply
      • Morgan Roberts said:

        Oh thank you so much! We have been once but we stayed in a bed and breakfast right off the ferry to get to MV so I’m looking for places to stay when we go back

        8.13.19 · Reply
  4. Suzanne said:

    Great list! I’d add the Right Fork diner for breakfast or lunch (Edgartown)

    …and Cedar Tree Neck for walking/exploring. You have to take a brief trek through the woods to get to the ocean (and there’s no swimming because it’s a sanctuary) but it’s a lovely, hidden spot.

    8.13.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Everyone keeps telling me that! Definitely adding it to my list for next year (Right Fork) and Cedar Tree sounds beautiful. Is it dog-friendly?

      8.14.19 · Reply
  5. Kristin said:

    A bit off topic, but would love to see a similar post for Bermuda! We’re thinking of going with a two year old next year and I’m wondering how that will go with getting around, whether we should opt for all inclusive, kid friendliness, etc.

    8.13.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Definitely do all-inclusive if you can. Bermuda isn’t always the most kid-friendly place but I’ve heard some hotels on the water are great!

      8.14.19 · Reply
  6. Kim said:

    Do you bring your pup? We have a 10 month old baby and a golden retriever, and are thinking about going next summer. We try to bring the dog everywhere we can, so thanks for noting some of the dog friendly spots!!!

    8.13.19 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      We didn’t this year because the house we rented wasn’t dog-friendly. But the house we used to rent in West Tis was so we’ve brought him a bunch of times! You can take dogs on some of the beaches in the early mornings which we used to do.

      8.14.19 · Reply
  7. ashley prymas said:

    I was out on the Vineyard in July and we stayed at the new hotel The Christopher in Edgartown. Highly recommend. Elle Decor just ran an article about it. The decor is divine!

    8.16.19 · Reply
  8. Katherine said:

    This is so great! Thank you for sharing! I’m heading to Edgartown next week! Do you need a car on the island? We’re okay with biking and an occasional uber, but will that suffice? What beach is good if you’re in Edgartown?

    8.4.20 · Reply

    Thank you for not mentioning Chilmark or Menemsha! Or Aquinnah for that matter because they’ve got some of the island’s best food and shops. I’m selfishly happy not to share!? However, please find time to get to: The Bite in Menemsha for the very best clam chowder, Larsens for a plate of oysters or little necks and a sunset on Menemsha Beach. And then, if you’ve never gotten sushi at the Aquinnah lighthouse or gone to that restaurant right near the lookout, you’re missing out. Finally, there is a Native American woman who took over a souvenir shop from her mother at the Aquinnah lighthouse and she now sells the coolest clothing. In fact, she’s the purveyor of the very first Wooden Ships sweater I purchased. Her prices are very fair. No one expects to find what she’s got in her store. It’s called On the Cliffs.

    8.5.20 · Reply