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Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket

PizzagirlPizzagirl 40174 replies320 threads Senior Member
edited September 2011 in Parent Cafe
I'm embarrassed to say that I've never been any of these places. Now that D is in school in Boston, H and I were thinking that sometime this school year, we could combine a trip to see her with a long weekend at one or more of these. So -- talk amongst yourselves. What would you recommend, and what's the best way to get there from Boston? (keeping in mind we would probably have a car for visiting D, but open to other means)
edited September 2011
40 replies
Post edited by Pizzagirl on
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Replies to: Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket

  • EPTREPTR 3896 replies78 threads Senior Member
    Great idea! You are in for a delight. You wouldn't really be able to do both of the islands in one weekend (at least I wouldn't recommend it). If you are renting a car or driving your own, you could drive from Boston to Cape Cod (two hours or so depending on the part of the Cape). From Cape Cod, there are boats to both Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. you can bring your car with you on the boat but I believe you have to make an advance registration for that. No need to get tickets ahead for yourselves. The ferry to Nantucket is lengthy unless you take the high speed boat but I think that one is passenger only, no car. I have been many times to both islands and I don't think you need a car. There are busses that will take you around the island and there is a lot to do within walking distance. You could also rent bikes there and rome around that way.
    The parts of the Cape that I would recommend are Provincetown, Wellfleet, Chatham, Brewster. Here is a link to the island ferry service.

    Cape Cod & Islands Ferry Schedules
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  • teriwttteriwtt 12019 replies513 threads Senior Member

    I have been thinking the same, too, now that D1 is permanently settled in Boston. I've only been to Boston three times now and am going my fourth time in October. She wants to go down to Newport, RI to see the mansions.

    H grew up in CT, and as far as I know, has not been to MV or Nantucket. I would love to visit each of these places to get a feel for them.
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  • ebeeeeeebeeeee 5017 replies182 threads Senior Member
    I would skip Cape Cod and go to Nantucket or The Vineyard. I guess it really depends on what you are looking for. The Cape has more going on. Nantucket and Marthas are a bit quieter. I have been to all three more than once and for me it would be Nantucket.
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  • EPTREPTR 3896 replies78 threads Senior Member
    Early fall would be a great time to go. Winter is tough although I remember that one of the islands used to a have a Christmas stroll during December. I'm not sure if they still do. There are lots of quaint inns and bed and breakfasts on both islands if you want to stay overnight.
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  • northeastmomnortheastmom 11939 replies440 threads Senior Member
    We love Cape Cod. DH and I have gone a few times when our kids were little. We loved driving through Cape Cod, although sometimes in the summer there can be a lot of traffic. We stayed in Falmouth, but we would drive to Provincetown. Loved all of our stops along the away! We have fond memories of July 4th there, great seafood, the feel of the very cool clear water, flying kites with our sons, and hunting for certain jams that DH liked, and checking out the dunes. Enjoy! Oh, and we did take the ferry for the day to MV a couple of times.
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  • colorado_momcolorado_mom 9042 replies79 threads Senior Member
    I agree - early fall can be nice.

    To go to the islands, be aware that you will need to invest a lot of time in ferries etc. You may want to pick a Cape Cod destination for your first trip.

    After Parent Weekend last year, we did one night in Newport. I would have preferred 2 nights, but we had work obligations.
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  • teriwttteriwtt 12019 replies513 threads Senior Member
    A question about Newport... when I go in October, one of our goals is to find some final decorative furnishings for D's condo, like a couple of area rugs, maybe some wall art, etc. I assumed we were going to take one day to do Newport, then a couple of other days to piddle around Boston to do our shopping. If we instead, stayed a night in Newport, would there be places to shop that would't break the bank? Or are they all art galleries, boutique shops, etc. that are only on the high end? I hadn't thought about spending the night in Newport, but that might be fun, too.
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  • BunsenBurnerBunsenBurner 39151 replies470 threads Senior Member
    "Or are they all art galleries, boutique shops, etc. that are only on the high end?"

    teri, that is my impression of Newport. Last time when I was there for a Gordon coference, we needed to buy a gift, and it took us a while to locate something parctical that would not break the budget. Enjoy the mansions and window shopping, but do your real shopping in Boston suburbs (Natick is a shopping heaven with stores ranging from Walmart to Neiman).
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  • mousegraymousegray 1621 replies21 threads Senior Member
    All three have pretty distinct personalities and histories, considering they're so close to each other. There's a lot to explore and you could easily spend a week. If you only have a weekend, you could spend it in the Falmouth/Woods Hole area and take a day trip to Martha's Vineyard. Oak Bluffs, in MV is really fascinating. The ferry from WH is about half an hour. Falmouth is also a very lively town. There is also a beautiful bike path that starts at the WH ferry and runs for about 12 miles along the shoreline.
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  • PizzagirlPizzagirl 40174 replies320 threads Senior Member
    Yes, and I don't know what those distinctive personalities are, which is why I started the thread. I need more help with that piece -- let me figure where I should go, and then I'll figure logistics!

    Have been to Newport -- enjoyed it, but really want to try the CC/MV/N route.

    So, what are the personalities and offerings of each?
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  • GourmetmomGourmetmom 2830 replies49 threads Senior Member
    My impression is that the the Vineyard is the most exclusive of the three, with a larger assortment of restaurants and shops. Lots of cute, but quite chic, shops and inns. Nantucket is smaller and more low key, although there are plenty of beautiful shops and restaurants there as well. I think the Vineyard has generally a more sophisticated air, while Nantucket is more family-friendly.

    Both islands have nice beaches, although Nantucket gets more raves. Both have a "island feeling," that is hard to describe and you won't find on the Cape.

    The Cape is convenient and has lovely areas, but it doesn't have the charm of the islands. Chatham is nice - great beaches and the Chatham Bars Inn is wonderful. The shopping on the Cape does not compare to that on the islands. Provincetown has a large gay presence, with lots of restaurants and inns. If you want to take a car to the islands, be sure to make a reservation on the ferry (I would want my car to explore the islands).
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  • qdogpaqdogpa 2357 replies60 threads- Senior Member
    Have stayed on e Cape numerous times, mostly in the Harwichport,Chatam area..it is 'Old School' type of beach vacation,no boardwalks with rides and games...Then you can drive up to Provincetown...'Not that there's anything wrong with that'. ;)
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  • fendrockfendrock 2905 replies294 threads Senior Member
    Cape Cod has a heavily used four-lane highway going down the middle of it. Many (most?) accommodations require a drive to the beach. Personally I think it is a little hard to get that "away from it all" feel.

    One exception to this is perhaps Provincetown. It is very funky. We spent a week there over July 4th one year, and I was astonished at how easy it was to find an empty beach (Race Point). There is a high-speed ferry from Boston (does not take cars), so you could reach it much faster than either of the islands or other parts of the Cape. You could easily spend a weekend in Provincetown without a car. Whale watches and fishing trips leave from the wharf, within walking distances of a number of places to stay.

    I also spent three nights on Nantucket this June. We took the slow ferry (about two hours), but actually it was a very pleasant way to unwind. We stayed within walking distance of the dock. The town of Nantucket is very charming, with cobblestone streets. The Whaling museum is quite interesting. There are some excellent restaurants (more so than Provincetown). You can rent a car for a day to explore or rent bicycles (very popular).

    I would say that Nantucket is easier than Martha's Vineyard to manage without a car. Also, unlike Nantucket, many beaches on Martha's Vineyard are not open to the public.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 34835 replies394 threads Senior Member
    Someone should post more info about what MV and Nantucket are really like off-season- depending on when, much can be closed and it can get quite cool. It's not the summer flavor.
    But, fall is great for Plimoth Plantation and for whale watching (Plymouth.)
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  • fendrockfendrock 2905 replies294 threads Senior Member
    I was on Nantucket at the beginning of June, so it was before the season. Midweek. Hardly anyone was there.

    I would say September after Labor Day would be fantastic on the Cape and Islands. The weather should be great and the crowds will be largely gone.

    Early October should also be good.
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  • GourmetmomGourmetmom 2830 replies49 threads Senior Member
    Most restaurants/shops/inns will be open until mid-October. Actually, many of the shops on the islands reduce their inventory in October before closing for the winter, so you should find some great deals. I know the Black Dog has a big end of season sale.
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  • BookladyBooklady 3086 replies36 threads Senior Member
    We've spent many vacations on the outer cape (Eastham, Wellfleet, and Truro), which are all on the Cape Cod National Seashore. It's quiet, lovely, and less expensive than the islands, although you can certainly spend money renting spectacular houses, particularly in Wellfleet and Truro. Wellfleet has art galleries, interesting shops, a penny candy store, and best of all, Emack & Bolio's ice cream.

    The Cape is a magical place - go!
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  • jrparjrpar 2117 replies18 threads Senior Member
    Covering the Cape, MV and Nantucket in one trip would be a lot. I would pick either the Cape, or one of the islands (after all you have four years to get these visits in!). I would recommend going before the middle of October. It can get cool and kind of dreary after that.
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  • mathmommathmom 32533 replies159 threads Senior Member
    I've been to the Cape in the fall and it's quite nice if you don't care about swimming. I've never actually gone to Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket in all the many years of going there. (My youngest was at MV two weeks ago and liked it, but thought it was more trouble than it was worth.) We have a family place a bit north of Falmouth. We like the location because we are practically there after we cross the Bourne Bridge and our area isn't touristy at all. Of course the downside is that if we want galleries or cute shops we have to head to Falmouth. Emack & Bolio's is also in Mashpee, but there are lots of very good ice cream places on the Cape. It's a Massachusetts obsession. (Or maybe New England, NH is littered with good ice cream too.) I love the little aquarium at Woods Hole and the Salt Pond Visitor's Center at The Cape Cod National Seashore in Eastham is small but excellent. If you go out to the elbow be sure to get a peek at both the north and south side beaches - they are completely different.
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  • notrichenoughnotrichenough 9222 replies32 threads Senior Member
    P-town is an interesting place. We went there when the kids were 10- or 12-ish, and they were largely oblivious to the spectacle going on around them. And it was quite a spectacle. People-watching can be very interesting there.

    They didn't understand why I found a store named "Spank the Monkey" to be so funny. We passed a bookstore, and DS wanted to go in; the owner saw us coming and literally ran to the door to head us off. Turned out the entire store was largely gay porn, and not really age-appropriate.

    I don't know if I would want to spend multiple days there, but for one day it was fun.

    Outer Cape is nice, especially if you like a less-developed, more nature-y experience. Chatham is nice, although I find it a bit touristy. Harwich has its charm. I don't care for the Hyannis-Yarmouth area that much, personally.

    Bay-side can be down-right sleepy, lots of charming antique stores if you are into that kind of thing.

    I haven't been to the islands in over 20 years, so I won't comment on them.

    It's definitely different from the Jersey shore experience (and I love the Jersey shore), I actually kind of miss not having a boardwalk and ride piers and what-not.
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