Martha’s Vineyard, famous for its rich residents and presidential vacations, is not a cheap place to visit, especially in high-priced summer. But there are places to see and things to do year-round that won’t break your bank.
By far, my favorite was the Martha’s Vineyard Boys and Girls Club’s thrift shop in the heart of Edgartown, on North Summer Street. The long-time nonprofit club that has been serving island children since 1937 runs one wonderfully cluttered place with some jaw-dropping values. I picked up a gray Ermenegildo Zegna blazer, 100-percent cashmere, for $2.50. Checking around online, I found comparable Zegna blazers new for hundreds if not thousands of dollars. And it was two-for-one day, so I also got a Stafford blue blazer in the bargain, both fitting like they were custom made and in pristine condition, for a total of $5.
My traveling partner got a St. John’s woman’s blazer, one similar to those selling in high-end island stores for $315, for a mere $8. This is the kind of place you want to stock up on fashionable duds at super low prices. I was told that at summer’s end, many wealthy residents drop off all manner of things they don’t want to take home, clothes, knick-knacks, toys, appliances, you name it, all of which we non-wealthy types can get for a song while supporting the work of the boys and girls club, making the deals that much more satisfying. For club info, check out www.mvbgclub.org
For a great meal on the cheap, wander over to nearby The Wharf Restaurant and Pub, a great sports bar where you won’t spend a lot to eat your fill. For lunch we had mussels with white wine, tomato, garlic, lime and stewed tomatoes, perhaps the best broth ever, for $16. It was an appetizer, but easily fed the both of us. We also had the apple salad, granny smith apple chunks with mixed greens, blue-cheese crumbles, dried cranberries, candied pecans, red onion and champagne vinaigrette for $12, and a Greek salad, with an added gigantic slab of grilled salmon for $21. The bar is a popular local hangout, with giant TVs abounding for sports, a variety of video games and live local music. Check it out at www.wharfpub.com
To see the whole island, book a tour with Resort Man, which costs $90 an hour, not a lot if you have a van full of friends to share the cost. When we went, we had Gary Cogley as our guide, a most interesting fellow in himself. He was a musician with The Freewheelers, once featured in a film, “Once Upon a Coffeeshop,” a folk band that was on the tail end of the folk era and just getting popular when the Beatles came along and nudged them into extinction.
Cogley was a most informed guide, showing us spots where “Jaws” was filmed and how many locals were used, including Lee Fierro, who as Mrs. Kintner, famously slapped Chief Brody after the shark ate her boy, and who is now artistic director at the Island Theatre Workshop. Cogley also talked about Chappaquiddick and its famous home owners like Meg Ryan, and other island notables, including Walter Cronkite, and also Mike Wallace, Tom Styron and Art Buchwald, who called themselves “The Blues Brothers” because of their battles with depression, unashamedly talking about it so others wouldn’t be.
Taking us by stately sea captains’ homes, he noted several black-painted chimneys that once showed loyalty to England long ago. We toured Inkwell Beach and nearby Ocean Park with its iconic gingerbread homes behind it, and also Vineyard Haven, a lively place of small streets and many year-round shops and restaurants. In all, a most informative couple of hours. Find out more at www.resortman.com
You can even get a luxury stay for short money this time of year. The Harbor View Hotel, a classic grand dame hotel built in 1891, sits on a bluff overlooking the water and Edgartown Light, where you can get a room for $120 a night in the dead of winter. Check out Henry’s while you’re there, a quaint little pub that serves a mean lobster roll and Vineyard chowder. For information, visit www.harbor-view.com
Not spending a fortune on Martha’s Vineyard? It can be done.
For overall information, visit www.mvy.com