Walkable Vineyard Haven just perfect for two
VINEYARD HAVEN - The man at the wheel of the idling sedan was delivering a play-by-play of the traffic tie-up to a friend standing nearby.
“They’re trying to back out for the third time now,’’ he said of the driver of a car with New Jersey plates grappling with the logistics of Main Street, a one-way, angled-parking affair.
It was a Saturday in late June, and the invasion of the ferry people was in full swing. The guy in the sedan was now riffing on his capacity for patience, which is tested when Martha’s Vineyard’s population of roughly 15,000 for most of the year balloons to as much as 75,000 on a summer weekend. If, as rumored, the first family vacations here in August, island capacity and boiling points may get stretched to the limit.
Absent a visit by the Obamas, Vineyard Haven makes an ideal couples getaway. You don’t need a car; hence no traffic snarls or directional challenges. Restaurants, galleries, shops, theaters, and beaches are all a short walk from the dock.
Vineyard Haven is a 45-minute ferry ride from the Steamship Authority’s Woods Hole terminal, and there are nine daily trips each way ($15 round-trip, www.steamshipauthority.com).
Vineyard Haven is part of the town of Tisbury, which never got around to repealing Prohibition. We packed a small cooler for our visit to Zephrus (9 Main St., 508-693-3416, www.zephrus.com, entrees $14-$30), the restaurant at Mansion House, an inn in the center of town. The island catch ($30) was a nice presentation of steamers, mussels, shrimp, swordfish, and a lobster claw in a tomato-fennel broth. Zephrus also recently began offering a daily $25 prix fixe option. Be warned: BYOBers will pay $7 corkage per table.
To get the flavor of another island town, take the clean, reliable bus service (www.vineyardtransit.com) to Edgartown for $3 one-way (a taxi will cost at least $20), and drop in on the Martha’s Vineyard Decorator Show House & Gardens (508-939-4114, www.marthasvineyardshowhouse.com, through Oct. 18) at 105 Main St. About three dozen designers, artists, and landscapers have turned an 1840 sea captain’s home into a dramatic summer house. Tickets are $25 (discount coupons are available), and proceeds will help the local Habitat for Humanity branch build its eighth house.
The historic Vineyard Playhouse (24 Church St., 508-696-6300, www.vineyardplayhouse.org, tickets $20-$37.50) keeps the footlights on just outside of downtown, and is the only year-round professional theater on the island.
Ron Driscoll can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.