Do: Visit the pristine and beautiful Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge (end of Wauwinet Road, 508-228-5646, www.thetrustees.org/places-to-visit/cape-cod-islands/coskata-coatue.html, open daily 24 hours, free to pedestrians), tucked between Nantucket Sound and the Atlantic Ocean, with miles of beachfront and 16 miles of trails. Join Captain Blair Perkins (Shearwater Excursions, 508-228-7037, www.explorenantucket.com, $95 adults, $75 children age 12 and under) on a 2½-hour seal cruise to Muskeget Island, home to a year-round population of up to 3,000 grey seals. They also offer six-hour whale watching cruises (mid-June-mid-October, Sun, Wed, Fri, $155). Hike Nantucket Conservation Foundation properties, including the Masquetuck Reservation with beaches, salt marshes, and bogs, and 780-acre Sanford Farm (118 Cliff Road, 508-228-2884, www.nantucketconservation.org). If you’d like to get on the water, consider renting kayaks or stand-up paddle boards at Sea Nantucket Kayak (76 Washington St., 508-228-7499, www.seanantucketkayak.com, kayak rentals half-day $45, full $55; SUP rentals 1 hour $30).
FOR HISTORY BUFFS
Once known as the whaling capital of the world, Nantucket is one of New England’s finest preserved villages. Bumpy cobblestone and buckled brick streets are lined with shingled Quaker houses and sea captains’ homes. The village also has some 800 pre-Civil War-era homes, the largest concentration in the country.
Stay: Relaxed and friendly 29 Fair Street Inn (29 Fair St., 508-257-4577, www.thesummerhouse.com, $135-$375), once known as the Woodbox, is considered the oldest inn on the island, dating to 1709. The simply furnished rooms, with rustic country decor, have many historic details, including original wide-plank pine floors and woodworking dating to the 1700s. The courtyard pocket gardens are a great place to relax, and the inn is within easy walking distance to Main Street restaurants and shops.
Dine: Housed in a 1709 building, Figs by Todd English (29 Fair St., 508-228-7800, www.thesummerhouse.com/29/, $12-$19) has original brick fireplaces, wood paneling and floors, exposed beams, and low, antique lighting. But there’s nothing old-fashioned about the food. Order specialty pizzas like the crispy eggplant or spicy shrimp, and entrees like the rich Tucson bolognese, slow braised short ribs, or spaghetti with roasted tomatoes and toasted garlic. Grab a seat at the 1840’s Whaling Bar downstairs at the Brotherhood of Thieves (23 Broad St., 508-228-2551, www.brotherhoodofthieves.com, $11.95-$19.95), with low ceilings, dark woods, brick walls, and two fireplaces. There are 12 brews on tap and better than average pub grub, like the smokehouse cheese fries served with brisket hash and beer-cheese fondue, and the smokehouse burger with boursin cheese and caramelized onions.
Do: The Whaling Museum (13 Broad St., 508-228-1894, www.nha.org, $17 adults, $8 ages 6-17), located in a restored 1847 candle factory, showcases the island’s glory days of whaling. The museum offers a guided walking tour for a peek inside three historic homes ($10, 6-17 $4). The Nantucket Preservation Trust offers several tours including a guided Architectural Tour of Main Street and tours of ’Sconset, an early fishing settlement and 1800s artist colony (55 Main St., 508-228-1387, www.nantucketpreservation.org, $10). For an in-depth look at the history of Nantucket, along with fun ghost stories, join the Raven’s Night Walk (meet at the intersection of Main and Federal streets, 508-257-4586, www.ravens-walk.com, $20 adults, $10 teens, $5 ages 5-12). There have been more than 700 shipwrecks in the waters surrounding Nantucket. View objects salvaged from some of the more famous wrecks at the fascinating Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum (158 Polpis Road, 508-228-1885, www.nantucketshipwreck.org, $6 adults, $4 ages 5-17).
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.