Mommy Poppins Boston and Nantucket Bucket are pleased to offer a new series of guest blog posts about things for families to do on Nantucket. Nantucket Bucket is the premier online resource for all things child-friendly on Nantucket - events, activities, camps, classes and more. Happy travels!
With award winning beaches, world-class fishing and a quaint downtown where you can easily mill about the cobblestone streets for hours (yes, with children – they’ll enjoy stops at the Nantucket Toy Company, Indian Summer and the Sunken Ship), picturesque Nantucket offers the traveling family an opportunity to both play and relax into the summer.
Although an island small in size, Nantucket is large in activity. Is your family comprised of water sports enthusiasts? Expert beachcombers? History buffs? There is truly something for every member of the family, and Nantucket Bucket is excited to share our Summer Nantucket Bucket List - 15 kid-tested, parent-approved activities that are some of the Island’s top must-do experiences and sure to be the highlight of any Nantucket vacation.
1. Join Capt. Josh Eldridge aboard the Monomoy for the always-entertaining Critter Cruise. During this hands-on experience, children will get to cast lines, haul up lobster traps and get an up close look via the on-board touch tank. The hour-long trip is perfect for children of all ages. Offered: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday with trips at 8:30am, 10am and 11:30am. Adults $55; Children $45
2. With a street festival feel, Sustainable Nantucket’s Farmers & Artisans Market offers a feast for the senses - live music, demonstrations, kids’ activities, and dozens of local vendors selling items like local honey, fresh organic produce, unique jewelry, and the famous, one-of-a-kind Nantucket Baskets by Small Town Girl. Just off Main Street, on Cambridge and North (by the Post Office) Saturdays from 9am-1pm.
3. Family-run Shearwater Excursions offers one of our favorite on-the-water experiences. Their Harbor Tour Ice Cream Cruise allows you to kick back for a scenic jaunt along the shoreline, passing Children’s Beach, Brant Point Lighthouse, historic homes from the whaling era, and the Jetties, all while enjoying Nantucket’s famed Juice Bar homemade ice cream. Well-behaved shipmates get a turn at steering the boat, a Nantucket experience they will certainly treasure for years. Offered: Daily at 10am, 11:15am, 1pm, 2:15pm, 4pm and 5:15pm. $32/person (includes ice cream)
4. When you’re ready for a little ACK-tivity, wake up your bodies with creative movement on the beach. Toddlers (and their parents) will love Marjory Trott’s Dance(S)ing classes at the Children’s Beach Bandstand. It is the perfect morning activity before heading off to the beach. There’s a take-out restaurant, playground, public restrooms and of course, the beach, so pack the sunscreen and your swimsuits and plan to make a morning of it. Offered: Daily. Check our calendar for age groups and times. This is a drop-in program, but plan to arrive early to reserve a spot. $22/class. TIP: FREE classes are held once a month at the Nantucket Atheneum.
5. A great hands-on family activity is the Marine Ecology Field Trip through the Maria Mitchell Association (MMA). Participants help the MMA Aquarium staff catch, identify, measure and weigh specimens before releasing them back into Nantucket waters. Not only will you get to drag seine nets and learn about Nantucket’s marine life, you will also be playing an important role in the collection of valuable scientific data pertaining to Nantucket’s unique ecosystem. Pretty cool, right?! Held: Monday – Saturday from 10am-12n. Adults $15-$20; Children $10-$15
6. A trip to Nantucket isn’t complete without wetting the lines, as the island is known for its great fishing and “hot spots,” Even the inexperienced fisher will have luck here (and no boat required). Whether at Brant Point, the Jetties, Dionis or a bit more off the beaten path at Madequecham, surfcasting is quite popular with locals and tourists alike. There are numerous tackle shops, and the employees will gladly share where the blues and striped bass are biting and help you pick out the right tackle for the conditions.
7. No explanation is needed for why Madaket is synonymous with the word “sunset”. The western most tip of the island is the perfect place for a late afternoon beach picnic. If you picnic, don’t forget to visit the “ice cream window” at Millie’s before driving back to town, or, if picnicking isn’t your thing, head straight for Millie’s and enjoy a Baja California- influenced menu that is known for its fish tacos and lobster rolls. Don’t forget your camera for the gorgeous Madaket sunset!
8. When strolling around downtown, be sure to stop by the Nantucket Atheneum - Nantucket’s unique library that’s housed in a historic 1847 building. It offers a full calendar of free public programming, from Story Time for toddlers to Crafts for Kids for tweens. The garden is a great spot to enjoy ice cream or take in one of the library’s summer outdoor concerts.
9. Escape the crowds, pack a picnic with Something Natural sandwiches and kayak over to Coatue, where shells are plentiful and people are not. Sea Nantucket has all of your kayaking and stand up paddle needs.
10. Lights. Camera. Action! The newly renovated, state-of-the-art Dreamland Film and Performing Arts Center provides the perfect evening activity. Whether you make it a family movie night or opt for one of the Theatre Workshop plays, you won’t be disappointed with the venue and experience. $
11. A picturesque place to laze the day away, Brant Point is a great spot to picnic, wade, fish and take a family photo next to the iconic Brant Point Lighthouse. Free.
12. One of Nantucket’s many charms is the miles and miles of bike paths, making it easy to leave your car behind and explore the island by bike. A must-do with older children is a bike ride via the Polpis or Milestone bike path to the quaint village of ‘Sconset. Rose covered cottages, shelled streets, cute cafés, need we say more?! Free.
13. One of our favorite ways to end the week is with an informal outdoor concert at the Children’s Beach Bandstand. Free family concerts are held every Sunday from 6pm-7:15pm.
14. Visiting the Nantucket Historical Association’s acclaimed Whaling Museum is a great low-key, educational and out-of-the-sun activity. Children will love the Discovery Room, equipped with interactive exhibits and games, and all will marvel at the 46’ skeleton of a sperm whale. Open daily from 10am-5pm. Adults $20; Children (6-17) $5
15. And because a Nantucket Bucket List wouldn’t be complete without at least one true beach recommendation, while you really can’t go wrong with any of the Island’s beaches, we think Jetties Beach offers the most complete family package with a terrific restaurant, playground, restrooms, public tennis courts, parking and life guards. It’s arguably the most convenient family beach destination.
Bonus Tips: For families traveling to the island, Nantucket Bucket recommends:
Petite Travelers of Nantucket: Baby equipment for rent or purchase, as well as everyday supplies and vacation necessities.
Nantucket Baby: Baby and beach equipment rentals; also available to stock your accommodations with groceries, baby and beach equipment and arrange for childcare.
Nantucket Hotel & Resort: One of our favorite options for kid-friendly accommodations. It features two outdoor pools, a complimentary children’s day camp, a convenient downtown location close to beaches, and complimentary rides aboard an antique fire truck.
Also be sure to check out Nantucket Bucket's companion post: Nantucket’s Hidden Gems: 10 Off the Beaten Path Nantucket Activities. And visit the Nantucket Bucket website for more insider tips, activities, and things to do on Nantucket with kids this summer.
Nantucket Bucket is the Island’s trusted information hub, bringing awareness to families by sharing up-to-date event and activity information. Kid tested, parent approved activities, camps, classes and more are featured throughout the site. Read firsthand reviews to discover what to do and how to do it. Follow craft bloggers for some great DIY project ideas and inspiration. Your inside guide and more. What’s in your Nantucket Bucket?