Mommy Poppins Boston and Nantucket Bucket are pleased to offer a 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!
When visiting an island with a population that swells from 12,000 to 60,000 in the summer months, one naturally wonders if there are any off-the-beaten-path destinations or activities that can help families escape the crowds and avoid the lines (Note: Juice Bar Ice Cream is ALWAYS worth the line). Well, there are! And below is a list of our 10 favorites. For those looking to check off a few items on their Nantucket Bucket List, check out our previous post.
1. Did you know that Nantucket has an active research observatory? The Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) is well known for its Discovery Camps and in-town Aquarium, but less known is its observatory on Milk Street. (They have a second observatory on Vestal Street). Three times per week, the MMA hosts “Stargazing Nights” at Loines Observatory on Milk Street and participants are given an impressive tour of Nantucket’s night sky. The telescopic tour of planets, nebulae, galaxies and the moon will leave an impression not easily forgotten. Dare we say, it’s out of this world?! Offered: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9pm-10:30pm. FREE (donations welcome)
2. We are really excited about the most recent installment of the Nantucket Story Walk taking place at the Linda Loring Nature Foundation. From June 22 – September 2, families can combine a walk in nature with literacy. Bring binoculars, wander along the trail and enjoy reading “The Birdwatchers” by Simon James. This makes for the perfect family outing that is both active and educational, and we guarantee that you will see more birds than people. The trail is open to the public daily from 9am-5pm. FREE.
3. Another great family activity that’s just now making waves on Nantucket is Stand Up Paddle (SUP). For those with experience, you can rent SUP boards for $25/hr. from any of the surf schools. Private or group lessons are available as well, but one of our favorite ways to get out on the water is with Nantucket sUrafi’s Evening Pau Hana Paddle. This isn’t a lesson but rather designed for those with some experience who are without boards. For $20 per person (includes all equipment), you get an hour of water time. Offered: Tuesdays & Thursdays from 6:30pm-7:30pm. $
4. It doesn’t get more unique than a Nantucket turtle fishing adventure! Yes, turtle. (We like to think of it as a turtle feeding trip). Head out to Long Pond in Madaket and bring the following: string, chicken (we prefer bringing cooked chicken but raw chicken works as well if you don’t mind handling it) and your camera. Turtle fishing is as easy as tying the chicken to the string (no hooks) and dangling the string off of the dock. You will be amazed at the quantity and size of the turtles that swarm your “bait.” We’ve seen children of all ages turtle fishing, but please do so with caution as there are snapping turtles in Long Pond. Long Pond is located off of Madaket Road. Drive past the landfill and continue about a quarter of a mile further. You will see a turnout on your left. FREE.
5. Tweens and teens will love this next unique Nantucket pick – a trip to the Skate Park on Backus Lane. Located mid-island this relatively new park was designed with a “street park” feel. There are stairs, ledges, banks, quarter pipes and bowls and if your child has any idea what these terms mean, they will consider this a highlight of their time on Nantucket. TIP: Young children will love riding their scooters here. FREE.
6. One of the most frequently asked questions is for an off-the-beaten-path beach recommendation. No surprises there. While we love Children’s and Jetties for their proximity to town and facilities (restrooms, restaurants, playgrounds), for those same reasons they get really over-populated in July and August. Still enjoying the perks of harbor beaches (calm water and little waves,), we like to head just west to neighboring “Water Tower” and “Dionis.” Dionis is especially nice because there is ample parking, lifeguards and restrooms. The Water Tower (off Washing Pond Road) is a great spot that’s never too crowded because there’s very little parking and you have to go early to get a spot. It’s a kid AND dog-friendly beach and during low-tide, there’s a great sand bar that allows children to wade comfortably. Please note that there are no lifeguards on this beach, so swim with caution. FREE.
7. A great off the beaten path destination that is, surprisingly, right in town is the Lily Pond Park off of North Liberty Street. This is a wonderful spot to picnic or simply let young children explore their surroundings. The Land Bank owned property is somewhat maze-like with its twist and turns, dead ends and boardwalks. It is a great spot to escape the crowds and the sun among the cherry, apple, birch and maple trees. FREE.
8. The Nantucket Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum plays homage to the Island’s maritime history and makes for a great rainy day activity. With an out of town location, it is typically less crowded than the in-town Whaling Museum and Maria Mitchell Aquarium. In addition to the daily guided tours and films that are available throughout the season, Family Days at the Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum offer crafts, maritime games, stories, sea chanteys and more for children of all ages. Museum Hours: 10am-5pm Daily. $
9. Just down the road from the Lifesaving Museum is the Nantucket Field Station and this 100+ acre property is very unique in that it includes a variety of ecosystems to discover: pristine salt marshes, tidal creeks, freshwater ponds, beaches, upland hiking trails, vernal pools and nearly 2,000 feet of harbor waterfront. Many rare and native species utilize these habitats for feeding, breeding and hiding. Families can explore the property at their own pace or join in during one of the Field Station’s free guided tours. Hours: The property is open daily for self-guided walks from sunrise to sunset. Tours are offered Monday – Friday at 10am. FREE.
10. The final off-the-beaten-path ACKtivity is perfect for the budding fashionista. Check out the Cheryl Fudge boutique on 24 Easy Street for her one-of-a-kind apparel and drop-in Fashion Camp. The camp, geared towards children ages 7-14, allows kids to express their creativity by designing their own clothing and accessories and then watch their creations come to life. Talk about a unique Nantucket souvenir! The store also hosts Open Studio hours. Fashion Camp is offered: Monday – Friday from 9-Noon or 1pm-4pm. $
We hope this list inspires you to try something different during your time on Nantucket, and who knows, in the process, you might even begin a new Nantucket tradition. Visit the Nantucket Bucket website for more insider tips and information on Nantucket family happenings.
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?