Planning three days in Nantucket and needing some guidance? This Nantucket travel guide will give you all the details to help you plan a fabulous getaway to this quaint island in Massachusetts :).
My husband and I lived in Westchester County, NY from 1993-1997 for grad school and yet we never had the time to take Nantucket Island off my travel bucket list ;0.
So when my son and his girlfriend moved to Boston in the summer of 2022, I immediately went to my list of all the places I wanted to visit while living in the Northeast but didn’t have the chance.
And became committed to putting Nantucket at the top of my list for places to visit during one of my Boston visits to my son :).
We finally made it there in April 2023 right before their annual Daffodil Days festival.
Now you might ask – why BEFORE the festival and not during? Truth be told – I am not a crowds person nor do I really enjoy fairs or festivals all that much.
However I can appreciate the decorations and festiveness that are part of these celebrations.
So visiting Nantucket three days before the festival started was perfect for us. We left on the island ferry the morning the festival started and watched quite a large crowd get on the ferry as we were disembarking from our getaway…
In a rush?
Nantucket Travel Guide
- The Little Details
- Best Places to Stay in Nantucket
- Best Places to Eat in Nantucket
- Top Things to Do in Nantucket Island
- What to Wear in Nantucket in Springtime
The Little Details
How to Get to Nantucket
My husband and I flew into Boston Logan airport from San Diego and drove straight to West Yarmouth for the night so that we could be on an early ferry the next morning (San Diego to Boston takes all day because of the 3 hour time difference + the 6 hour cross country flight 🤪).
We spent the night at the Hilton Hampton Inn West Yarmouth however after arriving at the ferry terminal, I realized staying at the Hyannis Harbor Hotel right across the street from the ferry would have been a much better choice for the night (next time I guess…).
The HyLine Ferry takes one hour from Hyannis to Nantucket and in 2023 cost $89 round trip.
Use the link above to buy your tickets as soon as you make plans to visit the island. The ferry does sell out – especially in peak summer season (we were there in April before any crowds but I still booked our ferry tickets months in advance ;)).
The ferry is nothing fancy but being that it is just an hour ride, the views will entertain you more than the hard seats ;).
You leave your luggage with attendants who put them on the boat in covered rolling carts and bring the carts out after you arrive at the island (and vice versa on the way home).
At first my husband and I thought – whoa that’s some trust system that no one will walk away with your suitcase. But now that we have done it – we realized it really is a system that is trustworthy ;0.
You can also fly into the Nantucket Airport seasonally – learn more here.
How to Get Around Nantucket Island
You 100% do not need a car on Nantucket Island. Taxis and Ubers are very reliable (even during off season!).
And there is also a very convenient bus system for the small island called The Wave (you can find schedules/routes here).
But most of your time will be spent either on foot or bicycle because the island is only 14 miles long!
We spent half of a day with bike rentals from Young’s Bike Shop to get to Siasconset…
How Many Days You Need in Nantucket
As mentioned above, we spent three full days on the island (Tuesday-Thursday). Our travel days to/from Boston were Monday and Friday.
We noticed many Northeast US residents have vacation homes here as an escape from city life and some even spend all summer months on the island.
However – odds are if you are reading this post, that is not you.
And being that Nantucket town proper is quite small, our three full days were the perfect amount of time to see the island at a relaxed pace ;).
You could easily see everything at a faster pace in two days though if that’s all the time you can allow ;).
Best Places to Stay in Nantucket
We stayed three nights in the Federal Suite at The Greydon House. The private entrance was our selling point for reserving the upgraded room.
However, even without the upgraded room, the location and ambience of this property make it the perfect home away from home in Nantucket ;).
On the same street as the Greydon House is the Jared Coffin House which looks equally as quaint (at least from the outside and the website ;)).
We had one dinner at this fantastic property and I knew immediately I would be letting you know about the hotel and the restaurant in a blog post ;).
In fact, if I am ever lucky enough to return to Nantucket Island, I will likely look into staying here!
Being as how Nantucket Island is a rather seasonal destination, this property was not open when we were there at the end of April otherwise it would have been my first choice of places to stay on the island.
It belongs to the fabulous Lark Hotel Group of which I am hoping to stay at one of their beautiful properties someday ;).
Best Places to Eat in Nantucket
Looking for a local hangout with excellent burgers and cocktails? This spot came highly recommended by multiple locals and was the perfect place for an early dinner on our first night on the island ;).
As mentioned above, we ate dinner one night at the Faraway Hotel’s restaurant called Sister Ship where the ambience was incredible, the food was delicious, the service was insane, and the cocktails were Instagrammable (as I of course did!).
No photos of the food taken here as we were incredibly hungry (ahem starving) and grabbed our forks and dove in before I even remembered to take a photo for you ;0.
Looking for a casual place to hangout, drink local beers, and eat food from local food trucks? Then Cisco is your place.
We actually walked back to our hotel after a late lunch at Cisco (2.5 miles- yes it is not in Nantucket town proper) but you could easily bike or taxi here as well ;).
I know I have spoken quite highly about every restaurant we ate at on Nantucket Island, however this place probably really really was my favorite!!
I took a million pictures as the interior of this establishment was interior designer heaven for me.
Oh – and the food & drinks were truly a 5/5 for both my husband and I!
If you are looking for food for a picnic at the beach (or anywhere on the island for that matter!) – this is the place!
We also had AMAZING egg & bacon breakfast sandwiches from this cute little spot right around the corner from Greydon House ;).
Top Things to Do in Nantucket Island
Wander the Streets
If you have read any of my other travel guides, you know wandering is my favorite thing to do when I am in a new city ;).
And the cobblestone and brick streets of Nantucket are perfect for this!
Go On a Bike Ride
As mentioned above, we rented bikes from Young’s Bike Shop for an afternoon and rode the long way down Polpis Road past the Windswept Cranberry Bog and Sankaty Lighthouse to Siasconset.
Being that we were there at the end of April, nothing in ‘Sconset was open (or blooming for that matter). The Siasconset Market literally opened days after we left the island ;/.
But that’s okay – we brought our own sandwiches from Born and Bread and picnicked outside the market ;). Plus it was too cold for ice cream anyway (which is what the market is notorious for on summer days ;)).
Take the Sconset Bluff Walk
Once we got off the bikes (and after we ate our picnic lunch), we walked the ‘Sconset Bluff Walk.
We struggled a bit to find where this walk starts – stay on the upper streets past the market on Broadway. The beginning of the path will be on the right past all the cute cottages on Front Street.
You will be walking on a public way that snakes through private properties with ocean views.
If you want to go down to the beach, be sure to only use a public access trail not one of the many private access trails ;0).
The houses along Sconset Bluff Walk on Baxter Road are stunning and fun to observe as you are walking ;).
Although one of the houses appears haunted (and is known as the name Idlemoor).
Visit the Whaling Museum
Due to limited off season days and hours, we were not able to make the time to go inside this museum however we would have loved to learn about the history of the whaling industry on Nantucket Island.
Walk on the Beach
We had a taxi drop us of at Cisco Beach and then we walked back to Nantucket – with a stop at Cisco Brewers ;).
Multiple sources told us the sunset at Madaket Beach is spectacular so if you can prioritize being there at days end – you will be well rewarded.
And a meal at the seasonally open (May-October) Millie’s Restaurant is a local favorite ;).
Check out the Lighthouses
There are three lighthouses on Nantucket Island – Brant Point Lighthouse, Sankaty Head Lighthouse, and Great Point Lighthouse.
You will see the Brant Point Lighthouse as you arrive and depart via the HyLine Ferry.
Be sure to notice the seasonal wreaths hung on the lighthouse by the Coast Guard for multiple seasons. It is one of the most photographed and painted sights on all of Nantucket.
You can also easily walk to the Brant Point Lighthouse via Easton Street and a signature wooden boardwalk.
It is a local tradition to throw a penny into the water as the ferry passes by the lighthouse in order to ensure a return trip to Nantucket ;).
Sankaty Head Lighthouse in Siasconset can be toured on specific days throughout the year – you can find more information regarding opening days here.
Since we were riding our bikes via the Polpis Road bike trail to Siasconset, we stopped from the trail to enjoy the distant views of the lighthouse with the blooming daffodils.
The third Nantucket lighthouse is Great Point Lighthouse and is quite a bit trickier to get to than the other two.
Dubbed the most powerful lighthouse in New England, you can get to this lighthouse via a 7 mile walk in the sand, a four wheel drive on the beach, or with an oversand vehicle tour. Find out more here.
Go Shopping on the Main Streets of Nantucket
Are you even on vacation if you don’t do even a little bit of shopping? Or at least window shopping?
I bought myself the iconic yellow sweatshirt with navy blue ‘Nantucket’ wording on it at the fun TownPool shop on Main Street.
Stop in at Mitchell’s Book Corner on Main Street to pick up a Nantucket beach read from bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand.
Attend a Nantucket Festival
As mentioned above, we left on the ferry on the morning that the Nantucket Daffodil Festival started.
Since we were there so close to the start of the festival, everywhere we turned I saw my favorite flower.
And since there are over 1 MILLION daffodils planted on Nantucket Island – that was pretty easy ;).
Stroll the Harbor
This is where the above dory with the Christmas tree is placed every December and is worth a stroll no matter what the season is (unless of course the temps are below freezing ;0).
What to Wear in Nantucket in Springtime
Spring on this east coast island honestly has perfect temperatures – or at least for the three days in Nantucket that we were there ;).
April and May average high temperatures are in the 50’s and 60’s with evening lows in the 40’s.
We wore sweaters with light jackets and pants every day and never felt too warm or too cold.
In fact, on the day we walked back from Cisco Beach, the sun was shining quite strongly and we ended up taking off our jackets and sweaters to be left with just tees on for our long walk back to town.
I hope you found this post helpful in planning your three days in Nantucket ;).
Picture cobblestone streets, grey shingled houses, pristine beaches as the backdrop for your east coast getaway!
No matter what the season (well maybe not January-March…) – you will have a fabulous time on this charming Massachusetts island!
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Have a wonderful day my friend! I hope something makes you smile today ;).