The island offers a great variety of vacation experiences for all ages. Nantucket is 3.5 miles deep and 14 miles wide, or a little larger than Manhattan. Nearly half the island is protected from development, much of it through the Nantucket Conservation Foundation and the Nantucket Land Bank. For its size, Nantucket offers an amazing array of cultural and recreational activities.
- Exploring Downtown. Downtown Nantucket is a fascinating historical district with unique houses, stores and restaurants. The island contains an astounding 2,400 historic buildings, one of the largest and most important collections in the United States. The downtown stores and restaurants are small and independently owned, so you can shop for unique items while receiving a rare level of personal attention. The Whaling Museum (call (508) 228-1894) and the library (the Atheneum, featuring a great children's room with wonderful children's programs; call (508) 228-1110) offer great indoor diversions.
- Boating. Nantucket Community Sailing rents kayaks and sailboats and offers lessons. Call (508) 228-6600 (office) or (508) 228-5358 (beach). Check the Nantucket phone book or the Chamber of Commerce guide about renting a power boat.
- Fishing. Check the Nantucket phone book or the Chamber of Commerce guide for sportfishing charters. Local beaches, including Smith's Point, offer excellent surf fishing. The local tackle shops can rent or sell you equipment and offer advice as to when and where to try your luck. Call Bill Fisher Tackle at (508) 228-2261 or the Nantucket Tackle Center at (508) 228-4081. Millie's Bridge at Hither Creek is a spot for crabbing as well.
- Biking. Our house is located near the end of the Madaket bike path and offers a shed that can store bikes. Nantucket offers an unusual combination of great scenery and flat terrain. For a description of popular rides, go to http://www.youngsbicycleshop.com/popular-rides.html.
- Golf. The public golf course on Nantucket is Miacomet Golf Club, an 18-hole course, (508) 325-0335. The Nantucket Golf Club and Sankaty Head Golf Club are private courses.
- Cruises. Whale watching, seal cruises, ice cream cruises and similar excursions are available through Shearwater Excursions (call (508) 228-7037), Nantucket Critter Cruises (call (508) 228-6867) or Zannah Charters (call (508) 325-7121).
- Camps. Nantucket offers a variety of day camps and activities for kids, starting at the pre-K level with Camp ACKventure and NISDA (Nantucket Island School of Design and the Arts) The Maria Mitchell Association operates an observatory and a small aquarium on the island. The island also has a public pool and ice skating rink. The Chamber of Commerce (call (508) 228-1700) can direct you to a camp or activity best suited for your children. Strong Wings Adventure camp was a great choice for our kids.
- Outdoor Exploration. The Nantucket Conservation Foundation (call (508) 228-2884) and the Nantucket Land Bank (call (508) 228-7240) own and maintain spectacular collections of properties that are open for hiking, bird watching, etc. These properties include beaches, ponds, moors and wetlands. Please obey all posted and published rules and be considerate of others and of Nantucket's fragile environment.
Madaket is on the western end of Nantucket, about six miles from downtown Nantucket. Madaket offers two public launch points for motor boats and sailboats and a marina (Madaket Marine, call (508) 228-1163). Millie's Restaurant (call (508) 228-8435 for reservations) is a popular spot for dining and also offers a convenience store.
From Madaket, you arrive at Smith's Point by crossing Millie's Bridge on Ames Avenue. Madaket is quieter and less crowded than other areas of the island, and Smith's Point is especially tranquil. Because it is surrounded by water, Smith's Point is protected from heavy car traffic. Smith's Point also is outside the designated air traffic routes, so visitors hear the ocean rather than airplanes. With its location on the west end of the island, Smith's Point enjoys spectacular sunsets.