With all the excitement of an island getaway, but only a short ferry ride from the Massachusetts mainland, Martha’s Vineyard is ideal for family travel.
Begin having fun upon arrival at the ferry dock in Oak Bluffs, as Inkwell Beach lies just a short walk away. The water is shallow and safe for small children to play in, and the sandy beach has a lifeguard on duty in the summer.
Apart from the beach, the kids’ favorite attraction in Oak Bluffs will be the historic Flying Horses Carousel. Built in 1876, it’s been an Oak Bluffs institution since moving here from Coney Island in 1884. The oldest of its kind in the country, the carousel was restored to its original condition; the horses have glass eyes and real horsehair manes and tails.
Take a stroll through Ocean Park to see the fanciful “Gingerbread” cottages. Kids will delight at these colorful, fairy tale-looking houses. You can even rent one for your Martha’s Vineyard vacation, but you’ll need to reserve early. You’ll also find lots of green grassy spots for a picnic in Ocean Park.
State Beach is a long stretch of soft sand, and across the street are kayaks and paddleboards to rent for exploring the large Sengekontacket Pond and its coves and islands.
Don’t miss Edgartown, with its streets of historic homes and its smart boutiques. Be sure to take a ride on the “Chappy On-Time” ferry, shuttling back and forth across the narrow body of water separating Chappaquiddick from the main island. The on-time title signifies only that it has no schedule, so it is always on time. It is constantly in motion, transferring bicyclists, walkers and a few cars to the idyllic island.
The Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge covers miles of fragile sand dunes along the outer eastern end of Chappaquiddick island. More than 14 miles of trails wind through the reservation with views of the Atlantic beaches and Cape Poge Bay.
You can drive to the reservation, park at the gatehouse and take one of the frequent guided tours to get the most out of the visit. In addition to an 1895 lighthouse, the reservation also offers guided kayak tours and maintains the Japanese-style Mytoi Garden near the entrance.
You can get to Martha’s Vineyard by ferry from New Bedford, Massachusetts, in 50 minutes; from Woods Hole on Cape Cod in 45 minutes; and from New York City in five hours.
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