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Why Go To Nantucket

"There once was a man from Nantucket…" Go ahead, finish the rest of the limerick in your head, and then get that giggle out of your system. Because despite being maligned with rhyming obscenities — many of which you can find printed on souvenirs around town — Nantucket is better known as a refined vacation destination. And it's becoming more posh by the year. Located about 30 miles south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, this tiny island relishes its isolation, beckoning to the upper-crust prepsters and Northeastern bluebloods looking for a summer escape.  

Nantucket welcomes other visitors as well, as long as they're willing to splurge. Room rates and dinner plates are quite pricey, but some of the most popular island activities can be experienced on the cheap. After all, a proper Nantucket visit is about riding through the cobblestone streets on your rental bike or lazing about on the shore with a beach-time read. So pack your swimsuit and leave your car at the ferry docks: It's time to escape the mainland. 

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The U.S. News & World Report travel rankings are based on analysis of expert and user opinions. Read more about how we rank vacation destinations.

Best of Nantucket

Nantucket Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best time to visit Nantucket is during the shoulder months of March, April, September and October. You'll find the island pleasantly free of tourist hordes, and prices are more manageable, too. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, hotels and seafood restaurants capitalize on the throngs of deep-pocketed tourists. And from November to February, the temperatures are too cold for most — lows average between 25 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Winters aren't a total bust: There are a handful of nice holiday festivals and the island's seasonal establishments typically don't shut down until after Christmas.

What You Need to Know

  • Ditch your car Car traffic in Nantucket Town, especially in the summer months, is heinous — never mind the fact that ferry fees can cost up to $450 round trip. Save yourself the trouble and rent a bike instead.
  • Catch your dinner Nantucket's waters are teeming with all sorts of delicious marine life — bluefish, striped bass and tuna to name a few. You can charter a boat for deep-sea fishing, or you can head down to Great Point Beach for some surf casting on the shore.
  • Prep for all sorts of weather Nantucket isn't immune to New England's temperamental climate. Flash rain showers are common throughout the year, as is heavy fog — hence the island's nickname "The Grey Lady." Check the weather report before you head out for the day.

How to Save Money in Nantucket

  • Ferry to Nantucket Direct flights to the island are pricey, so take the two-hour ferry from Hyannis, Massachusetts, instead. Steamship Authority charges $69 round trip for adults and $35 for children ages 5 to 12. Hy-Line Cruises charges $45 round trip for adults; children 12 and younger ride for free. 
  • Bring your own bike If you have your bike on hand and take a ferry to Nantucket, it's cheaper to bring your own than rent one on the island. Though most attractions are within walking distance downtown, biking is great for more remote excursions because the shuttle system is seasonal.
  • Visit in the fall Avoid the crowds and high prices by visiting during the shoulder season. Most businesses keep their doors open, and there are plenty of events to enjoy.

What to Eat

Nantucket features more restaurants than you would expect from such a small island. Seafood, the heart of New England cuisine, is available at most. Visitors love the fish tacos and swordfish at Dune, and Le Languedoc Inn & Bistro is known for its scrumptious lobster and steak frites. After a filling meal, stop by Juice Bar for homemade ice cream, a local favorite worth the wait in the long line.

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A sperm whale skeleton measuring 46-feet in length hangs in the Nantucket Whaling Museum.

Peter Vanderwarker/Nantucket Historical Association

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