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Best Things To Do in Nantucket

No visit to Nantucket is complete without a stop at its iconic lighthouses and a bike ride through its charming cobblestone streets. And then there are the island's many beaches like Jetties (great for families) and Surfside (great for watersports). When you're not soaking up the rays on the shoreline, get a history lesson at the Whaling MuseumAnd while you're inland, don't forget to explore hidden gems like Cisco Brewers for a pleasant, sand-free afternoon (and a few free samples, too).

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Nantucket

Free
Surfside Beach, located on the southern shore, is one of the most popular beaches on the island. It's definitely one of the most amenity-rich stretches of sand, too: Public rentals, showers, food kiosks and lifeguards are all here in the peak beach season. And although the waves may be too choppy for younger travelers, Surfside is great for catching a wave and participating in other gnarly watersports.
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Surfside Beach
Surfside Beach, located on the southern shore, is one of the most popular beaches on the island. It's definitely one of the most amenity-rich stretches of sand, too: Public rentals, showers, food kiosks and lifeguards are all here in the peak beach season. And although the waves may be too choppy for younger travelers, Surfside is great for catching a wave and participating in other gnarly watersports.
... more

#2

#2 in Nantucket

Free
Nantucket's iconic Brant Point Light is said to be the country's second oldest lighthouse by some aficionados. While this superlative isn't completely true -- the current tower dates to 1901, while the station has had a lighthouse since 1746 -- the attraction remains a popular spot to view Nantucket Town's harbor.
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Sightseeing Type
Less than 1 hour Time to Spend
Brant Point Light
Nantucket's iconic Brant Point Light is said to be the country's second oldest lighthouse by some aficionados. While this superlative isn't completely true -- the current tower dates to 1901, while the station has had a lighthouse since 1746 -- the attraction remains a popular spot to view Nantucket Town's harbor.
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#3

#3 in Nantucket

Free
Located at the northern point of Nantucket, the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge provides protected habitat for hundreds of osprey and other rare sea birds. Other popular activities include surf-fishing, hiking and checking out the Great Point Light, but according to recent visitors, off-roading along the shoreline is probably the most popular activity on the refuge.
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Parks and Gardens Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge
Located at the northern point of Nantucket, the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge provides protected habitat for hundreds of osprey and other rare sea birds. Other popular activities include surf-fishing, hiking and checking out the Great Point Light, but according to recent visitors, off-roading along the shoreline is probably the most popular activity on the refuge.
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#4

#4 in Nantucket

On the grounds of Cisco Brewers -- which contain a vineyard, distillery and brewery -- you can take a tour through a small cottage dedicated to each type of drink and get a detailed account of the creation process. And at the end of the tour, stay to sample some of the latest concoctions from friendly bartenders who know their stuff.
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Wineries/Breweries Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Cisco Brewers
On the grounds of Cisco Brewers -- which contain a vineyard, distillery and brewery -- you can take a tour through a small cottage dedicated to each type of drink and get a detailed account of the creation process. And at the end of the tour, stay to sample some of the latest concoctions from friendly bartenders who know their stuff.
... more

#5

#5 in Nantucket

Free
Northern Jetties is pretty similar to its southern, sandy counterpart, Surfside. Both bustle with activity in the summer and are loaded with beachside perks like food carts and public bathrooms. But there are two major things that set Jetties apart.1) Because of its location on Nantucket Sound, Jetties' waves are much calmer than those found at Surfside, making it a better place for younger or less-experienced swimmers. 2) Jetties has a boardwalk lined with casual eateries, keeping visitors from going hungry on an all-day beach trip.
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Beaches Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Jetties Beach
Northern Jetties is pretty similar to its southern, sandy counterpart, Surfside. Both bustle with activity in the summer and are loaded with beachside perks like food carts and public bathrooms. But there are two major things that set Jetties apart.1) Because of its location on Nantucket Sound, Jetties' waves are much calmer than those found at Surfside, making it a better place for younger or less-experienced swimmers. 2) Jetties has a boardwalk lined with casual eateries, keeping visitors from going hungry on an all-day beach trip.
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#6

#6 in Nantucket

Landlubbing vacationers might not see its appeal, but still, the Whaling Museum does well with history lovers and Herman Melville fans. Some of its more impressive displays include a Fresnel Lens from the old Sankaty Head Lighthouse and the 46 foot-long sperm whale skeleton that hangs from the ceiling. There's also an impressive collection of scrimshaw art: Whalers created these elaborately engraved (or carved) pieces out of spare whale bones and teeth to pass the time at sea.
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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Whaling Museum
Landlubbing vacationers might not see its appeal, but still, the Whaling Museum does well with history lovers and Herman Melville fans. Some of its more impressive displays include a Fresnel Lens from the old Sankaty Head Lighthouse and the 46 foot-long sperm whale skeleton that hangs from the ceiling. There's also an impressive collection of scrimshaw art: Whalers created these elaborately engraved (or carved) pieces out of spare whale bones and teeth to pass the time at sea.
... more
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