Whaling Museum picture
Peter Vanderwarker/Nantucket Historical Association

Key Info

11 Broad Street

Details

Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
3.3scorecard
  • 2.5Value
  • 3.0Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

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.

While the museum's scenic rooftop deck is a big hit, it's the various educational programs that really win visitors over. One TripAdvisor reviewer says: "Make sure you plan your visit to coincide with the Whale Hunt presentation. The 40-minute talk was so engaging that about two dozen 13- and 14-year-old students were mesmerized -- no texting, posting or whispering!" Also popular is a storytelling presentation on The Essex, the local whaling ship that inspired Moby Dick.

The Whaling Museum sits in a former candle factory in Nantucket Town. Admission starts at $17 for adults, with discounts for children, seniors and groups of 20 or more. Hours of operation vary by season, but the museum is typically open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Be sure to check the museum's information page on the Nantucket Historical Association's website before you go. 

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#1 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.

But popularity has a downside. According to one TripAdvisor user: "This is the busiest beach on Nantucket. Plan for crowds and parking challenges." Other recent travelers suggest you swing by in the off-season. Although cold, this is when you can catch a quieter Surfside experience.

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