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Peter Vanderwarker/Nantucket Historical Association

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13 Broad Street

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Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend

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  • 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 memorable displays include an 1849 Fresnel Lens from the old Sankaty Head Lighthouse and a 46-foot-long skeleton from a sperm whale that washed ashore in 1998. 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. Recent travelers highly recommend planning your visit to coincide with the Whale Hunt presentation, which details how Nantucket came to be known as the "whaling capital of the world. 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 $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and students, and $5 for kids ages 6 to 17. Children 5 and younger enter for free. Hours of operation vary by season, but the museum is typically open from 10 a.m. to 5 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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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. Recent travelers recommend visiting in the off-season to avoid the crowds and parking challenges. 

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