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24-hour travel: Visiting Martha's Vineyard in the off-season

Posted by Melanie Nayer  November 22, 2013 09:19 AM

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lighthouse.jpgThere are a few well-known secrets New Englander's like to keep to themselves, such as which pubs are distinctly "local," the back roads to Gillette Stadium to avoid the traffic on game day, and the beauty of visiting Martha's Vineyard in the off-season.

No, you won't get to enjoy the rocky beaches and no, you probably won't want to golf on icy links or take the boat out of a chilly spin. But, Martha's Vineyard does have some alluring qualities in the winter, and even better: it's about half the cost and there's only half the people that are usually there in the summer months.

If you're looking for a quick trip out of the city and want a no-frills, laid back, intimate weekend away, Martha's Vineyard in the off-season might be the perfect escape. All you need is a heavy jacket, a pair of boots, your favorite pair of sunglasses, and you're off.

First things first: book your boat ride. The Steamship Authority provides year-round passenger and car service from Woods Hole on Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard. As the season gets cooler, the boat rides gets fewer. Make sure you reserve a spot ahead of time.


On a recent visit to Martha's Vineyard, I stayed at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown, one of the largest year-round hotels on the island. The Harbor View Hotel sits right at the edge of Edgartown, with pristine views of the water and just steps from the lighthouse, providing some excellent photo opportunities.

The hotel offers 114 guest rooms and suites divided into three distinct areas: the historic hotel, the Governor Mayhew Building and in Cottages on the hotel grounds. Choose your room based on how many people you're traveling with and the purpose of your trip (families or groups traveling together might like the space of the cottages, while couples or single travelers will enjoy staying in the main building). The nice thing about the rooms: no two rooms are alike. The hotel is a historic property, which means each room has a different layout, view, and amenities. I recommend requesting an ocean front room - you can't beat the views!

There's plenty to do within walking distance of the hotel. Start in Edgartown’s town center, where you’ll find various coffee shops and breakfast options.

Among the Flowers Café, located on Mayhew Lane, is one of the most popular spots on the island (and one of my must-visits). We usually stop in for breakfast, and enjoy everything from omelets to pancakes and fresh fruit. It's the ideal spot to linger on a Saturday or Sunday morning, but be prepared to wait - there's always a line to get into here.


After breakfast, stroll around town for a bit and pop into some of the trendy and island-life boutiques. Main Street and North Water Streets are where you’ll find the most shops.

For a little pick-me-up, there's no where like Murdicks Fudge Shoppe. Pick up some sugary treats (and fresh-made coffee) to get you through the afternoon.


One thing you’ll enjoy about Martha’s Vineyard in the office season is less people. That means fewer crowds, no lines and no need for reservations or first-come, first-serve parking spots. Case in point: the beach.


Head to Aquinnah for a climb to the top of Gay Head, and take some stunning shots of the clay cliffs and lighthouse. The beach is just as beautiful during the colder months, and you can sit just about anywhere you like and enjoy the atmosphere.

To round out your weekend on the Vineyard, I suggest sleeping in. All the rooms at the Harbor View Hotel come with plush bath robes and slippers, and the beds are dressed in cloud-like linens, encouraging you to stay a little while longer.

Want to go? The Harbor View Hotel is hosting a Black Friday-Cyber Monday deal. Book your stay between Nov. 29 and Dec. 2 and you'll receive 20% off room rates on one- or two-night stays, and 30% on three-night stays for travel between Dec. 1, 2013 and July 10, 2014. The offer is based on availability and blackout dates apply.

Get more information about Martha's Vineyard travel from Forbes Travel Guide.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

Melanie Nayer is a travel writer who spent many years in the newsroom before jetting off to see the world. Her goal is to bring readers the best insider information More »

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