So, before this series ends, a few impressions on Martha's Vineyard, a couple of travel tips and some links that include excellent info if you decide to travel there.
Traffic and Driving -- There's a lot of traffic on the Vineyard, at least in the towns and at the beaches. In some places this might mean impatient drivers, road rage growing with every confused tourist driver, pedestrian or cyclist.
Not here. At least, we didn't see anything like that. Yes, there might be long lines to turn left or merge. But surprise! Drivers very graciously let people in, paused so someone could make a left turn across oncoming traffic safely. And I never saw a pedestrian or cyclist in jeopardy (although the lack of bike helmets was a big concern for me. Hyper-sensitive on that topic!). This was a wonderful surprise. Parking on the other hand, is tough.
The island map that you find free just about everywhere leaves a bit to be desired. It's OK for the main roads but if you get lost -- well, I found people very friendly!
If you are driving, you will need to bring your car on the ferry. Or you can rent one. We were fortunate that we had to do neither. But if you do, be prepared to add to your vacation fund for both transport and rental. Or...
Take the bus -- We saw buses everywhere -- they drop people off at the beach and go from town to town. The big bonus for us was the park-and-ride in Edgartown. We could drive to the free parking lot, hop a free bus and land downtown without having to find a place to park. That, in itself, was worth the ride. Or...
Rent a Bike -- We didn't do this but saw plenty of people on bikes. I don't know if the rental spots have helmets available -- they should, but who knows? Just be sure you check before you go and bring your own if you think biking might be your major means of transport during your stay.
Let me repeat that. Wear a helmet. Adults and kids! (Sorry, but the resident cyclist has been saved more than once by his helmet and I'm a stickler on that one!)
Don't Forget Your Tennies -- Or whatever shoes are most comfy for walking. When you are of a certain age -- namely, mine -- your feet aren't what they were at 20. Flip flops may be cute but shoes you can walk in will save the day!
Water, Water Everywhere (but not a drop to drink) -- You are on an island and will constantly see water, delightful for swimming or boat-watching. But the beaches we saw did not have water fountains at hand, so if you are planning a long stint on the beach (or shopping, for that matter), you might want to pack a water bottle. (And yes, you can buy bottled water at the store if it's handy, but your own bottle with the delicious "sink water" from your lodging is less expensive and just as good!)
Dining Out -- It isn't inexpensive. But you didn't come to Martha's Vineyard to save money, did you? So, consider two meals a day -- a lovely dinner and a late breakfast that will hold you (maybe you'll want a Mad Martha ice cream in-between!). Like many places, most restaurants post their menus and some have very good deals. (We had a wonderful dinner at Edgartown's "The Grill on Main" -- two entrees for the price of one, nightly, and the entree prices themselves were reasonable.)
Not all establishments or towns serve liquor and are considered "dry." You can bring your own wine to these spots. Or, consider skipping the wine at dinner and bringing your bottle and a couple of glasses to the beach to enjoy the sunset.
|Oak Bluffs is not a "dry" area and you could order beer or wine with your dinner. Edgartown is also not "dry." There may be others; don't hesitate to check. A corking fee will be involved if you bring your own wine.|
Or, consider a picnic. Hit the Stop and Shop, get some wine, bread, cheese, meat, maybe a sweet or two and head for the beach. Everything's better at the beach -- including the sunset!
Ask a Local -- If you get a bit of sticker shock when looking at the menu, ask a local. Our hosts told us they often ate at the local Martha's Vineyard airport restaurant and we had a couple of very good lunches at Plane View. It's not formal or fancy, but the food that we had was excellent and very reasonably priced (about $10.99 for a burger or sandwich with fries or chips).
Don't Forget the Grocery Store -- You may not want to be cooking, even if your accommodations allow for that. But you'll probably want to take advantage of better pricing to buy beverages or snacks. And, consider stocking your fridge with yogurt, granola or fruit and save the big bucks for later.
|You can visit the Japanese garden on Chappaquiddick or do like I did -- celebrate the gardens that everyday people have created in their yards!|
|Stores are open late -- and there's always plenty of action at the book store!|
And remember, going back is a lot more expensive than getting that cute little thing you had to have for the pet you left behind. (Of course, you can probably find it closer to home and not have it fill your luggage! Your choice!)
When You Pack -- don't forget your beachy stuff, including sunscreen (but remember airport fluid regulations), your VISA card and some extra cash, along with a few plastic bags for shell collecting, small souvenirs and a larger one in case you have wet swimsuits to deal with and it's time to leave (we were glad we had that!)
Events -- You don't have to be there for the Grand Illumination and fireworks, but if you decide you want to (remember, in-season prices!) it's the third week of August.
But you can find fun entertainment throughout the season, including free sing-alongs at the Campground Tabernacle (along with an assortment of theatre and music). Check the events calendar.
Get in the Mood -- "Jaws" was filmed on Martha's Vineyard and so was a segment of the Harrison Ford remake of "Sabrina." Or, to really fall in love with the place, read Susan Branch's delightful "Martha's Vineyard: Isle of Dreams." It's exquisitely illustrated, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny and a really lovely look at the island by a woman who never planned on living there forever.
|Lizzie loved Susan Branch's story of her Martha's Vineyard journey as much as I did!|
Which brings me to the three most frequently asked questions in the comments here:
Did you get to meet Susan Branch or see her house? Biggest sigh -- no. Oh, how I wish I did!
Did you get to pet the alpacas? Yes! And their fur is filled with the lanolin that makes the yarn so soft. And they were very sweet.
Did you see anyone famous? No. Although, for all I know, we passed by! Where was Bill Murray or Carly Simon or James Taylor? For having a reputation of being a spot for the rich and famous, I suspect they are pretty well "let alone" by everyone except maybe over eager tourists! I guess I'll have to be content with seeing Michelle's Secret Service detail, and really, that isn't a bad image to have!
A few links:
If you are planning a trip or if these posts have made you want to think about it a bit more, here are a few links you might find helpful.
26 Budget Friendly Tips
Travel and Leisure's Definitive Guide
U.S. News/World Report's Guide
Martha's Vineyard Online
And if you have been there before and have any advice to share -- please include in the comments!
Thanks for traveling along with me.
This post is shared with Thoughts of Home on Thursday and Share Your Cup. Both have links to wonderful posts filled with inspiration. I hope you stop by and check out some of these fun and very creative bloggers.