Friday, September 16, 2016

Martha's Vineyard: Goodbye and Travel Tips

All good things come to an end and so did our magical Martha's Vineyard vacation and this series of posts! As our plane took off to carry us back to Detroit, we passed over the very beach where we had been just an hour or two before, a fitting farewell.

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.
You may need to make reservations at certain places (one of the reasons we didn't go to Outermost Inn) so if there's some spot you're dying to dine at, check that out beforehand.

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!
 Not All Shopping Is Expensive -- Knock yourself out at the boutique stores if this is your thing but you can bring home some lovely items at appropriate prices and some, like book stores, are pretty uniform in price no matter what city you shop in.

Stores are open late -- and there's always plenty of action at the book store!
Check out the arts information in the paper or a brochure you may be able to pick up -- there are regular flea markets and art exhibits like the one I saw at Featherstone. I brought home some antique postcards, a Queen Elizabeth II coronation plate and some nice note cards, all very reasonably priced. At the same event I saw lovely handmade purses, signage, tons of jewelry. Prices for most things tended to be better than in the stores and it was fun to chat with the vendors. And you may even be lucky enough to hear some fun music while you shop! Vineyard shops and galleries may also offer work by regional artists, which is fun.

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.


Joanne Huffman said...

Good travel hints - really applicable to any destination.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Thanks for putting this post together! As you know, I'm hoping my mom/sisters/sisters-in-law will be up for going here for our 2017 girls trip! I think going during the 3rd week in August would be amazing so we could check out the Grand Illumination, but it sounds like we'd have a blast regardless of when we went!

And I am with you on bike helmets! I've rented plenty of bikes and the rental places always give you a helmet, thank goodness. I hate it when I see people without helmets - especially in heavy traffic. Last week I saw a man with a child on a bike and neither one had a helmet on. It was the kind of set up where the kid rides on the front of the bike, in a basket that attaches to the handle bars. I was just shocked that he wouldn't put a bike helmet on his child - and on himself! They weren't going fast, but still!

Mae Travels said...

Good tips! a couple of reactions:

First: bike helmets. Yes, yes, yes! Worst example: when you see kids with helmets accompanied by parents with no helmets. Message: you get to skip it when you grow up. OR when you are out of sight pretending to be grown up.

Second: dining out when on vacation. For us, eating breakfast out is not even fun, because while you are waiting for service (or for your turn at a buffet) and so on, you are missing fun at the beach or some other activity. Sometimes a boat trip, a walk in the woods or whatever starts too early for a restaurant or hotel breakfast anyway. We almost always try for a condo when at a beach place, and buy coffee, milk, juice and cereal at the grocery store first thing. If there's a kitchen you can also have sandwich materials on hand for the various kinds of picnics you are mentioning -- your ideas are all really great, and I've tried most of them. Best of all when you have a kitchen with some food on hand is the night your activity made you so tired that you don't even want to go to a restaurant!

best ... mae at

Elizabeth Eiffel said...

The quintessential holiday location ........if wearing bike helmets were mandatory.
I cannot fathom why a person would not wear one if cycling. Perhaps they haven't spent time in ER or been witness to a head injury caused by an unimpressive fall from a bike.

Enjoy your weekend and lingering memories of Martha's Vineyard.

BeachGypsy said...

I loved going to martha's vineyard with you! The pictures were all great and I appreciated all the tips/information. Maybe someday we'll get to go! It looks like an amazingly pretty and relaxing place. Thank you for sharing it all and taking the time to make such nice and interesting posts!

Marilyn Miller said...

Thanks for the tips. Now one day I must travel there.

Valerie-Jael said...

You had a wonderful trip, and saw so many great places. Thanks for sharing all the photos and making my armchair travel possible. Have a great weekend, hugs Valerie

Joyful said...

What a helpful post. It was a fabulous vacation you had (and your readers through your posts). I hope I get there some day but there are so many places to discover!

My name is Erika. said...

I really enjoyed traveling with you, even if it was after the fact. This is a great wrap up of your experiences. I picked up the Susan branch book a while back and haven't yet read it, but you have convinced me to put it on the top of my book pile and get reading it! have a wonderful weekend. Hugs-Erika

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I SO enjoyed this wrap-up post. It felt right and you had some incredible tips.

Since dinner is more expensive than lunch, it makes sense to eat out at lunch and eat "in" at dinner. Like you said, a bottle of wine (or a pot of coffee for me), a baguette, cheese, and meat if you must, along with some olives or pickles, with grapes and fresh strawberries for dessert on the beach.

Oh and I like your choice of water, too. Bottled water irks me as much as lack of bike helmets irk you!

Castles Crowns and Cottages said...

Oh, that last house, the aqua one....that is fabulous. And again, there is nothing like being by the sea. It makes one feel young, ageless almost. WELCOME HOME, Jeanie!

The French Hutch said...

I've enjoyed this series of posts Jeanie and loved following you around the island. And, the photos were great. I really love the plane view, the first one. All great tips, especially the restaurants. You know how I love the shore and I almost feel like I've traveled there myself!

Lynne said...

Excellent . . .
Tips and Tidbits . . .
Sounds and Looks like a "perfect time away summer happening."
One question . . . How long were you there?

La Table De Nana said...

It has been so long..I can't even think of tips..maybe to not stay where we stayed last time:) But I would not say that in public..My husband..hated his defense when I had called..I said it was an anniversary..pretty room etc..when we got to our room I was shocked it was the pretty room..oh well this is sooo long get surprises once in a while..
C'est la vie.
Did you eat at The Black Dog Tavern?

No Kennedy sightings?
Florida friends who live in Chatham..dock close to the famous family..well members..
I still have a sweatshirt material top that has buttons and a scene w/ a picket fence et..may be passé I stll love it ..we bought it in MV..on a tour..there was a lighthouse..Aquinnah maybe..
lovely posts:)

I need orange said...

Thanks for taking us on your trip, and thanks for the travel tips. One of my travel rules is "It's hard to have too many zip-lock bags." :-)

Jean | said...

Jeanie, I would love to go there! If I ever do, I'm going to refer back to this informative and very appealing series! Love the photo of your cat enjoying the book! (LOVE cats!)

Jean | said...

PS And I'm with you on the helmet issue! People do not take head injuries seriously enough -- they can be life-changing!

Victoria Zigler said...

Great tips! I especially agree about the helmets for people on bikes. When I still had enough sight to ride a bike, I'm pretty sure my helmet saved my life a few times, since I know I came off it a couple of times, and I remember at least once having to get a new helmet because it was scratched up from a fall... I was lucky that was a helmet and not my head!

Sandra Cox said...

Thanks for the tips, Jeanie. Glad you had such a wonderful time.

Arti said...

Again, I must go there some day. And try those lobster rolls! or shop in those unique boutiques, or just watch the sunset. So, are you ready to head back home and start 'ordinary' life again?

Wandering Wren said...

We do that - eat for England at Breakfast and then have dinner! I wouldn't say no to an ice-cream in between either! Fabulously informative post Jeanie, I wish I was coming out this way soon!
Thanks for joining me on my next trip!
Wren x

Red Rose Alley said...

I enjoyed your Martha Vineyard pictures, Jeanie. I so wish I could visit there someday. I'm intrigued with all the signs, such fun ones! What a beautiful sunset picture. Love that pink bicycle too. Thank you for sharing these pics. It's as if I was there myself. :)


Jann Olson said...

This has been a great series and I enjoyed the photos as much as the wonderful tips! I agree about helmets. A little neighborhood boy in the area of our first home died when he fell off his bike and hit his head on the curb. No one saw it happen, and they didn't realize until it was too late that he was bleeding internally. Such a sad day!! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

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