We Bought a Farmhouse

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Our Martha's Vineyard Vacation

We've gotten in the habit of always giving each other the gift of travel for our wedding anniversary. No tangible presents, just incredible memories. This year, we gifted each other a fancy stay on Martha's Vineyard. Our actual anniversary is on September 26, but with the availability of the hotel we wanted to stay at, and our work schedules, we went a few days earlier.

To break up our trip, we stayed a night in Rhode Island so that we could give Newport another try. Last year, we did the same thing on our way to Block Island, and Newport was so chaotic because of the Food & Wine Festival, we couldn't do anything besides a quick Cliff Walk and make our dinner reservation. Sadly, this year we had kind of another negative experience. I love what Newport has to offer, and it's truly a beautiful town, but the destination seems to be so popular now that it's almost overrun during warm weather months. Traffic getting into Newport after crossing the bridge was insane - we were bumper to bumper for a good half hour. And then once we got into Newport, we searched for parking for a long, long time. Newport doesn't have a lot of designated lots, so really, you have to find street parking, most of which is a two-hour limit. So once we finally found parking, we had to run back to the car (almost a mile away from everything), just to start the process over again. It kind of put a damper on the whole day. And, it was packed with people - so much so that it was hard to walk the sidewalks. We finally decided to leave town after grabbing lunch, ice cream cones (duh) and visiting a few stores that were on my must-do list to go see the Castle Hill Lighthouse. This experience was much more calm in comparison, and it was a nice way to end the day. We had planned on doing dinner in Newport, but cancelled our reservations after leaving the lighthouse so we didn't have to deal with the madness and trying to find another parking spot.

So anyhoo, on to the much more relaxing part of our trip: Martha's Vineyard.

Ever since Josh and I started to travel to the Cape in the summers, I've desperately wanted to spend a few days on Martha's Vineyard (despite my total obsession with Nantucket). The main reason being I wanted to see the Aquinnah cliffs and Gay Head Lighthouse. Last year, we did a day trip to the island, but because it's so much bigger than we thought, it wasn't possible to do much more than spend a few hours each in Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven and Edgartown before it was time to catch our ferry back. Aquinnah was out of the question because it was on the other side of the island and a bus would have taken over an hour each way. So, this vacation was kind of a dream come true (I'm pretty easy to please - put me on a ferry and send me to an island).

A park in Oak Bluffs. You can see the ferries come in from here.
Because we visited the island at the beginning of off season, we were able to splurge on a more luxury hotel because the off-season rates fit within our budget. And, after doing so much work around the house lately, what with installing a laundry room, bathroom and tearing down our kitchen ceiling, a bit of luxury was really nice. We usually stay at basic cottages when we visit the Cape, but for this trip, we chose to stay at the Winnetu Oceanside Resort, and our stay was absolute perfection.

The courtyard of the Winnetu.
The hotel had one of those giant chess sets!
The Winnetu is in Edgartown, and after visiting a few of the towns last year, we specifically chose to stay here because there's a lot to do, and Edgartown is amazingly picturesque. The hotel is actually about three miles away from town center, but that was also part of the appeal to us - it was far from the hustle, and if everything was really quiet, you could hear the waves from the ocean on the hotel grounds.

I could write pages about how much I loved this hotel, but the bullet points are that it was impeccably clean, well-designed (Cape Cod shingle exterior, perfect mix of nautical and sophistication in the decor, super friendly staff, great amenities and it's a five-minute walk to South Beach). Our room had a little sitting area, kitchenette, bathroom, bedroom with a super comfy bed, and a balcony overlooking the lawn and pond. And, because we were celebrating our anniversary, they left us a hand-written note in our bedroom, rose petals on the bed and champagne chilling in the fridge for us to enjoy. We were all like, "Oooooo, we're like super important!" Those kinds of special touches never happen to us when we're out celebrating special occasions.

Complimentary water bottles, which were such a nice touch.

With South Beach being such a short walk through a nature path, we spent a lot of time there. All three days we were on the island, it threatened rain, and thankfully, it only rained one afternoon, and then contained itself to overnight thunder storming. As much as it would have been lovely to have perfect, sunny weather, the traditional overcast, foggy New England weather was actually kind of perfect. It was still mid-70s every day, and because it was overcast and had stormed during the nights, the waves at the beach were enormous. Like, over-my-head-enormous. So the first morning we went for a swim, we were, literally, the only ones on the beach the whole time because no one else was into it like we were. It was surreal and like a dream. We just ran around like we were the only ones on the planet. It was perfect.

South Beach in Edgartown, which was a quick five-minute walk (if that) from our hotel.

And the waves! Oh my gosh, the waves. I'll never forget the mornings we spent here just jumping and swimming in the waves. It was so much fun. Probably, also a little dangerous, but if the waves were too big, we both stayed close to shore. I was knocked down only twice, and have zero regrets. I could have spent all our time here. The water temperatures were also much warmer than we expected - I would guess high 60s. They felt warmer than when we visited the Cape in July!

That's me in the waves! Literally, they sometimes went over my head. 

On our last night we took our books and beach chairs to the beach (the hotel provided the chairs).
That evening, a thick fog settled in, which made for some really pretty photos. 

Our first day on the island, we arrived in Vineyard Haven, and drove to Oak Bluffs to grab lunch at Offshore Ale Company. We had been last year and really liked their beer and food selections. We walked around a little to visit some of the Gingerbread Cottages, and then made our way to our hotel.

I can't resist scrappy lookin' buoys. 
Our room wasn't ready when we arrived at the hotel, so we decided to take a drive to Aquinnah, since that was the one thing I knew I wanted to do during the trip. I had read about how beautiful the cliffs were, and that there was also a beach you could walk around with the cliffs in the background. We started at Gay Head Lighthouse, and then walked the path down to Moshup Beach and the views were incredible. Also, there's a part of Moshup that's a designated nude beach (which was a total surprise), sooooooo that was a first for us. Our clothes stayed on, obviously. Other people, not so much.

Gay Head Lighthouse. 
Josh has always wanted a picture like this, and since we're not visiting Pisa anytime
soon, this will have to do.

The walking path to Moshup Beach. 

We spent about an hour just walking around and taking in the views, and then we left to go visit Menemsha, a sleepy little fishing village. We had heard that Menemsha Beach sunsets were one of the best on the island, but sadly, the clouds rolled in just before sunset, and it wasn't meant to be for us to see it.

Menemsha was a sleepy little town, but also very calming and historical.

The next few days we spent wandering through Vineyard Haven (we visited Obama's favorite bookstore, Bunch of Grapes, and got a few books to add to our library), getting ice cream cones at Mad Martha's and Vineyard Scoops, strolling through Edgartown and eating. A lot. I had two lobster rolls.

I think my favorite lunch spot was the Among the Flowers cafe. Their lobster roll was amazing, and their little dining patio was so lovely. Josh said his veggie wrap was really good, also.

Now that we've seen pretty much all the towns on the island, I still think I still like Edgartown the best. Oak Bluffs is really fun (especially the Gingerbread Cottages), Vineyard Haven is quaint and charming, but Edgartown has a bit of an upscale, picturesque, old world feel that resembles Nantucket in a lot of ways. It also has a ton of restaurants, some great shops and the houses are beautiful.

We also visited Edgartown Light, which is a fun little side excursion, and still very walkable from town. We went last year, but we were a little rushed, so we were able to take our time this year.

Josh, still living out his Pisa dreams. 

Our hotel even had a tiny Edgartown Light on the grounds.

One afternoon, it started to rain pretty hard, so we were able to sit in our room and relax with a movie. I've never seen Jaws (I know!) and we saw that our hotel DVD library had it, and it was fun to watch while on Martha's Vineyard. Despite loving the movie, it was so fun to watch it and be like, "We've been there! We were just there! Oh, we went there yesterday!" It was really cool to have recognized locations from such an iconic movie.

On our last night, the sky lit up to this amazing, vibrant lilac, that turned into an electric coral.
I've never seen anything like it. The colors in this picture show how the lilac skies lit up the hotel grounds. 

I need to get better at taking photos so I can capture the amazing things nature does.
Of course this photo doesn't do the sunset justice, but thankfully, it'll always be captured in my mind.

A few travel tips
Josh and I were talking on our last night there, and we both agreed that Nantucket makes for a much easier day trip. It's a slightly longer ferry ride, but I feel like it's easier to do in a day. When we visited MV for a day, we felt rushed to see everything. Even the three main towns (Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Have and Edgartown) are relatively close, but you still need to drive to each one (or take mass transit, which we did last year). You definitely need a car of some sort to really take in the island, and it's well-worth bringing your car, like we did. I feel like one of the reasons I loved MV so much was because we were able to see the whole island, and had such a bigger appreciation for its beauty. I felt like the most stunning parts of MV were out by Aquinnah, and that is a must-see, but also, about a 40-min drive from Edgartown (so, yeah, that car was really handy!).

I will also say that before going to the island, we looked into renting a moped to get around so we didn't have to bring our car on the ferry (vehicle tickets on the ferry are kinda pricey). Almost everyone had very strong opinions against this if we planned on taking the moped out to Aquinnah. Everyone said how dangerous the roads were, and that drivers get so frustrated with moped-riders that they'll speed past you on the curves on the roads, and it becomes very risky. Josh and I both totally disagree. The speed limits average about 40 mph (mopeds go up to about 30). During our drive to Aquinnah, we were waiting for all these "dangerous curves" everyone was talking about, and while there were a few curves, none were dangerous. We could have totally taken a moped out there. Maybe peak season is different because there are a lot more drivers on the roads, so use caution in July/August. But in September, the roads were clear and any drivers we saw were actually going under the speed limits. Mopedding would have been totally doable.

Nantucket vs. Martha's Vineyard?
So, what are my thoughts of Martha's Vineyard vs. Nantucket? I'll be honest, I went into this MV trip convinced it couldn't even compare to Nantucket. I've said it before, I'll say it again - Nantucket is magical. You literally feel like you've stepped back in time, or at the very least, into another world. But I will say, I loved Martha's Vineyard so much more than I thought I would. It doesn't give me the same feeling as Nantucket, but it's such a beautiful island with so much to offer. There are some lovely, rural towns with farms, charming towns with great restaurants, stunning beaches, beautiful scenery and lots to do. We were never bored and were always amazed by how beautiful the island was. So, Nantucket is still probably my first choice because there's just something very unique about it. But MV is very, very close behind it.


  1. Love my arm chair trip to Nantucket. I love how you share good travel tips. One day I will make it there. We just got home from a week in Gulf Shores Alabama( aka The Redneck Riviera). It is a sweet little town and the weather was perfect with nice gentle waves. I thought of you and Josh as Marvin and I found a HOMEMADE Ice Cream shop and made two trips there. ( Creole Praline, Chocolate, Glazed Donut and Toffee were our choices. The Creole Praline was definitely the best.) Hope you post a VLOG...I always enjoy watching you and Josh...you seem to enjoy yourselves so much!!

  2. Great blog! Very helpful in my Cape Cod vacation planning. Thank you