Nantucket, MA, is usually perceived as an upscale vacation spot for the rich and famous. But this picturesque island is also a perfect place for a family vacation as well.

With its endless beaches, stunning natural resources, meticulously preserved historic buildings, beautiful coastal properties, and gardens, the New England island attracts visitors and tourists of all ages and preferences.

The island is family-friendly, so it is a great place to create memories with your kids.

Here are some tips if you are planning a family vacation to Nantucket.

Stay at a local house

The properties on the island available for sale are incredibly scarce and expensive. But luckily, you don’t need to be a billionaire to spend your family vacation in one of the gorgeous coastal houses in Nantucket.

Hundreds of houses, shingle-style cottages, large mansions, and other residences are available for short-term rent in Nantucket.

You can feel more at home and choose a home with the amenities you and your kids need. Plus, you can prepare breakfast and snacks and save money for eating out with the children throughout the day.

You can even split the rental price with a friendly family or relatives to make your stay even more budget-friendly.

Explore the island by bike

The easiest, cheapest, and most fun way to explore this magical island is by cycling. Bike lanes cover the entire island from one neighborhood and site to another.

Since it is only 14 miles long and about 3.5 miles wide, and there are very few hills, Nantucket is easy to explore via cycling.

You can enjoy the fantastic views and sounds while cycling from one place to another.

Some of the most popular bike trails on the island are from Downtown to the postcard-like village of Siasconset or to the western beach of Madaket, one of the best places to watch the sunset.

You can also ride your bikes to the famous Surfside Beach on the south coast.

You can bring your own bicycles or rent some in Nantucket as soon as you arrive. Plus, some of the short-term rental residences come with complimentary bikes for their guests.

Join a cruise

Sailing around the harbor or around the island is one of the best and most fun ways to explore Nantucket. You and the children will love the sailing tours, and cruises offered there.

Some of the most popular ones for children include the Ice Cream tour or the Critter Cruise. If your children are older, you can take them on a longer tour in the open ocean to learn how to fish, spot whales, or learn about the whaling history of Nantucket.

There are other cruises, such as the Sunset cruise, the Cocktail Cruise, and even an Oyster Cruise which you can sign up for.

Plus, if you are celebrating a special event, you can even book a boat for a private cruise.

Visit the historical sites

Nantucket is the town in the USA with the highest concentration of perfectly preserved historic buildings from the 17th and 18th centuries.

There are over 800 restored and preserved historic buildings on the island, so there are a lot of historical sites to see.

You can take a walking tour through the historic Downtown, which will take you through the cobblestone streets by the captain’s mansions and houses while you learn some fascinating facts about the glorious whaling history of Nantucket.

You can also take the kids to see the historic lighthouses on the island. Brant Point Lighthouse is at the harbor, so you can get there easily. Sankaty Head Light is near Siasconset on the eastern shore, and Great Point Light is at the northwestern end of the island in the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge.

Nantucket is also home to the Old Mill, which is the oldest functioning windmill in the USA. You can visit the Old Gaol, which is a fascinating historic prison, the Oldest House from the 17th century, and more historical sites.

You should definitely take the kids to the famous Whaling Museum to see a real sperm whale skeleton and learn more about the story which inspired the writing of Moby-Dick. You can also visit the smaller but impressive Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum in Nantucket.

Don’t miss the fun on the beach

Thanks to the endless efforts of the local authorities and conservation organizations, every inch of the island’s coastline, including its 80 miles of beaches, is open to the public and free to access.

There are more than 25 beaches to choose from, each of which is unique and beautiful.

The most suitable beaches for families with young kids are the north coast Children’s, Jetties, and Dionis Beaches. The water there is calmer, and warmer. There are amenities such as skate parks, playgrounds, volleyball nets, snack bars and food trucks, lifeguards, and others. Plus, they are close to the town.

If you prefer a beach where there are bigger swells and stronger currents, you can go to the popular Surfside or Nobadeer beaches. There you can rent or sign up for lessons at the surf schools. There are even surfing camps for kids during the summer.

If you prefer more reclusive and peaceful beaches, try some more remote ones, such as Quidnet, next to the calm and sheltered Sesacha Pond, where you can do some padding and kayaking.

Enjoy the beauty of the wildlife refuges

As mentioned earlier, the local conservation organizations and the people of Nantucket are very determined and serious about preserving the island’s natural resources.

This is why more than 50% of the land is conserved, and any future developments on it are forbidden.

So, there are vast areas of untouched nature and wildlife which you can explore and admire on your vacation to Nantucket.

There are several wildlife refuges, where you can see some rare trees and plants, as well as spot birds and wild animals like seals, deer, and raptors.

If you have a permit and a suitable 4WD, you can take the kids for some beach driving through the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge and to the Great Point Lighthouse.

The island has many easy walking trails, most suitable for children. So, you can explore the natural wonders of Nantucket while enjoying a leisurely stroll with the kids on one of these many walking and hiking trails.


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