10 Things to do on Martha’s Vineyard for First-timers

It isn’t just the Obamas who like to vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. According to my Facebook feed, Martha’s Vineyard is a popular vacation spot for many less famous families too. A few years back we spent a week on the Vineyard with our good friends Greg & Tracy who are Vineyard veterans and have been vacationing on this lovely island for over 20 years. We were lucky enough to have them show us around and introduce us to what makes the Vineyard so special, but not all first time visitors have their own personal tour guides to tell them what to do on Martha’s Vineyard.

So I asked our friends their recommendations for the 10 things every first time visitor to Martha’s Vineyard should experience and here are our suggestions.

What to do on Martha’s Vineyard

1. Take in the Sunset at Menemsha Beach — Pack a blanket, chairs, a picnic, and a bottle of wine and settle in for a beautiful nature show. But plan to go early because the parking lot fills up fast. You might want to to pick up your dinner at Larsen’s Fish Market and enjoy some lobster with your sunset.

Menemsha at sunset - what to do in Martha's Vineyard with kids
Menemsha at Sunset
Larsen's Fish Market at Menemsha Beach on Martha's Vineyard
Larsen’s Fish Market

2. Go Bridge Jumping at “Jaws” Bridge — Located on Beach Rd at the border of Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, jumping off of Jaws Bridge (named for its appearance in the movie Jaws, filmed on Martha’s Vineyard) is a summer visitor rite of passage. Go at high tide for a shorter jump!

Jumping from Jaws Bridge - What to do on Martha's Vineyard
Jumping from Jaws Bridge

3. Spend a Day at Long Point Nature Reserve — This is one of my favorite places that we visited on Martha’s Vineyard. On one side you will find a peaceful, calm, shallow salt pond but walk across the dunes you find a beautiful long beach of white sand and rolling surf. Little kids start at the pond and graduate to the rougher surf. This was the first place my daughter could tolerate sticking her feet in the sand. Now you can even rent kayaks here.

Long Point Nature Reserve - What to do on Martha's Vineyard with Kids
Playing in the sand and salt pond at Long Point Nature Reserve
Nature preserve at Long Point on Martha's Vineyard - 10 Things to do on Martha's Vineyard for First-timers
Long Point Nature Preserve

4. Visit Aquinnah Cliffs— Moshup’s Beach, which sits just below the famous Aquinnah Cliffs, is a beautiful place to fish, view the sunset, or explore.

Aquinnah Light - What to do on Martha's Vineyard
Exploring Aquinnah

5. Climb the East Chop Lighthouse — Open seasonally every Sunday at sunset, you can climb to the top of East Chop Light and watch the sunset. Admission is $5.00 for adults and children under 12 are free.

Climbing East Chop Light - What to do on Martha's Vineyard
Posing in front of East Chop Light

6. Catch the Brass Ring at the Flying Horses Carousel — The Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs is the oldest platform carousel in the nation and a National Landmark.

Flying horses carousel - 10 Things to do on Martha's Vineyard for First-timers
Flying Horses Carousel

7. Shop at the Morning Glory Farmstand — Open May through December, the Morning Glory farm stand is a feast for the eyes and the stomach, filled with local produce and treats from their amazing bakery, perfect for stocking up the beach house kitchen or preparing a special vacation feast.

Morning Glory Farm - What to do on Martha's Vineyard
Flowers at Morning Glory Farm

8. Visit Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium — Be prepared to stand in line, especially if it is raining, because Ben and Bill’s is very popular for its truffles, barks, turtles and fudge.

Ben and Bills Chocolate Emporium - What to do on Martha's Vineyard for First-timers
Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium

9. Go Biking or Running — Martha’s Vineyard offers 44 miles of bike trails, including section that runs from Vineyard Haven through Oak Bluffs to Edgartown, making it a perfect place to get some exercise. There are many bike rental shops on the island if you don’t bring your own bikes.

Going for a bike ride - What to do on Martha's Vineyard
Ready to go for a bike ride

10. Pig out at Back Door Donuts — After you line up and stuff your face with a gigantic apple fritter or donut, you’ll need to go back to #9 to burn off those calories.

I’m sure many of you have been to the Vineyard at least once and probably have your own list of favorites and I’d love to hear about them to get even more ideas.

10 Things to do on Martha's Vineyard
Katama Beach Lifeguard Chair

What are your favorite things to do on Martha’s Vineyard? Leave a comment below!

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Publish Date: August 21, 2014

15 thoughts on “10 Things to do on Martha’s Vineyard for First-timers”

  1. Leviticus Bennett

    The idea of jumping off of Jaws Bridge is a really cool idea. I watched that movie with my family a lot when I was kid. I used to be scared to swim because of it, but I’m okay now.

  2. Martha's Vineyard Rentals

    Great post Tamara! Our favorite spots on Martha’s Vineyard: Norton Point beach, biking on Chappaquiddick, Kite surfing Edgartown Harbor. Whatever one chooses to do, the Vineyard is a blast in the summer!

  3. hello, I love your suggestions on what to do in Martha’s Vineyard especially for first timers. My family and I had a question about the jaws bridge. We want to know once you jump off the bridge, how deep is the water & do you have to have advance experience in swimming in order to jump off? And also what is the age limit?

    1. There is probably a sign not to jump actually but everyone does anyway. It is definitely deep and quite a far swim so I would say it should be for experienced swimmers. Younger kids do it with a life vest on but I would exercise caution.

  4. I was there last summer and blogged about my top 10 favorite things as well! I did all of yours except for 2. Hope to make it back there next summer. It’s such a lovely place and I am craving the lobsters!

    1. I’ll have to check out your post! It is a great summer destination. Luckily I live pretty close by so it isn’t hard to get to.

  5. Great ideas, Tamara. One thing people need to remember about MV is how difficult it is to secure an accommodation. Last summer, about 45 days prior I started looking into a 1-2 night trip for my anniversary on September 7 and was shocked to see absolutely no availability in any price range on the popular hotel sides. It’s possible to do a day trip if you are on Cape; years ago we have even done a day trip from Boston suburbs but that (between driving, parking, taking a Ferry, enjoying the sites and making it back) made for a very long and tiring day.

    1. So true!! And, if you want to bring a car you need to book that months in advance too for the high season.

  6. I love all of these suggestions! I have always wanted to visit Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket – one day I’m going to get to both!

    1. I feel the same about Nantucket and Block Island. BI has been on our summer to do list for about 10 years and we still haven’t made it, despite living in RI. Something about having to take a ferry and hotels requiring 2-3 night stays on the weekends always stymies us.

      1. Honestly, after Nantucket and MV, BI was a disappointment. Pretty, nice to bike around, but basically one stretch of restaurants that aren’t well kept up. I’d go for the day to start.

        1. We went last year for a day and found the same. Maybe better if you have a house with family or friends.

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