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Things to do in a day on Nantucket

Jennie Sparrow | 7/19/2019 (updated 5/16/2024)

You’re in for a true salty, New England experience when you visit the island of Nantucket! Quaint homes and cobblestone streets, fantastic dining and shopping — and then there are the many gorgeous beaches . . . Let’s set sail for Nantucket!

Arriving on Nantucket.

On Foot


There are plenty of fine stores to stop into on Nantucket. Find a pair of classic Nantucket Reds, and other preppy threads, at Murray’s Toggery Shop. This island institution has been selling apparel, gifts, and accessories since 1945. Find gorgeous woven fabrics and handwoven home decor at Nantucket Looms, and for some fine jewelry, visit the oldest jewelry store on the island, The Jewelers Gallery.

Downtown Nantucket.


Everywhere you look downtown, there are restaurants and bars! Grab a bite at local favorites with a water view like Cru Nantucket, or Straight Wharf. For fine dining with an Asian flair, try The Nautilus. For a menu that showcases native seafood, fresh local produce, and naturally raised meats from select farms, visit Òran Mór.


If you’re in the mood to learn a little local history, visit the Nantucket Whaling Museum. Find a forty-six foot skeleton of a sperm whale, pieces of scrimshaw, and portraits of sea faring men and women, among other things. Learn the history of weaving, baskets, and the history of iconic Nantucket Lightship Baskets at the Nantucket Lightship Basket Museum. Or see the inner workings of a 280-year-old windmill, The Old Mill. It will surely fascinate both kids and adults!


There are several beaches within walking distance of downtown. The closest, Children’s Beach, is perfect for families and children with its calm waters. A little farther out is Jetties Beach, one of the more popular, larger beaches on the north side of the island. Stronger surf can be found here. And if you’re willing to venture a little farther out of town, visit Steps Beach. It’s a hefty walk from downtown, but the gorgeous views of dunes, ocean, dune shacks, and wild rosa rugosa make it well worthwhile!

Steps Beach.

By Vehicle

If you’re looking to get away from the crowds, there are a couple options. Get a little exercise while touring the island by renting a bike, and tour the 35 miles of bike paths covering Nantucket. There is also public transportation in the form of a bus that can take you to several areas of the island. Then there is the option of renting a car, but their availability is pretty scarce in the summer months!

Head out to the quaint town of Siasconset, known as ‘Sconset, on the east coast of the island. There, you will find the tiny town center, complete with a market, post office, tiny rotary, and footbridge that leads to the beach. Sconset Beach is gorgeous, miles of white sand beach with the Atlantic surf washing ashore. Head a little north to find the Sankaty Head Lighthouse. The views from here are spectacular!

Sconset Beach.

The quiet neighborhood town of Miacomet offers lovely beaches, a golf course, and Bartlett's Farm. Cisco Brewers, a low-key spot for craft beer and music, is also not far from the area. The facility is a brewery, winery, and distillery, and it is open to the public for tours and tastings.

One thing is certain when you travel to this tiny island, you will have plenty to do, see, and experience!