It’s easier than ever to take a magical family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard! With luxe accommodations, seaside dining, and sun-filled days at the beach, this Massachusetts destination is the perfect island escape. Martha’s Vineyard offers plenty of ways to make memories and enjoy time as a family. But if you want to plan a trip with kids, you’re probably wondering where to start. First, you’ll need to find the right hotel, in addition to planning your itinerary. Luckily, Martha’s Vineyard boasts some amazing kid-friendly restaurants and things to do. With many ways to get to the island of Martha’s Vineyard and a wide variety of accommodations, families are sure to find the best options for a wonderful getaway. Read on for tips on how to get there, restaurants to dine in, and the best places for families to stay!
How to Reach Martha’s Vineyard with Kids
Summer is the best time to visit Martha’s Vineyard, and it can pay to plan ahead to get there. You can fly to Martha’s Vineyard Airport, but many travelers – especially families with lots of gear – like to take a boat from the mainland in Massachusetts. If you want to bring your car, tickets from The Steamship Authority can book up quickly, especially for weekend dates, starting when tickets become available in January. However, some rental homes include ferry tickets as an added perk!
Where to Stay on Martha’s Vineyard with Kids
Rental properties across the island offer all the amenities a family could hope for; look at local rental agencies like Martha’s Vineyard Vacation Rentals and Sandpiper Rentals for inspiration. Of note, liquor is only sold at stores and restaurants in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs; all other towns are “dry.” If you’re seeking a hotel-like atmosphere or even more amenities, there are several great options for families. For those who want an in-town experience, check out the waterfront The Harborside Inn in Edgartown. There are seven “houses” offering accommodations, including some with patios and suites; the inn also has a large pool, salon, and spa. Another fantastic option up the street is the recently renovated Harbor View Hotel. There are traditional rooms in the main historic building – some with patios – as well as several cottages offering one-, two- and three-bedroom units.
And if you’re looking at staying in Oak Bluffs, consider Summercamp Hotel. The fun décor, kid and pet-friendly rooms, and a game room provide a fun respite in the heart of town. Another option in the center of it all is the Surfside Hotel. Stretch out in a suite, rent beach gear in the lobby, and wander over the water or the center of town – both just steps away. For an oceanside resort, families love The Winnetu. There are both a hotel and homes for rent, and all guests can take advantage of amenities like a water taxi or shuttle to Edgartown, a pool, and family games and activities. Plus, the daily children’s program for kids ages 3-12 offers a fun way for kids to start the day and gives parents a morning off!
Things to Do near Martha’s Vineyard with Kids
Martha’s Vineyard provides an unforgettable family vacation. Whether you’re arriving by air or sea, you can fill a fantastic getaway along the water, in town, or somewhere in between. Here are some things to do in Martha’s Vineyard with kids to inspire your next trip!
Go to the Beach
Martha’s Vineyard is an island, so there are plenty of beaches to come by! From the calmer waters of the northern shores to the rumbling surf to the south, there’s a perfect beach for every family. South Beach in Katama is a popular spot along the southern shore. It boasts the biggest waves and most expansive beach. With a proper permit, you can even ride your 4×4 on the sand! Fuller Street Beach, also in Edgartown but close to the center of town, offers a more serene setting. Joseph Sylvia State Beach, which runs along the road connecting Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, is a family-friendly beach given its calm, shallow waters. You might recognize it from the movie Jaws!
If you want the best of both worlds, consider Long Point Beach. This beach is part of a wildlife refuge and admission is required, but there is both a calm, shallow pond area and a beach along the southern coastline. It does require a little walk from the parking lot, so bring your beach wagon! No matter which beach you visit on Martha’s Vineyard, make the most of it with your kids. Some families like to gather stones and rocks at low tide for souvenirs.
Explore Nearby Towns for Unique Things to Do
There are so many ways to enjoy family fun on Martha’s Vineyard in addition to the beach! However, the island isn’t as walkable as Nantucket, and not every attraction is near one another. To make the most of your Martha’s Vineyard family vacation, we suggest dividing your itinerary into certain towns/areas and then going from there. Here are a few family-friendly ideas “down island” and “up island.”
Located on its eastern side, Edgartown is a must-visit on Martha’s Vineyard. With some of the best beaches, it also boasts a cute Main Street with shops, galleries, and restaurants. Remember to stroll around with your family and appreciate the historic architecture! But first, start your day eating breakfast at an airport. Kids will love watching the planes go by! Another famous attraction in Edgartown is Lighthouse Beach, which you can walk to for gorgeous views. Parents can also play cornhole and sip on brews while kids enjoy a cool lemonade at Bad Martha’s Brewery. Take a class at The Farm Institute or Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, and enjoy fine dining at Chesca’s or The Atlantic. Don’t forget about ice cream at Mad Martha’s! For a quick afternoon trip from Edgartown, families can also take the On Time ferry to Chappaquiddick and experience the serenity of the Mytoi Japanese gardens.
Oak Bluffs is another popular destination on Martha’s Vineyard. Located adjacent to Edgartown, it’s known for its sandy beaches, lively atmosphere, and iconic “Gingerbread Cottages.” Take in all the action by walking down Circuit Avenue, lined with cafes, boutiques, and ice cream shops. Stop at Nancy’s to eat fried food, toast your vacation at Offshore Ale Company, or get fresh doughnuts at The Back Door. Kids will love taking a spin on the Flying Horses, America’s oldest carousel! Watch a performance on the green at the scenic Ocean Park, or stroll the Oak Bluffs Marina. Inkwell State and Beach is a popular place for families to spend a sunny afternoon. Of course, you can’t miss the Gingerbread Cottages. Also known as The Campground or Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association, these whimsical structures date back to the 19th-century. Snap a photo, and then visit the Cottage City Museum to learn more.
Located in Tisbury, Vineyard Haven is a quaint and charming harbor village. One of its biggest attractions is its walkable Cultural District, which spans the Shipyard on Beach Street to the Library on Main Street. Shop at one-of-a-kind boutiques for unique souvenirs, visit a gallery, or just grab a bite to eat! Parents may be interested in seeing the original Black Dog Bakery and Tavern. Meanwhile, kids can enjoy some fudge from Murdick’s. Further down Main Street, there’s Owen Park Beach for kids to burn energy. History enthusiasts will also find a lot of points of interest, such as the Martha’s Vineyard Museum. Tour historic homes on Williams Street, or see historic murals at the Katherine Cornell Theater. Animal lovers can also navigate the traffic at Five Corners to visit the ducks adjacent to the Tisbury Marketplace. Don’t forget to hang with alpacas at the Island Alpaca Company!
West Tisbury and Chilmark
West Tisbury and Chilmark are less-frequented areas of Martha’s Vineyard, but still worth the visit. Geographically, West Tisbury is actually one of the biggest towns on the island, known for its lush, rolling hills. Alley’s General Store is located right on State Road for all your last-minute needs. Nearby, art aficionados may appreciate a visit to the Field Gallery & Sculpture Garden. Parents can appreciate the art while kids roam free through the manicured lawn. West Tisbury also has a lot of nature preserves worth visiting if you like hiking. Pack a picnic and head to Lambert’s Cove Beach, or head further south to visit the Polly Hill Arboretum. The Long Point Wildlife Refuge functions as a two-in-one attraction with a sandy beach and chances to spot animals. In Chilmark, families can grab a local treasure at Chilmark Pottery. Then, enjoy pizza and subs on the porch of the Chilmark Store.
Menemsha is a quaint village next to Chilmark. You’ll find it on the East Coast of the Menemsha Pond, adjacent to the opening of Vineyard Sound. Fishing and watching sunsets are the two main attractions here, and also some of the best things to do with kids. To make the most of your experience, I recommend bringing dinner to Menemsha Public Beach at least once. You could also try your hand at fishing from the rocks or charter a boat. During the day, grab sandwiches from the Menemsha Deli and hike along the Menemsha Hills Trail. Another fun option for kids is kayaking on Menemsha Pond. Get fresh fish from Larsen’s Fish Market or Menemsha Fish Market – you can find lobster, scallops, clams, and other seafood. Shop the antique stores along Main Street, make s’mores on a grill, or visit the Coast Guard Station Menemsha to see a lighthouse.
Aquinnah is one of Martha’s Vineyard’s best-hidden gems. Located on the island’s Western portion, it may be a bit difficult to get here without a car. However, the island bus tours provide stress-free ways to get to Aquinnah. Many families visit to go to the beach or for amazing views. Moshup Public Beach is the most popular, located at the tip of the island. After you spend your day sunbathing or building sandcastles, visit the nearby Aquinnah Cliffs Overlook. You won’t believe the amazing views here – the ocean seems to stretch for miles and there’s even a nearby lighthouse, the Gay Head Light. If you’re courageous enough, try to climb to the top! Aquinnah is also home to an indigenous population called the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head, which hosts an annual Cranberry Day Festival. The Aquinnah Shop is one of the best restaurants in town for fresh seafood.
We hope you liked this article about a Magical Family Vacation on Martha’s Vineyard by our contributor Megan Tucker! Between the beach and the towns, there are plenty of ways to keep families busy on this incredible island. Enjoy your family vacation in Martha’s Vineyard with your kids!
Find more from Megan and her family adventures on their blog, Three Men And A Lady.
*Unless otherwise noted, all images were taken by and are courtesy of Megan Tucker.
For more suggestions on where to visit this summer with your kids, look at our list of Family Summer Vacation Ideas.
*Please note that due to COVID-19, some of the things on this list featuring activities for your family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard may be closed or experiencing reduced services. Ensure availability before making your decision.
*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.
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