How to Plan the Perfect Nantucket Getaway

This is the ultimate Nantucket travel guide.

nantucket harbor with boats and cottages at sunset
Nantucket Harbor. Hy-Line Cruises

When it comes to East Coast vacationing, you have quite a few choices. Charming beach towns are situated all along the coast, from the quiet Rhode Island shores to bustling Hamptons hotspots. For a coastal vacation that’s everything quiet luxury and more, head to one of our favorite getaways: Nantucket.

The luxurious yet low-key Massachusetts island is right off the coast of Cape Cod, accessible via the ferry from Hyannis or New London. This isn’t ostentatious or over-the-top, though—Nantucket’s pristine cobblestone streets are filled with designer boutiques (no chain stores allowed), galleries featuring local artists and delightful restaurants, for a luxuriously laidback experience.

The island is a mere 14 miles long, but you’re still going to need some help finding your way to all the best spots. Whether you want to stay at a stately oceanfront property or a renovated island landmark, dine at a white tablecloth restaurant or a breezy bar and everything else in between, there’s something for everyone. Below, find the best hotels, restaurants, shops and hidden gems on the island, for that modern and classic Nantucket charm.

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Where to Stay

exterior of shingled hotel building on green grass lawn with lounge chairs
White Elephant Nantucket. Diana Todorova Photography

White Elephant

White Elephant has been a Nantucket icon ever since it first opened in the 1920s. The resort has since been renovated and refreshed by the same architects who constructed the hotel’s award-winning sister property in Palm Beach. Situated on the waterfront, the serene hotel is just a short walk from the center of town. There’s no shortage of activities, from basking in the sun in a cabana and indulging in a rejuvenating spa treatment to exploring the island on a Priority Bicycle beach cruiser and relaxing on the harborside lawn, newly furnished by Arhaus. After a day of island adventures, grab oysters and drinks at the on-site restaurant, Brant Point Grill. It’s Nantucket glamour at its finest.

back of shingled building in nantucket
The Wauwinet. The Wauwinet

The Wauwinet

This oceanfront retreat epitomizes the intersection of historical richness and coastal elegance that Nantucket does so well. With sweeping views of the bay and the Atlantic Ocean, Nantucket’s only Relais & Châteaux hotel is a luxurious refuge, composed of airy rooms and cottage suites.  The property’s restaurant, Topper’s, offers some of the most delicious cuisine on the island; even if you aren’t staying at the hotel, it’s worth a visit. Enjoy the two private beaches, complimentary bikes, paddleboarding, kayaking, tennis, lobster expeditions on The Wauwinet Lady (it’s a 20-passenger boat), eco-tours and cooking demos.

Where to Eat

The Nautilus

The Nautilus is a buzzy, must-hit spot on the island. The atmosphere pays homage to Jules Verne and 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea; a touch of the past infused with an experience of the present. Dining and drinking are equally revered here, as you can enjoy delicious tempura oyster tacos while sipping on a Nauti cocktail creation. There’s a culinary approach to these cocktails, which incorporate local ingredients and inspiration into the prized selection of wine, sake and spirits.

table filled with plates of food and drinks
Cru. Cru


If you are craving oysters, you go to Cru. Serving up coastal cuisine alongside breathtaking water views, the seafood-forward dishes are complemented by an incredible raw bar. In a crisply chic setting, enjoy Petrossian caviar, lobster cocktail, champagne, wine, beer and craft cocktails. Nantucket elegance awaits.

people sitting at picnic tables by the beach
Galley Beach. Galley Beach

Galley Beach

Perched above the beach, take in views of the Atlantic Ocean while sipping on a wide selection of spirits and wine. Here, dinner is framed by a backdrop of the quintessential Nantucket summer sunset. The menu features Nantucket Bay scallop chowder, hamachi tartare tacos, jumbo lump crab cakes and local lobster “poke” bowls, to name just a few of the delicacies.

Where to Drink

Cisco Brewers

A hopping social scene, along with craft beer and spirits made on the island, beckons all to Cisco Brewers. With an expansive outdoor area and live music, soak up the joyful vibes while you sip on smooth New England-style IPAs, slightly hazy wheat ales and regionally-inspired pale ales. It’s known as “the happiest place on earth” for a reason.

menu of The Juice Bar in nantucket
The Juice Bar. The Juice Bar

The Juice Bar

It’s not alcohol, it’s even better—fresh-squeezed juices, smoothies and homemade ice creams. After a long day of island exploration, trade in your mocktail for a fresh-squeezed watermelon lemonade. If you’re traveling with kids, it’s the perfect place to stop for a snack during the day. Ever since ice cream was added to the menu in the 1980s, it’s been an unbeatable favorite of both locals and visitors.

What to Do

people in a sailboat in nantucket
Ack Sail. Ack Sail

Ack Sail

You simply can’t go to Nantucket and not partake in any boating experiences. Get a different vantage point of the island from the water, whether by hopping aboard a daytime or sunset cruise, or enjoying a sailing charter on ACK Sail’s Lady Patty. Sure, you may have taken the ferry to the island, but it’s not the same thing—New England sailing is a beloved pastime.

Great Point lighthouse at Nantucket in Massachusetts.
Great Point Lighthouse. John Greim/Loop Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge Gatehouse

Witness wildlife in its natural habitat at the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Reserve. Given miles of walking and hiking trails (including beachfront sections), wander through some of the island’s pristine and protected lush scenery. Even better, you can head to the still-operating Great Point Lighthouse. It’s the most powerful light in New England, at the northernmost point of the island within the reserve.

Where to Shop

street in nantucket with outside of store with sweatshirts and american flag in the window
3 Girls and a Dog Nantucket. Fisher Real Estate

Shopping on Nantucket is pretty intuitive. Most of the shops are clustered within a large main area of town, filled with locally-owned boutiques lining the cobblestone streets. Stop in at one of the more touristy pier haunts for classic island memorabilia, but you can also head a bit more towards the center of the island and discover smaller stores, with more unique offerings. One of our favorites is Three Girls and a Dog, the sister store to Annie and the Tees, which is stocked with  original Nantucket-inspired designs on simple t-shirts, hats and sweatshirts. Discover womenswear brands at Salt and Milly & Grace, among many others.

How to Plan the Perfect Nantucket Getaway