The Perfect Weekend Trip from Boston to Nantucket

Nantucket, MA, is among the most popular summer destinations in New England and in the USA. But since not everyone has the time and the budget to spend an entire summer vacation on the island, it has become a popular destination for one-day and weekend trips too.

The Perfect Weekend Trip from Boston to Nantucket
[image: pexels by mohan nannapaneni]

It is especially prevalent for people staying at Cape Cod to take day trips or go on weekend trips to this quaint historic island. But, Nantucket is a popular choice for a road trip or weekend trip from Boston's closest big city.

This makes sense because Nantucket is like a small and quaint paradise and an excellent way to escape from the hustle bustle of the big town. You can explore the picture-perfect historic New England-style cottages, get a glimpse of some of the most unforgettable views of the Atlantic and the landscape, or visit some of the best restaurants and shops in the USA.

If you are traveling from Boston to Nantucket for the weekend, then here are our top tips on making the most of your trip and saving money on the way. 

How to get from Boston to Nantucket

While you can fly to the Nantucket Memorial Airport, it is cheaper to get there via ferry. 

Driving from Boston to the port of Hyannis, Cape Cod, takes about two hours. To get there, you will need to drive for about an hour and a half on the I-93 and then take Route 3 to Hyannis.

The only way to get to the island with your car is to get on the Steamship Authority Traditional Ferry from Hyannis. But keep in mind that the fare for one car can be from $350 to $600 depending on the day of the week, the season, and the vehicle.

If you prefer to go car-less on a weekend trip from Boston to Nantucket, you can take the CapeFLYER train from the South Street Station in Boston to Hyannis. The train trip is two and a half hours. When you arrive, you can reach the ferry terminal via the free shuttle service in Hyannis.

Traveling with the traditional ferry without a car is the cheapest way to get to Nantucket. A round-trip ticket for an adult is only $35 and $20 for children aged 5-12 years. If you want to take a bicycle with you, then the cost for the ferry will be $14.

The traditional ferry takes about 2 hours 15 minutes to pass through the 26-mile Nantucket Sound and reach the island.

To get to the island faster, you can hop on the high-speed passenger-only Hy-Line ferry. It takes only an hour to reach Nantucket.

What to do during your 3-day weekend trip to Nantucket?

First Day Ideas

The ferry will take you to either Straight Wharf or Steamboat Wharf, which are located in the heart of the historic district of Nantucket. You can admire the nearby boutiques, fishing shacks, and yachts as you head off to your chosen residence.

As you walk through the picturesque Town with New England-style homes and cobblestone streets, you can head to the Whaling Museum.

This unique museum includes some mind-blowing exhibits, including the skeleton of a 46-foot sperm whale. It is located in an old candle factory and will help you understand more about the history of Nantucket as the whaling capital of the world, as well as the original story of the Essex whaling ship and its crew, which inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick and Nathaniel Philbrick to write Heart of the Sea. 

After you are done with this museum, you can continue strolling down on Main Street. This is the place to buy the one-of-a-kind Nantucket Reds at Murray's Toggery Shop or one of the traditional hand-woven Lightship baskets from the workshops and galleries on this quaint street. Or, if shopping is not your thing, you can simply take a leisurely stroll among the stunning captain’s mansions and gray weathered shingle-style homes.

If you want a bird’s eye view of the harbor, you can climb the bell tower of the First Congregational Church.

On the way, you can enjoy eating some of the delicious local ice creams or enjoy a drink in one of the stylish cafes or bistros.

In the evening, you can choose to have dinner in one of the many incredible restaurants on the island. But make sure that you have reservations if you are planning your trip during the high season in the summer.

Second day

Choose one of the excellent bakeries, cafes, or bistros which offer breakfast or brunch to load up with energy for your second day in Nantucket. If you want to save money, you can buy groceries and fresh produce from one of the stores or markets and prepare your own snacks. If you have a cooler, then you can pop them in, and you are ready for a day at the beach.

There are more than 25 beaches on the island, spanning 81 miles. All of them are public and free to access. Best of all, there are regular shuttle buses, bike paths, and walking trails that will lead you to the beach of your preference.

The north shore beaches have warmer and calmer water and are more suitable for children. One of the most popular northern beaches is Jetties Beach which can be reached on foot from the town. Children's beach is the other most suitable beach for families with small kids. 

The southern ones have bigger waves and are colder, making them better for surfers. Surfside Beach is among the most popular ones for surfers. Cisco Beach is another popular choice, and Nobadeer Beach offers excellent conditions for surfing and water sports, as well as surf schools and rentals.

If you choose Cisco Beach, you can head to the famous Cisco Brewery for some tastings of the house-brewed beers and some of the best local liquors and wines. The brewery has a wonderful garden and features live music from 3 pm every day.

For those of you who are looking for the best views and photo opportunities, we can recommend visiting the west shore of Madaket Beach, which is especially spectacular during the sunset.

One of the most popular and beautiful footpaths is the Sconset Bluff Walk. Siasconset Beach is an east shore beach very close to the charming Sconset village. Nearby, you can see the historical Sankaty Head Lighthouse and the perfectly preserved Old Mill.

As for nature lovers who prefer a more relaxed and private experience, we recommend Dionis beach, which can be reached via the Madaket path by bike. Or make a trip to Coskata Beach in the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Reserve. It can be accessed with a rented 4WD vehicle and permit or via the walking trail.

Third Day

After enjoying your morning coffee and breakfast, you can head for a historic tour of Nantucket. If you have already visited the Whaling Museum, you can head off to the Shipwreck and Lifesaving Museum. It includes actual artifacts, models of the ships and boats, and stories of all of the hundreds of ships that were wrecked and sank in the waters of Nantucket. The museum also pays tribute to the heroic locals who risked their lives to help the crews of these shipwrecks.

Another museum worth visiting is the Lightship Basket Museum. You will learn everything about this traditional craft, which started with the original Native American population, and then was popularized on board the whaling ships.

You can even learn how to make one of these baskets yourself.

When it is time to head back home to Boston, you can stop and enjoy a delicious lobster roll at the Straight Wharf Fish Store before hopping on the ferry.

Where to stay in Nantucket

There are many hotels, inns, and hostels on the island of Nantucket, which you can choose from. Fortunately, there is also a wide variety of residential rentals available here too. You can select a local house or residence which fits your budget and needs and book it online. You can share the accommodations with friends and enjoy your weekend trip together to save money.

When is the best time for this trip?

The season when everything opens on the island starts from the end of May and ends around October 10th. During the peak of the summer, it can become costly and overcrowded on Nantucket. This is why early spring and the fall are more suitable for a short trip like this.

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