Another summer, another New England island checked off the list! After hitting up Provincetown and Martha’s Vineyard over the past two years, Jamie and I couldn’t not visit Nantucket. (It would’ve felt niggling and wrong, like when one ear pops on a plane but not the other.) So back in February, when I was deep in the doldrums of winter and my own annual malaise, I checked the availability of the Nantucket Hostel, found a lone opening in the middle of June, and booked it.
This time around, we vowed not to get stuck in the terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad Cape traffic, and instead opted to drive down mid-day, camping out for the rest of the afternoon at Cape Cod Beer, a local brewery in Hyannis. Highlights included: a veritable cornucopia of quahog menu items and my first taste of oyster stout. Not too shabby.
We hopped on the first evening ferry out and basked in the sunshine and salt spray for an on-the-dot hour-long trip. So relaxing. So full of atmosphere. Can we just travel everywhere by ferry, please?
Here’s how the rest of the weekend shook out.
WHERE WE STAYED: HI Hostel Nantucket
I’ve stayed in a significant number of hostels at this point, several even here in the U.S., and I must say that this is probably my favorite one Stateside. Located off the beaten path from the main downtown drag of Nantucket, this hostel is literally across the street from the beach, has its own fire pit, volleyball court, complimentary beach chairs + towels, and an outdoor shower for those hot summer days. The free breakfast is nothing to write home about, but when you’re stying on Nantucket, any free or even affordable food is a blessing.
Pro tip: In my experience, the female-only dorms are generally quieter and, on the whole, more pleasant. Mixed gender dorms often mean rowdy groups of friends and, just, no thank you. I’m over thirty and like my sleep.
WHAT WE ATE:
The Brotherhood of Thieves: We got off the ferry and decided it was imperative to grab dinner before venturing away from town’s center to get to our hostel. This spot was was within walking distance and seemed the most casual option at our disposal… No complaints! Plus, there’s a patio.
Yummy: This one was a complete surprise. During our walk into town the next morning, we passed a food stand that seemed to come out of nowhere (it’s surrounded by residential homes), and took advantage of the smoothie offerings. They had plenty to choose from, so this would be great option for gathering provisions for the beach or a future picnic.
Sconcet Market: I knew Nantucket was gonna be bougie, but I didn’t truly felt it until we stopped at this supermarket – the only food option near the beach on the east side of the island. We swallowed the high costs and then proceeded to chow down on a lunch of fancy crackers, prosciutto, cheese, and (of course) seafood dip.
Millie’s: Though this spot is located a bit out-there on the west side of the island, we decided to check it out anyway and biked over one evening. Its fame seemed warranted, because the place was bumping. We opted to eat at the bar and made friends with the staff while we had margaritas, tacos (me), and po’ boy (Jamie). Highly recommend for a casual atmosphere and delicious food. (Plus, we weren’t alone in preferring it: The team from Cisco was arriving shortly for a private bachelorette party.)
Pro tip: You can take the shuttle out this way from key areas of the island if you don’t feel like biking home in the dark. (We sure didn’t.)
Downyflake: I was dreaming of these donuts after reading all about them before the trip. Unfortunately, I wasn’t the only one with donuts on the brain the morning we went, because they were all out of most varieties when we arrived. Major bummer. Plan accordingly!
Black-Eyed Susan’s: A popular breakfast joint in town, this was worth the wait. (To be fair, it was also Father’s Day, so… let’s just say brunch on most peoples’ schedule that day.) Good portions, delicious food, and a convenient location.
Pro tip: This place is cash-only, so stop at the ATM before going.
The Juice Bar: Despite the name, this is the place to go for ice cream. And it’s right by the docks for the ferry, so you can time it to grab a scoop on your way to or from there.
WHAT WE DID:
Biked around the island. Like, a lot. I brought my bike from home ($14 cost, roundtrip) and Jamie rented one from Cooks Cycles Nantucket. (Bonus: When my bike seat became permanently stuck in the lowest position ever, the guys at Cooks fixed it for me, free of charge.)
BEACH. Obviously. We went to Sconcet Beach, but there are plenty to choose from. We didn’t think it would be warm enough for a beach day while we were there, but lucked out, so bring your suit just in case.
Cisco Brewery Tour: Jamie confessed that this trip was her excuse to check Cisco off of her breweries list and, well, I can’t argue with that logic. Cisco is without a doubt one of the major attractions on Nantucket, and the place to be for locals and visitors alike on the weekends. We opted to take their tour, which included information and tastings related to their Triple Eight Distillery and Nantucket Vineyard, as well as the brewery. Tours are $20, which for the number of tastes you get, seemed reasonable. Feel free to bypass the tour and just hang out in the impressive courtyard – there are usually food trucks, and sometimes live music.