Visiting Nantucket feels like going back in time, but only if you took a moment first to strap on a pair of dock sliders and tie a sweater around your shoulders. It’s definitely “that kind of place”, but if you took a moment to learn about the island’s past, you might be more inclined to pick up a harpoon.
I’ll get to that in a minute.
Nantucket is, quite simply, absolutely beautiful. It is the only place in the country that is an island, a county, and a town. Time seems to have passed by its nearly 50 square miles south of Cape Cod. The entire island is considered a historic district, and contains one of the highest concentrations of pre-Civil War structures in the nation.
John and I spent a few days there last week, and during our brief visit the island lived up to its nickname of “The Grey Lady.” It was foggy and overcast the whole time, but since the rain held off I will not complain.
We stayed at the lovely downtown Jared Coffin House.
We left the car at home and stuck to our feet and maps.
Meals were plentiful, tasty and no frills. Emphasis on breakfast. Please note that I now order maple walnut ice cream. Getting ready to turn the big 3-0 in August means veering towards “mature” ice cream flavors.
We rented bicycles. With baskets.
And headed out to Madaket Beach.
Nantucket was considered the “Whaling Capital of the World” from 1800 to 1840, when there were as many as 88 Nantucket whaling ships sailing around the globe.
We visited Nantucket’s top-notch Whaling Museum with a sperm whale weathervane on the roof, and a skeleton of a sperm whale that died off the coast of the island in 1998. Check out the wall of sad historical harpoons underneath the bones. We watched a 40-minute presentation entitled “The Whale Hunt” – and I have to say, despite the fact that I get emotional when I see a bug caught in a spider’s web, it was so well-done and so interesting. For such a tiny place, Nantucket championed the whaling industry, and you can’t go more than a few feet on the island today without seeing the image of a whale on a sign or sweatshirt.
Reds and greys are prevalent around downtown Nantucket.
You know I love a good thrift store, so I was very excited to learn that the downtown Nantucket Hospital Thrift Shop was opening for the season while I was there. You might not think the annual opening of a thrift store would be a big deal (I didn’t, especially not on well-off Nantucket) but the line was down the street! Despite the tight quarters inside (spanning three floors of an old house, including a basement with very low ceilings) I managed to pick up a good amount of loot, including some kitchen wares – my favorite!
I got a green Tupperware pickle storage container, some Pyrex prep bowls and a small bowl in the Wheat pattern, along with a vintage pie server. Grand total? $4.00.
I also picked up some cookbooks, scarves, and 1950’s Christmas ornaments.
It was a lovely few days. Many of the bartenders (always the best people for info) told us to come back in late September when the weather is gorgeous, the crowds are light, and the island hosts a Restaurant Week! Perhaps this would be a fun group weekend? Weigh in, fellow local food bloggers!
I should also note that this trip included seeing Bill Belichick eating a cheeseburger. I was pretty impressed that John recognized his voice before he even looked up to confirm his identity. Sports!