8 of the Best Things to Do in Martha’s Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard, an island located south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, is an entertaining stop to add to your New England travel itinerary. The island, while tiny, boasts a rich history dating back to the 17th century. It was originally inhabited by the Wampanoag tribe but was later settled by English colonists, eventually becoming a hub for agriculture, fishing, and whaling.

Today, it’s home to dozens of lighthouses, farms, restaurants, beaches, and boardwalks, all with something intriguing to offer. Whether you prefer a laid-back approach to your vacation filled with lazy beach days or an action-packed visit teeming with invigorating morning strolls and bike rides, Martha’s Vineyard has something to offer.

At Caravan, we offer a guided tour that stops at Martha’s Vineyard, and after visiting a time or two, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most entertaining things to do while there. Here are our top eight picks to add to your itinerary.

What to Do in Martha’s Vineyard: 8 Ideas to Add to Your Itinerary

There’s no shortage of things to do in Martha’s Vineyard, whether you want to explore the historic lighthouses standing guard over the coastline or relax in a yoga session with alpacas. Here are a few of the best things to do in Martha’s Vineyard:

1. Explore the Lighthouses

Martha’s Vineyard is home to an assortment of historic lighthouses, each with a unique story and incredible views of the coastal scenery.

The most famous of the bunch is the Gay Head Lighthouse in Aquinnah, known for its captivating location atop the multi-colored clay cliffs. So, of course, we had to visit (it was well worth the stop). We toured the lighthouse, learning more about its history as we caught a glimpse into years gone by.

The views from the lighthouse were simply incredible—the contrast of the greenery atop the cliffs, the vibrant blue water, and varying shades along the cliff faces was stunning. The cliffs seem to turn colors as the day passes, appearing duller during the heat of the day but turning vibrant shades of amber and red as the sun makes its descent.

While beautiful, the Gay Head Lighthouse isn’t the only one in the area. The Edgartown Lighthouse is another must-see, offering picturesque coastal views. The East Chop Lighthouse, located in Oak Bluffs, is another worthwhile stop, offering a charming New England lighthouse experience.

2. Stroll Along the Land Bank Trails

If you’re ready to walk for a while, take a stroll on the network of the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank walking trails. There are twenty trails stretching throughout the island, each offering slightly different scenery and a relaxing break from the hustle and bustle of the touristy towns.

We meandered on the trail by the Great Rock Bight Preserve, which offered incredible views of the ocean and plenty of soft sand. While we didn’t bring picnic food or supplies, it would’ve been the perfect place to spread out a blanket and soak up the sunshine while munching on a picnic lunch.

The trails are fairly flat, perfect for a refreshing stroll in the early morning or as the sun sets. Many of the trails are off the beaten path with few people on them, but the trailheads are usually well-marked.

Check the map and guide covering Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank if you want to take a stroll on your visit to the island. There are plenty of options to choose from, as the trails are scattered throughout the island

3. Bike the Island

Martha’s Vineyard is a tiny island that is just nine miles wide and 23 miles long, featuring over 120 miles of coastline. While tiny, the island boasts over 44 miles of bike paths that wind through picturesque landscapes and charming towns, many with incredible views of the coastline.

So, it’s no surprise that this is a popular destination for cyclists. While it can be rather toasty during late afternoons in the heat of the summer, the late spring and early fall offer ideal conditions for biking. If you aren’t able to book a slot on the ferry to bring your car over, your best mode of transportation is biking.

We rented bikes in town and rode the path from Edgartown to Oak Bluffs, a popular route with jaw-dropping views and multiple convenient stops along the way. It’s a fairly busy path, so it can get somewhat hectic during peak seasons, but we decided to brave the business and go for a ride.

We biked all over the island, which we thought was an excellent way to explore the island at our own pace. We took our time, soaking in the phenomenal views and stopping at key points along the way. If you’re up for some exercise, biking is an entertaining (and invigorating) way to see the island.

4. Sample Local Cuisine

While you’re on the island, be sure to taste the local cuisine. Given its location, it’s no surprise that seafood is a leading option on Martha’s Vineyard, but there are plenty of alternatives if seafood isn’t your favorite.

The best places to eat depend on your mood. For example, Port Hunter has delicious fish tacos, while Alchemy Bistro & Bar offers yummy new American fare. Lookout Tavern has mouthwatering lobster rolls, while the Little House Cafe has delectable home-cooked breakfasts.

5. Meander Through the Oak Bluffs Campground

The Oak Bluffs Campground features an assortment of extravagant summer cottages with Gothic designs and bright paint colors. The campground was once a summer camp for 19th-century Methodists who visited for worship every summer. However, as the years passed, those visitors transitioned to residents, eventually building the quaint cottages that still stand today.

Since the cottages are now privately owned, you can’t go inside to view them. However, there is a little green cottage that offers tours during the summer. It’s called the Cottage Museum and features an assortment of furniture from years past, numerous photographs, and memorabilia that weave a tale of the campground’s history.

We thought it was a neat stop, and even if you visit during the off-season and can’t go inside the Cottage Museum, it’s worth the visit.

6. Enjoy the Beaches

While undoubtedly small, the island of Martha’s Vineyard has an impressive array of beaches, each catering to different tastes and activities. We stopped at a few of them but got recommendations to visit many.

South Beach, or Katama Beach, in Edgartown, features an impressive stretch of sand and strong surf, making it a good option for sunbathers and surfers alike. It’s an ideal spot for those who want a balance of relaxation and action—when you’re done sunbathing, cool off in the water, and enjoy a bit of surfing.

State Beach, which extends between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, is a good option for families with youngsters. Unlike some of the other beaches on the island, it has gentler surf, making it safer for children.

Long Point Wildlife Refuge is another great stop. It’s a south-facing beach with stunning views and sizeable waves perfect for boogie boarding or surfing. The stroll to the beach from the parking area (which has limited parking) is a bit lengthy, but the beach makes it well worth it.

For a more secluded experience, we recommend Moshup Beach in Aquinnah. While there’s not quite as much beach as other options, it was considerably less crowded. Plus, it offers beautiful views of the cliffs of Aquinnah, so it’s a win-win. We enjoyed a quiet afternoon on the beach, soaking up the sun while reading a good book (does it get better than that?).

7. Visit Local Farms

Martha’s Vineyard is home to multiple farms that grow produce for the island, so while you’re there, consider adding a few to your itinerary. The Morning Glory Farm, located in Edgartown, has delicious produce during the summer and an assortment of cut flowers.

The FARM Institute is a great place to take kids, as it offers an educational experience about the food on your plate. You can get up close with grazing cows and learn about the origins of food from the knowledgeable staff.

The Grey Barn and Farm offers delicious cheeses, while the North Tisbury Farm has a stunning flower garden. The Katama Farm has a diverse array of animals to see, including sheep, goats, cows, and ducks.

If you want an immersive experience, consider stopping at the Island Aplaca Company, home to a herd of more than 70 alpacas and one llama. Visitors can interact with the alpacas, learning more about these gentle creatures from friendly staff. You can even take part in an hour-long yoga session held in one of the pastures, complete with an alpaca meandering through the group!

8. Attend a Festival

Martha’s Vineyard hosts multiple festivals throughout the year, and if you visit at the right time, you might be lucky enough to catch one. Most of these festivals are in the summer, offering plenty of entertainment to fill your days and evenings.

For example, the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival in August celebrates the arts with screenings, panels, and events. A similar event, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival, takes place in March, too, so there are multiple opportunities to experience the arts.

In August, the Agricultural Fair brings about classic fair activities and events, from livestock shows and craft exhibits to fairground rides. Additionally, Oak Bluffs hosts the Grand Illumination Night during the summer, a magical event in which gingerbread cottages are decorated with lanterns to create a scene out of a fairy tale.

Enjoy All Martha’s Vineyard Has to Offer on a Guided Tour With Caravan

Whether you want to enjoy a quiet yoga session with soothing alpacas or turn up the heat with entertaining beach activities, Martha’s Vineyard has much to offer. While the island isn’t huge, it has a wealth of activities, sights, and eats to offer.

At Caravan, we offer an eight-day guided tour that stops at Martha’s Vineyard, giving you a full day to explore its rich history and panoramic vistas. During the rest of your trip, you’ll stop at other must-see places in New England, including the historic mansions of Newport and the captivating White Mountains in New Hampshire.

We plan the details, including transportation and lodgings, so you can enjoy the best parts of your vacation. Ready to book a trip? Call 1-800-CARAVAN or 1-800-312-321-9800 to get started today.