From the deserts of Arizona to the mountains of Colorado and the beaches of Florida, the United States is filled with amazing locations that deserve to be visited and experienced by every travel enthusiast, especially those interested in seeing the great breadth and depth of America's landscapes and cities. Another region in the United States worthy of attention is New England.
Home of some of the oldest towns and cities in the entire country, New England is where the beginnings of the United States took place. It's an amazing place for history buffs to explore, but it's also a fairy tale family vacation destination due to its many charming little coastal towns, interesting blend of rocky and sandy beaches, and charming little islands like Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.
Located just 30 miles south of Cape Cod in the state of Massachusetts, Nantucket is one of the most popular island retreats in all of New England. It's quite a sleepy place for large parts of the year, but when the summer months arrive, the population of the island grows exponentially.
Ranked as the finest surviving example of a late 18th century New England seaport town by the National Park Service, Nantucket is home to a whaling museum, multiple lighthouses, luxury boutiques, classy restaurants, and much more. You can plan a day trip to Nantucket from several locations nearby, including big cities like NYC and Boston. Here’s how to plan the perfect Nantucket day trip.
Getting to Nantucket
How you get to Nantucket will depend on where exactly you happen to be traveling from. As an island, the only ways to get to Nantucket are by taking the ferry or by flying. Anyone wishing to take the ferry over to this little New England island will first need to make their way to the Cape Cod village of Hyannis.
Getting to Nantucket from Boston
- Flying - Direct flights run out of Boston Logan International Airport to Nantucket Memorial Airport. The trip takes around 50 minutes in total, so this is the fastest way to get direct to the island of Nantucket from Boston, but you do have to factor in the time needed to get through the airports. For anyone planning a day trip to Nantucket from Boston, flying might be the best option, but you should also check out the time and money it would take to drive or use public transport and compare the results accordingly to find the best option for you.
- Driving - If you choose to drive to Nantucket from Boston, you'll actually only be driving to the Cape Cod village of Hyannis. Boston is about 70 miles away from Hyannis, and if you follow the MA-3 you can get there in a little over an hour. You can then catch the ferry from the Hyannis Cruise Terminal over to Nantucket. The journey takes around an hour and a quarter, and there are many departures all through the day.
- Public Transport - Those wishing to travel to Nantucket from Boston relying only on public transport will need to catch a bus. Direct bus links connect the South Station Transportation Center in Boston with the Hyannis Transportation Center. Once you arrive in Hyannis, you can either walk or catch a local H2O bus over to the Hyannis Cruise Terminal and then catch the ferry to Nantucket.
Getting to Nantucket from New York City
The only real option for those wishing to do a day trip to Nantucket from New York City is to fly there, as the drive would take far too long. Direct flights run from both JFK and LaGuardia airports to Nantucket Memorial Airport. The journey only takes a little over an hour and you can get quite cheap tickets if you book in advance, but you do need to add on the additional time needed to get to and from the airports, as well as getting through the check-in and security lines. Flights start running in the early hours of the morning and continue into the evening, so the best option for anyone planning a day trip is to catch an early flight and then get a late return so you can maximize your time on the island.
Important Information and Things to Do at Nantucket
- The Best Time to Visit Nantucket - The best time to visit Nantucket will really depend on your own personal desires and preferences. If you don't mind crowds and you favor warm weather and sunshine above all else, the summer months are a great time to visit. The skies will often be blue and the vibe around the island will be quite lively and exciting. However, you'll also have to cope with lots of tourists, which can be difficult. Many people recommend visiting Nantucket during late spring or early fall in order to avoid the crowds but still get decent weather conditions.
- Things to Do - One of the best things to do for your Nantucket day trip is to stop off at the Whaling Museum. This museum gives visitors a fascinating look into the past and recounts the whole story of Nantucket's founding and history as a major whaling hub back in the 1800s. Other local landmarks and attractions to check out include the various lighthouses like Brant Point Lighthouse and Great Point Lighthouse The Town of Nantucket is also filled with interesting boutiques and some very good seafood restaurants.
- Explore on a Bike - One of the most popular activities on Nantucket is cycling, and you'll find a lot of places offering bike rentals as soon as you arrive on the island. Many of these locations will also give you maps of the island, and especially if you're visiting as a family, it can be lots of fun to all rent bikes and head off on your own adventures. You can use your bike and follow the many paths, roads, and trails to see most of the island's landmarks, as well as some hidden gems like the Old Mill and the First Congregational Church.