A neighbor to Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard is a small island located off of the south of Cape Cod in New England. The Martha’s Vineyard website describes the island as “Beaches, bicycling, family vacations, fabulous food, romantic getaways, vacations for every budget, destination weddings, corporate retreats, dazzling arts culture, fishing, birding, sailing and so much more awaits you! Your Vineyard experience is just a short ferry ride or flight away, so welcome, explore and start planning your Island getaway . The island of Martha’s Vineyard - it’s all here, for everyone!”
According to Wikipedia, it was home to one of the earliest deaf communities, and even has a special form of sign language, MVSL. The year round population is only about 15,000 people, about the size of a small suburb, but harder to get to. In the summer however, the population grows to about 75,000, filling the 14,000 seasonally occupied houses. You have to fly, or take a ferry ride just to get to the small vacation island. Full of bed and breakfasts, it’s not a thrill ride of a getaway, but it is for those who want to relax, take part of a movie like community, and just sit by the fire and catch up with new, and old friends.
Locals refer to Martha’s Vineyard as “the Vineyard” and its residents as either “Vineyarders” or simply “Islanders.” People who move from the mainland (“off-Island”) to the island (“on-Island”) are sometimes called “wash-a-shores”. The island’s small year-round population has led to an active community of folks who are highly involved in the island’s day-to-day activities. Tourism, overdevelopment, politics and many other subjects are of keen interest to the community. Keeping the balance between the much-needed tourist economy and the ecology and wildlife of the island is of high importance to residents. Over the years the island has been a great little getaway to many famous people like Bill Murray, James Cagney, Meg Ryan, Larry David, Ted Danson, Shel Silverstein and Chelsea Handler. Who wouldn’t like running into these folks while on a walk?
Ever since I found a book by my favorite author, Alice Hoffman called “Illumination Night“, I have always wanted to travel to Martha’s Vineyard. The book is about the lives of strangers, who become friends, family, and form relationships through chance and odd circumstances but takes place on the island, and the “Grand Illumination” is actually a festival of sorts that happens every year, in mid August where neighbors that live in the cutest little gingerbread houses in the Oak Bluffs area put chinese lanterns, japanese lanterns, and string lights on their porches, and light them all up for guests and tourists to see. There’s a camp sing and band concert in the Tabernacle. The Grand Illumination started over a century ago and was to mark the visit of the Governor of Massachusetts.
Sounds idyllic, right? Wait till you see some photos…
Here’s a detailed map of the Vineyard.
Boating and spending time on the beach are just some of the many activities you can do on the Island.
Shopping is a must! The “Black Dog Tavern” is known for its trademark dog symbol, and with its popularity, a mouth-watering bakery, and a clothing store were added.Beautiful waterfront houses. Some are seasonal, and some are occupied year round.
Adorable! You almost expect 3 bears to live here, or for a pie to be cooling in the window.
One of the many adorable “Gingerbread” houses in the Oak Bluffs area of the Island.
Getting ready for Illumination Night.
All lit up!
Some more of the Gingerbread houses with their lanterns.
Many hotels, Bed and Breakfasts and resorts are available for travelers. According to the Wesley Hotel’s website, “The Wesley Hotel is one of the largest Ocean-front hotels on the Island. Relax and enjoy the view of the harbor from the rocking chairs on our spacious front porch, or visit with friends in our Victorian lobby sitting areas.”
Something you’ll learn at the Museum is that Martha’s Vineyard was named after an English explorer’s daughter, after tripping on the vines, which were most likely poison ivy and not grape.
I hope that someday I get the chance to visit Martha’s Vineyard. Maybe I’ll wait until I have kids and they are old enough to shop, eat candy and baked goods, and see the amazing Grand Illumination. If they’re lucky, maybe they will meet Goldilocks or the 3 bears.