By Robin Slick, Published FridayJanuary Overnight on the ACK
It’s not just off-season, it’s off-off season with Thanksgiving, Stroll and New Year celebrations complete. May seem like an odd time to visit Nantucket, everyone knows the summer and shoulder seasons are the most popular times, especially for beach lovers and bike enthusiasts. But ask a local why they recommend coming over to the Grey Lady this time of year, they will tell you it’s the perfect time to have the island all to yourself and to take advantage of more affordable rates at hotels, inns and private homes. Most private homes that are open in the winter will rent for shorter stays of 1-2 nights, which is less than the standard in-season minimum of one week.
Front entrance of The Nantucket Hotel & private home rental at 15 New Lane.
Here are some suggestions for a quick overnight (or two), just enough time to re-charge from the holidays and to spend a little time with the one you love. I recommend leaving your car behind and hop on an early Hy-Line Ferry that takes only 1 hour. This time of year the Steamship Authority doesn't run its high-speed ferries. Maybe you'll even see the sun rise on the way over.
From your first steps onto cobblestone Main Street you feel as though you traveled back in time, the serenity of the island lifts the weight of the world off your shoulders, while the quaintness of the shops and restaurants in Town stir up a sense excitement and wonder.
In Town is The Nantucket Hotel and Resort, a one-of-a-kind boutique style hotel with a stylish nautical decor that makes you feels as if you were staying in your own luxurious Nantucket home. Although the pools are closed, enjoy their hot tub and fitness center and classes all year long. For a short stay you probably will be traveling light, however, its a nice perk that the hotel will pick you up and take you back to the ferry in style.
The best part about getting to the island early in the day is you can dine at more Nantucket renown restaurants. Although many restaurants are closed, there are still several choices welcoming visitors and locals year round. The Nantucket Hotel also has dining options available at its Breeze Restaurant.
A good choice for breakfast and lunch is The Beet open daily from 8 am to 3 pm, offering an "all-day menu of made-to-order, beignets, oatmeal and warm rice bowls, healthy salads, soups and sandwiches."
Since you have two days, another great option is The Corner Table open in the winter Monday to Saturday from 7 am to 8 pm and Sunday until 6 pm. Their food is seasonally inspired and locally sourced, "scratch-made, wholesome food." Grab a favorite coffee beverage along with a friendly smile from Nick, the Barista. Enjoy this very cozy spot to hang out.
Shopping on island in the winter certainly has its advantages, less crowds, and of course bargains with deep off-season sales. It's romantic to poke around the historic streets, finding treasures in unique shops. Just like restaurants, some shops and galleries are closed for the winter but there are a still many special places not to be missed.
At the top of Main Street is Nantucket's iconic Murray's Toggery Shop, home of the Nantucket Reds clothing line. "Originally known as the island’s main supplier of the essentials, Murray’s was always a source for footwear, waders, hunting clothes and foul weather gear. Over the years, however, it has grown to be known as Nantucket’s department store, a reliable stop for just about anything that one might need."
Across the street is Nantucket Looms where you will find high-end home furnishings and accessories that are contemporary and timeless. They sell works from local artisans, including painters, potters, wood carvers, basket weavers and jewelry makers.
Curling up with a good book is also a winter activity that I enjoy when there is inclement weather. However, as you can see, this late December day was so warm that the front door remained open at Mitchell’s Book Corner.
If your looking for a unique selection of toys and gifts to take home for a little one, I recommend Nantucket Bookworks!
Up next, grab your camera and take a walk to the BEACH and Brant Point Lighthouse. No need to schlep your beach umbrellas, cooler and chairs this time of year! It's a short walk from the center of Town. The water and wind are calmer on this part of the island which makes it particularly enjoyable in the winter to walk.
If you have time for another walk, head to The Tupancy Links. A bit over a mile from Town, this one mile loop trail offer spectacular views.
Whether you visit the island for a day or a week, no visit is complete without a trip to Cisco Brewery. Its a short ride out of town, either by Uber or cab. Take a look on their calendar to see if live music is playing and what food trucks might be on site. Bring a board game, noshes, and chose a beverage from their selection of beers on tap, a glass of wine from their winery or a signature cocktail made from their distillery. Wintertime they have an enclosed space so visitors and locals can enjoy all year long.
If the weather isn't cooperating for outside activities, and you have already curled up with a book and hot chocolate, other choices may include spending time at the well known Nantucket Whaling Museum where you can learn about the island's bustling whaling industry or catch a movie at the Dreamland.
And last but not least, reason alone to come to Nantucket in the winter is to dine at The Nautilus. In the summer forget about getting a table, so this is your only chance! I usually order their well-known "Whole Roasted Peking Duck" which IS beyond words. It's the type of restaurant where you cannot go wrong with any choice on the menu, including their drinks which are unique and delicious. Their cuisine is described as having "a coastal/seafood base, inspired by Asian flavors and ingredients of the haute street food variety, with ideas from the traditional Japanese izakaya type establishment, and a major nod to the tapas style of Spanish cuisine, with additional influences from mainland Asia and Latin America."
Cheers, until next time... Bon Voyage!