Every few minutes or so during my visit on Martha’s Vineyard, the word quaint came to mind. It’s so overused, but quaint feels like the right word to describe the place. This island seven miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, is indeed charming. You’re never far from a lighthouse or a shingled cottage. The beaches are pristine. Boats of all sizes bob in the harbor.
What makes Martha’s Vineyard so delightfully prepossessing, despite hosting vacationing Kennedys and Obamas, is more about what isn’t there than what is there. There are no billboards, traffic lights, or highways. There are no chain restaurants or big box stores (gasp).
Martha’s Vineyard is home to about 15,000 year-round residents. The population swells to more than 100,000 in the summer.
There are six townships on the island. Each has its own personality. The harbors on the west side of the Vineyard, or up-island as the area is called locally, had a more working-class vibe. There we found trawlers and lobster traps, and burly fishermen in wading boots. The harbors on the east side seemed to be ritzier with yachts bearing names like the “Aqua-holic” and the “Unsinkable 2” (which leads one to wonder what happened to the “Unsinkable 1”).
Martha’s Vineyard has five remaining lighthouses. The Edgartown Lighthouse is the most popular, though I don’t think they allow visitors inside.
The Gay Head Lighthouse was the first one on the Vineyard. It is in danger of toppling over the nearby cliffs due to beach erosion. The beach is eroding at a rate of two feet per year. It’s estimated that within the next two years there won’t be enough beach left to allow the heavy machinery access to move the tower.
The cliffs rise about 100 feet from the beach and are made of clay. On a clear day, the sunset can’t be beat.
On an island with a storied seafaring history like Martha’s Vineyard, you’re probably expecting some gratuitous food shots of lobster rolls and clams. Instead let me tell you about the best thing we ate:
Hidden at the back entrance to the Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Cafe and Bakery is the business-within-a-business known as Back Door Donuts. They open at 7:30 p.m., and there is usually a line gathered for piping hot doughnuts as they come out of the fryer. This place has more five-star reviews than some Michelin restaurants. The menu is pretty simple.
We decided to order an “old-fashioned”—a plain doughnut with sugar glaze. I wish I could share a photo, but I ate it within seconds. It melted in my mouth on contact. In order to get a fair assessment of the place, it was only right that we should sample more offerings. Enter their signature selection. The apple fritter. Worth. Every. Calorie.
Hope you enjoyed the tour around Martha’s Vineyard.
Have a great weekend, everyone!
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Love this post – and love Martha’s Vineyard too. It’s been an ambition of mine to go for years (I live in England) and I managed it earlier in 2014 when visiting a friend in Boston. We went for a few days out of season and I was mesmerized by the place. Whilst it was great to fulfil my ambition, going actually just made me want to go back! Inspired to dig out my photos of the trip now…Thanks Jacqui!
I’m so glad that you had the opportunity to visit Martha’s Vineyard. Going out of season is preferable. In summer, I hear the crowds are a bit overwhelming. It’s a very different experience.
I hope you get to visit again soon. (And take me with you!) 🙂
Loved this post! Feasted my eyes on all the photos. Thanks for the fresh culinary perspective. Since I usually read posts in the morning, I really appreciated that apple fritter more than you know.
I wish I could give you a taste of that apple fritter. It just melted in my mouth. 🙂
Those light houses are totally beautiful… maybe someday!
They’re so iconic, aren’t they? I thought the brick lighthouse was very unusual. I don’t think I’ve seen brick construction before.
I loved my tour of Martha’s Vineyard, but I’d like to know: who was Martha and there was a vineyard on an island?!?!
That fritter looks delicious. I wish I was eating one right now with my tea here at my desk at The Grind. Instead, I just inhaled a banana and a pencil shavings flavored granola bar. Burp.
You know… I have no idea who Martha was, and we didn’t see any vineyards (much to our chagrin)!
I think this is clearly a case of false advertising.
I always thought I’d like to visit Martha’s Vineyard. It looks beautiful.
It was a wonderfully relaxing trip. And we had lovely weather to boot.
I was in MV… oh God… was it really 13 years ago??? Anyway, I loved it 🙂
Time to go back. MV misses you. 🙂
Let’s meet up there for half a dozen of these fabled donuts 🙂
Licking the screen 🙂 Yum!
I’ve never been but it looks gorgeous! Sounds a bit like Santa Barbara in that every store etc. has to fit in with the image of the town – white front, red roof, subtle wooden signage. So even McDonalds has to toe the line! 🙂
We were thinking the same thing about the uniform look. Nearly every building had those shingles — it must be an island ordinance. Strange but it sure lends a quaint view.
P.S. We had some tasty island brews, but nothing like what you’ve got going on there. 🙂
Yeah, German beer is almost unbeatable! Maybe only the Belgians can compete. Nobody else really comes close!
Well, I’ve always wanted to go to Martha’s Vineyard, so I appreciate the tour! It looks delightful and I wish we had a donut shop like that around our parts. Thanks for the peek, Jackie!
Watching the sunset from the beach, I was thinking of you and all of your lovely daily photos.
I’ve never been to Martha’s Vineyard, but it does, indeed, seem to pass the quaint test. And the donuts? YUMMY!!!
So, yeah, I’ve been gone all summer. We moved across town but just got our internet two days ago–I kid you not! LONGGGGG STORY!
Hope you had an awesome weekend, Jackie!
Hugs from Ecuador,
Nice to see you Kathy! A birdie told me that you were moving and had internet issues. I hope you’re all settled in and enjoying your new house!
Your photos look like they should be on a calendar! And I’m highly displeased with you right now because they one with the apple fritter had me drooling on my keyboard. Wanna ship a dozen my way?
*wiping up drool* There, there Peg. How about a nice sugar coma to start the day. 🙂
Sure, why should this day be different from any other?
Your photos are as mouth-watering as the doughnut shots (yum!). I’m SO sad about Gay Head lighthouse. Ugh. To think it will be claimed by the ocean is sad. What a beautiful place; thanks for sharing, Jackie, as I’m not sure I’ll ever make it there!
Last year the lighthouse was on the National Preservation of Historic Places’s “Most Endangered” list. I hope that designation was able to bring enough attention to have the lighthouse moved before it’s too late.
I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos, Melissa! Have a great week!
I missed this somehow. Great photos of one of my favorite places!
Thanks, Carole. Now I understand why everyone loves it so much. It’s a magical place.
I lived in Boston for years and never went. What a shame! I didn’t know about the donuts.
I hope you’ll get there during future travels to the US. The donuts alone make it worth the trip. 😉
Jackie it looks fabulous! Somewhere I’ve always wanted to go, even if only for the enigmatic name. Something tells me I couldn’t afford it but I can dream (and admire your photos). 🙂
It was the most scenic and relaxing place I’ve been in quite a while, Jo. The perfect place for a lovely walk.
I hope you do get to visit someday. And if you do, definitely get yourself a doughnut as a reward for all that walking. 🙂
Oh! I’ve never been but after your description I want to.
When people I know speak of Martha’s Vineyard, it’s always with a smile on their face. Now I know why. I hope you get to go someday. Definitely worth the trip.