There are 6 towns on the island of Martha’s Vineyard all of them with their own vibe from the pastoral beauty of the up-island towns, the beach town atmosphere of Oak Bluffs and the preppy prettiness of Edgartown. The three down-island towns are Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven. Up-island, there is Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury.
Towns of Martha’s Vineyard
Except for Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, the other towns on Martha’s Vineyard range from dry to moist. Chilmark is still very much that you can bring your own alcohol to a restaurant located in the town but they will not sell alcohol. Aquinnah and West Tisbury restaurants will sell beer and wine. You can bring your own liquor to add to mocktails provided.
Aquinnah Martha’s Vineyard
Aquinnah is located at the very Western tip of Martha’s Vineyard. There’s the Aquinnah light house, the Wampanoag Cultural Center and a handful of shops. The houses are tucked away on large land lots here.
Caroline Kennedy owns a large chunk of the area which she inherited from her mother. She’s tried selling it off but last we heard, it’s being turned into a nature reserve because the lack of aquifers in the area does not make it suitable for building houses.
There’s also the ongoing battle with the Wampanoag who want to build a casino which completely aghasts the non-Native Americans. The Wampanoag thinks its their and and they can do what they want with it, but everyone else is worried about attracting the wrong sort of crowd.
Aquinnah is beautiful with lots of beautiful views and beaches. It is, however, isolated and the WiFi can still be spotty.
Chilmark Martha’s Vineyard
Chilmark is sandwiched in between West Tisbury and Aquinnah. Thanks to the many large mansions and private beaches, Chilmark has a reputation for being the snootiest place on the island.
Many people will recognise Menemsha fishing village from scenes in the blockbuster movie, Jaws, filmed there.
It’s perfect pastoral beauty – rolling hills and dry stone walls. Its got two very good town beaches, Squibnocket Beach and Lucy Vincent Beach.
West Tisbury Martha’s Vineyard
West Tisbury is also more pastoral beauty. It’s reputation though is more hippy-dippy than snooty. There’s a charming little town with Alleys, an all-encompassing general store, a terrific library and art galleries. It’s also got the Manuel F. Correllus Forest, the Massachusetts state forest within its borders.
Every year the annual Livestock Show and Agricultural Fair is held in August in West Tisbury.
Edgartown Martha’s Vineyard
Edgartown is known for its elegant white Greek Revival houses built for the whaling captains when this town was the whaling capital of the area.
Edgartown has lots of amenities such as hotels, restaurants, boutiques and museums. The shopping in downtown Edgartown is excellent both because of its quality but also because everything is so close to each other.
Although an island, Chappaquidick is part of Edgartown. You get to Chappy by taking the dinky little car, bike and passenger ferry across Edgartown Harbour.
Chappy has got no amenities – just one store called appropriately The Only Store and looks something straight out of Deliverance. Well, it used to. In the last couple of years, the junkyard of old cars surrounding it has been removed and the store has had a facelift. The inside though is as limited as ever.
It’s home to the beautiful Cape Poge Nature Reserve with the Cape Poge lighthouse. There’s also the charming Mytoi Gardens, one of the more offbeat things to do on Martha’s Vineyard because it is an unexpected Japanese garden in beach New England.
One summer when some college kids threw a raucous party that lasted into the early hours of the morning at a house on Chappy, the neighbours complained. The Edgartown police had to walk up the ferry man and then take the ferry over to break up the party. Needless to say, they were not pleased.
Oak Bluffs Martha’s Vineyard
Oak Bluffs started as a tent city which served as the camp ground for the annual Methodist camp meetings in the 19th century. Originally a part of Edgartown, Oak Bluffs became its own town.
To the extent Martha’s Vineyard has a party town, Oak Bluffs would be it. There is live music, bars and dining options. Circuit Avenue is the main drag in town and filled with people late into the evening.
Vineyard Haven Martha’s Vineyard
Vineyard Haven is the most practical of the towns on Martha’s Vineyard. It has year-round ferry service and so is the home of many year-round residents. There’s a charming Main Street with boutiques, restaurants and galleries.
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