Looking for fun things to do on Martha’s Vineyard? Here we have bucket list items for New England as well as less well-known touristy things to do in Martha’s Vineyard. We suggest the best things to do on Martha’s Vineyard whether you are a first time visitor (check out the first list 10 top things to do on Martha’s Vineyard) or want to go a little deeper into Vineyard life (a total of our favourite 101) activities on Martha’s Vineyard).
Betcha didn’t think that a small island like Martha’s Vineyard would have so many things to do, right?
10 Top Things To Do on Martha’s Vineyard
Here are 10 of the top things to do on Martha’s Vineyard if you are on Martha’s Vineyard for a day trip or spending a weekend on Martha’s Vineyard. These 10 things to do in Martha’s Vineyard will give you a flavor for the variety of things to do on Martha’s Vineyard.
Visit the Gingerbread Houses.
Gingerbread Houses refer to the 330 colourful cottages that make up the Methodist camp ground in Oak Bluffs. You can access the Gingerbread Houses right off Circuit Avenue (for example, near Sharky’s).
Try to catch the ring at the Flying Horses Carousel.
The Flying Horses Carousel is also located in Oak Bluffs. Brought to Martha’s Vineyard from Coney Island in 1884, it is the oldest operating carousel the USA. The Flying Carousel is one of the things to do in Marthas’ Vineyard that kids will really enjoy.
You ride on the carousel and try to grab a golden ring when you pass by it. It’s harder than it looks!
Line up for Back Door Donuts.
Another Oak Bluffs favourite, Back Door Donuts are an Island tradition. Every evening after the stores close, Martha’s Vineyard Gourmet Cafe and Bakery opens its back door onto the parking lot. They serve up fresh piping hot donuts and apple fritters straight from the kitchen. Super delicious and super unhealthy.
Jump of Jaws Bridge.
The Jaws Bridge refers to the American Legion Bridge on State Beach. The name comes from the movie Jaws upon in which the bridge features. Every day people clamber onto the bridge to jump into the water below. My kids think it is the best thing ever. Personally my husband and I don’t see the attraction.
Hang out on South Beach.
The 3 mile beach on the edge of Katama, South Beach faces the Atlantic Ocean. The beach is wide, sandy and popular and the waves can be fierce. It’s one of the most popular beaches of the island.
Go shopping in Edgartown.
Edgartown exudes a genteel charm with its beautiful white whaling captain houses and charming boutiques. It’s definitely worth a stroll in Edgartown to watch the boats in the harbour, browse around the stores and eat ice cream.
Sure you will have packed well for a Martha’s Vineyard vacation but lots of people shop on Martha’s Vineyard for their lives back in the real world. Thanks to the lack of chain stores and the bonus of well-curated collections some of our favourites are stores located in Edgartown.
Catch a Menemsha sunset.
The Menemsha sunsets are glorious assuming it’s not a cloudy day. Every year we take a picnic and have dinner on the beach and watch the sunset. Some evenings we are unlucky and the clouds roll in at the last minute. The sunsets when they do happen are totally worth taking the chance though.
Many people don’t realise that Martha’s Vineyard has a lot of farms. In the old days, you pretty much had a choice of farming or fishing to make a living. Some of the farms have disappeared but many are still remaining. Try the Grey Barn farm store for their award-winning organic cheeses or the Morning Glory Farm store for pretty much anything.
Pick up yummy goodies at a farmer’s market.
There are farmers markets galore (as well as farm stands) in Martha’s Vineyard thanks to the long agricultural tradition of the island. We are talking fresh corn, heirloom tomatoes and delicious pies. Simply delish.
Marvel at the multi-coloured Aquinnah Cliffs.
The Aquinnah Cliffs are a stunning vertical drop of coloured chalk cliffs that drop into the sea. The cliffs have suffered from erosion over the years and the Aquinnah lighthouse had to be moved back from the edge of the cliffs.
Visit the Martha’s Vineyard lighthouses.
Of the 5 lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard, several of the lighthouses are open to visitors. They are spread out all over the island as well.
- East Chop Lighthouse in Oak Bluffs
- West Chop Lighthouse in Vineyard Haven
- Edgartown Lighthouse in Edgartown
- Cape Poge Lighthouse in Chappaquiddick
- Aquinnah Lighthouse in Aquinnah
Check out the time before you go to a lighthouse if you want to climb up to the top because the times can be random.
Family-Friendly Things To Do in Martha’s Vineyard
We have been to this island for nearly 20 years and still haven’t run out of fun things to do on Martha’s Vineyard. Here’s a sampling of some of the things to do in Martha’s Vineyard on a family vacation that are fun for adults, too!
Go bowling where presidents have bowled.
The Barn Bowl & Bistro in Oak Bluffs is one of the fun things to do in Martha’s Vineyard with family. There’s a giant photo of President Obama bowling here and each of the 5 lanes is named after a Martha’s Vineyard town. Or just hang out at the fun bistro that serves craft beer.
Get in a round of Mini Golf.
Mini golf is a time-honoured American family vacation summer activity. On Martha’s Vineyard, Island Cove Adventures lets you play a round and also hang out in front with yard games and ice cream.
Coo over Miniature Horses.
My kids are obsessed with the miniature ponies and miniature horses at Little Leona’s Pets and Supplies on State Road in West Tisbury.
Take an Alpaca for a walk.
My nephew on the other hand loves to hang out with the alpacas at Island Alpaca, an alpaca farm on Martha’s Vineyard. In addition to scheduled Alpaca walks, they also sell Alpaca wool and conduct Alpaca yoga.
Blow money at an amusement arcade.
Ryan Family entertainments have gaming arcades all over Cape Cod. The arcade at Oak Bluffs is a popular rainy day activity for kids. Actually, it’s a popular activity at any time for kids but we only let ours go and waste money on a rainy day.
Learn about farming at the FARM Institute.
The Farm Institute is an educational working farm which runs farm camps and hayrides. Located in Katama, the 162 acre farm is on prime real estate which may affect its future.
The FARM Institute has been a part of the Trustees of Reservations property since 2003, a conservation organisation that runs properties all over Massachusetts. It runs excellent educational programs and events as well as summer camp programs for kids.
Cuddle baby goats at Native Earth Teaching Farm.
The FARM Institute in Edgartown and the Native Earth Teaching Farm in West Tisbury is as different as the towns in which they are located. The Native Earth Teaching Farm is a drop-in farm, pay what you want, cuddle animals hippy-dippy experience which my kids loved.
The Native Earth Teaching Farm has a pay what you want policy so this is one of the free things to do in Martha’s Vineyard if you need to budget.
Watch the Chappy Ferry cross Edgartown Harbor.
For some reason, children are seriously entertained by watching the Chappy Ferry cross the small distance from Edgartown to Chappaquiddick over 5 minutes. Actually, watching the two Chappy ferries criss-cross is strangely calming.
Amusingly, the Chappy ferries are named “On Time” – it helps they don’t have far to go AND there’s no strict written schedule. Any time is on time from morning to right before midnight.
The best view for watching cars, bikes and people being loaded up and taking the crossing is from the top of Memorial Wharf pier.
Visit the Martha’s Vineyard Libraries.
Really. The Martha’s Vineyard libraries, especially the down-island ones, are great for kids. They have fabulous children’s facilities as well as scheduled programs such as crafting sessions.
Go down to the Y.
On rainy days, there is an indoor swimming pool at the YMCA with a children’s slide. Alternatively, take them skating in the ice-rink nearby. There’s also a skater park which little kids can use with scooters.
Outdoor Activities on Martha’s Vineyard
Martha’s Vineyard has 44 miles of cycle trails that make it a fun fast way to get around or to the beaches. If you stay down-island, the trails are pretty flat. It is a completely different story though by Chilmark and Aquinnah.
There are miles of hiking trails criss-crossing Martha’s Vineyard. Most of the hikes are easy or moderate and provide scenic views of either water or rolling farmland. One of our favourite hikes is Cedar Tree Neck which involves climbing down a rickety staircase to a private beach.
Enjoy the fresh air and green space at three public golf courses and two members-only golf courses on Martha’s Vineyard.
There are lots of tennis courts in communities and private organisations, but also town courts in West Tisbury, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven.
Go horseback riding!
There are plenty of horse farms on island where you can go horseback riding or even just pony rides for little kids. We can recommend both Arrowhead Farm and Pond View Farm, both in West Tisbury, which we have personally used for years.
Explore the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest.
The Manuel Corrullus State Forest is a 5300 acre forest in the middle of the island encircling the Martha’s Vineyard airport. There are both paved and unpaved multi-use paths in the state forest. The paved road is fairly straight and a great place for little kids to go cycling or ride their scooters.
One of the more random things in the Manuel Correllus State Forest is the Heath Hen Memorial (a small bird last seen on the island, and in the world) back in the 1930s.
Explore the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown is a wildlife habitat on the shores of Senge pond. There are walking trails and bird viewing opportunities. They run great activities for kids.
Investigate the Polly Hill Arboretum.
The Polly Hill Arboretum inWest Tisbury brings together trees and plants from around the world set in meadows and woodland. It started as the project of noted horticulturist Polly Hill.
Visit the Field Gallery of Art.
The Field Gallery of Art has outdoor sculptures set outside the main gallery in West Tisbury. They tend to be whimsical and provide a great talking point. If you have children, pop next door to the outdoor playhouse at the West Tisbury Library.
End your day at the beach.
The late afternoons are very special on the Vineyard beaches. Lots of people head to Menemsha to see the sunset and have a beach picnic. We prefer Moshup Beach which is fairly empty for our evening beach picnic. Even Lucy Vincent beach empties out after hours.
When the children were younger, we would go to Long Point Beach at the end of the day when there was hardly anyone there. The children will play in the water and sand and eat their picnic dinners. Then it was home for a bath and bedtime. Total lifesaver on many an occasion when the kids had worn me out!
Water-based Activities on Martha’s Vineyard
You can either take a group fishing charter or charter your own boat to go deep sea fishing.
Explore the Ponds.
You don’t need to limit yourself to water fun by the beaches because Martha’s Vineyard is blessed with many lakes. One of our favourite lakes when the kids were younger was Seth’s Pond. It had a little sandy area and a pond where they could see their feet.
Another great option is the pond at Long Point Beach. This pond has a large beach area and the water is shallow for a good long portion of the pond. Ponds are great for lots of water-based activities as well as providing beach time fun.
You can rent kayaks easily on Martha’s Vineyard and paddle away from the crowds to find your own secluded bit of beach. Alternatively, bring your own kayaks to one of the waterways and you won’t be reliant on kayak availability and delivery.
Great places to kayak as a family include Edgartown Great Pond, Tisbury Great Pond and Chilmark Pond.
The waters around Martha’s Vineyard are great for sailing. With access to several marinas, learn a new hobby at the sailing camp in Martha’s Vineyard, too, which is located in Vineyard Haven.
See another side of the Vineyard by paddle board.
Rent a SUP from Wind’s Up or Island Spirit Kayaks and enjoy the water on a sunny day.
Windsurf on Senge Pond.
Winds Up offers windsurfing lessons as well as equipment if you already know what you are doing.
Kitesurf on Senge Pond.
The winds on Senge Pond are great for kitesurfing.
Enjoy the swells at the two beaches in Chilmark – Lucy Vincent and Squibnocket.
Take a scenic cruise around Vineyard waters.
We’ve taken the Sea Witch nearly every year into the harbor at Vineyard Haven. After a few Bad Martha craft beers, we have even joined the kids in jumping into the water.
Visit the Elizabeth Islands.
The Schooner Valora is a wooden ship that can do half day sails, sunset sails or even a day trip to the beach and Tarpaulin Cove lighthouse on Naushon, one of the Elizabeth Islands.
Things To Do in Martha’s Vineyard: Culture
There are lots of artists who call Martha’s Vineyard home even if only seasonally. Moreover, as you would expect, museums on Martha’s Vineyard are small but fascinating.
One of my favourite new galleries is the Mariposa Museum in Oak Bluffs which focuses on American history. The building has been a bank and restaurant before so fingers crossed, this museum lasts.
Browse the Oak Bluffs Arts District.
The Oak Bluffs Arts District has a series of small galleries showing the works of island-based photographers, artists and craftsmen.
Visit the Featherstone Center for the Arts.
The Featherstone Center for the Arts is a community arts center with classes (including for kids!), lectures, concerts and galleries. Some of the activities are even free, such as the Summer Festival of Poetry,
Listen to the Vineyard Sound.
The Vineyard Sound a capella group puts on fun concerts for a preppy version of Pitch Perfect.
Catch a show at the Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse.
The MV Playhouse is a non-profit theatre in Vineyard Haven. They have regularly scheduled programming including for kids.
Attend the Summer Institute.
The Summer Institute at the Hebrew Center in Vineyard Haven has regular programming with topical speakers and films to view.
Former speakers have included politicians like former senator John Kerry and congressman Adam Schiff. Previous speakers who have been journalists include E.J.Dionne, Jr., and Bret Stephens, columnists for the Washington Post and New York Times, respectively.
The 2020 films included foreign films from Hungary, Israel and Germany. The German film was an adaptation of one of my daughter’s favourite books, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr.
Look through the Aquinnah Cultural Center.
The Aquinnah Cultural Center is located between the famous cliffs of Aquinnah and Moshup Beach. A small house, the Aquinnah Cultural Center documents the history of the Wampanoag tribe on Martha’s Vineyard.
Learn about the Gingerbread Houses at the Cottage Museum.
The Cottage Museum is inside a Gingerbread House so it is as small as you would expect. The museum is packed with fascinating artefacts and images of the Methodist Campground in its heyday (including when President Ulysses S. Grant visited in 1874).
Visit the Martha’s Vineyard Museum.
The Martha’s Vineyard Museum is housed in a Victorian Marine Hospital with a beautiful location perched on a hill in Vineyard Haven. The prized possession here is the original 1854 Fresnel lens from the Aquinnah Lighthouse which people came specially to visit when it was installed.
Explore The Carnegie’s Collection.
The Carnegie used to be the old Edgartown library but now is the home of the Vineyard Trust which takes care of 20 local landmarks, including the Dr. Daniel Fisher House and the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown. The Carnegie also runs three tours of Edgartown relating to its literature, architecture and maritime heritage.
Climb on board an old-fashioned fire truck.
The small but charming Edgartown Fire Truck Museum has some old-fashioned fire trucks that children can explore. It’s one of the best free things to do in Martha’s Vineyard with kids.
Things To Do in Martha’s Vineyard: Tours
Learn more about Martha’s Vineyard with a specialised tour.
Get a bird’s eye view of Martha’s Vineyard.
Take a biplane ride from Katama Airfield on a pretty vintage plane. You get to wear cool tinted goggles like an old-time aviator, too. The flights range from 15 minute tours of just Chappy to one hour tours of the entire island.
Take a tour of Martha’s Vineyard.
Don’t have a car or don’t feel like driving? Take a guided tour of the island and see the most important places and get the lay of the land.
Tour some fabulous Martha’s Vineyard houses for charity.
The Cottagers Corner charity does an annual tour of Oak Bluffs home to raise money for charity. We have also done house tours for charity in Edgartown. It’s cool to see the various types of houses they have on the Vineyard from the tiny shotgun style houses to the grand houses with lawns down to the ocean. Yes, these tours are in July and August.
Walk the African American Heritage trail.
Martha’s Vineyard has lots of places important to African American history. An African American heritage tour will include places like the Federated Church in Edgartown where Frederick Douglass spoke in 1857 and Edgartown Harbor, a National Park Service designated Underground Railroad site.
Take a guided tour of the Gingerbread Houses.
Sure you can just wander around looking at the Gingerbread houses, and admiring their colorful, if occasionally gaudy, decor. You can also take a guided tour.
This tour is an entertaining and informative look at the Gingerbread Houses with a guide from the MV Camp Meeting Association. It lasts about an hour and a half and ends at the Cottage Museum which is tiny and charming in itself.
Take an architectural tour of Edgartown.
This architectural tour of Edgartown run by the Vineyard Trust takes you around some of the historic buildings in downtown Edgartown. These captain’s houses are an elegant black and white and adds a uniformity to Edgartown’s look that is missing in the other towns of Martha’s Vineyard.
These historic buildings date from the 17th and 18th century when the town was a prosperous whaling port. Whale oil was used for lighting at night until it was supplanted by kerosene in the mid-19th century.
Tour Edgartown Harbor.
The Edgartown Harbor tour is run by the Vineyard Trust and looks at three maritime properties associated with Edgartown Harbour, including the Old Sculpin Gallery.
Now an art gallery, the Old Sculpin Gallery used to be a boatbuilder’s workshop and the inspiration for Quint’s shack in the iconic 1975 summer film, Jaws.
Take a literary tour of Edgartown.
Run by the Vineyard Trust, the literary tour of Edgartown looks at the people and places that were inspired by Edgartown. Find out how much more there is to Edgartown’s literary pedigree than Herman Melville.
Tour an Oyster Farm.
Cottage City Oysters is a family-run oyster farm in Oak Bluffs. Learn about eco-friendly oyster farming on Martha’s Vineyard and the importance of the farm to table movement.
Take a specialist tour of the Vineyard waters.
If you have kids, they will love the Pirate Adventures cruise that sets sail from Oak Bluffs. Alternatively take a tall ship tour with the Black Dog Tall ships.
Things To Do on Martha’s Vineyard: Shopping
Check out Alley’s General Store.
The old Alley’s really was a ramshackle experience where you never know what you could find. The new (and improved!) Alleys caters to a more swish crowd and the old farm stand now is full of summer beach supplies.
Support the Black Dog Empire.
It will be hard to get off Martha’s Vineyard without shopping at one of the Black Dog stores. You are bound to be lured in whether it is shopping for souvenirs at one of the Black Dog stores or eating at the Black Dog tavern or bakery. There’s even a Black Dog tall ship that runs cruises and camps for kids.
The Black Dog has become synonymous with Martha’s Vineyard even though it does have branches elsewhere in New England. Another local clothing brand’s fame, Vineyard Vines, has gone national. In Chilmark, Menemsha Blues is playing catch-up with the bigger names.
Brighten your day with flowers.
There are little individual flower stands dotted around the island as well as a couple of pick your own flower stands from bigger farms, such as the Menemsha Crossroads Farmstand. Payment is on an honor system.
Buy unique and locally-made artisanal gifts.
The Vineyard Artisans is a group that runs Artisan fairs in West Tisbury with a range of items such as jewellery, clothing and ceramics.
Stock up on summer reading.
The West Tisbury library book sale recycles books to new owners – about 20,000 books are sold very cheap over the course of four days. The Oak Bluffs Library also does a smaller book sale.
Shop for antiques.
Martha’s Vineyard has a few antique stores spread throughout the island. Antique sellers also show up at the Grange Hall in WestTisbury for their festivals.
Buy a special piece of art.
There’s a lot of art galleries on Martha’s Vineyard, such as the Chilmark Gallery, the North Water Gallery in Edgartown and a whole host of galleries in the Oak Bluffs Art District.
Browse the Oak Bluffs Open Market.
The Oaks Bluffs Open Market runs every sunday in Oak Bluffs. It’s a cool mix of farmer’s market, antiques market and artisan market so you never know what you will find.
Call in at the Chilmark Flea Market.
The Chilmark Flea Market runs every Wednesday and Saturday during the summer selling a variety of items. Like the Oak Bluffs Open Market, it’s a mix of vendors selling everything from produce to vintage items and artisanal things.
Shop at the Summer Arts Market.
Running every Tuesday, the Summer Arts Market is operated by the Featherstone Center for the Arts. It sells artisanal and vintage/antique goods.
Foodie Activities on Martha’s Vineyard
Although most people rent or own homes on the Vineyard with kitchen facilities, there are plenty of great restaurants or prepared food to takeaway. I mean who wants to cook on vacation all the time?
If you want to cook occasionally though, picking up farm-fresh ingredients makes even a simple meal delicious. Then head out for an ice cream treat at one of the delicious ice cream stores on the island.
Buy local cheese from small farm producers.
Our two favourite locally-made, small batch cheese stores are Black Sheep in Edgartown and the farm stand at the Grey Barn Farm in West Tisbury.
Browse farm stands.
Speaking of farm stands, you can get locally produced vegetables, meats and eggs at farm stands around the country. The yogurts at the Mermaid Farm Stand in West Tisbury are divine and Ghost Island Farm has a little bit of everything.
Do your shopping at West Tisbury Farmers Market.
Both farm stands and local producers show up at the West Tisbury Farmers Market which has been running since 1974.
Open from mid-June through October every Wednesday and Saturday, visiting this farmer’s market is a more civilised experience than being jostled at the Stop and Shop. Get everything from vegetables and meats to pie, chocolate and kombucha in one handy location.
Get your tummy rumbling at Morning Glory Farm.
With the largest farm stand on Martha’s Vineyard, the Morning Glory Farm operation is more store than farmstand. The flowers, vegetables and prepared food is superb. They are most known for their more-ish zucchini bread but we have also fallen in love with their blueberry muffins.
Eat pizza on the porch at The Chilmark Store.
The Chilmark store has lots of groceries but the thing to do is grab a slice (or two) of pizza and sit on the porch. Eat your pizza and watch life go by.
Share wood-fired brick oven pizza at the Orange Peel Bakery.
The Orange Peel Bakery in Aquinnah runs pizza nights at a residence with a wood-fired oven pizza nearby. For the price of admission, the Orange Peel Bakery provides the pizza bases. Bring your own toppings and share with others who have also brought toppings to see what pizza combinations you can create.
Get your caffeine fix.
There are some great coffee shops on island. I love the coffee and the kids love the bubble tea at Toccopuro which has outlets in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs. Another great coffee place in Edgartown is Espresso Love or try Mocha Motts in Vineyard Haven.
If you really need a Starbucks fix, try Edgartown Meat & Deli which sells their products even if they are not allowed to be labeled as a Starbucks.
Eat really good food at restaurants.
There are some great restaurants on the island both for casual fare as well as for fine dining. Our favourite fine dining establishments include L’etoile in Edgartown and the restaurant at the Outermost Inn in Aquinnah.
Some of the best casual fare can be found at Artcliff Diner in Vineyard Haven and Linda Jean’s in Oak Bluffs.
There are great take-out options for food as well.
We suggest the Net Result as our favourite fish and seafood take out on Martha’s Vineyard. The Net Result also does excellent sushi. There is seating in the parking lot area or you can just take it elsewhere.
Near Menemsha, we go to Larsen’s Fish Market, too. We also love the Scottish Bakehouse for takeaway freshly-prepared meals, especially for the vegetarian options.
Don’t miss out on the ice-cream stores on Martha’s Vineyard.
There are plenty of ice cream stores on Martha’s Vineyard with everyone having different opinions. My kids are big fans of Scoops in Edgartown. I prefer Edgartown’s Ice Cream and Candy Shop because it has a sickly sweet birthday cake flavor which reminds me of childhood birthday parties.
Plenty of other people rate Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium highly where we had a celebrity sighting of the Obama family. Frankly, though I’ve yet to eat ice-cream on Martha’s Vineyard (or anywhere else for that matter) that I did not like.
Pick up a great lobster roll cheap.
Grace Church in Vineyard Haven runs a great fundraiser Friday evenings when they sell overstuffed lobster rolls that are to die for. It’s one of the cheapest options you will find on island for lobster rolls.
Grace Church also offers hot dogs (helpful for kids who won’t eat lobster), clam chowder and baked pies.
Things to Do on Martha’s Vineyard: Miscellaneous
Pay homage to the genius of Jim Belushi.
The actor is buried at Abel’s Hill Cemetery in Chilmark. He’s got his own little dedicated section where people can visit his gravesite. In the spirit of his lifestyle, people have left cigarettes and beer for him in lieu of the usual flowers.
Wonder why at the Confederate Memorial Statue.
There’s a Confederate soldier statue greeting visitors coming off the ferry at Oak Bluffs. Martha’s Vineyard, being part of the Union, did send soldiers off to fight during the Civil War.
The statue though is dedicated to Confederate Soldiers and in a visible position in Oak Bluffs which is pretty much associated with the African American summer society on the Vineyard.
Things that make you go hmmm.
See the bridge where Teddy Kennedy’s Presidential dreams died.
Dyke Bridge, on the sometimes-island of Chappaquidick (sometimes because it is occasionally connected to Edgartown by a sandbar) is where the famous Chappaquidick incident happened. There’s a small plaque where Senator Ted Kennedy drove his mistress off a bridge and left her to die in the car.
Feel the zen at a Japanese Garden.
Mytoi Garden in Chappaquiddick is a small but beautiful Japanese garden. Located near Cape Poge, it’s a wonderful restful place.
Watch Jaws the Movie on the Big Screen.
There are regular screenings of Jaws, the Steven Spielberg movie that was the first summer blockbuster. Take a trip down nostalgia lane by seeing it at the theater on the island where it was filmed.
Don’t expect your children to be as afraid as you may have been by this movie though – my kids loved the movie but thought it was more funny than scary. After all, special effects have moved on in a big way since 1975.
Take the bicycle ferry.
You can even circumnavigate the island by bicycle in a few hours, including with younger members of your family once they are teens. A fun (and more scenic route) involves taking the bike ferry from Menemsha to Lobsterville beach.
Attend a Movie Talk at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center.
There are movie theaters (old fashioned ones in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown) which run recent movies. The Martha’s Vineyard Film Center though runs arthouse movies, documentaries, and foreign films.
There’s always something special playing at the Marthas’ Vineyard Film Center and, many times, the people who made the movie are on hand to discuss the films as well. For example, we have taken older children to see a film on child labor around the world and the filmmaker was on hand to answer questions.
Participate in a Fun Run!
People on Martha’s Vineyard like to be active especially for a good cause. There are plenty of runners on the island. Some of the road races include the Murdick’s Run the Chop Challenge held every July 4th weekend and the Chilmark Road Race and the Vineyard Scoops 5K both held in August.
Call in at the Tisbury Street Fair!
The Tisbury Street Fair has been running every July since 1971 when the town held the celebration to commemorate its’ 300th year anniversary. It was such a success, Tisbury has had a street fair ever since.
There are lots of stores having special sales, street vendors on sidewalk tables and food vendors. It’s a family-friendly affair and a lot of fun.
Attend the Bass & Bluefish Derby.
The Martha’s Vineyard Bass & Bluefish Derby is an annual event that has been running for 76 years every September. Over 5 weeks, thousands of people participate in one of the most well-known fishing tournaments for anglers in the world.
Things To Do on Martha’s Vineyard: Seasonal Events
Martha’s Vineyard definitely has a busy season in the summer when there is a plethora of activity. Fall and the Christmas season is less busy but also has its fair share of events.
From what we can tell, there seems to be a festival for everything. For example, the Martha’s Vineyard Wind Festival is an annual kite festival in September at Oak Bluffs.
Or, the Edgartown Patrolman’s Association lobster roll drive through done annually in July and August to raise money for local schools.
Some of the more popular festivals are listed below.
Celebrate American Independence Day!
The Fourth of July on Martha’s Vineyard is a busy weekend with a parade and fireworks in Edgartown. In Oak Bluffs, there is a kids’ parade at the Tabernacle and a reading of the Speech on the Beach (an anti-slavery speech by Frederick Douglass).
Stuff yourself at the Edgartown Fireman’s Pancake Breakfast.
Every summer the Edgartown fire department runs a pancake breakfast fundraiser that is a huge hit with families. Not only can you eat as many pancakes as you want, the fire department puts on a variety of activities to entertain you.
For example, there is usually a display of how the Jaws of Life tool works in an emergency. Fun games include shooting a ball off an orange cone with a burst of fire hose water.
Visit the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair.
The annual Martha’s Vineyard Ag Fair runs for three days in August and attracts thousands of people. It’s wholesome family fun with fun random activities like fry pan throwing, tractor hauling and mini pig racing in addition to the country fair favourites like awarding blue ribbon winners to livestock.
Marvel at Illumination Night.
For one night in August festival the Gingerbread Cottages get decorated with Chinese lanterns for Oak Bluffs Illumination night. Started back in 1869, Martha’s Vineyard Illumination Night sees the Martha’s Vineyard Campground filled with revellers admiring the lanterns and listening to music at the Tabernacle.
Marvel at the Oak Bluffs Fireworks.
Not to be outdone by the Edgartown Fire Department and their pancake breakfast, the Oak Bluffs fire department puts on an annual August fireworks. It’s a crowded event with lots of people milling around checking out the Oak Bluffs restaurants and shopping.
Participate in a Film Festival.
The Martha’s Vineyard Film Society puts on a series of film festivals geared towards particular interests – LGBTQ+ films, environmental films, films and musical performances, documentaries, foreign films and women in film.
Enjoy the MV Concert Series!
The Martha’s Vineyard concert series brings musical artists and entertainers to the island every summer. We have seen comedians like David Sedaris and Paula Poundstone as part of this concert series.
Listen to authors speak about their works.
The Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival is held every August and brings in some very prominent names to the island. Previous authors have included John Grisham, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Chelsea Handler.
Pick up a good book at either Edgartown Books or Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Martha’s Vineyard. Alternatively pick up a book to borrow from one of the really well-stocked libraries on the island.
Nosh your way through the Food and Wine Festival.
The Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine festival runs over four days every October promoting local food and restaurants. Events are usually age restricted to 21+.
Get into the spirit with Christmas in Martha’s Vineyard.
In mid-December, there’s a celebration of Christmas in Edgartown where there are sales in the stores and activities for the kids. During the day, there’s a Christmas Parade on Main Street and at night the decorated windows twinkle under Christmas lights.
In addition to Edgartown’s big blow out, other places on Martha’s Vineyard also promote the Christmas feeling.
To be fair, the Christmas festivities in Martha’s Vineyard are the last big hurrah before the island descends into the cold lull of a New England winter for the next couple of months. Lots of people, especially authors, prefer Martha’s Vineyard in winter for the peace and solitude.
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