DescriptionIn the early 1800s, Oak Bluffs emerged as the hub of tourism on Martha's Vineyard. Today, this seaside resort continues to attract mobs of sun-kissed sightseers looking to frolic on its lovely public beaches (including Joseph A. Sylvia State Beach, where parts of “Jaws” were filmed). The town boasts the island's largest marina as well as the Flying Horses Carousel, said to be the nation's oldest operating platform carousel.
Oak Bluffs also is well-known for its Carpenter Gothic “gingerbread cottages,” brightly painted wooden houses built by visiting 19th-century Methodists. The Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (MVCMA), (508) 693-0525, offers 90-minute guided walking tours of “the Campground,” which today encompasses just over 300 of the tiny, privately owned, residential structures. Tours depart on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10, July through August. The fee is $12; free (ages 0-9).
At the center of the MVCMA village grounds is the Tabernacle, where church services and special events are held. Built in 1879, the prominent landmark features an octagonal cupola, wrought iron arches and colored glass windows. A community sing-along and concert takes place at the Tabernacle as part of August's Grand Illumination festivities.
ShoppingYou'll find one of the Vineyard's three Soft As A Grape locations along Circuit Avenue, Oak Bluffs' main commercial drag. Selling lines of men's, women's and children's clothing, the Cambridge-born chain's most well-known collection is made from a super-plush, ring-spun combed cotton.
Also on Circuit Avenue is another Massachusetts chain, Black Dog General Store , the first of which opened in Vineyard Haven in 1992. The Martha's Vineyard original is filled with sailing attire, rain jackets, water bottles, tote bags and a vast array of other products bearing the image of a Lab-boxer mix named after Black Dog, the character from Robert Lewis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.”
Craftworks (42 Circuit Ave.), a contemporary sales gallery, sells whimsical pieces fashioned by both local and national artisans (think garden ornaments, handmade jewelry and decorative wood sculptures). For more unique keepsakes, walk to the Oak Bluffs Arts District (just west of Circuit Avenue at Dukes County and Vineyard avenues), home to Alison Shaw Gallery (88 Dukes County Ave.), Lucinda Enamels (11 Vineyard Ave.) and other artsy independent businesses.
Along the Circuit Avenue Extension, the Dockside Marketplace & Marina on Oak Bluffs Harbor features several restaurants and bars as well as another Black Dog General Store, the Black Dog Premium Outlet, The Christmas Cottage, Dockside Jewelers and Martha's Gifts.
Things to SeeCottage Museum