About Nantucket IslandNantucket Island's settlement began in 1659 when a group of colonists seeking economic opportunity and political and religious freedom purchased Nantucket from Thomas Mayhew of Martha's Vineyard for 30 British pounds and two beaver hats. Nantucket soon developed a successful whaling industry. During the 18th century a strong missionary-led Quaker movement took hold on the island.
Much of Nantucket's charm is associated with its cobblestone main street, small lanes, plain Quaker-style homes and handsome houses that date from the whaling days of the early 19th century. Thirty miles off the mainland, Nantucket is reached by air or boat. Daily ferry service is maintained from Hyannis all year and from Martha's Vineyard from mid-June to early September.
Because streets are narrow, parking in Nantucket is limited. For those who choose not to walk, bicycles and mopeds are preferred modes of transportation. Cars can be parked at Hyannis. However, for those planning to take a car to Nantucket, a car ferry is available. Reservations for car transport are required; phone (508) 477-8600.
The island supports an art colony; exhibitions are held in The Artists Association of Nantucket's Joyce & Seward Johnson Gallery at 19 Washington St. and outdoors throughout the year. Phone the association at (508) 228-0722, or the gallery at (508) 228-0294.
Plays, concerts and other live shows are presented all year. The Nantucket Arts Council, (508) 325-8588, hosts various cultural events, including a winter/spring concert series and an arts festival. Performance organizations include the White Heron Theatre Company, 5 N. Water St., (508) 228-2156, and the long-standing Nantucket Musical Arts Society, (508) 228-1287, which performs at the First Congregational Church, 62 Centre St., on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. in July and August.
Located in a 19th-century building that originally served as a Quaker meetinghouse, Dreamland Film & Performing Arts Center, 17 S. Water St., offers movie screenings and other entertainment. Phone (508) 332-4822 for the box office or (508) 228-1784 for recorded schedule information.
Sailing as well as fishing, particularly for bass and bluefish, are popular. The town also maintains several bicycle paths, including Milestone, a hilly 6-mile route between Milestone Rotary and the village of Siasconset. The 9-mile Polpis path, also from Milestone Rotary to Siasconset, passes the Nantucket Shipwreck & Lifesaving Museum, Sesachacha Pond and the Sankaty Head Lighthouse. The flat, 2-mile Old South Road takes you from the Milestone Rotary to Nantucket Memorial Airport, while an easier, half-mile path from the intersection of Madaket and Cliff roads leads to Dionis Beach. Surfside is a 3-mile flat route from Surfside Beach to the junction of Atlantic Avenue and Vesper Lane. Cliff Road covers 2.5 rolling miles starting near Derrymore Road. Madaket is a winding, 5-mile route beginning at the junction of Quaker and Madaket roads.
Visitor Centers Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce A visitor center is at 25 Federal St. A visitor kiosk is at Straight Wharf.Zero Main St. Nantucket Island, MA 02554. Phone:(508)228-1700
Self-guiding ToursInformation about downtown walking tours is available from the Nantucket Historical Association (NHA).
Things to Do Mitchell House: Birthplace of Maria Mitchell
Nantucket Island, MA
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