Last October I headed back to New England for my annual dose of leaves and ocean and since I apparently blog about this trip every Earth Day I’m not going to break tradition now! Last year I changed things up a bit and while I still ended in Maine (of course) I visited a bit more of Massachusetts than I had before, starting with Cape Cod and Nantucket!
For years I’ve been contemplating a trip to Nantucket. I’ve been reading books set on her for years and years but most recently the novels from Elin Hilderbrand and Nancy Thayer have really piqued my interest in going. I almost went a few years ago but a nor’easter changed those plans and I stayed on the mainland. This year I started off the trip by heading there so if I got stuck on the island I wouldn’t be worried about missing flights! It was a fascinating stay and I hope to return again someday.
So, let’s start with the beginning half of the trip – Cape Cod and Nantucket!!
I started out meeting my friend and bride Kristen for lunch shortly after I landed in Boston. Her sister was originally going to do a session but that fell through so I’m so glad I was still able to meet up with Kristen! We ended up at the Freeport Tavern which just recently closed after 27 years in business.
Once we were done I headed down to Hyannis where I booked a room at the Anchor In on the waterfront. Let me tell you, I absolutely and completely adored this hotel! If you are ever on Cape Cod I highly, highly recommend this hotel. From check in to check out the service here was amazing and the room was just wonderful. I stayed on one of the end rooms with a huge balcony overlooking the bay and lighthouse (of course). In this view below from the next morning my room was the second one down on the far left side of the hotel.
The view from my room!
While checking in I was shocked to find out that the hotel was completely booked. It was a Sunday in October, the week after Columbus Day and not typically what is considered high season in New England. Turns out that the past few days of ferry runs to the islands had been cancelled due to the winds and everyone was stuck! Glad I made my reservations early!!! Once I got into the room and dumped my bags I didn’t feel much like leaving since the weather was terrible and I was starting to feel like I was coming down with something.
After calling the front desk (again, raves!) they recommended a local pizza place that not only delivers but had online ordering! Palio Pizzeria was quickly ordered and I curled up on the couch, munched on some amazing pizza and watched Poldark (if you aren’t watching it, you need to!). This is the next morning’s view of how I spent a delectable night!
The next morning I packed up, checked out and headed down to the ferry dock. After finding where to park (which was a bit more of an adventure than I anticipated!) I finally was in line and waiting for the famous Hy-Line Ferry! I wandered around a bit before boarding and took a few photos of Hyannis while waiting to board.
It was a bit chilly but it was an absolutely gorgeous day so I splurged for the upgraded seating and had my camera ready for any and all lighthouses on the way. Point Gammon was first and then Great Point Lighthouse. The trip was pretty quick and despite the waves of the previous days it was a calm trip.
Here’s where I made an epic mistake and I’m telling you about it so you don’t have to. I rented a Jeep from Affordable Rentals after doing some research online as to IF to rent a car and where to rent one from. They came highly rated and a few reviews mentioned them being picked up at the docks. I’m not sure if that’s a summer-only feature or what but it was not an option when I arrived. They told me to walk the “short” few blocks to their offices. Now, if I traveled lightly that likely wouldn’t be an issue but with camera gear and luggage in tow, it was a bit of a pain in the butt – especially when traveling over cobblestone. If I had to do it all over again I would have taken the bus to the hotel and then walked back to Affordable Rentals which was close to the hotel. I would have done the reverse when leaving. So, if you ever do what I did and don’t have the ability to have someone drop you and luggage off somewhere THEN deal with the car, I highly recommend getting your luggage to/fro and then dealing with the car. Lessons learned!
After I got my Jeep loaded up I headed over to my hotel for the next few days, the White Elephant Hotel. I had gone back and forth and back and forth again about my Nantucket hotel. I debated between this and another hotel which I almost stayed at before but in the end the White Elephant won because I was able to see the ocean, have a balcony and a bathtub. I know it’s silly but I am a bath person and smelling the salt air is a must for me!
I got really lucky and ended up with an upgraded suite and I couldn’t have loved it more!! It had a separate sitting room, a fireplace, a private balcony and was just simply amazing. While it was too chilly to enjoy the balcony much I did leave the door open for a bit to smell the salt air and take in the breeze. It was such a cozy and charming room! I forgot to take photos of the interior but here’s the balcony and the view of Children’s Beach.
I ended up on the island a lot earlier than I anticipated so after a lunch at B-ACK Yard BBQ (definitely recommended, so so so good!) I headed back to the White Elephant to leave my car and walked down to Brant Point Lighthouse. It’s the most adorable lighthouse and I’m so glad that being there in the off season meant that I got it all to myself! Along the way I stopped and photographed some sea oats and the old lighthouse which is now a Coast Guard station.
It was getting close to sunset and all I’ve read about for years was how amazing the sunsets are from Madaket so I headed over there to wait for the show to start. The light hit the magic hour and the beach was amazing! The winds were crazy so I kept going between the beach and my car. While in my car taking a wind break I SAW A WHALE and was super bummed I didn’t reach for my camera fast enough. Even still, it was a magical time on the beach and I think Madaket secured its place on my favorites list after this day.
After I got back to my room I decided to stay in and went to the restaurant on site, Brant Point Grill, which was pretty good but chilly due to the restaurant being on a covered patio.
The next day I really had no concrete plans, I just headed out in the late morning after sleeping in and started off at Steps Beach. It was a bit tricky to find and park for it but once I found it was perfect! It was a bit too chilly to enjoy but I was able to get some photos and walk around and see one of the beaches I’ve been reading about for so long.
I was a bit hungry since I had skipped breakfast (I’m not much of a breakfast food person) and couldn’t find much open. It’s the off season so finding things is hit or miss. I almost ended up back at the BBQ place because I LOVED their mac and cheese but then I remembered how many times I’d read about people eating at the Nantucket Pharmacy in the books and decided I should at least stop and check things out there and see what it was like. If nothing else I could take something to go and eat at one of the beaches.
Turns out, Nantucket Pharmacy is amazing and was the perfect choice for lunch, even if that cobblestone road was determined to be the death of me. LOL. They have an old school soda fountain and since it was noon it was packed but I was able to snag a seat next to a sweet old lady who lived on the island. She recommended their turkey rueben and I went for it and it.was.so.good. Now, I am not a foodie, nor do I pretend to be. Give me good old fashioned plain cooking and I’m a happy camper. This sandwich hit every mark and I’m still craving another months later.
After lunch I headed out to the side of the island I had yet to explore and scooted off to ‘Sconset and the famouns Sankaty Lighthouse! When I got there I finally saw my first batch of tourists so I decided to wait in my car and just take in the views for a few. Once they left and I had the place back to myself I got out and roamed the area. I’d been wanting to see this lighthouse for a LONG time, even before all of the books I read since it was also relocated by the same people who relocated Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. Sankaty is perched on top of a cliff and is a very distinctive red and white striped lighthouse.
I headed back towards the center of the island to check out Cisco Brewers and along the way I stopped at the Middle Moors Serengeti which had caught my eye along the way to ‘Sconset. It’s a spot of the island which looks a lot like the Seregenti of Africa so I pulled over on the way back and did a bit of a hike around to check it out. It’s a neat little nook and I think October may be the best time to really enjoy this part of the island.
Eventually I wound my way back to Cisco Brewers and took a break from the driving and sightseeing to enjoy a Grey Lady Ale and read some of my book, Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand, which is set on Nantucket. If you haven’t read the Winter Street series, do pick them up – they are so good! This was a perfect spot to curl up with a book. The interior of the island was a bit warmer and with the sun it was a great spot to sit outside for a spell. They have a bunch of tables and chairs scattered around the property in almost a junk yard style but I mean this in the best possible way. You feel like you’re at a friend’s backyard! A lot of people were there, far more than I anticipated for a random Tuesday in October, and there were a lot of furry friends there who kept coming by for some love. It really is a must-do when on Nantucket. Bonus is that during the in season they run a bus so you don’t have to drive!
After some time at Cisco Beach I headed back downtown to check out the Whaling Museum. I had read In the Heart of the Sea before heading on my trip so I wanted to check out the museum which had some artifacts from the Essex as well as props from the movie that was released not too long ago. The museum was pretty spectacular and definitely worth a visit for anyone that is into history or seafaring kind of things. It’s self guided and there is a LOT to take in but easy enough to do in an hour or so. I didn’t take any photos inside but I did take some photos of the views from the roof. I then wandered around downtown for a bit and took some more photos of the streets. It’s a charming city!
Once again it was time for the sun to take it’s final bow for the day so I scooted back towards Madaket to see if that night the sunset would be any better. While the light wasn’t quite as golden when I arrived the sun did put on a show… that I barely could stand outside to photograph because the winds were so strong! It was bitterly cold so I was super glad for a deserted beach and parking lot so I could pop in and out at will!
That night I enjoyed some room service as the winds hadn’t died down and I was starting to feel worse and worse from the flu. The yummy filet, the cozy fire and a steaming hot bath helped though and I cannot rave enough about the White Elephant and how amazing it was. This was such a relaxing night! Yes, I drink Coca-Cola with my champagne, doesn’t everyone?
The next morning I took some photos from the balcony (above!) and drug my flu addled brain to the ferry docks after dropping off my Jeep and lugging my luggage back across the cobblestone to the docks. While waiting for the morning ferry I came across Nantucket Perfume Company which I fell in LOVE with even though I could barely smell. The man working was wonderful and I definitely recommend people hitting it up when in town or ordering some online! I ended up with their version of my go-to perfume (Chanel Chance Eau Fraiche) and a couple of their Nantucket Blends along with some bath bombs. Definitely a great gift idea for the people in your life that love the beach and/or Nantucket!
The next stop on the trip is Plymouth Rock, Gloucester and a bunch of cute spots in Massachusetts!