What are the best things to see and do in Nantucket?

Holly Finigan

The activities and attractions that abound on Nantucket belie its small size. Here are the five best things to see and do:

1. Beaches. There is a slice of sand heaven for every visitor on Nantucket. If you’re looking for waves and body surfing, head out to the aptly named Surfside or Cisco. Interested in a quiet escape? Check out Madaket or Miacomet. Want to drive your car on? Get the correct beach stickers and let the air out of your tires as you head to Nobadeer or make it a daylong excursion to Great Point.

2. Lighthouses. Speaking of Great Point, there are three distinct lighthouses on the island, each with a fascinating story to tell. (Not to mention they are fabulous for photography buffs.) Great Point Lighthouse feels a world away and you can only get there with an SUV with a beach sticker. Sankaty Lighthouse resides out on the bluffs of ’Sconset and stands out with its stunning red stripe. Brant Point Lighthouse is the most accessible and is just on the outskirts of Nantucket Town. Always remember to throw a penny at Brant Point as your ferry takes you off Nantucket — folklore assures you will be back.

3. Cisco Brewers. One of the gems of the island that has turned into a huge hot spot for big groups of friends, tourists and locals alike is Cisco Brewers. Located near (you guessed it) Cisco Beach, this brewery, distillery and vineyard has all locally made beer, spirits and wine. Stop by during the day for a refreshing Whale’s Tale Pale Ale or a delicious cocktail made with their summer favorite Triple 8 Cranberry Vodka. Bonus points if you take a tour of the brewery as well.

4. Nantucket Historical Association. On a recent research trip out to Nantucket, director Ron Howard visited the Nantucket Historical Association’s Whaling Museum and tweeted about what a fascinating spot it is. He is right. The deeply rooted whaling history of Nantucket makes this museum a perfect grey day activity. And the view from the roof might be one of the prettiest sights on all of Nantucket.

5. Restaurants. Even though Nantucket is a small island, it is full of world-class restaurants, each with its own unique identity. And with so many delicious eateries to choose from, dining out on the island is practically a sport in season. From the raw bar at Cru to the clam bake at Straight Wharf, that tuna martini at The Pearl to the cocktails and sunsets at Galley Beach, the worst part about going out on Nantucket is trying to choose just one place to go — which is why we recommend cocktails at one place, dinner at the next and dessert at a sneaky spot for a fabulous finale.