One thing I’ve been hearing from you guys is that you want to hear more about my current travels right after they happen. Well, ask and ye shall receive! I’m jumping in to start sharing some posts from Florida and Tennessee, a trip so fresh I haven’t unpacked from it yet.
I won’t lie — before my childhood friend Steve announced his wedding was taking place in Sarasota, Florida, I don’t think I could have pointed to the place on a map. But I was thrilled to make my way there regardless, one stop on a long road trip through Florida that worked out to be more perfectly timed than any of us could have imagined.
Why? Because while my other childhood friend Kristin and I — who was also making the trek south with her boyfriend Mark — were weighing up the various wedding hotels, we realized that her recently retired parents Marc and Laura would be renting a house in nearby Siesta Key at the same time while they explored future relocation spots. It just so happened to be a three bedroom house. And they just so happen to be the people I consider my second parents. And so we decided to all have a massive weekend-long sleepover party. What could be more perfect?
After a night in Tampa with my aunts, I drove down to Sarasota just in time to spend a few hours oooh and aaaahing over Marc and Laura’s cute rental before getting ready for the rehearsal dinner at Michael’s Wine Cellar.
It was a beautiful night! We got to connect with several other wedding guests, meet the beautiful bride Ali’s family, and beam through sweet speeches from family and friends.
Kristin and I even made an appearance in a giggle-worthy photo from a high school homecoming dance in the slideshow — what’s a childhood BFF’s wedding without a reminder of how badly you used to do your eyebrows?
The next day, Marc and Laura treated us to a beach day at their favorite stretch of sand on Siesta Key. I could see why they loved the place. The beach was almost Caribbean feeling! I couldn’t be happier to be kicking it in a beach chair with some of my favorite people — and a guidebook.
We didn’t linger too long of course — we had a wedding to get ready for! The nuptials were taking place at the Ritz Carlton Sarasota, so I knew we were in for a treat.
Sadly, after months and months of drought, Florida was hit hard with storms that week, and the ceremony had to be moved inside. My heart broke for the bride who’d planned such a beautiful outdoor ceremony, but I don’t think anything could kill the vibes once the live music cued up for the bridal party’s stroll down the aisle. Our friend Chris was one of the groomsmen and it was hard not to cheer when he started off the procession!
I love the Jewish wedding tradition of having both parents walk the bride down the aisle.
It was very surreal watching someone I’ve known since we were both in braces make such a beautiful commitment. I’ve grown to love Ali over the years of crashing with the two of them on some of my trips through New York City, and I truly can’t imagine a better fit for Steve — he really did crush this whole “choosing a life partner” thing.
And then the party got started! Since I know how much work brides and grooms put into their weddings, I texted them the next morning with a detailed list of everything I loved: the food was phenomenal; the band was so much fun; the room was grand and stunning.
I absolutely loved dancing the night away with some of my hometown besties!
The next morning, we went with Kristin’s parents for a hangover brunch and wedding recap at Sun Garden Cafe, which was my personal favorite meal of the trip. The outdoor seating area was adorable, and my fresh veggie omelette was just what I needed. After, we cruised around to Lido Key — which I didn’t find anywhere near as impressive as Siesta Key — and finally up to St. Armands Circle.
There, we found ourselves at the roof deck of the Tommy Bahama restaurant, where the tropical drinks cemented the magical feeling I had that I was truly on vacation. (It might have been the company, too, who I have years of traveling to Myrtle Beach with under my belt.) How I resisted the dessert tray, I’ll never know.
That night, Marc and Laura treated us to a very special goodbye treat — a sunset cruise to the sandbar off Siesta Key.
It was a very cool trip that included beer, or you could bring your own booze — however, the second I realized there was no bathroom onboard I abstained from all liquids. Better safe than sorry, y’all.
The tour kicked off with our guide pointing out all the notable real estate in the area, either homes built by celebrities or with wild stories of wealthy owners. We ate it up like the good little tourists we were.
We also passed a bird sanctuary, some interesting mangroves, and most excitingly — dolphins! I smiled at the memory of seeing them underwater on a dive in Honduras years ago, and found myself feeling lucky to get to be in their presence out in the wild again.
Yet the highlight was still to come — pulling up to an expansive sandbar in the sea. We were set loose to hunt sea shells, stick our toes in the sand, and wade around into the sunset.
That weekend, Marc and Laura had told us that Marc’s other daughter would be visiting the next weekend — and her boyfriend was planning to propose! We were so enamored with the sandbar that we all hatched the plan that her boyfriend should pop the question in this exact spot… complete with Kristin and I doing a full pre-enactment so Marc and Laura could work out their photography angles, ha ha.
Post-cruise, we grabbed a pizza from hip and happening Siesta Pi Pizza before turning in for the night. I couldn’t think of a more perfect note to end the weekend on.
It was such a lovely weekend full of amazing friends, and friends who feel like family. I was so grateful to Steve and Ali for bringing us all together to celebrate, to Marc and Laura for opening their home-away-from home, to Chris for being my dance-floor buddy and to Kristin and Mark for letting me be their third wheel.
I couldn’t ask for a more relaxing way to kick off Florida!
Next up, Orlando, Tampa, and St. Pete!
Last summer, while planning my now-annual visit to California to visit my dad, I added in a new stop that I hope becomes a regular one — San Francisco. One of my hometown best friends had recently moved cross-country to settle in Lower Pacific Heights, and I couldn’t wait to explore the amazing life she’d created for herself out west.
After a long flight from Albany, where I’d barely caught my breath after my Boston and Martha’s Vineyard trip, I couldn’t wait to give Michelle a squeeze — and enjoy four days in a city I hadn’t properly explored since a school trip when I was thirteen.
After losing my mind at the amazing-ness of Michelle’s brownstone apartment (she lucked into the third bedroom of a rent-controlled apartment her two sweet roommates have rented for more than eight years), we headed out for drinks. San Francisco, I’d learned, isn’t huge on rooftop bars — so the heated “roof-ish” patio at Jones was a pretty big deal.
I was immediately glad Michelle had insisted I bring a sweater. You know that famous Mark Twain quote, “the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco?” THAT DUDE KNEW WHAT WAS UP.
We continued our reunion celebration with dinner at Hops and Hominy and bar hopping what felt like all over the Bay Area. As someone who is often in serious trip planning and logistics coordinating mode, there’s nothing I love more than visiting my friends and just blindly following them around for a few days with little to no awareness of where I actually am. Makes blog writing difficult in retrospect (ha!) but it’s such a treat at the time.
The next day, Michelle had an amazingly fun itinerary planned with hiking and brunch and so many of my favorite things. Unfortunately, I was feeling sicker than I have in ages and so was basically a useless blob the entire day — more on that later. But leave it to this super host to find the perfect activity even for an invalid houseguest: a feel-good movie at the fancy Kabuki 8 theater.
The following morning, though still feeling pretty weak, I couldn’t stand the thought of wasting another day on Michelle’s lovely itinerary, and so we set off for a gentle walk through Crissy Field. It was a chilly and windy morning, and fog dramatically clung to the bright red Golden Gate Bridge in the distance.
At the base, we climbed up the Fort Point tower for better views, and could only take our hands out of our pockets long enough to snap quick selfies before they felt like they were freezing again! I could not believe that it was June in California and I was so cold (and yes, in fact, I am writing about this trip nearly a full year later — whoops.)
Thankfully, things started to warm up by the time we got back to the car. The walk had wiped me out but also worked up the first bit of appetite I’d had in over 36 hours, so I was pumped for our next stop — Chestnut Street in Pac Heights.
We could have spent all day strolling this too-cute neighborhood. After evaluating several options, we settled on lunch at Tacolicious, where I nodded in agreement to their signature tagline, “fingers over forks.”
When we emerged from the restaurant, I was shocked by what awaited us outside — bright blue skies! I never would have guessed based on the morning that our day would turn out this way. Michelle was kind enough to drive me back to see the bridge from another vantage point so I could obsessively take photos with this beautiful gift of sun. Ah, tourists.
But seriously… how beautiful is this?!
We ended up going for another wander, this time down to the harbor. The views looked familiar — they were the same I’d seen from my Alcatraz Cruise, my one little pop-in to San Fran since my last proper visit almost fifteen years prior.
But sometimes, when you’re catching up with an old friend, it doesn’t really matter so much where you are or what you’re doing… it’s all just background to a great conversation, anyway.
The morning’s activities left my still-rough-self pretty wiped, but Michelle knew just what to do: a driving tour! I did get out of the car at our two main destinations, but mostly I was quite happy to watch the city go by from the car window, listening to my friend’s narration about her new home.
Perhaps my favorite stop was the Painted Ladies. This famous row of Victorian Houses got its big break in the opening credits of Full House, but fame hasn’t gone to its head.
A little less overwhelming was Lombard Street. In theory, the world’s second windiest road sounds very cool, but in reality it’s actually pretty hard to appreciate (or photograph) unless you’re taking in an aerial view. Still, we drove down it, which was cool, and it was fun to see the huge tour group all angling for the best photo.
That night, we went to Tony’s for pizza and the Warrios game. While the waits are notoriously crazy at this popular eatery, we beat the system by sitting at the bar — a trade off I’m almost always happy to make when dining as a pair.
The next day was the first that I truly had my appetitive back, a terrible thing to lose in a city so famous for its cuisine. Michelle was working from home this day and it was so nice to just have side-by-side laptop time. As someone who often works alone, it really makes you appreciate the silent company of someone else doing the same. Other than a quick lunch outside on the street at The Grove, we chilled from our office on the couch all day.
And suddenly, it was my last night in San Francisco. We ran around town meeting up with various friends — dinner with Michelle’s roommate, drinks with my childhood neighbor and friend — and discovered two gems in the process. The first was Smuggler’s Cove, an intensely-themed pirate bar that would put most tikis to shame. While the night we visited was a little weird (there was no music playing, which I hate in a bar), I’ve had enough personal recommendations for this place to conclude that we just had an off night. I’d love to give it another chance and really work my way through the rum menu someday!
And our next stop was Chambers Bar, which looked like it was made for Instagram. Though we arrived not long before closing, this was one of my favorite finds from the whole trip, and also left me itching for a return.
We turned in after, as the next morning Michelle was back to the office, and I was on to San Jose for a night with my friend Abby before flying to Los Angeles. I always love visiting Abby — when travel bloggers get together they do boring stuff like go to the gym and go to nondescript restaurants and sit on the couch and watch TV and basically do nothing but catch up and gossip about our weird and wonderful industry. Well, at least these travel bloggers do. (And clearly, based on the zero evidence I have of these 24 hours with Abby, we don’t take many photos either.)
Five days in Northern California flew by.
They did so in large part due to the illness I mentioned before… which wasn’t just a bug.
I really hesitated on if I wanted to write about this or not, but I am pretty sure that I was drugged on our first night out. I have many reasons for thinking so, the primary one being that at our last stop for the night, Michelle and I were approached by a sketchy guy who tried to sell us drugs. We laughed off his dancefloor sales pitch (um yeah NO THANKS) but he wouldn’t quite leave us alone. Michelle says she noticed I started acting funny and the guy started speaking to me in Spanish, and I replying in it, so she couldn’t follow what was going on. I don’t remember any of this — because him buzzing around us like a fly you just can’t swat was my last memory of the entire night.
And so I also don’t remember that shortly after, as Michelle was putting us in an Uber, that same man muscled open the door or our car and forced himself into the vehicle just as we were pulling away. Michelle screamed that he wasn’t with us, and our driver screeched to the side of the road, yanked the guy out of the car and onto the curb, and hightailed us home to safely.
I was violently ill for two days; nauseous, weak, and unable to keep food or even water down. While I definitely considered the possibility that I was having a very weird hangover (for better or for worse, at this point I know my body’s reaction to excessive partying pretty well, and vomiting just isn’t party of the equation) but a call to my doctor back east confirmed that my symptoms were in line with those of date rape drugs. He encouraged me to go to a hospital for testing and treatment and to file a police report, which in retrospect I wish I had done. But I didn’t have health insurance at the time and was worried what it all would cost, and I was also fearful of the reaction of whoever I might report what happened to, considering nothing really happened.
It was a reminder that with all the far flung, exotic destinations I travel to, terrible things can happen anywhere and women especially must always, always be vigilant when it comes to their personal safety. While it was a very unsettling experience and I can’t remember the last time I felt so physically terrible, I am so grateful to have escaped the situation relatively unscathed and to have had Michelle take such good care of me while I recovered.
As for all the things I missed while I was healing… I’ll just have to go back. I’ve got the perfect host to crash with, after all.
Till next time, San Francisco…
Martha’s Vineyard… on a budget? I admit, it doesn’t sound right. Like Thailand and good bread and cheese, or Brazil and being on time, or England and a reliably sunny weather forecast, it just doesn’t feel like a feasible travel combination.
But lean in, because I’m about to spill what feels like a major secret. The rumors aren’t true – Martha’s Vineyard isn’t an uber-exclusive, snobby haven reserved for only the insider elite. That’s Nantucket! (I kid, I kid – though there’s always been a friendly rivalry between the two islands.) First time visitors to the island are often surprised to find a thriving arts community, a strong agrarian culture, and a laid-back and barefoot feel.
Martha’s Vineyard is expensive. But it’s also one of the most magical places in America, and this community-focused island, where humble houses still outnumber mega-mansions, is proud of its inclusive history of welcoming all. You could be next.
Admittedly, I have been blessed with the unique opportunity to fall in love with Martha’s Vineyard in a way most people don’t have access to – my family vacationed on the island nearly every summer when I was a girl, and my mom now lives seasonally in Oak Bluffs. I know from your comments and messages that many of you feel Martha’s Vineyard isn’t an accessible travel destination for you, and I’m hoping that the insider secrets and stories I’ll share here might convince you otherwise.
You’re not going to travel Martha’s Vineyard on a shoestring. But you also don’t need a private jet, a beach mansion or a Kennedy bank account to make it happen. Here’s a guide for those looking for something in between.
When to Go
Timing is everything when it comes to planning a budget-friendly trip to the Vineyard. If you’re really on a shoestring, aim for anytime before Memorial Day at the end of May and after Labor Day at the beginning of September. If you have a bit more wiggle room in your budget, come between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, when the weather is slightly warmer, the crowds are still manageable and prices not yet peak. Heart set on July and August? God bless you.
While July and August undoubtedly have the best beach weather with average temperatures in the 80’s, June and September are still lovely, mostly hanging in the 70’s. Pushing further into the shoulder seasons, May and October are definitely sweater weather, with highs only in the 60s.
Choosing these off-peak times means not only will crowds be thinner and reservations of all sorts easier to come by, but accommodation prices will be significantly more manageable, and transportation will often be impressively discounted. And events like The Martha’s Vineyard Wine Festival in May and the Food and Wine Festival in October prove there’s plenty going on outside peak season.
Martha’s Vineyard is an island, so eventually you’ll end up on a ferry or a flight in order to arrive.
First of all, don’t rule out air travel entirely. I’ve nabbed midweek JFK to MVY fares for a mere $75 before, and I’ve seen them as low as $60. Book early, fly off-peak, and travel off-season for your best bet at scoring similar fares. (Book at the wrong time and you’ll see fares of over a thousand bucks round trip from New York — for a 40 minute flight!)
Flights generally connect through New York and Boston. You can also fly via Washington DC, Nantucket, Hyannis, Providence, Westchester, New Bedford, White Plains – some only seasonally. Read more about how to generally find cheap airfare here.
Most frequently, however, budget travelers will travel by ferry. If you’re planning to bring your car onto the island, your only option is the Steamship Authority, which departs from Wood’s Hole, Massachusetts. Seasonal passenger ferries also leave from New York and New Jersey, from Quonset Point in Rhode Island (which you can connect to via Amtrak from New York), and from Nantucket, New Bedford, Falmouth, and Hyannis in Massachusetts. Learn more about the various ferry options here — or just read on below.
But back to the Steamship Authority from Wood’s Hole – because it’s by far the most budget friendly option at just $8.50 a pop each way. In contrast, the Seastreak Ferry from New York City is a cool $155 each way (and only runs in each direction once a week).
So now you have to get to Wood’s Hole. If you’ve decided to bring your car onto the island, you’re all set (more on that below in the Getting Around section). If not, you can still reach Wood’s Hole via your own vehicle, but you will have to pay to park it.
Parking in the Steamship Authority lots ranges from $13-15 per day, depending on the distance of the lot. Frequent complimentary shuttles will bring you from your vehicle straight to the ferry. There’s no cheaper option – once, after hearing a rumor that Wal-Mart often looks the other way for long-term parkers in its lots, my mom’s boyfriend tried calling the closest one on the Cape to see what the manager said (apparently they will tell you if they do allow it.) It’s not one of those locations.
But, if you’re staying on the Vineyard for more than seven days, feel free to loose your parking ticket. The maximum fee for a lost ticket is $105, which becomes the cheaper option after a week.
Another incredibly convenient option for reaching Woods Hole is the bus. Peter Pan Bus Lines will delivery you straight to the dock from Boston’s South Station and Boston’s Logan Airport as well as New York, New York and Providence, Rhode Island. I’ve used Peter Pan to travel from Albany to Boston and Boston onto Wood’s Hole for $53 and it was a comfortable, seamless ride. If you find a cheap flight into Boston, it’s only $55 round trip from the airport to the ferry terminal and back – that’s cheaper than a one-way cab fare from the airport in some major cities.
So while there are dozens of options for reaching Martha’s Vineyard, my favorite options are (1) to fly straight to the island, (2) fly to Boston and connect to the Peter Pan bus, or (3) drive or bus to Wood’s Hole.
Where to Stay
This is where the “ouch!” factor comes in — accommodation on Martha’s Vineyard is steep. But you don’t have to rent a $5,000 a week beach house to make it happen, obviously.
• The Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground
Not to be confused with the Campmeeting Association, commonly and confusingly referred to as “The Campground,” the Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground is the one and only official place to pitch a tent. My mom, her boyfriend, his daughter and I all stayed here years ago before my mom became a part-time resident on the island (in fact, it was on that trip that we stumbled on our future home!) and I highly recommend this clean and organized option for those on a budget.
The Campground offers tent camping sites, RV and trailer hook-ups, and modest one and two bedroom cabins. All camp sites have picnic tables and fire pits and cabins come with a small grill. Shared bathrooms have hot water showers, and an on-site laundromat, playground, convenience store and rec room make this a one-stop shop for campers. There is a bus stop right at the campsite, which is located between Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs, and buses stop every 30 minutes. Bike rentals are also available and it’s a convenient way to reach both towns (we rode bikes to and from each so I could take photos for this post.) The biggest downside? You have to bring your own bedding.
The Martha’s Vineyard Family Campground is open from May 25th-October 11th for the 2017 season. There’s no maximum stay – you can post up for the whole summer, and many do! Two person tent sites start at $60 per night or $371 per night (there’s a discount for single campers outside of peak season.) Four person cabins start at $150 per night or $945 per week.
• Hostelling International Martha’s Vineyard
Yes, Martha’s Vineyard has a hostel! In fact, in 1955 it became the first purpose-built youth hostel (meaning it was built specifically to be a hostel) in the USA. Last summer, I stopped by to see what the Vineyard’s most affordable sleep was like.
The rural surroundings of the HI Martha’s Vineyard lend it the feel of a summer camp, as do the frequent bike tours, scout groups, and families that sometimes fill the sixty-seven beds spread across dorms and private rooms. Unlike many US hostels, this one is filled with primarily domestic travelers – as well as the occasional Europeans or more far-flung wanderers. The downside of the hostel is it’s somewhat remote location near the airport, though there is a bus stop directly in front of the hostel that will whisk you all over the island.
The Martha’s Vineyard hostel is open from May 20th-October 8th for the 2017 season. The maximum stay is one week. Dorm beds start at $38 per night, private rooms with shared bathrooms start at $82 per night. All rates include breakfast. Though I can’t give it a personal recommendation, my mom’s boyfriend’s daughter (whew!) stayed here with a bike tour and gave it two thumbs up. You can also read another blogger’s review here.
• Hotels, Inns, Airbnbs and beyond
Believe it or not, there are plenty of small hotels, motels and locally owned inns that charge less than $100 a night – several of them can only be booked directly though and don’t have a huge online presence, so poke around. This is where the timing of your trip is huge. A room at the centrally located and charming Dockside Inn starts at $99 a night midweek in May – and shoots up to $279 a night midweek in August – and is back down to $109 in September. Edgartown will generally fetch the highest accommodation costs.
Airbnb is also becoming popular on the island, with 19 listings currently available for under $100 a night, and 103 listings currently available for under $150. Get $40 off your first booking here!
If you are staying in the towns of Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven or Edgartown, chances are you will be in close walking distance to restaurants, shops, beaches, and other attractions. To get further afield, you have several options.
Sure, you could get around the island on a pricey tour via trolley or van or brightly painted school bus. But you’ll be joined by just as many tourists – and plenty of locals! – on the public Vineyard Transit Authority bus.
The buses on Martha’s Vineyard are reliable, efficient, and affordable, and reach every corner of the island in the summer season. If you’re staying down-island, there’s really no reason not to use them as your primary mode of transportation. There are bus stops at the airport and all major ferry terminals. Fares range from $1.25-$6.25 per ride, though one day passes are available for $8, three day passes for $18, and seven days for $30. Bring exact fare if you plan to purchase your pass or single ride on the bus directly.
Download the Vineyard Transit app to plan routes and track when the next bus is your way. And bonus! There are bike racks on most busses – so feel free to combine a long bike ride out to a destination with a relaxing bus ride back home.
Martha’s Vineyard is a cycler’s paradise, covered in over seventy-five miles of dedicated trails. Find a map of the island’s bike trails here. Also check Google Maps, which shows a bike option when you search for directions for the island! Even with a car on the island, I love the ride between Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven, and Oak Bluffs and Edgartown – no parking stress!
All passenger ferries allow bikes onboard for a modest fee, if you wish to bring your own. Rental companies in Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown offer rentals starting at $22 a day or $95 a week – call around for the best rates.
Uber and Lyft are now available on Martha’s Vineyard – rejoice! Get a free ride of up to $20 here with Uber, and up to $25 with Lyft here. I always check the quote for both since it varies which is cheaper. If a heavy surge is happening, keep in mind that a local taxi may be cheaper – call one to ask. Already steep rates double from midnight to 7am, so if you really want to enjoy the local nightlife you might consider staying in Oak Bluffs or Edgartown.
If you’re on a budget, local cabs should be used quite sparingly – a bike or the bus are great alternatives.
• Your Own Vehicle
If you’re set on having your own set of wheels, start crunching numbers. Depending on where you’re coming from and how many days you’re staying, it might be most cost effective to bring over your own vehicle, if you have one, on the Steamship Authority ferry.
It costs $137 round trip, not including any passengers, and reservations are absolutely essential. Make a booking as early as possible – like, yesterday – though you may have more wiggle room traveling off-season. If the ferries are full, try for the waiting list. We usually wait list a reservation a couple times a year and often they come through. Fill up your tank before you arrive on the island to save on inflated gas prices.
If you’re planning to rent a vehicle on island, try calling around to local island agencies in addition to checking the usual big booking sites. Car rentals start at around $60-$85 a day. Mopeds are often pricier to rent than cars, rarely starting at less than $100 per day. Keep in mind that depending on the season, parking on the island can be extremely limited.
What To Do
This is the easiest area to save – the best things to do on Martha’s Vineyard are free or nearly so! Wandering the island’s six charming and distinctly different towns, and spreading out on its classic New England beaches, should be top of your list. Honestly, my happiest childhood memories of Martha’s Vineyard are of doing a whole lot of nothing – it’s a place you come to relax and recharge.
Yet here are a few other ideas for $5 and under:
• Jump off the infamous Jaws Bridge – or enjoy the spectacle of those who are crazy or brave enough to do so: Free
• Ogle the Aquinnah Cliffs, a favorite local photo op: Free
• Take a community yoga class at the beyond beautiful Yoga Barn: Free
• Make furry friends and check out a local farm at Island Alpaca: $5
• Watch the sunset in Menemsha: Free (Plus the cost of whatever beach picnic you put together from local seafood shacks and the case of wine you brought to the island – no? Just me? Do like the locals do and bring a blanket and a beach chair and clap when the sun dips below the sea.)
• Ride the famed Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs: $2.50
• Check out the galleries and weekly Vineyard Artisans Festival in West Tisbury: Free
• Work on your tennis swing on the local high school courts: Free
• Take photos of the colorful gingerbread houses of the Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association: Free (Or pay $2 to visit the museum, or really splurge on $12 for an official tour of the neighborhood– my mom might be your tour guide!)
And for $10 and under:
• Grab a hotdog and hit the stands to see local baseball team The Sharks play: $7
• Tour the Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Edgartown: $10 in the summer, $8 in the winter ($12 combo passes provide admission to both the museum and the Edgartown or Gay Head lighthouses.)
• Ride your bike over to Chappaquiddick and tour the Mytoi Gardens: $6 round trip for the short ferry ride across the sound with a bicycle, an attraction in and of itself, and the gardens are free.
Where to Eat
No surprise here – bargain eats are hard to come by. If you’re traveling on a tight budget, staying in accommodation where you can cook many of your own meals (the hostel, the campground, or a rental with a kitchen) will be a huge boon. We always arrive on the island with a huge haul of groceries, which my mom reckons are about 20% cheaper on the mainland. You can supplement the basics with fresh produce from local up-island farms, often available at roadside stalls outside the entrances.
Yet even if you cook the majority of your meals, you can still get that “on vacation” feel splurging on casual treats like ice cream at Mad Martha’s (literally, a Martha’s Vineyard must), apple fritters at Backdoor Donuts, or casual picnic eats like lobster rolls or clam chowder packed up for sunset.
Like most of the US, portions are huge in the Vineyard, so don’t be afraid to split an entrée if you do venture out for a splurge. Here’s a list of my favorite restaurants to do so at.
And here are a few other budget eat ideas:
• Seafood: On Fridays at Grace Church, you can get a massive lobster roll, chips, and a drink for $22. My mom says you get the best deal ordering them “unconstructed.” Available in season only, on Fridays from 4:30-7pm. Other affordable seafood favorites include The Net Result in Vineyard Haven and The Bite in Menemsha.
• Sit down specials: My beloved Sharky’s Cantina has 50 items under $10 on their menu (my go-to order of a pulled pork quesadilla is just $9.99, and I always have leftovers), the lunch specials at Bangkok Thai Cuisine are a bargain (and the owners are Thai and couldn’t be sweeter), Biscuits offers sit-down breakfasts at low-down prices, and the cheese and charcuterie boards (starting at $11.99) at Bad Martha brewery are more than worthy of a meal. The chef at my favorite restaurant on the island, Red Cat Kitchen, recently recreated the bar menu at the casual local pub The Ritz – an amazing opportunity to try his creations at a fraction of the price.
. . . . . .
Bottom line? If you want to visit Martha’s Vineyard on a budget, you will probably have to compromise on something. If you love having the freedom of your own wheels, consider the hostel or campground. If you’d rather get cozy at a front and center inn, take the bus around. If you absolutely must visit in peak season, start pinning some fun summer recipes and planning some beach picnics.
That said, compromise tends to have a negative connotation, and in this case I don’t think it’s true – it’s really quite hard to do Martha’s Vineyard “wrong.” Come with a smile and regardless of how budget or bottomless your wallet might be, you’ll inevitably be swept up in the charm of — what one very biased blogger feels is, at least — one of the most magical islands in the world.
Any questions? Ask away! Are you a Vineyard regular who noticed something I missed? Feel free to add in the comments!