Visiting Martha's Vineyard | Yes You Can Afford It

Martha's Vineyard - every summer, I get super excited as I set sail for one of my favorite destinations, the quaint island off of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, known as Martha's Vineyard. And without fail, every year that I mention my trip plans, I get the same reactions from people of awe and reverence for the island, with the words "wow" and "expensive" featured in every comment.

Visiting Martha's Vineyard | Yes You Can Afford It
Photo: PhillyBite Magazine | William Zimmerman


Martha's Vineyard has long been associated with presidents, as well as the rich and famous. But I will spare you the long list of names, because after all, who really cares. What really matters is that many families don't even consider Martha's Vineyard as a viable place to have summer fun year after year because they think that it is just too expensive. I'm not saying the Vineyard is cheap. But it certainly is more affordable than most vacation-goers realize, and it has a lot to offer when you know how to plan your Martha's Vineyard trip. So if you want to check Martha's Vineyard off your bucket list, see the site of the filming of "Jaws," or go somewhere with the "wow" factor, then keep the following things in mind.

Book your trip early. I tell friends who want to make the trip to Martha's Vineyard to book their room reservations as early as possible. Some people actually book their journey for the following year while still on vacation in the Vineyard. Of course, you can always consider visiting in the off-season and get cheaper room rates. Typically, June, July, and August tend to be packed with the most activities. More popular activities include the 4th of July Fireworks, Oak Bluffs Grand Illumination held this year on Wednesday, August 19, multiple festivals like Harbor Fest and Open Market at Washington Park on Sundays, and the famous Flying Horses Carousel, always a hit with kids. I recommend the Narragansett House if you are staying in Oak Bluffs. They have a great front porch with fabulous rocking chairs. It is a lovely B&B and closes to everything. I've found the room rates in Martha's Vineyard to be similar to other vacation destinations, so shop around and be ready to snag the perfect room. Some people opt to rent a house, and there are several to choose from.

You don't need a car to get around. The bus system is very reliable on Martha's Vineyard, but if you want the freedom to drive the island, make sure to reserve your car on the Steamship Authority website. When I say early, I mean months in advance. Martha's Vineyard seems to have periods when it is more popular and thus harder to get your car on the ferry, but they do have a waiting list and stand by, so don't give up. If you don't need your car, you don't need reservations to get on the ferry. Just show up at Woods Hole, MA site on the ferry and purchase tickets. The current adult ticket price is $8.50 one way.

Once you book your room be sure to visit the various Martha's Vineyard online sites that list events, including many free activities for children happening all summer. The people on the Vineyard are friendly, and I can't remember a time when I heard a car horn blowing even in a bit of traffic. People seem more patient and respectful of others on this island, not sure why but I love it. There are beautiful beaches all over the island with distinct characteristics. The dining and shopping options are expansive. Everyone has their favorites, but I recommend Mad Martha's Ice Cream and Back Door Donuts. If time permits, do check out the Aquinnah Cliffs. It is breathtaking.