At the height of its prosperity in the early 19th century, the little island of Nantucket was the foremost whaling port in the world. Its harbor bustled with whaling ships and merchant vessels; chandleries, cooperages, and other shops crowded the wharves. Burly ship hands loaded barrels of whale oil onto wagons, which they wheeled along cobblestone streets to refineries and candle factories. Sea breezes carried the smoke and smells of booming industry through town as its inhabitants eagerly took care of business. Shipowners and sea captains built elegant mansions, which today remain remarkably unchanged, thanks to a very strict building code initiated in the 1950s. The entire town of Nantucket is now an official National Historic District encompassing more than 800 pre-1850 structures within 1 square mile.Day-trippers usually take in the architecture and historical sites, dine at one of the many delightful restaurants, and browse in the pricey boutiques, most of which stay open from mid-April through December. Signature items include Nantucket lightship baskets, originally crafted by sailors whiling away a long watch; artisans who continue the tradition now command prices of $700 and up, and the antiques are exponentially more expensive.
Copyright © Wed May 24 15:37:54 EDT 2017 by Fodor's Travel, a division of Random House, LLC. All rights reserved.
Things You Can't Miss
This family-friendly icon offers gracious service, a gourmet restaurant, two pools and a fitness center — plus an easy stroll to town and beaches.
New England Lighthouses / Alamy
Enjoy antique cars, art shows, activities for all ages and, of course, the Daffodil Flower Show. Add pristine beaches perfect for water sports.
JTB MEDIA CREATION, Inc. / Alamy
The Northeast’s first regatta of the season is on Memorial Day weekend; more than 200 sailboats race from Hyannis to Nantucket. Plan to party.
Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
You'll want to take it slow on these beautiful byways across America.
This unmarked path about 8 miles from town is open to the public — but it’s unmarked, so get a map. Enjoy beachfront mansions and gorgeous ocean views.
Panoramic Images/Getty Images
Infectious diseases within our borders can lead to serious illness.
Exhibits celebrate the island’s maritime history and the men who rescued people from hundreds of ships that ran aground here in the late 19th century.
Cindy Hopkins / Alamy
For example, she forgets her toothbrush or itinerary. See more of her frequent travel blunders and learn how you can prevent them.
Savings at Best Western, Hilton Hotels, La Quinta, Wyndham and more
Shared Trips to this Destination
|Trips||Places Of Interest|