Summer Travel 2008: The Islands, Decoded
THE CHEAT SHEET: NANTUCKET
The Steamship Authority, with five daily high-speed, one-hour trips ($32.50 one way), offers the attraction of easy Cape-side parking. 508-477-8600, steamshipauthority.com. Cape Air runs 14 daily flights from Logan ($234 roundtrip); better yet, drive to Hyannis for an Island Airlines $102 roundtrip. 508-771-6944, capeair.com; 508-228-7575, islandair.net. You can also charter Ocean Wings Air planes for upward of $1,450 one way. Be sure to book well in advance, though, as Nantucket’s airport sees more than 40,000 flights per summer. 508-325-5548, flyoceanwings.com.
Hotel Green: Woman-about-town Vanessa Noel—that’s her high-end shoe store you’ll see next door—used only eco-friendly paints and décor in remodeling this modern, centrally located hotel. Doubles from $250, 5 Chestnut St., 508-228-5300, vanessanoelhotelgreen.com.
Nantucket Whaler: Affable owners Randi and Calli—who may doublehandedly debunk the "stuffy Nantucket" myth—make a stay here feel more like a visit. Doubles from $325, 8 N. Water St., 508-228-6597, nantucketwhaler.com.
The Summer House: Couples both romantic and frugal should try the India Street address for secret summer deals, and the ‘Sconset branch for its heated pool. 31 India St. and 17 Ocean Ave., 508-257-4577, thesummerhouse.com.
The Wauwinet: This spot epitomizes outsiders’ preconceptions with a Four Seasons–esque feel meshed with shabby-chic décor, fine dining, and extravagant spa pampering. Doubles from $700, 120 Wauwinet Rd., 508-228-0145, wauwinet.com.
Eat and Drink
Boarding House: Wine director Jamie Nickerson’s "red, white, and green" attitude translates into an array of biodynamic vintages. Not that the after-dinner crowd cares—they’re just there to sip and be seen. 12 Federal St., 508-228-9622, boardinghouse-pearl.com.
The Chicken Box: Original owner Willie House left his job as a family servant to sell fried chicken from a remodeled shack. Some 50 years later, the bar is the great Nantucket equalizer for tipplers of all (legal) ages. 16 Dave St., 508-228-9717, thechickenbox.com.
Company of the Cauldron: Each week All and Andrea Kovalencik post a fresh prix fixe menu outside their one-room, ivy-covered dinner party–cum–very intimate restaurant. 5 India St., 508-228-4016, companyofthecauldron.com.
The Downy Flake: If the parking lot full of pickups doesn’t tip you off, the hearty breakfast (homemade doughnuts!) will: This place is local, through and through. 18 Sparks Ave., 508-228-4533.
Straight Wharf: Boston transplants Gabriel Frasca and Amanda Lydon transformed this into the island’s finest eatery. Note: Finest does not mean stuffiest; ask to sit on the back deck. 6 Harbor Sq., 508-228-4499, straight wharfrestaurant.com.
Bartlett’s Farm: Nantucket’s largest family farm sells fruit, organic foods, and prepared meals. 33 Bartlett Farm Rd., 508-228-9403, bartlettsfarm.com.
Cisco Brewers: Randy Hudson turned a hippie dream into a hoppy utopia complete with a Sonoma-style outdoor tasting bar. Pick up a recyclable, refillable growler bottle, and keep your beer fresh and local. 5 Bartlett Farm Rd., 508-325-5929, ciscobrewers.com.
Murray’s Toggery Shop: The savvy owner made millions—and many color-coordinated outfits—when he created the iconic Nantucket Reds pants now worn by upper-crusters worldwide. 62 Main St., 508-228-0437, nantucketreds.com.
Nantucket Bookworks: Your kooky old aunt would feel right at home amid the boxing nun and Mexican Day of the Dead doodads; oh, and books by islanders like David Halberstam, Russell Banks, and Ned Rorem. 25 Broad St., 508-228-4000, nantucketbookworks.com.
Cisco Beach: The surfer-friendly spot attracts legions of weekend crowds; beware the occasional strong undertow.
Ram Pasture: Modern-day Robinson Crusoes can walk or bike through protected Ram Pasture to pop out onto an inviting expanse of untrampled sand.
Surfside Beach: The busy beach hosts a seemingly endless string of summer picnics and is well maintained with lifeguards, showers, and a shuttle into town. All beaches, 508-228-0925, nantucket-ma.gov.
Bette Spriggs: Fork over $75 and the venerable, straw-hatted Mrs. Spriggs will tie your knot, often with vows rich in connubial wisdom gleaned from her 36-year marriage to former Nantucket selectman Frank Spriggs. 508-228-4819.
James Michael Merberg: Should you accidentally get overserved (and busted on the Jeep ride home), call the noted attorney—he’s defended everyone from tourists to the local sheriff. 617-723-1990.
John Logan: Forgo the spas and buzz certified massage therapist John "Fingers" Logan, who specializes in Thai techniques and makes house calls. Bonus hookup: Logan runs a scallop boat in the off-season. 508-228-1296.
Spanky: The one-named wonder remains the best "clam guy" in town. 508-228-9898.
Go on to the next page to read an insider’s view of Martha’s Vineyard…