things to do with your family on Nantucket

5 Things to Do with Your Family When on Nantucket

The island of Nantucket is not reserved for preppy billionaires, celebrities, romantic couples, and history buffs only. It is also an excellent destination to choose for your next vacation with the kids.

It offers various fun activities, sites, and venues for children of all ages and their parents.

There are many family-friendly beaches, playgrounds, events, classes, and camps for kids on the island, and Nantucket even has a summer ice rink to enjoy some ice skating after a long day on the beach.

You can also book one of the many different properties available for short-term rent. This can help to make your stay more comfortable and your vacation more enjoyable, even if you have young children.

Many rental residences include all or most amenities you will need for your children, including beach toys, playgrounds, and pools.

Another advantage is that you can split the rental costs with friends or extended family members and save some money. 

Here are five ideas for creating unforgettable memories with your family on a Nantucket island vacation.

Enjoy the charming beaches

There are over 80 miles of beautiful, free, and clean beaches on this picturesque New England Island.

You can pick from more than 25 beaches, depending on your preferences for location, amenities, and beach activities.

The most popular beaches for people with small children are Children’s Beach, Dionis, and Jetties. They are within walking distance from Downtown and have playgrounds, restaurants, restrooms, lifeguards, and everything you need to keep your little ones happy and for you to enjoy yourself too.

These north coast beaches have safer, warmer, and shallower water than the beaches on Nantucket’s other coasts, which are on the shores of the open Atlantic Ocean.

If you want to take surfing lessons or sign up your children to surf camp, you should opt for the south coast Cisco, Nobadeer, and Surfside beaches.

You can also rent kayaks and enjoy some pedaling at the harbor or in one of the many sheltered and shallow ponds on the island too.

Or if you and your family prefer less crowded places, you can visit the quieter Madaket, Coskata-Coatue, and other more remote beautiful beaches on the island.

Enjoy the handmade ice cream at the Juice Bar

Even if your kids are all grown up, you should try the most delicious handmade ice cream on the island at the Juice Bar.

This small ice cream shop offers over 40 unique, delicious creamy flavors and other frozen treats, including sorbet, frozen yogurt, and some healthier, low-fat ice cream options served in the best homemade waffle cones.

The Juice Bar also has delicious fresh lemonade, juice, smoothies, and homemade baked goods.

Just be prepared to wait in a long line in front of the shop, especially if you plan to visit Nantucket at the peak of the summer season.

Explore the nature

More than half of the land of Nantucket is protected thanks to the vigorous and never-ending efforts of the local nature conservation organizations on the island.

There are some stunning wildlife refuges and sanctuaries which are open to the public and are perfect for watching birds, spotting seals, deer, raptors, and other wild animals, and spending time among the untouched flora and fauna of Nantucket.

You can take your family on an adventure to the picturesque Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge, which has a stunning barrier beach, rare coastal plants, trees, and animals, the Great Point lighthouse, and can be reached by driving over the sand if you obtain a permit and rent a suitable 4WD vehicle.

Some other places to explore with the children include the local lakes, the cranberry bogs, the old forests, the swamps and marshes, and other beautiful spots on the small island.

There are many easy and short walking trails on the island, suitable even for the youngest kids on the “Little Grey Lady of the Sea,” too.

Get to know the history of Nantucket

The island has been declared a National Historic Landmark District. The island has more historical buildings in such a small space compared to any other town or district in the USA.

You can take your kids down the cobblestone streets in Town and show them the old captain’s mansions and other grand buildings from when Nantucket was considered the whaling hub of the world.

Your children will also enjoy exploring the three lighthouses on the island – Brant Point Light, Great Point Light, and Sankaty Head Light. They are famous for being among the oldest still-functioning lighthouses in the US.

The island is home to the oldest working windmill in the US, so you and the children can watch how the corn milling was done hundreds of years ago.

Another interesting spot to show your children is the Old Gaol, an old prison.

But undoubtedly, the best way to learn more about the history of Nantucket is to visit the Whaling Museum.

It contains thousands of unique exhibits from the glorious whaling years of the local people who inspired the writing of the great American novel “Moby-Dick” by Herman Melville. You can see artifacts from the whaling ships, artwork from those dangerous travels, and unique items such as the first lighthouse Fresnel lens and a real 46-foot sperm whale skeleton.

Join a cruise

Sailing has been in the blood of the locals for centuries. Luckily, you can experience an excursion around the island or a shorter harbor tour thanks to the various cruises offered by local captains and sailing companies.

Some of the best cruises for young children are the shorter harbor cruises offered at Straight Wharf, such as the Ice Cream Tour or the Fun Critter Cruise. During the ice cream tour, you and the children can enjoy delicious ice cream from the Juice Bar. And during the Critter Cruise, the kids will learn more, see and handle some of the critters from the ocean.

There are longer excursions, including whale spotting, fishing, and historical cruises, which you can sign up for, as well as romantic sunset and cocktails cruises if you happen to have a date night during your family vacation.

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