When Nantucket’s summer visitors dwindle, the warm colors of autumn set in, and the dune-dotted island fills with a harvest of experiences like touring cranberry bogs, collecting scallops, or cycling along miles of beautiful bike paths.
“Being 30 miles out to sea makes Nantucket a truly remarkable place not just during the summer but throughout the fall season as well,” says Eric Landt, managing director at island resort The Wauwinet. “The weather is still beautiful and sunny during the day and the water is warm.”
We curated a guide to where to stay and dine plus things to do in Nantucket in the fall.
Where to stay
This iconic luxury resort is the only Nantucket member of the Relais & Châteaux hotels, association that lets guests know they are in for the best lodging, cuisine, and hospitality available. Serving the island for more than 140 years, the Wauwinet offers a coastal retreat on the northern side of the island, with charmingly appointed rooms overlooking manicured gardens and the expanse of Nantucket Bay. Private beaches, kayaks and paddleboards, and one of the island’s most acclaimed restaurants let visitors immerse themselves in the relaxed island lifestyle.
120 Wauwinet Rd., 508-228-0145, wauwinet.com
The White Elephant is a luxurious and inviting spot for families of any age and size. The iconic and charming property has been a Nantucket landmark since the 1920s. Along with the main hotel with 66 rooms and suites, the White Elephant features garden cottages, residences and lofts with balconies for stays in town. Lucky guests can be chauffeured in a BMW 7 series or borrow the keys to take a spin on their own. “The autumn season offers a quieter, whimsical time to enjoy the island’s outdoor offerings as the leaves begin to change as well as a slower pace for strolling along the cobblestone streets lined with local boutiques or leisurely dining at your pick of island-favorite restaurants,” says Bettina Landt, managing director at White Elephant.
50 Easton St., 508-228-2500, whiteelephantnantucket.com
Jared Coffin House
If you fancy staying in a 175-year-old three-story brick mansion with easy access to the island’s downtown restaurants and boutiques, you’ll love the Jared Coffin House. The historical inn features 30 rooms in its main mansion and 13 in the adjacent Daniel Webster House, all appointed with period antiques and reproductions. A stay at the Jared Coffin House transports you to a bygone era time of elegance when sultry music played on phonographs and ladies gathered in book-lined parlors to enjoy tea.
29 Broad St., 800-248-2405, jaredcoffinhouse.com
Where to eat
Pop by Lemon Press on Main Street for a healthy breakfast in a fresh setting. The creative menu features favorites like avocado toast with goodies like pea tendrils. Wash down the morning meal with cold-pressed juice.
41 Main St., 508-228-3800, lemonpressnantucket.com
Mille’s is a popular stop in Madaket to enjoy an afternoon cocktail, Baja-style taco or Po’boy. You’ll want to stay to see the sunset and enjoy a Madaket Mystery, the destination’s official cocktail.
326 Madaket Rd., 508-228-8435, milliesnantucket.com
TOPPER’S, located on a slice of nirvana at the Wauwinet, is Nantucket’s must-do dining experience. Along with a seasonal menu featuring the island’s freshest seafood and produce, TOPPER’S boasts a wine list of over 2,300 bottles and special tasting menus.
120 Wauwinet Rd., 508-228-0145, wauwinet.com/dining/toppers
8 inspired things to do
1. Visit Milestone Cranberry Bog where you can meander around the island’s oldest and largest continuously operated farm and perhaps spot a deer or red-tailed hawk.
2. Great Point Lighthouse, Brant Point Lighthouse, and Sankaty Head Light are beacons of beauty. Surrounded by golden foliage and lovely light, these historic landmarks are particularly lovely in the fall.
3. Shop at area boutiques – without the lines – for items that invoke the island’s preppy vibe.
4. Enjoy a brisk walk around Sconset Beach or Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge.
5. Don flannels and bring blankets and hot toddies to see the sun dip below the horizon at Madaket Beach.
6. Visit Cisco Brewers to enjoy a seasonal cider or an autumnal spiced Pumple Drumkin ale. And save room for Aunt Leah’s Fudge once your back in town.
7. Hike to Altar Point, the highest point on the island, to see the splendor.
8. Enjoy interactive arts, crafts, and games at the Discovery Center at the Whaling Museum, a treasure trove of Nantucket’s history located in an old candle factory.
Spend a fall weekend in Nantucket and an autumn adventure on the island may be a new tradition to add to your favorite New England road trips.