We’ve compiled the best of the best in Nantucket - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Nantucket Historical Association

    This association maintains an assortment of venerable properties in town. A $23 pass gets you into all of the association's sites, including the glorious Whaling Museum and Hadwen House: historic properties including the Oldest House, Old Mill, Old Gaol, Greater Light are free for all visitors. Reserve in advance for two very popular walking tours, which depart daily late May–early September: a 60-minute Historic Downtown tour and a Historic Homes & Architecture tour. Both cost $20.

    15 Broad St., Nantucket, Massachusetts, 02554, USA
  • 2. Surfside Beach

    Surfside Beach, accessible via the Surfside Bike Path (3 miles) or by shuttle bus, is the island's most popular surf beach. This wide strand of sand comes fully equipped with conveniences. It draws teens and young adults as well as families and is great for kite flying and, after 5 pm, surf casting. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (fee); showers; toilets. Best for: surfing; swimming; walking.

    Surfside Rd., Massachusetts, 02554, USA
  • 3. Whaling Museum

    With exhibits that include a fully rigged whaleboat and a skeleton of a 46-foot sperm whale, this must-see museum—a complex that includes a restored 1846 spermaceti candle factory—offers a crash course in the island's colorful history. Items on display include harpoons and other whale-hunting implements; portraits of whaling captains and their wives (a few of whom went whaling as well); the South Seas curiosities they brought home; a large collection of sailors' crafts; a full-size tryworks once used to process whale oil; and the original 16-foot-high 1850 lens from Sankaty Head Lighthouse. The museum also offers a rotating gallery with a new exhibit each season, a fine art gallery, and a world-class scrimshaw collection. The Children's Discovery Room provides interactive-learning opportunities. Be sure to climb—or take the elevator—up to the observation deck for a view of the harbor.

    13 Broad St., Massachusetts, 02554, USA

    Sight Details

    $23, includes other historic sites Rate Includes: Closed Jan. Closed Sun. from Feb.-Apr.
  • 4. Altar Rock

    A dirt track leads to the island's highest point, Altar Rock (101 feet), and the view is spectacular. The hill overlooks approximately 4,000 acres of rare coastal heathland laced with paths leading in every direction.

    Altar Rock Rd., Massachusetts, USA
  • 5. Brant Point Light

    The promontory where this 26-foot-tall, white-painted beauty stands offers views of the harbor and town. The point was once the site of the second-oldest lighthouse in the country (1746); the present, much-photographed light was built in 1901. There are no tours inside the lighthouse, but the grounds are open to the public.

    End of Easton St., Massachusetts, 02554, USA
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  • 6. Cisco Brewers

    The microconglomerate of Cisco Brewers, Nantucket Vineyard, and Triple Eight Distillery makes boutique beers, wine, and vodka on-site. Tours and tastings are available (fee) and there is regular live music starting in the late afternoon and sometimes food trucks.

    5 Bartlett Farm Rd., Massachusetts, USA
  • 7. First Congregational Church

    The tower of this church provides the best view of Nantucket—for those willing to climb its 94 steps. Rising 120 feet, the tower is capped by a weather vane depicting a whale catch. 

    62 Centre St., Massachusetts, 02554, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Tower tour $5
  • 8. Jetties Beach

    A short bike or shuttle-bus ride from town, Jetties Beach is popular with families because of its calm surf. It's also a good place to try out kayaks and sailboards. The shore is a lively scene, with a playground and volleyball nets on the beach and adjacent public tennis courts. There is a boardwalk to the beach (special wheelchairs are available). You'll have a good view of passing ferries—and an even better one if you clamber out on the jetty itself. (Careful, it's slippery.) Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (fee); showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: swimming; windsurfing.

    4 Bathing Beach Rd., Massachusetts, 02554, USA
  • 9. Museum of African American History - Nantucket

    When the island abolished slavery in 1773, Nantucket became a destination for free blacks and escaping slaves. The African Meeting House was built in the 1820s as a schoolhouse, and it functioned as such until 1846, when the island's schools were integrated. A complete restoration has returned the site to its authentic 19th-century appearance. Next door is the late-18th-century Seneca Boston-Florence Higginbotham house, originally purchased by Seneca Boston, a former slave and weaver, and purchased by Florence Higginbotham in 1920. The museum offers a free self-guided Nantucket Black Heritage Trail map that includes 10 sites around the island. 

    29 York St., Massachusetts, 02554, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10
  • 10. Nantucket Black Heritage Trail

    Providing insight into Nantucket's African American history, the self-guided trail is divided into two parts, Downtown and New Guinea (an African American community in the 18th and 19th centuries). There are ten stops on the trail including the African Meeting House and the Seneca Boston Florence Higginbotham House.

    Massachusetts, USA
    617-725--0022-ext. 440
  • 11. Sconset Beach

    Known for its wild surf and for its dunes, this beautiful spot is repeatedly blasted by winter erosion. Restaurants and restrooms are in the nearby village. Amenities: lifeguards. Best for: surfing; swimming; walking.

    Milestone Rd., Massachusetts, 02564, USA

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