If you are headed to New England or looking for a summer vacation spot, there are so many things to do on Martha's Vineyard with kids. A very popular location for many New Englanders, visiting Martha's Vineyard is one of our favorite things to do each summer, even for a day or a weekend.
What makes Martha's Vineyard so special is its several unique and distinctive areas. Many of these are quintessential New England seaside small towns and others have a completely different feel.
A visit to Martha’s Vineyard with kids is a fun experience with never-ending family-friendly things to do whether you visit in the summer season or after September. And if you have time on your visit to Boston, Massachusetts, it is a great add-on to your trip on the East Coast.
You can actually take a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard. Or, if you want a longer vacation, spend a weekend, week, or extended trip. Martha’s Vineyard is a great spot to include in a family road trip for a unique New England vacation, and there are so many fun things to do with kids.
Here’s all you need to know about visiting Martha’s Vineyard with kids.
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About Martha's Vineyard
Martha’s Vineyard is an island approximately 7 miles off coastal Cape Cod and consists of six small towns, each with its own distinct character. The whole island is 9 miles wide and 26 miles long for a total of 96 square miles.
There are six Martha's Vineyard towns across the whole island, and about one-third of the island is protected, so it will never be home to hotel chains. So, the island will retain its charm which is great for the locals and for those who visit.
You won’t find chain stores or restaurants either. And it has an energetic art and culture scene where you can experience theater, dance, live music, art galleries, and other events all year long.
Why Visit Martha's Vineyard With Kids
When you hear Martha’s Vineyard, you may think of celebrities and presidents, but it’s more about families and making memories. It's one of the best things to do on the east coast of the US, especially with kids!
We love going there to enjoy the beauty of its natural wonders, visit its five lighthouses, and learn about the local heritage and culture while having fun doing the endless activities this area of Massachusetts has.
Because it's so family-oriented, Martha’s Vineyard is a popular family vacation destination with beaches, miles of hiking trails to hike and ride bicycles, and other activities to keep you busy.
It is also very popular with New Englanders, and is always a favorite experience for us to visit this local gem! Although you do have to fly or take the Martha's Vineyard ferry (either the car ferry or one you walk on) to get to the island, it is close enough that you COULD make it a day trip if you are visiting Boston with kids.
What To Do In Martha's Vineyard With Kids
With so many things to do in Martha’s Vineyard, and because you have to book your ferry ticket ahead of time, you really need to plan your trip in advance. And while there is public transportation on the island, and a visitor's center right when you get off the island, it is still wise to have a plan.
That said, there is the Martha's Vineyard car ferry where you can bring your car! But these also require advance booking.
By having a plan, you will have time to visit the areas you want to and get in all the activities in the area. To help you organize your vacation, here are the highlights of the six small towns and the activities in each area.
Things To Do On Martha's Vineyard: Martha's Vineyard Towns
Martha's Vineyard Town: Edgartown
Edgartown is one of our family's favorite towns to visit and stay with the kids on Martha's Vineyard. It was established by whaling captains, and the center of town still retains the historic architecture and charm of the captains’ old homes.
Some are private residences now, but many have been converted into shops, cafes, restaurants, and inns. There are hotels and Air BnB's or VRBO's you can rent.
Edgartown is a quaint and beautiful seaside New England town well worth visiting in Martha's Vineyard!
Things To Do In Edgardtown
- Take the very short Chappy Ferry to Chappaquiddick Island (and spend a beach day!) The Chappy Ferry is under five minutes, costs just a few dollars, and you can take your car on it.
- Mytoi Japanese Garden or simply known as Mytoi garden (on Chappaquiddick Isand)
- Visit the Edgartown Lighthouse (located at the entrance of Edgartown Harbor and Katama Bay)
- Enjoy some good food at Edgartown Meat and Fish (you can go any time since it's open daily)
- Bike Riding
- Fishing (fun way to get everyone involved)
- Visit the Beach (see the best Martha's Vineyard beaches below – there is fair share of them)
- Shopping (be sure to visit the Black Dog store, Vineyard Vines store, and Original Muridick's Fudge store)
- Horseback riding
- Visit Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary (With a mix of woodlands, salt marshes, walking trails and beaches, it is the perfect place for outdoor activities)
- Explore Morning Glory Farm (one of the best ways for kids to get a glimpse of farm life)
- Dining (our favorites include Sharky's Cantina, Seafood Shanty, and Among The Flowers Cafe for breakfast)
- Visit Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge
- Attend Martha's Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
- Visit Edgartown Harbor Light
- Go Kayaking on Edgartown Great Pond or on Sengekontacket Pond
- Spend a few hours at Vincent House Museum – originally constructed in 1672
- Admire Old Whaling Church
- Learn more about animal at the Farm Institute
- If you have older kids, they'll love jumping off Jaws Bridge also known as Big Bridge
- Explore Chappaquiddick; a small island most known for Dike Bridge which claimed the life of Mary Jo Kopechne who was being driven by Senator Ted Kennedy when the fateful accident happened.
Martha's Vineyard Town: Oak Bluffs
This town is known as the liveliest on Martha’s Vineyard, and it is one of the towns near the Ferry drop-off point.
Oak Bluffs is known for its charming gingerbread cottages, which are plentiful and picturesque all over the town. It is also a bit more of an old-fashioned festive beach (with arcades) atmosphere.
The town green Ocean Park overlooks the ocean. And, it is a great place for kids to run around, fly a kite, or throw frisbees while taking in the seabreeze air.
Our favorite thing to do every visit is ride the carefully preserved Flying Horses Carousel. This 8=carousel is unique as it’s the oldest continuing one in America. While riding, try to catch as many of the metal rings as you can when you go by the ring dispenser. Get the golden ring and you get to ride again for FREE! Yes, a free ride! How exciting is that.
Top Things To Do In Oak Bluffs
- Ride the Flying Horse Carousel
- Play games in the arcades
- Bike Riding
- Visit the Cottage Museum and Museum Shop
- Kids will love the Alpaca Farm
- Swim at Oak Bluffs Town Beach
- Fly a kite or hang out on Ocean Park
- Shop for souvenirs
- Visit Island Alpaca Company (Be sure to stop by their gift shop)
- Play or watch golf at Farm Neck Golf Club
- Dining (we love The Lookout Tavern, Sandbar Grill, and Linda Jean's Restaurant for brunch)
- Visit the East Chop Lighthouse
Martha's Vineyard Town: Chilmark
Chilmark is one of the “up-island” towns on Martha's Vineyard. It is more rural, with meadows, stone walls, and beautiful beaches. There are also farm stands in this area, and Chilmark hosts the Martha's Vineyard Film Festival each March.
One of the highlights of Chilmark is the quaint, picturesque fishing village Menemsha. It is also home to Menemsha Harbor, which is an active fishing harbor and departure point for local fishermen (as well as where they unload their catch of the day.)
It is also where vacationers can take day cruises or fishing charters. And, fun fact, it's reported to be where some of the scenes from the JAWS movie were filmed!
Things To Do In Chilmark
- Walk through Menemsha
- Enjoy a beach day at Menemsha Beach (or watch the sunset)
- Visit one of the Menemsha fish markets
- Stop by the Chilmark General Store
- Dining (Home Port Restaurant, Beach Plum Inn Restaurant)
- Admire the scenic views of Menemsha Hills
Martha's Vineyard Town: Vineyard Haven – West Tisbury
The little town of West Tisbury is an actual working sea harbor village. Vineyard Haven is the all-season port for Martha’s Vineyard and has a vibrant Cultural District. In fact, this is where you will come in to Martha's Vineyard on the Ferry.
You can walk this mile-long section from Beach Road to Main St., where you’ll see several creative shops ranging from design to theater. Also, the West Chop Lighthouse is located here.
What To Do In Vineyard Haven – West Tisbury
- Shopping at one of the local shops
- Visit Longpointe Wildlife Refuge for a walk, swim or picnic
- Stop by the historic Alley's General Store
- Browse the West Tisbury Farmer's Market (seasonal and twice per week)
- Participate in Alpaca yoga
- Visit Lambert's Cove Beach or Long Point Beach (if you are staying in the area)
- Dine at one of the ecclectic restaurants
- Visit Polly Hill Arboretum (it has plant species from all around the world and it also in the National Register of Historic Places)
Martha's Vineyard Town: Aquinnah
Aquinnah is only six square miles and the furthest western town at Martha’s Vineyard. You don’t want to miss the Aquinnah Circle Cultural District or the Aquinnah Lighthouse (also known as Gay Head Light.)
But this town is best known because it’s home to the Gay Head Cliffs, Aquinnah Cliffs, and Aquinnah Wampanoag, the Native American Tribe who have called this area home for centuries.
The Gay Head Public (also known as Moshup Beach) is set with the backdrop of the Gay Head Cliffs. It is actually a really lovely place to spend a beach day.
To access the beach, you walk down a ten-minute trail and there is plenty of sand for setting up camp. Fair warning, though – beware of the seagulls! They ran off with one of our snacks while we were eating it!
Aquinnah Circle Cultural District
When you park at the Aquinnah Circle Cultural District, you can browse the area's shops and restaurants that are all family-owned and operated by members of the Wampanoag Native American community. You can also learn about the Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe at the Aquinnah Cultural Center.
It is a very special part of Martha's Vineyard, and one not to miss.
Great Things To Do In Aquinnah
- Spend a day on the beach
- Tour the Aquinnah Lighthouse also known as the Gay Head Lighthouse
- Learn about the Wampanoag Tribe at the Aquinnah Cultural Center
- Shop in the Aquinnah Circle Cultural District for special Native American handicrafts, jewelry, clothing, pottery, and more
- Dine at one of the local eateries with a variety of New England favorites
Best Free Things To Do On Martha's Vineyard: Best Beaches
Of course, one of the best things to do on Martha's Vineyard for families is to visit one of the beautiful beaches. There are many worth visiting. But here are the ones known for being the best beaches on Martha's Vineyard.
- Fuller Street Beach – calm waters and popular with families with young kids
- State Beach – one of the most popular on the island especially for families
- South Beach – Katama beach – a popular beach but surf can be rough. Owing to its name, it is located on the south side of the island and it the perfect spot for shell fishing on the Atlantic ocean.
- Lighthouse Beach – a calm sandy beach popular with families, right near the lighthouse
- East Beach (Chappaquidick) – non-members are charged a small fee
- Town Beach – right in the center of town and popular with families
- State Beach – runs from Edgartown and popular with families
- Menemsha Beach – nice calm family beach, but there are rocks when entering the water (bring swim shoes)
- Lucy Vincent Beach – only open to Chilmark residents, guests, and renters (must have a pass)
- Squibnocket Beach – only open to Chilmark residents, guests, and renters (must have a pass)
Vineyard Haven – West Tisbury
- Long Point Beach
- Lambert's Cove Beach (if you are a resident or renting in the area)
- Owen Park Beach – for a quick dip your toe in or splash around
- Gay Head Public (Moshup Beach) — breathtaking beach, soft sand, but there is some surf
- Lobsterville Beach – a calm beach good for snorkeling, fishing, and bird watching
- Philbin Beach – limited to residents of Aquinnah Martha's Vineyard
Additional Things To Do In Martha's Vineyard
- Watersports (paddleboarding, surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, and other water activities)
- Golfing and Tennis at the various tennis courts
- Chartered Boat Tours
- Sightseeing Tours
- Bike Riding
- Walking Tours
- Bird Tours
- Fine Dining; The lobster rolls and clam chowder at Net Result are a must try.
- Taste fresh produce at farmers markets
- Correllus State Forest
- Relax on Crane Beach in Ipswich
- Watch Martha's Vineyard's The Vineyard Sound — be sure to check their website for the exact dates of their performances
- Day trip to Elizabeth Islands; a collection of small islands
- Learn more about African American history
- Sign up for a tour with a tour guide registered withMartha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association
How To Get To Martha's Vineyard: Ferry or Fly
To get to Martha’s Vineyard, you need to fly or take a ferry there. There is only one ferry that will take your car, and that’s the Steamship Authority ferry. You can also take your bike or walk onto the ferry, but you need an appointment. This ferry leaves every day from Woods Hole, Cape Cod.
Schedule your trip on The Steamship Authority website, especially if you’re taking your car.
You can walk or bike onto the ferry for any of their 12 or more daily crossings. And there are other passenger ferries that leave from Falmouth, New Bedford, and Hyannis, Massachusetts, New Your City, Northern New Jersey, or Quonset Point, Rhode Island.
Unfortunately, you can’t take a ferry ride from Boston. To decide which ferry you want to take, visit VineyardFerries.com.
There are also daily flights to the island all year long from Logan Airport in Boston to the Vineyard Airport. Seasonal flights from May to October leave from New York City’s LaGuardia, Boston, and New Your City’s JFK, and Washington, DC.
How Do You Get Around Martha's Vineyard Without A Car?
Don’t worry about transportation around the island if you come without a car. The Vineyard Transit Authority buses can transport you around the island and connect you to different towns. There are also cabs, Uber, and Lyft.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you do Martha's Vineyard in a day?
You can definitely make Martha's Vineyard a day trip and see one or two areas or head to one of the nearby beaches. But, it’s not feasible to visit the entire island of Martha’s Vineyard in a day. If you’re just coming for the day, I recommend you pick one town to focus on, like Oak Bluffs (which is close to where the Ferry arrives) or Edgartown. Or choose one main activity like going to the beach or taking one of Martha's Vineyard tours to get a gist of the island life.
Is Martha's Vineyard kid-friendly?
Yes, Martha's Vineyard is very kid-friendly. In fact, many families spend their summers there!
In addition to numerous kid-friendly beaches, there are many places and activities on the island kids will enjoy. Kids love the Flying Horses Carousel (the oldest platform carousel in the US), the Oak Bluffs arcades, the Alpaca farm, going to the beach, riding the Chappy ferry, and much more. There are even summer camps for kids if you’re taking an extended vacation to the island.
The Farm Camp of the Trustees is for 2 to 17-year-old kids and teens; the Featherstone Art Camp is for kids ages 3 to teens. Check out this website to choose the right Martha’s Vineyard Summer Camp for your children.
Where should we stay in Martha's Vineyard?
There are plenty of great hotels, resorts, and inns on the island. There are also Airbnbs and VRBO rentals.
Our favorite place to stay is the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown.
Not only is this historic, 19th century inn beautiful and great for families. But it is also within walking distance to all the things to do in Edgartown and is right across the street from the Edgartown Lighthouse and beach.
Check out more places to stay in Martha's Vineyard.
Where to eat with kids on Martha's Vineyard?
There are so many family-friendly places to eat on Martha's Vineyard with kids! Our favorites include:
- Sharky's Cantina in Edgartown
- Among Flowers Cafe (great for breakfast) in Edgartown
- The Seafood Shanty in Edgartown
- Linda Jean's in Oak Bluffs
- Murdick's Fudge (all over the island)
- The Charlotte Inn terrace
Final Thoughts on Visiting Martha's Vineyard with Kids
Martha’s Vineyard with kids is a great vacation because there are so many things to do, and it is such a unique and special New England beach vacation. Make sure you see the old sea captain’s homes in Edgarton, visit the Wampanoag village in Aquinnah, visit the gingerbread cottages in Oak Bluffs, visit Martha's Vineyard Museum (the perfect place to learn about the island's history), or camp at Martha's Vineyard campground if you're into camping.
There's really something for everyone in the family.
Just remember to plan your vacation ahead of time so you can make an appointment with the ferry, find a great place to stay, and pack everything you need. Your family will have a magical island vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. And being a short ferry ride from Cape Cod, it's easy to combine both destinations in one trip.