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, Massachusetts, is one of our favorite things to do each summer, even for a day or a weekend.
What makes the 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 here 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, or Ogunquit, Maine, 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. This location 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, Massachusetts with kids.
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About Martha's Vineyard
Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts 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 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, Massachusetts, 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
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 to reach Chappaquiddick Island.
- Mytoi Japanese Garden or simply known as Mytoi Garden (on Chappaquiddick Island)
- Visit the Edgartown Lighthouse (located at the entrance of Edgartown Harbor and Katama Bay) which was originally built on a small artificial island but is now surrounded by a beach that built up over time.
- Enjoy some good food at Edgartown Meat and Fish (you can go any time since it's open daily)
- Bike Riding
- Fishing (a fun way to get everyone involved)
- Visit the Beach (see the best Martha's Vineyard beaches below – there is plenty to choose from)
- Shopping (be sure to visit the Black Dog store, Vineyard Vines store, and Original Murdick'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. We love using the walking trails to get some exercise in.)
- Explore Morning Glory Farm (Morning Glory Farm is one of the best ways for kids to get a glimpse of farm life and buy fresh produce, cheese, pastries, and more. My kids loved visiting Morning Glory Farm.)
- 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 animals at the Farm Institute
- If you have older kids, they'll love jumping off Jaws Bridge (aka the American Legion Memorial Bridge), also known as Big Bridge. If you've seen Jaws, you'll likely recognize the Jaws Bridge.
- Visit Chappaquiddick Island, 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.
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 that are considered a National Historic Landmark and picturesque all over the town. It is also a bit more of an old-fashioned festive beach (with arcades) atmosphere.
The town's 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 sea breeze 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 and was originally located on Coney Island. 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 the gift shop at the Island Alpaca Company for some great souvenirs)
- 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 – The East Chop Lighthouse dates back to the 1800s and has the typical bright white exterior.
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. Menemsha Hills showcases a variety of landscapes from woodlands to wetlands to picturesque groves and more.
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. of Vineyard Haven, 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 is also on the National Register of Historic Places). The 72-acre Polly Hill Arboretum showcases the greener side of the island.
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 Lighthouse.)
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 Aquinnah Cliffs are a great place to see stunning, unique views of the red clay cliffs all around you, but as they are a popular tourist attraction, this area gets congested in the peak summer season. They were carved by glaciers many years ago.
The Gay Head Public (also known as Moshup Beach) is set with the backdrop of the Aquinnah 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 which 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 the 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, also known as the Gay Head Light.
- 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
- Visit the Aquinnah Cliffs, a one-mile section of clay cliffs on the edge of Aquinnah.
- 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 in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusets, 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, Massachusetts.
- 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 or Katama Beach – This is a popular beach, but the surf can be rough. Owing to its name, South Beach (otherwise known as Katama Beach) is located on the south side of the island, and it is the perfect spot for shellfishing on the Atlantic Ocean.
- Lighthouse Beach – a calm sandy beach popular with families, right near the lighthouse
- East Beach (Chappaquidick Island) – non-members are charged a small fee
- Norton Point Beach in Edgarton is one of the few places on the island that allows you to drive vehicles on the beach.
- Joseph Sylvia State Beach is another great one, and it's in the area of the Jaws Bridge from the 1975 movie. If the Jaws exhibit isn't at the Martha's Vineyard Museum anymore, Joseph Sylvia State Beach is a great location to check out for that fact alone.
- Town Beach – right in the center of town and popular with families
- State Beach – runs from Edgartown and is 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
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 the website for The Vineyard Sound for the exact dates of their performances
- Day trip to the Elizabeth Islands, a collection of small islands
- Learn more about African American history
- Sign up for a tour with a tour guide registered with Martha's Vineyard Camp Meeting Association
How To Get To Martha's Vineyard: Ferry or Fly
To get to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusets, 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 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 one of the beaches like South 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 that 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 of all the things to do in Edgartown and is right across the street from the Edgartown Lighthouse and beach. The Edgartown Lighthouse is the perfect place to see stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Harbor, and Chappaquiddick Island.
Check out more places to stay in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusets.
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
This area makes a great vacation destination because there are so many things to do on Martha's Vineyard today, 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, and visit the gingerbread cottages in Oak Bluffs.
You'll also want to visit the Martha's Vineyard Museum overlooking Vineyard and Lagoon Pond (the perfect place to learn about the island's history), or camp at Martha's Vineyard campground if you're into camping. One thing is certain; you won't get board with all the sights to see and outdoor activities.
There's really something for everyone in the family, and our kids really enjoyed the Martha's Vineyard Museum. The Martha's Vineyard Museum has an exhibit for the fictitious town of Amity Island in Jaws for a limited time, so check it out if you're there. And another little-known fact is this museum started as the Duke's County Historical Society.
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.