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Colonial Inn

If I had a dollar for everyone who has ended a reservation call with some variation on this theme, I’d be a happy man. Sometimes, people want me to tell them what they should do and I simply cannot. This can be frustrating for some.

There are as many answers as there are people. Some folk are extremely attached to their wheels and the idea of leaving their car, their independence…nay…their very identities behind is unthinkable. Some people can drop their cars like a hot rock and just wing it. YOU know your travel needs better than I do. It is possible (and FAR less expensive) to travel everywhere on the Island without bringing your car across.

Here’s what I suggest to Colonial Inn guests…

Leave the car behind. The Steamship Authority has ample parking in numerous locations. You pay $10 per calendar day to park and they shuttle you to the boat.  The Steamship cost for vehicles is between $135 and $155 round-trip. (The bigger the car or truck, the more you spend to bring it over!) Therefore, $40 for parking on a three-day stay leaves you $95 to $115 ahead. (That’s a meal for two at a mid-range Island restaurant…)

During the height of the summer, every town on Martha’s Vineyard becomes rush hour Boston. You can inch along for an hour and never see a parking spot, and you will begin to curse the happy carefree faces of cyclists and pedestrians. MOREOVER, they paid $40 to park their cars so they are loaded down with plunder while YOU have $100 less to spend toward boosting the economy. It’s downright un-American! So leave the car. Plunder the Village!

Car-less and straight off of the boat, options increase. This is where I have different advice for different people. Taxis are expensive. $22 for two people will get you from a ferry terminal to our door. Pricey? Yes, but with a varying number of travelers coming from locations far and wide, (some of whom may have begun their travels at three or four AM, ugh) and luggage in tow, it is the fastest way to get you here and settled.  If we can’t get you into your room yet, we will at least take that annoying luggage and direct you to a great lunch spot. (Freed of your burdens and a tummy full of lunch, you will feel much more adventurous. Trust me!)

Once you are here and settled, THEN we can walk you through the Vineyard Transit Authority Bus route.  The public bus system has connections to many points on the island and for a $15 three day pass, you can have unlimited access.  Many of the drivers are year-round Island residents and have a wide range of ideas for things to see and do. (Getting some of them to chat is trickier, but if it were all easy, where would the adventure be?)

There are also several bicycle rental shops no more than three minutes away.  We recommend Cutler Bikes and Wheel Happy.  They have been more than helpful to our guests over the years and I recommend them without hesitation.  Many of the roads on the Island have wide sidewalks designed to accommodate bicycles.

Please, just don’t ask us about mopeds! (We prefer that the one part of the island that you don’t explore while here is the emergency room…)

Image courtesy of The Vineyard Transit Authority

 

The Top 7 Edgartown, MA Restaurants for Seafood Lovers
Cycle Around on the Best Martha’s Vineyard Bike Rentals
Play a Round at Martha’s Vineyard’s Best Golf Courses
Engage in a Martha’s Vineyard Shopping Escapade
Enjoy a Pint from the Best Martha’s Vineyard Breweries
Embark on a Self-Guided Martha’s Vineyard Lighthouse Tour
Visit the Best Martha’s Vineyard Art Galleries in Edgartown
Relax with a Martha’s Vineyard Yoga Practice

Those who know me well would probably describe my spending habits as “cheap”…  but I prefer the terms “economy minded” or “frugal”!  I don’t eat out often (college tuitions to save for you know), and I really appreciate a Value.  For all of these reasons, I am sympathetic to visitors who want to vacation on this beautiful island without taking a second mortgage out on their house.  Eating out every meal can be expensive, but if you know where to go, a little planning will go far and you can then splurge without guilt on some of our more posh gourmet dining options.

Because the island offers a vast array of eateries, this post will focus on Edgartown, which is the area I know best.  Let’s start with breakfast…   Please don’t underestimate the value of a breakfast included in your room rate, even a simple continental. Especially if you have more than 1 or 2 mouths to feed! It is one less thing to think about & budget.  It also makes the mornings a little more relaxed.  You don’t have to consider where to go, or even wait until everyone in your family is awake.

beach-picnic2I highly recommend solidifying your lunch plans before you take off for your day.  If you are headed to the beach or off for a hike or long bike ride, you can get sandwiches, etc. to go and have a picnic at a scenic spot along the way.  Two deli’s that offer great value are Humphreys Bakery (right behind The Colonial Inn on Winter St.) and Shiretown Meats (the butcher shop beside Stop & Shop).  Both offer huge portions, so it’s possible to make 1 sandwich into lunch for 2.  Another less expensive and popular option is fast food to go at the Quarterdeck on Dock St.  You can grab a hotdog for the kids (or an inexpensive soft ice cream cone) and enjoy your feast on a bench along the harbor, while watching the boats and ducking the seagulls (I understand that the gulls really like those french fries… watch your fingers!).

If you are looking for a casual, kid friendly spot to “eat in”, check out Among the Flowers on Mayhew Lane.  They have a wonderful patio area from which to people watch, & good food (celebrating 30 years in business, they must be doing something right…also a great option for a full breakfast).

There are numerous fabulous dinner options in Edgartown, depending on your mood and budget.  For casual pub fare, I like to recommend the Newes from America Pub, on the corner of N.Water St. and Kelley St.  It’s a cozy spot with a kid’s menu, and  microbrews on-tap.  Another popular restaurant with reasonable prices is Sharkey’s Cantina on upper Main St.  Yes, I know that most people don’t come to Martha’s Vineyard expecting to eat Mexican food; but the food is good, the atmosphere is fun, and variety is the spice of life, right?!

Another moderately priced dining option is Lattanzi’s Pizzeria.  Off of Courthouse Square, they offer exceptional “traditional Italian cuisine” (with a fine dining option next door).  The pizzeria is more casual, and offers something on the menu for everyone in the family.

If you are interested in a more upscale dining option, the Best Value in Edgartown is atChesca’s, on N.Water St. at the Colonial Inn Courtyard.  They offer delicious “urban Italian & American cuisine”, a comfortably elegant atmosphere, an extensive wine list, and the service is always top notch.  If there is a wait (it’s a really popular spot), you can enjoy your favorite beverage and people watch in the most comfortable rockers on the Island… on the covered front porch of the Colonial Inn.  Although everything on Chesca’s menu is a good bet, they offer a few Bento Box options that will help minimize the bill.  Their American version of this Japanese tradition offers smaller portions of an entree, salad, choice of soup or chowder, mashed potatoes and a fresh sautéed vegetable all for one attractive price ($28-32).

So what are your favorite choices when “eating out” on a budget on Martha’s Vineyard?  Did I miss you favorite Edgartown eating tradition?  I hope to expand on this list and cover other towns in future posts, so please let us know what your favorites are!

Image courtesy of edenpictures

 

The Top 7 Edgartown, MA Restaurants for Seafood Lovers
Cycle Around on the Best Martha’s Vineyard Bike Rentals
Play a Round at Martha’s Vineyard’s Best Golf Courses
Engage in a Martha’s Vineyard Shopping Escapade
Enjoy a Pint from the Best Martha’s Vineyard Breweries
Embark on a Self-Guided Martha’s Vineyard Lighthouse Tour
Visit the Best Martha’s Vineyard Art Galleries in Edgartown
Relax with a Martha’s Vineyard Yoga Practice
4th-of-July-by-CitySteph
4th of July by City Steph

You can’t come to Martha’s Vineyard without noticing the vast number of different accents you encounter in your day – the girl at the coffee shop is Russian, the guy who drives the cab is from Bulgaria, your housekeeper is Jamaican and thishotel manager is Scottish. To many, it’s part of what makes the Vineyard so special – almost everyone is from somewhere else and bring with them their own traditions and perspectives while adopting a good measure of the local culture.

This weekend will be my 11th July 4th celebration – 10th on Martha’s Vineyard. In Scotland, holidays are still mostly the old Christian calendar holidays with a couple of ‘Bank Holidays’ thrown in (basically an administrative day off for the whole country), so I have come to love my American holidays – Memorial Day to celebrate those who protect and have protected, Labor Day for the workers, Thanksgiving reminds us all how lucky we are, but my favorite of all has to be 4th of July!

On my 1st July 4th on Martha’s Vineyard I was lucky enough to be swept up by my American colleague, “Let me show you all the fun of a real July 4th!” Well, I’m pretty game for an adventure, so I put myself in her hands and boy am I glad that I did!

The 1st stop was the lawn of the Old Whaling Church for a good old fashioned BBQ. Burgers, dogs with all the fixins’, kids screaming and laughing, parents chasing, grandparents sitting back and enjoying – good old family fun!

Down to North Water Street next for ice cream from my favorite spot, Mad Martha’s – voted the Best of the Vineyard for several years, and in the Top 10 in the USA Today a few years ago – it really is a fantastic place – cones, cups, sundaes, toppings – everything a dessert lover could wish for.

So, ice cream in one hand and flag in the other, we found a perch on the steps of theColonial Inn courtyard to watch the parade – and oh, what a parade it is! Having never seen a big city parade, my frame of reference is limited, but I am assured it is small town Americana at its best. The parade starts at 5ish (remember – you’re on Vineyard Time) and confuses many by looping through town in the opposite direction to the usual traffic flow. It starts at Edgartown Elementary School, takes a Left at Pease Point Way and loops behind the town center to head along North Water Street in the ‘opposite’ direction and then UP Main Street.

The Selectmen from all the towns lead off in antique vehicles, many local businesses decorate floats with many varied themes, lots of kids sports teams and other non-profits have tons of fun entertaining the crowds – skaters, dancers, musicians, gymnasts and many others besides. The towns’ fire trucks are decked out, the Island Veterans always get a huge cheer and imagine my surprise when a group of men in kilts and ladies in tartan processed by followed by a Bagpipe Band – did they do this just to make me feel a part of the fun? Alas no, it’s the local Scottish Society (although it sure did make it all feel a bit more familiar).

After the fun of the parade we took a break, enjoyed the great atmosphere in town and then headed up to Lighthouse Beach to stake out our spot for the fireworks. They are set off from a barge just off-shore of the Lighthouse, in the outer harbor, so the beach is really the best vantage point, although you can see them from other locations a bit farther out. They usually start around 8.30 – 9pm (once it’s dark enough) and the show never disappoints.

Who wouldn’t love this holiday!! The events continue this year, in the same way they did on my 1st year here – will we see you? What are you doing for the 4th?

 

The Top 7 Edgartown, MA Restaurants for Seafood Lovers
Cycle Around on the Best Martha’s Vineyard Bike Rentals
Play a Round at Martha’s Vineyard’s Best Golf Courses
Engage in a Martha’s Vineyard Shopping Escapade
Enjoy a Pint from the Best Martha’s Vineyard Breweries
Embark on a Self-Guided Martha’s Vineyard Lighthouse Tour
Visit the Best Martha’s Vineyard Art Galleries in Edgartown
Relax with a Martha’s Vineyard Yoga Practice

The Ladies of the Edgartown Public Library have ruined my life.

I used to be able to enter libraries and browse, knowing that it was a Public Library, and that everything would be The Same As Every Other Public Library. There was comfort in that sameness.

Librarians are supposed to shush you, and scowl as they check out the books for you so that you will take better care of them. They give you ‘The Look’ if you have late fees or, Lord, have mercy…have lost the book you borrowed. (I did that once as a child. Man, was I scared!)

Right?  Everywhere I go I visit libraries, bookstores, and second-hand shops. I am a book junkie, always looking for a great read. The Fear of Librarians…that’s how I was raised…and by God, that’s how I was going to raise my daughter.

The Edgartown Library has changed that for me. I have complained to them about it but they seem unwilling to become grumpier just to accommodate me.

It is not their fault, I suppose. They are friendly and helpful and it is obvious that they enjoy what they do, but that’s part of my problem with them.

Now, when I enter a Library, I find myself looking for Customer Service and Helpfulness. I find that I want Friendly to be available to me and  if you are looking for a book, they’ll track it down as best they can for you.

I had a DVD series I was trying to find several parts of and was having trouble. All I needed was to confirm that I wasn’t looking in the wrong place; but they conferred, found that there were several parts missing and ordered the entire series… not just for me to borrow, but for the Library to own outright.  They then, reserved it to my account for First Dibs. I now have 18 individual DVDs on a shelf waiting for me to pick up.   There is a seven-day borrow period on DVD’s…if I don’t sleep I can finish them all in a week.

(They may be trying to kill me now for complaining about their Niceness. Curse my big stupid mouth…)

The Colonial Inn, where I work, is just a stone’s throw from the Edgartown Library, which is helpful for guests that need internet access and don’t travel with a computer. (The Colonial Inn offers complimentary wifi to all of it’s guests).  There are multiple terminals available at the Edgartown Library and it makes me glad to know that when I recommend a guest to them that they will receive helpful care.

I am going to go tell them that I want pony rides on Tuesdays. There must be a limit to their helpfulness…there MUST!

Image courtesy of Ian Wilson.

 

The Top 7 Edgartown, MA Restaurants for Seafood Lovers
Cycle Around on the Best Martha’s Vineyard Bike Rentals
Play a Round at Martha’s Vineyard’s Best Golf Courses
Engage in a Martha’s Vineyard Shopping Escapade
Enjoy a Pint from the Best Martha’s Vineyard Breweries
Embark on a Self-Guided Martha’s Vineyard Lighthouse Tour
Visit the Best Martha’s Vineyard Art Galleries in Edgartown
Relax with a Martha’s Vineyard Yoga Practice

Welcome to the Martha’s Vineyard Blog!  This blog is published by the staff of the Colonial Inn of Martha’s Vineyard and the Edgartown Residence Club.  We plan to fill these pages with interesting insights and tips of things to do while enjoying this beautiful island.  Whether you live here, visit often, or just hope to visit in the future, we hope you find some of these insider tips useful! If there are specific things that you would like to read about, we welcome your suggestions.

The Top 7 Edgartown, MA Restaurants for Seafood Lovers
Cycle Around on the Best Martha’s Vineyard Bike Rentals
Play a Round at Martha’s Vineyard’s Best Golf Courses
Engage in a Martha’s Vineyard Shopping Escapade
Enjoy a Pint from the Best Martha’s Vineyard Breweries
Embark on a Self-Guided Martha’s Vineyard Lighthouse Tour
Visit the Best Martha’s Vineyard Art Galleries in Edgartown
Relax with a Martha’s Vineyard Yoga Practice