If you think Martha’s Vineyard is completely washed up after Labor Day, you’re in for a surprise. Sure, classrooms are full, leaves are turning, and waves are crashing on uncrowded beaches this time of year, but these are actually some of the best reasons to visit the island in autumn. Fall visitors enjoy gorgeous weather and share the Vineyard’s famous scenery, shops, and dining with fewer fellow travelers. Zip up your classic Vineyard Vines sweater and try out some of our favorite things to do on Martha’s Vineyard in fall.
Bring an Appetite — Scallop Season Begins
Their sweet, mild flavor makes them one of the most popular seafood orders for visitors and islanders alike, but did you know that fresh bay scallops are actually harvested during the coldest months of the year? Recreational scallop season usually starts around early October and commercial operations start shucking about a month later. Try one of these delectable bay scallop recipes from the Hungry Native at home or let your favorite island restaurant do the cooking while you’re here.
Make Your Own Menu at the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Fest
Along with the island’s unique concentration of top-tier restaurants, what makes the Martha’s Vineyard Food & Wine Fest special is its à la carte format. Unlike other food festivals, it lets you create your own itinerary: choose which events fit your tastes and buy tickets only for them. The festival’s mid-October events range from formal restaurant meals to fun pop-up dinners and small batch experiences — they’re a collaboration between chefs, farmers, fishermen, and local artisans, making the Vineyard a true foodie paradise. Our favorite island Italian restaurant, Chesca’s, is generally open through the first week in October.
Write New Fish Stories at the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass & Bluefish Derby
Catch that 40-pound bass and prove it to your friends back home with photos and an official weight. The Derby generally runs from mid-September through mid-October, with a kids’ competition on Steamship Wharf in Oak Bluffs to start it off. Registration for this 70-year-old island tradition is open throughout the duration of the Derby to visitors and locals alike — it’s a great way to make new friends and build family memories.
Discover History and Craftsmanship at Museums and Galleries
Fall on Martha’s Vineyard makes one of the best times to explore the island’s arts, culture, and history. Museums and galleries here are more than just a cold-weather backup plan. You’ll find interactive exhibits and historical trivia to keep the whole family entertained — we recommend the Martha’s Vineyard Museum’s Hands on History exhibit for kids. MV Glassworks has dazzling original sculptures on view, as well as more functional pieces for the home. Fine arts lovers will also appreciate the high-quality work featured at Eisenhauer Gallery.
Head to the Beach — Still!
Martha’s Vineyard fall air might be a little cooler, but the sun’s rays still feel strong on the beach. You can stake out a spot just about anywhere — summer’s umbrella colonies are nowhere in sight. Pick up some hot clam chowder, bring a sweater and a blanket, and enjoy your very own stretch of island sand.
If these Martha’s Vineyard fall activities sound like fun, we have one more tip to help you plan your visit: fall rates at our Edgartown hotel are considerably lower than in midsummer, and our team is ready as ever to welcome you to your island home.