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Flying Horses Carousel

While some people think a family trip should be solely focused on the kids, we disagree. A family trip is for the whole family, which means that, personally, we think you shouldn’t suffer through your hard-earned vacation days. Martha’s Vineyard has a number of activities that strike a balance between kid fun and adult enjoyment. Where your kids find magic, you’ll find history; where they find silliness, you’ll find aesthetic beauty. These top four activities will ensure that every person on your family trip has a vacation to remember.

 

Gingerbread Cottages

Wander Through the Whimsical Gingerbread Cottages

Every little kid (and adult, if we’re being honest) dreams of living in a house made of candy, or at least one that looks like it. The Gingerbread Cottages in Oak Bluffs are famous for their candy colored exteriors and their whimsical names. Challenge each other to come up with cottage names that are more unique and silly than “Wooden Valentine” or “Lazy Dayz.” Another idea: cast yourself as the witch in a Hansel & Gretel-esque game of make believe (we hear this is a great tactic for keeping your kids on their best behavior during your family trip).

 

Edgartown Lighthouse - Family TripYour Family Trip Gets Brighter at the Edgartown Lighthouse

No family trip to Edgartown would be complete without a visit to its most famous landmark: the Edgartown Lighthouse. The current lighthouse was built in 1938 and the interior is still open to visitors (children under 12 get in free!). Peak your children’s interest by explaining how lighthouses keep boats from crashing into shore. After your family visits the lighthouse, plan to stay and spend time wandering up and down Lighthouse Beach, where you’ll take in views of Edgartown harbor and Chappaquiddick.

 

Hop on the Flying Horses

Skip the typical carousel ride and hop aboard a flying horse. The whimsical fun continues at the Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs. Originally from Coney Island, this Martha’s Vineyard fixture is the oldest platform carousel in the United States. While your kids may not care too much about the history, at least you can say that your family trip had some educational value amidst all the fun. Be warned though: kids who ride the flying horses tend not to want to get off.

 

Pirate Adventures Marthas Vineyard
Photo: Pirate Adventures

Move your Family Trip to the High Seas with Pirate Adventures

All-aboard, mateys and get ready to take Martha’s Vineyard by sea. When your kids are acting like swashbucklers and scallawags, move your family trip aboard the Sea Gypsy. Bid a hearty ‘yo-ho’ to their crew — everyday is “talk like a pirate day” at Pirate Adventures — and let your kids get dressed up in their finest pirate garb. Hopefully, they’ve brushed up on their navigating skills because they’re going to help the crew search for gold doubloons. All the while, you’ll get to ride along the high seas and take in the views of land (-ho!). You and your little lads and lasses will let forth a mighty “arrr!” after your role-playing adventure on the sea.

 

With all the effort that goes into planning the perfect family trip, you deserve a little relaxation once you arrive to Martha’s Vineyard. Our two-bedroom luxury suites will allow you some peace and quiet. Your family can spread out comfortably in the suite, and you can spend some quiet time reading on your private balcony.

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown

It’s not just the daffodils or the re-opening of our Martha’s Vineyard hotel rooms in the Main Wing that herald the coming of spring. One of our favorite harbingers of the coming season is the resumed operations of our island’s own historic treasure – The Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs. It opens this weekend.

Exterior of Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs, MA
The Flying Horses carousel in Oak Bluffs.

According to the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation website, the carousel is the nation’s oldest platform carousel and has been designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a national landmark. Constructed in 1876 by Charles Dare, it is one of only two Dare carousels still in existence.

Originally operated as a Coney Island, NY amusement, it was moved to Oak Bluffs in 1884, where it has lived in its red barn, delighting generations of Island residents and visitors ever since. Look for our Facebook Friday Deal this week for a special involving the carousel.

Another “big deal” spring opening is the re-emergence of one of Egartown’s favorite restaurants – Chesca’s. Located right here at the Square, Chesca’s is a ‘must stop’ for every visitor. The menu features Island favorites and fresh seafood, and includes a mix of traditional and more contemporary Italian cuisine.

Described as “bridging the gap between upscale and comfort” foods, Chesca’s also features a wonderful and varied wine lists and classic cocktails. They re-open April 12 for dinner Thur-Sun, closed Mon, Tues, Wed.  Serving 5.30-9:00 pm. Visit Chesca’s website.

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown

Purple Spring Flower by NoahqI walked out of my house the other day and my daughter said “It smells like spring!”  She was right… spring has arrived and it’s amusing to see the excitement that a sunny day can bring to our Martha’s Vineyard community after a long, cold and gray winter.  The enthusiasm in the air is contagious!  Personally, being a southerner by upbringing, my joy is unmatched to once again feel the sun’s warmth.  Having lived in New England for more years than I need to share, I have learned that I can’t watch the calendar and hold my breath for this annual occurrence.  Some years we experience the joy of warming weather and burgeoning spring blossoms in March, and other years we seem to skip spring entirely and blast right into summer in late June.

Thankfully, this year seems to be following the first path and we are all relishing the early emergence of this celebrated season.  What does one do on the island in spring?  Ahhhh, I was hoping you would ask!  The answers are as varied as the population, but here are some family friendly highlights:

My family’s favorite spring ritual is to head to South Beach to “chase waves”.  This is a spring tradition because it is too cold and windy in the winter when the kids inevitably get wet (my 8 year old usually ends up looking like he has been swimming…) I usually find very few other people on the beach in the spring, and having an expanse of beach and ocean all to yourself is a very peaceful feeling…  as long as you cant hear my kids yelling at the waves!  I also appreciate the spring at South Beach because the kids (other than the 8 year old) are not tempted to go swimming.  The surf and current can be very strong, so I avoid South Beach for the warmer, swimming expeditions; but for wave chasing, it’s perfect!

One sign of spring that may be unique for Martha’s Vineyard is the much anticipated opening of Edgartown’s Dairy Queen.  This year’s opening day saw a line wrapped around the porch and into the parking lot!  I personally do not think it is the quality of their soft serve that draws this kind of crowd (although it’s yummy).  It may be the general absence of fast food or chain stores on the island, or the fact that they were closed all winter.  The Dairy Queen is one of the first seasonal operations to reopen, and it is a sure sign of spring!  Being a crank in crowds, I avoid “opening day”, but we did make our first obligatory spring pilgrimage to Martha’s Vineyard’s Dairy Queen the following weekend.  Although there was a little chill in the air, we ate our ice cream at their picnic tables in the sunshine, and enjoyed every minute of it!

Another anticipated spring opening is the Flying Horse Carousel.  My children are getting older, but I think a visit to the Carousel will continue to be an annual spring tradition until they have kids of their own to put on those beautiful antique horses!  This year the Flying Horses opened on Easter weekend for weekends, and will be open all week during the April school vacation week April 19-23.   As I confessed earlier that I try to avoid crowds, you can probably guess why I like to visit the Flying Horses in the spring.  A spring visit usually buys me a “pass” with the kids during the more popular summer months…  I always have a strategy!

A pilgrimage to Felix Neck is another spring tradition.  Felix Neck is an Audubon Sanctuary and open year round; but as I am a wimp in the cold Southerner at heart, I tend to avoid outdoor activities in January and February.  Spring is a great time to explore their four miles of nature trails and look for signs of new life.  Along the way, some of us enjoy the impressive views of woodlands, meadows, and ponds, as well as the salt marsh and barrier beach.  I say some of us, because my 8 year old doesn’t slow down from chasing wildlife long enough to enjoy the scenery.  But everyone enjoys the peace after he is worn out!  I am sure that some of the other parents out there can relate!  The Nature Center and Discovery Room at Felix Neck is also worth a visit.  They now have an “owl cam” to see barn owls nesting in their barn dormer.

If that’s not enough reasons to come for a visit this spring, The Colonial Inn is offering really attractive spring rates that are sure to convince you that you shouldn’t wait to come explore Martha’s Vineyard!  What are your favorite spring time traditions?  I’d love to hear your ideas and hope to see you spending some fun family time on Martha’s Vineyard soon!

Photo by Noahg

 

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown

One of the things that I love about Martha’s Vineyard in the summer is the quality and variety of activities and events from which to choose – many not normally available in such a small community.  Evening events are naturally geared more toward “grown-ups,” however (when the wee ones are in bed).  But being a mother of 4, I understand the need to entertain the WHOLE family at any given time of the day; so I have come up with a couple of suggestions for those long summer nights…

To be honest, my favorite “family night out” is not very original… but it’s always relaxing and a hit with the entire family.  My husband is strongly opposed to anything involving crowds (which eliminates a lot in July & August), so our family beach time involves a picnic dinner and an evening dip in the ocean.  Regardless of the number of folks on the beach during the day, if you wait until after 6pm, you are sure to find your own sandy spot of solitude.  We normally head to State Beach because we never have to walk far from our car (you know there’s always lots to lug w/kids), and if there are a lot of cars in one area, we can keep going until we find an unclaimed stretch of beach.  The water is warm from the day’s heat; and with the volume of fun (and fights) that ensues when my family arrives, “the crowds” are very happy that we avoided them!

Then there is the obligatory evening out in Oak Bluffs.  Oak Bluffs is always a swarm of activity in the summer (as well as a lot of fun)… so I suggest leaving the claustrophobic members of the family at home (Yes, you guessed it… hubby stays home!).   A great place to start your evening is Nancy’s on the harbor (or another favorite haunt for fast, casual waterfront fare), and then take time to meander along the harbor and across New York Ave… with ice cream in hand, of course!   Or wait to grab a cotton candy at The Flying Horses Carousel. The carousel is the nation’s oldest operating platform carousel and a National Historic Landmark.  They are open until 10pm every evening in the summer and a ride is only $1.50.   After the Flying Horses, you can continue up Circuit Ave. to the Game Room which is open until midnight.  Plenty of time to spend all of your quarters!

If you crave something different after a day at the beach, I recommend the Cinema Circus, put on by The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival every Wednesday in July and August at the Chilmark Community Center.  The mission of the Cinema Circus is “to produce family events that engage children with films, discussion, and activities that promote media literacy and community interaction” and they’re FUN!  The doors open at 5pm with acrobats, jugglers, and face painting as well as activities and discussions around the film(s) being screened.  And then there is always the pizza and popcorn… Admission is $12 for adults and $5 for kids.

The Island Cove Mini Golf is another sure hit for a family evening out!  Located on State Rd. (across from Cronig’s grocery store), they are open until 10pm daily during the summer.   They offer an adventure themed mini golf course and a 24ft high outdoor climbing wall with three levels of difficulty to accommodate (almost) everyone in the family.  Their grill is open for lunch and dinner with relatively inexpensive, casual fare so it is a “one stop shop” for the night…  and don’t forget to leave room for the ice cream!

If your kids still crave action at the end of a busy day…  check out the Family Dance-O-Rama at Nectar’s on Tuesday nights (they are located at the airport in the old Outerlands location).  They have music from 5:30-7:30, so the younger set can boogie and blow off some steam…  hopefully winding up very tired and ready for bed!  Admission is complimentary, and food is sold there, so it’s another “one stop shop” for dinner and fun (ya gotta love it when they make it that easy!).

Do you have other evening activities that are part of you island summer traditions?  Please make a comment.  We would love to hear your ideas.

Image courtesy of owlhere.

 

Plan a Visit to the Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival
Where to Get the Best Pizza on Martha’s Vineyard Near Edgartown
Explore Memorable Things to Do & See in West Tisbury
Spend a Day at the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
See the Next Big Thing at a Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
A Guide on How to Get to Martha’s Vineyard
A Look at the History of Our Edgartown Hotel
Celebrate the Season | A Guide to Christmas in Edgartown