The water is too chilly for swimming and the ice cream shops are closed, but there are plenty of reasons to visit Nantucket, with foliage at its peak, in the fall.
By Georgetta L. Morque
The water is too chilly for swimming and the ice cream shops are closed, but there are plenty of reasons to visit Nantucket, with foliage at its peak, in the fall. There are no lines for bike rentals, restaurants, or the Whaling Museum. Stretches of sandy beach beckon long walks, and the town’s cobblestone streets and brick sidewalks call for meandering and browsing the specialty boutiques and art galleries. Nobody is in a hurry.
There’s a quiet feel, yet the island is far from empty. By mid-October, ferries have a somewhat reduced schedule but there were several options on the Indian summer weekend of October 18 when we boarded the Grey Lady High Speed boat from Hyannis, a one-hour ride, for a Nantucket wedding. The sizable crowd — but not the in-season crush — looked like everyone from residents to weekenders to those longing for one last sun-filled escape before the weather changes.
During our stay – pre- and post-wedding — we explored the island by bike, visited the iconic lighthouse and pier with its still but vivid water, gazed at the historic sea captains’ homes, and chatted with store and gallery owners. The candy and fudge shops happily offered samples of the ever-popular chocolate-covered cranberries and experts at the Nantucket Natural Oils and Fragrance Bar explained how perfume is made and helped select the perfect scents. Days were warm and the nights cool, but not nippy enough to stop the wedding party from a beach bonfire after a Friday evening lobster buffet on the terrace under heated lamps at The Wauwinet.
Through the end of the year, Nantucket offers a number of activities and events, and the Visitors Center can provide maps and suggestions of must-dos in the off season. Upcoming events include the annual tree lighting and caroling ceremony, Christmas Stroll Weekend, the Festival of Trees, and Nantucket New Year’s.
Rates for lodging are considerably lower from mid-October on, although there was still a two-night minimum during our stay. Many stores have discounts up to 70 percent off summer items and Nantucket wear. After the holidays, tourism winds down, so we were told, and starts up again in the spring. For more information, visit www.NantucketChamber.org.