Quick Trips: Nantucket

Nantucket beckons with natural beauty, enchanting towns, and a boatload of history

White Elephant Sprawls along Nantucket Harbor.

The much anticipated White Elephant, opening next month in Palm Beach, has much to live up to. The eponymous original, a landmark resort established in the 1920s, is a Nantucket institution. Situated in town a few steps from Nantucket Harbor, it beckons visitors with cedar-shingled cottages, sprawling lawns that tumble down to the water, and a relaxed, family-friendly lifestyle. Like its Palm Beach sister, it’s charming and luxurious. But the Nantucket property is so steeped in New England tradition that you can feel the history in every cobblestone and each nautical flagpole.

The White Elephant is an excellent base from which to explore the quaint town on foot or by bike. The slower pace—a must here—lets Nantucket unfold organically, revealing maritime vistas, museums, mom-and-pop shops (no chains are allowed), and unassuming eateries serving epic lobster rolls and fried clams. Here are our recommendations for the perfect day.

Brant Point Light

Breakfast by the harbor: Brant Point Grill, located right on the harbor, is the place for lobster everything, so why not incorporate the luscious crustacean into every meal? Claim a table on the covered terrace and enjoy lobster eggs benedict alfresco.

Shop and sip: You can easily spend an entire day browsing the shops of Nantucket’s historic district. These locally owned gems offer treasures you won’t find in mall stores, or even outside of Nantucket. Nantucket Looms’ handmade blankets and textiles are woven on-site and evocative of the island’s muted landscape. The Artists Association of Nantucket hosts art classes and operates a gallery featuring works by area artists. Pick up a straw hat at Peter Beaton and Nantucket-specific tomes at Mitchell’s Book Corner. Between stops, visit The Bean for locally roasted espresso or Nativ Made for cold-pressed juices.

Historic Nantucket Homes
Photo by Michael Galvin

Explore island history: In the nineteenth century, Nantucket was the epicenter of the whaling industry. Its notorious origins are on display at the Nantucket Whaling Museum, housed in an old whale-oil candle factory. The artifacts, including jars of whale oil, an array of scrimshaw (carved whale ivory), and the suspended skeleton of a 46-foot sperm whale, provide a fascinating snapshot of early island life.

Take a picnic: Barton & Gray Mariners Club charters its picnic boats for an afternoon (or day) on the water. Board one from the White Elephant docks and go off on a whale-sighting expedition or a beach picnic at Tuckernuck. In the evening, visit the White Elephant’s venerated sister resort, The Wauwinet, for dinner at Topper’s, an island favorite. The recently renovated Wauwinet, the only Relais & Châteaux hotel in Nantucket, upped the ante on luxury amenities and decor. The most impressive change is in the three-bedroom Anchorage House, reimagined by Serena & Lily as a bright, breezy beach cottage with navy and sand hues inspired by the coastal setting.

The Coatue Suite at The Wauwinet

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