"Yeah, I've been to Nantucket - about 10 years ago. I can't remember anything much about it except that it has a really convenient Stop and Shop."
This was not exactly the inside scoop I was looking for but similar sentiments were expressed individually by several people I asked before the trip. So I stepped off the 60 minute ferry-ride onto an island of the unknown.
Nantucket, famed in short form poetry and forgotten 90s sitcom, is a smallWikipedia says 100 miles2, but some of that is a sand spit island south of Cape Cod near its more famous sibling, Martha's Vineyard. About 10000 people live there, a lively mixture of the rich and the extremely rich, but the population swells greatly during the summers as the merely quite-well-off flock to its beaches and relaxed island lifestyle.
Nantucket has a long history as a major whaling port and a lot of the architecture hails from those days. As whaling declined, the island tried to foster tourism which got off to a rocky start but is the main industry today. Biking is the best way to get around the island - dedicated bike trails stretch to all the nice beaches and scenic outlooks.
Apparently the island gets pretty busy over the summer but we visiting just before the main season began so we had the trails and the beaches mostly to ourselves. Being a holiday destination, Nantucket teems with nice bars and restaurants. The local guidebook suggested a place called Queequeg's but we skipped it, I am not sure naming your restaurant after a famous cannibal is a good idea from a marketing perspective.
The Nantucket Whaling Museum is, according to the sign outside and someone who led a very dull life, one of the 10 ten things to see before you die. I wouldn't go that far but it is an excellent museum detailing all sorts of local history both whale and non-whale. Places like Nantucket were almost completely dependent on the whaling industry and great fortunes were made before it declined completely.
Nantucket is a perfectly pleasant destination for a relaxing weekend away. It has that quintessential New England quaintness with a nautical theme but I can't see myself wanting to stay more than a couple of days. There just isn't enough to do once you have seen the lighthouses and beaches. I guess if you really like sailing or golf you could find a home away from home here.
The Stop and Shop is really convenient.