What makes Nantucket, Massachusets so unique? Besides being a preppy paradise, and one of the most romantic getaways in the world, the charming island located 30 miles south of Cape Cod is also a great family vacation spot. Since the entire island is only 46 square miles big, you can easily fit in all sightseeing, surf lessons, museum, and aquarium trips while you are on vacationing in Nantucket with your kids.
So, choose and book your accommodation, and head off to Nantucket for a memorable family vacation.
We recommend that you book a short-term rental home or apartment instead of a hotel because it will be less expensive and more authentic. Plus, you can prepare your breakfast, snacks, and lunch in the kitchen of your rented residence and save the money for eating out for more fun stuff with the kids.
The least expensive way to reach the island is to take the traditional ferry by the Steamship Authority from the port of Hyannis in Cape Cod. It costs $39 for a two-way ticket per adult, and children aged 5 to 12 can travel for just $20 for an all-round trip, and those under the age of 5 travel for free. Plus, the ferry ride is a fun way to show the children some fantastic ocean views.
Of course, if you prefer, you can fly in or take a faster but more expensive passenger-only ferry from the same port.
Once you have settled into your rented home, you can head out and start enjoying your vacation on this kid-friendly picturesque island.
Outdoor fun for kids in Nantucket
Of course an island means that beachs abound. Vacationing in Nantucket with kids is perfect if you want to explore all the beaches. Whether you want to swim, surf, or just play in the sand, there’s a beach for that at Nantucket!
The main reason you are going on vacation to Nantucket is probably to enjoy the many stunning beaches there. There are more than 25 beaches on the island, spanning over 80 miles and making it the perfect family seaside getaway. But the most suitable one for families with small children is Children’s Beach.
It is on the northern shore, where the Nantucket Sound waters are wave-free and warmer. This beach has a playground, a field with grass, restrooms, a snack shack, and a shop for sunscreen and beach toys.
This beach is on the southern coast of Nantucket and is among the best if you want to enjoy some boogie boarding with the children. Plus, it is pretty close to the airport and provides a fascinating view of the planes flying close overhead, which most kids are thrilled about.
The Nantucket Surf School
If you want your kids to learn how to surf, Cisco Beach is an excellent choice. The Surf School offers private and group lessons. They also rent surf equipment and wetsuits. The instructors are friendly, enthusiastic, and patient with newbies—young and old.
For a late swim and one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world, you should take the kids to Madaket Beach. You can bring snacks for a picnic or eat at Millie’s.
Go to Brant Point and Straight Wharf
The children will love waving at all of the ferries coming to or leaving the harbor. Plus, the lighthouse is a great place to collect some shells and take some family vacation photos. You can also take the kids to the nearby Straight Wharf so that you all can gawk at the luxurious and beautiful big yachts.
While maybe not for everyone, the slower pace and relaxed, laid back atmosphere island life affords a nice break from the constant hustle and over-stimulation we’ve all become accustomed to in our daily lives. ~ L.A. Family Travel
Take the Critter Cruise
If you decide to go to Straight Wharf to admire the giant yachts, you can also take the children on the Critter Cruise offered there. It is a one-hour cruise near the shore on which your children can enjoy handling and catching lobsters and crabs and appreciate the view of the yachts and the harbor.
The Ice-cream Cruise
This is another kid-friendly attraction that you shouldn’t miss out on. It starts at Nantucket harbor, and you and the children will receive ice cream and frozen treats while enjoying the cruise and the views.
Catch and release fiddler crabs at the Masquetuck Reservation
Your children will no doubt enjoy trying to catch the small fiddler crabs in the reservation’s small beach. Just remember to release the crabs when you are done to ensure they stay happy crabs.
Festivals and other Seasonal Events
Another fun way to plan your vacation is to pick a seasonal event to enjoy! Vacationing in Nantucket with kids is great year-round as there are plenty of festivals and events to choose from, whether you like smelling daffodils in the spring or drinking hot chocolate with Santa at Christmas.
The Cranberry Festival
The Cranberry takes place in October and celebrates the harvest from the two cranberry bogs on the island. There are treats, workshops, and kid-friendly activities organized by the Nantucket Conservation Foundation.
The Christmas Stroll
In the holiday season, you can go on a weekend family trip to enjoy the traditional stroll, drink some hot chocolate and watch Santa getting off the ferry and riding down Main Street on a fire truck.
The Daffodil Festival
This annual festival takes place in April and celebrates springtime. There is a children’s parade, a contest for daffodil hats, and more kid-friendly activities.
Fourth of July
On every 4th of July, the firefighters of Nantucket host a fun-filled water fight. You can watch them hosing each other down and participate in the friendly water fight yourself.
The Loines Observatory
Take your children stargazing at the Nantucket observatory. On a clear night, you and they can enjoy the view of millions of stars and constellations through the two telescopes.
Children-Friendly Venues, Shops, and Restaurants
Eat ice cream at the Juice Bar
This is the most famous ice cream store in Nantucket, where you and the kids can enjoy the creamiest ice cream in warm waffle cones and some fresh smoothies.
Enjoy playing games and eating Mexican food at Millie’s
The restaurant is located in Madaket and serves delicious Mexican food. There is a large grassy playground, several Shut the Box game boards, and an ice cream stand at the market at Millie’s.
Live music at Cisco Brewers
A brewery may not sound like a child-friendly place, but Cisco Brewery has a beautiful large beer garden, and there is live music every day starting from 3 pm. And while the kids are enjoying themselves, you can enjoy tasting some of the local craft beers, wines, or liquors. There are several food trucks where you and the children can buy some snacks.
Take a tour of the Whaling Museum
Your children will be fascinated by the sensory exhibits, which include a giant lighthouse Fresnel lens, whaling artifacts, and a huge 46-foot skeleton of a sperm whale hanging from the ceiling. Videos and interactive exhibits bring the island’s past history alive for kids, including its Quaker roots and role in the abolitionist movement.
Plus, you will learn more about the whaling industry history of the island and the story which inspired the writing of Moby Dick.
View the sea creatures at the local Aquarium
Take the kids to see some of the local sea creatures at the Maria Mitchell Aquarium. There is a touch tank that children find especially enjoyable and large indoor tanks where you can watch the sharks, jellyfish, and other sea creatures, which are all released back into the ocean after every season.
Play some mini-golf
You can enjoy playing mini-golf at Town Pool or have fun and take whimsical photos at the many experiential spaces such as the zero gravity room there.
Feed some live animals at the Natural Science Museum
The museum offers excellent tours for children and adults, and there is even a program that allows children to feed some small animals such as turtles, snakes, and others before the museum opens.
Show the kids the oldest functioning windmill
You can tour the Old Mill and learn and see how the wind is used to mill the corn. This windmill is reminiscent of the famous Holland windmills and is considered the oldest one in the USA and is still completely functional. So, it is most certainly a historical and educational tour you shouldn’t miss out on when in Nantucket.
Have you gone vacationing in Nantucket with kids? What are your favourite places to visit?
Photos from Pixabay.