Cape Cod, Nantucket, or Martha’s Vineyard: Which is right for you?

If you’re planning a trip to the Cape in Massachusetts this summer, you may be debating whether you should visit Cape Cod, Nantucket, or Martha’s Vineyard. Some people will claim that it’s really all the same (and you may feel the same way, too). But ask anyone who’s gone to the Cape year after year, and for one reason or another, there’s a good chance they’ll feel very strongly about one particular destination.


Last-minute vacations in the summer could just be a matter of what’s available, but if you’ll have options and you’re unfamiliar with the area, we’re here to help you decide:

Cape Cod

Cape Cod cliffs and beach

What makes Cape Cod unique: Cape Cod is home to the Cape Cod National Seashore, which includes 27,000 acres of jaw-dropping beaches and landscapes, including the dramatic sand dunes that can’t be missed.

The sand dunes and cliffs in Wellfleet, Cape Cod, MA

Why you’ll want to visit Cape Cod: You want to see and do a lot of different things. Cape Cod is much bigger than Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, so if you aren’t drawn to the idea of staying on a small island, Cape Cod may be your best bet. No two towns are the same!

Cape Cod, MA

Why you’ll want to avoid Cape Cod: You want something that’s a bit more on the mellow side. Because Cape Cod is much more accessible, it tends to get the most crowded. That’s not saying that Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard don’t get crowded either, of course, but they tend to move at a slower pace.

Crowded beach in Cape Cod, MA

Nantucket

Nantucket lighthouse

What makes Nantucket unique: The entire island is safely accessible by bicycle via bicycle paths.

Bicycling in Nantucket

Why you’ll want to visit Nantucket: Nantucket is the quietest choice of the three, so this can be the perfect choice for someone who isn’t eager to pack their days with activities and have a busy itinerary (or even have an itinerary at all).

Ferry to Nantucket, MA

Why you’ll want to avoid Nantucket: You want the most simplified trip possible, and/or you’re planning last-minute (you may be out of luck when it comes to finding available flights or ferries). Because you can’t drive directly to Nantucket, it may not be the best choice if you’re looking for a spur-of-the-moment getaway.

Lighthouse in Nantucket, MA

 

Martha’s Vineyard

Gay Head Cliffs - Moshup Public Beach - Martha's Vineyard - Boston - USA.

What makes Martha’s Vineyard unique: The gingerbread cottages in Oaks Bluffs are adorable, and you can’t find these anywhere else in The Cape.

Martha's Vineyard gingerbread cottages

Why you’ll want to visit Martha’s Vineyard: You want to escape the larger crowds from the mainland, but you also want enough attractions and activities to keep yourself occupied. Martha’s Vineyard is the ideal blend of both worlds, and is a great compromise between Nantucket and Cape Cod.

Sailing during sunset, Martha's Vineyard, MA

Why you’ll want to avoid Martha’s Vineyard: You actually want to visit a vineyard (sadly, there are actually no vineyards on Martha’s Vineyard). And although it’s just a short seven miles away from the mainline, you’ll need a plane or ferry to get there. Just like Nantucket, you may want to skip it if you’re looking for someplace simple to get to.

Martha's Vineyard lighthouse

Essential Travel Information

Top hotels in Cape Cod: The Mansion at Ocean Edge, Red Jacket Beach ResortCrowne Pointe Historic Inn & Spa

Top hotels in Nantucket: Harborview Nantucket, White Elephant Hotel, The Wauwinet

Top hotels in Martha’s Vineyard: Harbor View Hotel, Kelley House, The Sydney

Top hotels in Boston: Bonne Amie, Four Seasons Hotel Boston, Mandarin Oriental Boston

Flights: Low airfare via CheapOAir.com

Road tripping it? Car rentals: Discounts with Fox Rent A Car

We hope this article helped give you a little nudge in a specific direction, and if so, we’d love to hear which Cape destination you chose!

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