Sweat (and eat) your way through this 14-mile Massachusetts island best known for fine dining, elite hotels, and its premier zip code
Travelers who put luxury first know Nantucket well: Cobblestone streets, multi-million dollar waterfront properties, and elegant dining options make Massachusetts’ elite island an idyllic East Coast backdrop come summertime.
But beyond grandeur, this 14 mile-long sandy spot stuns in natural beauty, which is why Nantucket is a premier destination for outdoor activities from biking and running to surfing and SUP. (Find out if it's one of the Best Beaches in America for Fitness Lovers.) And with wealth comes a new kind of gold standard for travel: health. Across the island, hotels, eateries, and local shops are emerging with a newfound focus on wellness.
Those loud city streets aren’t doing your mind or body any good (seriously, studies say so!). That’s where The Sherburne Inn—just a stone’s throw from Nantucket’s town center, but tucked away on a quiet street—comes in. It’s refreshingly easy on your wallet (rooms start at $150 a night!) and will remind you what true peace and quiet look (and sound) like. Eight cozy guestrooms make a perfect setting for those of us who hate mega-hotels too. We promise you’ll feel at home while far away from home. Count on breakfast every a.m. (including homemade granola!) plus a social hour, where you can taste wines hand-picked by island sommeliers, every night. The inn’s also got a bike rack out front for guests who arrive on two wheels.
On the splurge-y side of things, luxury boutique hotel group Lark Hotels had a good thing going with their historic staple 76 Main on Nantucket’s popular Main Street—so good that last year, they decided to renovate one of the island’s oldest lodging houses, the Nesbitt, and open up a sister property to 76 down the road. The final product is 21 Broad, which caters to every need of the modern traveler (with a bit of extra cash). Think: vitamin-C infused showers (which can reduce the amount of chlorine in water), blackout shades, organic teas, freshly roasted local coffees, an in-house spa, and a concierge that will arrange everything from island tours by bike to shark diving adventures (eek!). The property’s “Life is an Adventure” package also promises to pack your days with sailing, surfing, and SUP trips for two.
Stay in Shape
Full-body workouts are not to be forgotten! Book a SUP class with Paddle Nantucket—the classes have names like Strong Girls and Fluid Flow—and make a day trip out of it (the group offers tours of nearby ponds and harbors), or sign up for a sunrise or sunset paddle. Sneak in a workout, see the island by water, and calm your mind? Quite the trifecta, we'd say.
The fit-minded will also want to learn to surf at Nantucket Island Surf School—the island’s premier locale for mastering the act of standing up in the waves (though you'll find the pros over in Madaket on the west side of the island); rent bikes right off the ferry at Young’s Bicycle Shop (Nantucket’s oldest) to cruise trails and island roads; or keep up with your barre at Go Figure, an intimate studio just outside of town. And if you're a runner, the island is home to a slew of races like the Nantucket Half Marathon (in the fall); the Firecracker 5K on July 4; or, for the not-so-faint of heart, the Rock Run—a 50-mile run around the island. Nantucket even hosts its own triathlon in mid-July!
Fuel Your Trip
Prepare to leave your city farmer’s market in the dust. For seven generations, the Bartlett family has been farming on Nantucket—and today, Bartlett’s Farm (pictured above, right) is known for its fresh market, prepared foods from the farm kitchen (if you’re in a rush!), flowers, plants, and seasonal produce. The farm also hosts freshly harvested BYOB dinners (you can find a schedule here) family style throughout the summer and fall in the farm’s garden area. You can enjoy exquisite food and listen to executive chef Neil Patrick Hudson explain the ins and outs of how the farm harvests the fresh and unique vegetables they serve.
On the other side of the island, TOPPER’S (pictured above, left) is loved by locals and tourists alike—and for good reason. The acclaimed eatery serves “ocean to table” oysters—plucked from Retsyo Oyster Farm, just 300 yards from the restaurant! And the menu capitalizes on local, seasonal ingredients from the sea and land. They’ve also got one of the most talked about wine lists on the island: with over 1,450 kinds and an on-staff sommelier to help you choose the right glass. Make a reservation around sunset and sit outside—the view is the perfect complement to a drool-worthy menu.
A trip to Nantucket isn’t complete without visiting the island’s famed and fun-filled winery, brewery, and distillery: Cisco Brewers. Beyond a tour of the facilities or a taste of local brews with names like Whale’s Tale and Grey Lady, you can expect quite the scene too: live music every evening and local food trucks parked in the lot. Don’t worry about driving either—the brewery runs shuttles back and forth from town every hour or so.
On Nantucket’s northeast point sits one of the most exquisite hotels in the world. With sweeping views and access to remote beaches, the Wauwinet is world-renowned for elegance and has been celebrated with prestigious awards and accolades, like being named to Conde Nast Traveler’s Gold List and Travel & Leisure’s World’s Best 500 Hotels year after year. But you may miss the hotel’s unassuming yet luxurious Spa by the Sea if you don’t look carefully. Head to this hidden cottage on the property, and relax while therapists utilize sea-inspired ingredients like algae and salt polish in treatments meant to soothe with names like “the Nantucket Cobblestone Massage.”