If you’re thinking of visiting the town of Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, this is the in-depth travel guide you have been looking for.
I have compiled this guide from my previous experience of living and working in Edgartown and now, returning frequently as a visitor. Edgartown is a thriving, ever-changing town. Even after all these years of visiting, I discover something new to do or see every time! Revisit this guide often as I will be updating it regularly.
All about Edgartown
Nestled on the south eastern coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, the town of Edgartown welcomes visitors with its quaint charm and scenic beauty. Originally a major port town, it was once home to 19th century whaling ship captains who built the stunning greek revival mansions lining the streets to this day.
Recently named the most picturesque small town in Massachusetts, Edgartown has a lot to offer visitors. If you like elegant stately homes with breathtaking ocean views, pristine beaches, art galleries, boutiques and high-quality dining options, start planning your trip today!
Getting to Edgartown MA
You can get to Martha’s Vineyard by air or sea. Most ferries leave from Cape Cod, from the towns of Woods Hole, Falmouth or Hyannis. These will bring you into Oak Bluffs or Vineyard Haven, just a short drive from Edgartown. If you prefer to arrive directly into town, there are fewer choices but it’s still possible to do.
By Air – Martha’s Vineyard Airport
Martha’s Vineyard airport is the main commercial airport on the island and although the address is in West Tisbury, the airport sits right on the Edgartown West Tisbury town line. It’s less than 15 minutes drive to downtown Edgartown and is serviced year round by flights from many cities in the east of the United States.
Flying from Boston to Martha’s Vineyard is my preferred route because you are only in the air for 19 minutes! Barely time to buckle your seatbelt before you’re back on the ground. Choose a window seat and get ready for a breathtaking view on approach.
Private planes can also land at Martha’s Vineyard airport and do so, frequently, during the summer months. Top tip: If you’re travelling with kids, burn off some energy at the airport playground before your flight home!
Getting from Martha’s Vineyard Airport to Edgartown
It is very straightforward to get to town from the airport. There are car rental companies located inside if you wish to rent a vehicle. Advance reservations are highly recommended and essential in peak season.
There are taxis available right outside or you can arrange a pick up with a local private car service. The Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority also provides a year-round bus service between the airport and downtown.
By Air – Katama Airfield
Katama Airfield is a grass airfield close to south beach and only a 10 minute drive from downtown Edgartown. The airport is only open during the day (although planes can stay overnight) and caters to smaller, private aircraft like turboprops.
Visitors often fly into town for the day, enjoy some time on south beach and have lunch or dinner at the excellent Katama Kitchen restaurant overlooking the airfield.
By Sea – Passenger ferry
The only ferry that arrives directly into Edgartown is the Pied Piper. It runs seasonally (Memorial day weekend to Labor day weekend) and leaves from Falmouth.
Valet parking is available in Falmouth when you arrive at the port. The trip takes less than an hour and there are between 3 and 5 sailings a day, depending on the time of year.
By Sea – Private Boat
Arriving by private boat is a great option and brings you into the heart of town. Moorings and private dock space reservations are available from the Edgartown Harbormaster, Edgartown Yacht Club, the Mad Max marina or the Harborside Inn.
Map of Edgartown
The red line indicates the town border. You can see the airport to the west, Chappaquiddick island to the east and Katama and South beach to the south. Not pictured on the map, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven to the north.
Downtown is where you’ll find most restaurants, bars, hotels, coffee shops and stores. There are private homes here too, many occupied by seasonal residents and some are available for vacation rentals.
I love the downtown area because it is so walkable. You can stroll down main street, browse the stores, stop for ice cream or visit the in-town beaches, all without needing a car.
Being able to pick up a coffee, wander down to the harbor and watch the boats go by, is such a pleasure. I highly recommend starting your morning this way!
From Edgartown harbor you can take a short ferry ride to the tranquil, unspoilt island of Chappaquiddick, also known as Chappy.
I sometimes hesitate to call it an island because occasionally, it’s not! Norton point (a narrow sand barrier) connects Chappaquiddick to the rest of Edgartown. At times, this barrier disappears due to poor weather or storms but eventually re-establishes itself.
Chappaquiddick is a haven for nature and beach lovers – you won’t find any hotels here but there are private homes and a small number of vacation rentals. There is one very small store on the island (Blackbird at Jerrys Place). Opening hours can vary and stock is limited.
Katama (pronounced Kah-TAY-mah) is a very popular area with visitors and seasonal residents. I like to stay in this neighborhood because of the peaceful surroundings and how close you can be to South beach
South Beach and Norton Point beaches are located here and if you are looking for the convenience of Edgartown village without the traffic and bustle, Katama is a great location. It’s a ten minute drive or easy 15 minute cycle into downtown Edgartown.
Winnetu Oceanside Resort is a large property in Katama which offers hotel rooms and rental homes (townhouses and duplexes) all within walking distance to the beach. They also provide regular shuttle service for their guests to the downtown area
From luxury homes with pools to cozy cottages, Katama also has a huge variety of private vacation homes available to rent. There are cycling and walking trails in this quiet neighborhood too, but few stores or dining options.
Edgartown (along with Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven) is located in an area locals refer to as “down-island”. West Tisbury is also a neighboring town. Chilmark and Aquinnah are a little further west.
Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven and West Tisbury are approximately 15 minutes by car when there’s no traffic. Chilmark and Aquinnah are 25 and 35 minutes drive, respectively.
These are off-season journey times. Times can be substantially longer during the summer months when there are more cars on the island and traffic is heavier
What is Edgartown known for?
Visitors are drawn to Edgartown for its idyllic beaches, quaint, brick streets lined with boutique shops and art galleries, and the busy harbor, which offers a picturesque setting for people-watching.
Edgartown is also known for its luxury boutique hotels, the iconic Edgartown Lighthouse, some of the Vineyard’s best restaurants and the island of Chappaquiddick, just across the harbor.
A little-known fact about Edgartown is that it is home to the oldest, largest Japanese Pagoda tree in America. It was brought from China as a seedling by Captain Thomas Milton in 1837.
He planted it next to his new home which also still stands today and is part of the Harborside Inn hotel. I would often pass by this location on my way to work and would pause to wonder, if this tree could talk, what stories of almost 200 years of life it would tell….
If you are staying in Edgartown, the variety of activities available on your doorstep is unparalleled. I will admit, when I lived here, I rarely wanted to leave. There was no need to!
Edgartown is well known for it’s yacht club and annual regatta, for the miles of walking and biking trails as well as farms and wildlife sanctuaries in the more rural areas
Did you know Edgartown was the filming location for the fictional town of Amity in Steven Speilberg’s “Jaws”? Watch the film and see how many locations look just the same today as they did in 1974.
Things to do in Edgartown
- Visit the Edgartown beaches – Fuller street and Lighthouse beaches are right in downtown Edgartown. South Beach and Norton point are a short drive, bus ride or easy cycle away, in Katama
- Spend the day on Chappaquiddick – Take your bike or car on the ferry and explore the beaches, Wasque point reservation, Cape Pogue Wildlife Reserve or Mytoi Japanese Gardens
- Peek inside Edgartown Lighthouse – Spend some time paddling your toes in the calm waters of Lighthouse beach or go inside the lighthouse and check out the view from the top
- Take in the view from Memorial Wharf – Enjoy watching the Chappaquiddick Ferry crossing the channel, the spectacular views of Edgartown Harbor and the stunning homes overlooking the water.
- Kayaking or Paddle boarding on Sengekontacket Pond – Spot shorebirds in the grasses, shellfishermen and the occasional kitesurfer (when the wind is up)
- Indulge in some retail therapy – Popular brands such as Vineyard Vines, Lily Pulitzer, Lululemon and Roller Rabbit can all be found here, plus boutique clothing, shoe, book and jewelry stores. Check out The Black Dog, CB Stark, Kaytdid and Edgartown Books
- Take a biplane ride at Katama Airfield – See Martha’s Vineyard from above and experience a real bi-plane barrel roll… if you can handle it!
- Step back in time at the Edgartown Fire Museum – Home to a collection of firefighting memorabilia, antique fire trucks and restored equipment. Retired Captain Richard Kelly lovingly cares for this museum and is full of stories about each piece in the collection. Hot tip: This is a great indoor activity for a rainy day.
- Take a sailing tour – Leaving from Edgartown Harbor, enjoy snacks, drinks and maybe a sunset, while experiencing views of the island from the water.
- Enjoy beautiful homes and gardens – Take a walk on North or South Water Street. These are my favorite streets to admire the stunning homes with manicured lawns, hydrangeas, roses and other colorful flowers
- Enroll in a summer camp – This is a great option for Martha’s Vineyard seasonal residents or repeat visitors. Children will get to experience Edgartown in a unique way while making new friends and priceless summer memories
- Take a tour – Walking tours are an ideal way to learn more about the history of Edgartown. You can also try a self-guided audio driving tour if you have a car or movie-buffs can take a Jaws tour and see some of the filming locations
Notable events in Edgartown [Infographic]
1. Mother’s day weekend – This weekend in May is also a celebration of the arrival of spring and the re-opening of many Edgartown seasonal businesses. The weekend is jam-packed with brunches, bubbles, horse-drawn carriage rides, classes, workshops and shopping. It’s a great time to visit with kids.
2. Taste of the Vineyard – Taking place in June, this fundraising event for The Vineyard Preservation Trust features over 60 vendors. It’s a celebration of food and drink from the island and guests are encouraged to eat, drink and dance the night away!
3. Edgartown Race Weekend – One of the nations top regattas of the summer, this takes place in June and attracts competitive teams from the US and abroad. Edgartown Yacht Club hosts a number of other regattas and sailing events during the summer
4. 4th of July Parade and Fireworks – A parade of floats, bands, antique vehicles through town followed by fireworks over Edgartown Harbor. Listen out for the dulcet tones of the Vineyard Sound acapella group and look forward to other mini-events taking place in town all weekend
5. MV Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby – This event takes place annually, from mid-September to mid-October. For almost 80 years the Derby has brought people from all over the country to Martha’s Vineyard to try their hand at catching a big one. It’s an island-wide event but fish weigh-ins take place in Edgartown.
6. Martha’s Vineyard Food and Wine Festival – This 4 day festival highlighting the farming and fishing traditions on the island used to take place in October each year. It has not been held in recent years but rumor has it that the festival will return in 2023.
7. Christmas in Edgartown – This usually takes place around the first weekend of December and is part of the island-wide “A very Vineyard holiday” festival. If you have been dreaming about a Martha’s Vineyard Christmas, you don’t want to miss this!
Here’s a useful Edgartown events infographic for you to download or pin for later
Restaurants in Edgartown
Edgartown is paradise for foodies and every taste is catered for, from family-friendly restaurants to fine dining. Oysters, lobster and scallops are some of the specialties here and the quality of this local-caught seafood is superb.
You can also find fine dining, modern American cuisine, bakeries, homemade ice cream, diners, pizza, international fare, bar food and more.
You may have heard that there are some dry towns on Martha’s Vineyard. Edgartown is not one of these and alcohol is freely available in bars, restaurants and liquor stores. Here are some of my favorite restaurants to visit in Edgartown:
Détente – American fare with European influences. The outdoor courtyard makes for a romantic setting on a warn summer night. Often touted as the best restaurant in Edgartown, this is a must-visit for upscale-dining enthusiasts
l’etoile – Local, seasonal food in elegant dining rooms and patio. This is a great restaurant for an anniversary or other special occasion. The setting is so unique – you’ll be dining inside (or in the garden) of a beautifully restored Victorian home
The Seafood Shanty – casual, family friendly seafood restaurant with an outdoor deck overlooking the harbor. This is one of only a few Edgartown restaurants with water views. The lobster roll is one of my go-to options here
The Port Hunter – Modern American cuisine, raw bar, cocktails and live music on Main st. The buffalo brussels are indescribably good. There is often a long wait for tables but the cocktail selection at the bar is a great distraction
The Wharf – another year-round, no-frills restaurant, there is a large menu to choose from and lots of kid-friendly options. The clam chowder is consistently good here and the bar is a popular spot with locals as well as visitors
Dock Street Coffee Shop – open year-round, no-frills, hearty breakfast served at the counter. An Edgartown favorite since 1975.
Espresso Love – one of my very favorites. The blueberry scones are incredible and the hearty breakfast sandwiches will keep you full well beyond lunch. The Espresso Love cookbook is well worth getting and makes a great gift for anyone missing their island treats.
Behind the Bookstore – This used to be a bit of a hidden gem, but word got out! I visit here every time I’m on the island to pick up a lavender latte. If you’re looking for some respite from the sun, the outdoor courtyard is perfectly shaded by large sailcloths which still allows for light to get through. This is a peaceful, relaxing space to enjoy breakfast and catch up with friends.
Rosewater – Excellent coffee, some of the best baked goods and pastries in town and a thoughtful selection of homewares makes Rosewater well worth a visit. They also sell speciality grocery items and gift items made by local producers. Set aside some time to browse!
Accommodation in Edgartown
Hotels, Inns and private home vacation rentals are the main options for lodgings in Edgartown. There are no large chains like Marriot or Hilton, no high-rise hotels and no all-inclusive resorts common to other vacation destinations. Instead, you will find boutique hotels in historic buildings and cozy inns offering the best of New England hospitality.
Best hotels in Edgartown
The Harborside Inn – The only hotel in Edgartown that’s right on the water, you won’t get better views from your room anywhere else. My insider tip: book a waterview room on the third floor of the Ripley house for the best view.
This hotel is located right in downtown Edgartown, steps from restaurants, shops and the harbor. If you are coming to town in your own boat, the hotel has private dock space available to rent.
Winnetu Oceanside Resort – a family friendly resort, walking distance from the beach in Katama, this hotel has a pool and tons of activities for kids. They hold regular clambakes, live music and other events for their guests and have tennis courts, bike rentals and a fitness center on-site.
My top tip: bring your morning coffee up to the Winnetu roof deck and enjoy the early sun while listening to the birds singing and the sound of the waves on nearby south beach.
Faraway Martha’s Vineyard – New for 2023, I am so excited to visit this new boutique hotel in Edgartown. Formerly the Kelley House, the hotel closed in 2022 and underwent major renovations.
I peeked through the hoardings many times during the construction and the finished building looks so stylish but fits in well with the surrounding area. The hotel has a number of dining options, an outdoor bar, pool and fitness center.
Local favorite pub, The Newes from America has reopened, thankfully. This was closed during the renovations and I know I’m not the only one who missed their infamous fish and chips!
Edgartown vacation rentals
The best thing about vacation rentals in Edgartown is you can really find your perfect home away from home, no matter your requirements. Everything is available, from pet-friendly rentals to rentals with pools, huge family compounds, in-town apartments, secluded boltholes, waterfront mansions, cozy cottages or even a 180-year old whaling captain’s home.
There are also a multitude of ways to find these rental properties. I recommend searching Edgartown vacation rentals on VRBO as it’s a reputable company with a large selection of properties listed on the island.
Edgartown Martha’s Vineyard wrap-up
Edgartown is a captivating destination that offers a perfect blend of history, natural beauty, and vibrant culture. Whether you’re looking for relaxation, outdoor adventures, or coastal charm, Edgartown’s got it all.
Share this guide with your friends and join our Martha’s Vineyard Travel Tips community on Facebook for more information about this beautiful island. Enjoy your stay!
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is better Edgartown or Oak Bluffs?
The choice depends on your personal preferences. Edgartown is best if you are looking for historic charm, cultural attractions, upscale dining and luxury accommodation. If you prefer large beaches on your doorstep, enjoy a vibrant nightlife, bustling harbor atmosphere and colorful cottage homes, Oak Bluffs is for you
What are the three major towns in Martha’s Vineyard?
Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven are the three major towns in Martha’s Vineyard. They are the most populated towns with the most to see and do for visitors. The majority of the island’s dining, accommodation and attractions are located in these towns. Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven are the primary ports where passenger ferries arrive.
How far is the bike ride from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown?
The bike ride from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown is 6.1 miles. The cycle takes around 30 minutes along (mostly flat) Beach Road, one of the most popular and scenic bike paths on Martha’s Vineyard. You’ll enjoy stunning views of State beach and Nantucket Sound on one side and Sengekontacket Pond on the other
How much is a taxi from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown?
A taxi from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown costs approximately $28 and take 15 minutes, depending on traffic volumes. Fares will be higher if there are more than 4 passengers, if you have bikes or excessive luggage, if it is late at night or if the taxi has to travel over unpaved roads.
Is Edgartown a dry town?
No, Edgartown is not a dry town. Alcohol is available to purchase in bars, in restaurants or to carry home from liquor stores. Before you visit, read more about which towns are wet and dry and find out everything you need to know about the liquor laws on Martha’s Vineyard.