Nantucket is not just a preppy summer home and vacation spot for the affluent. It is one of the towns with the most preserved pre-civil war homes and buildings in the USA.
And even though it has a rich history and is the desired destination for vacationers, travelers, and people interested in buying second or third homes, the island and its nature have not been ruined.
And while it may be considered a more suitable destination for a romantic couple, or young adventurers and surfers, Nantucket can be one of the best places to take the entire family on an upscale vacation too.
And the good news is that you won’t be confined to just enjoying the beaches and then heading back to your rented house, apartment, or hotel room.
We recommend that you book a room and rent a local residence early. This can save you money and will also be a much more convenient and less expensive choice than staying in a hotel with your children.
You can fly to Nantucket or take the kids on a ferry ride to the island from the Port of Hyannis in Cape Cod.
The price for a two-way ticket is $20 for children aged 5 to 12 and $39 for adults with the traditional ferry by the Steamship Authority. There is a faster ferry but at a higher cost. If you decide to take your bikes with you, the price per bike is $14.
The island is small enough to reach any point via Uber, bus, bike, or cab. Yet, there are many venues, attractions, and things to do to keep the kids busy and happy throughout your vacation.
In fact, this island is very kid-friendly, so you can keep the children entertained and can create some unforgettable memories there.
Here are the things to do when vacationing in Nantucket with children.
Outdoor kid-friendly activities
While the island of Nantucket has more than 80 miles of the most beautiful beaches in the world, some of them are more suitable for little children than others.
Children’s Beach, as you have probably guessed, is one of the top preferred ones by people with young children.
It is located within walking distance from downtown Nantucket on its north shore. This means that it is on the coast of the Nantucket Sound, which unlike the open Atlantic, is much calmer and warmer.
The beach has a grass field, a playground, a snack shack, restrooms, and lifeguards.
Cisco Beach is a perfect choice if you would like to introduce your children to surfing and bodysurfing. It has a surf school and rental shop on the beach, where the instructors are experienced and patient enough to deal with kids of all ages.
If you want to enjoy some surfing individually, you can rent boards, wetsuits, and all the other equipment you need from the Nantucket Surf School there.
Remember that it can get crowded, and sometimes the waves and currents can be dangerously strong.
This is another beach suitable for the youngest beachgoers situated on the northern coast of Nantucket.
It is close to town, so you can get there by walking for 10 minutes, or you can take a shuttle bus.
The beach is wide and long and has a playground, a tennis court, a skate park, volleyball nets, lifeguards, a restaurant, and a pavilion. There are also restrooms, and you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas there.
It is on the island’s south coast and is near the airport. If your children are fascinated by planes, they will love watching them land and take off overhead. The beach itself is perfect for boogie boarding and fun beach games.
Brant Point Lighthouse
The kids will enjoy exploring the grounds of the historic lighthouse and watching the ferries and boats entering and leaving the harbor.
This is the perfect place to take some vacation family photos and collect some shells. After you are done there, you can walk to the Straight Wharf to gawk at some of the most beautiful and expensive yachts in the world.
The Critter Cruise
Introduce your children to the local crabs and lobsters by taking them on a Critter Cruise. Get on the boat at Straight Wharf, and take a tour of the waters in the harbor area, where the kids can try catching or handling the live crabs and lobsters.
You will also get a great view of the ships, yachts, boats in the harbor, and the Brant Point Lighthouse.
Take the Ice cream cruise
If you are not into touching live crabs, you can go on a fun-filled and delicious ice cream cruise offered at the harbor.
The children will enjoy the short tour of the area combined with some creamy ice cream and other frozen treats.
Seasonal Festivals and other Events
This traditional annual festival is held in October at the end of the cranberry harvesting season. You and the children can tour the two Nantucket cranberry bogs, different workshops, and of course, taste the delicious fresh cranberries and cranberry-based treats.
During the Christmas holidays, Nantucket becomes a beautifully decorated magical place. Stroll around town to admire the intricate decorations. Then take the kids to watch Santa land onshore via ferry and hop on a fire truck for a ride down Main Street.
This seasonal festival is in April and marks the coming of spring. There is a traditional parade for children, a contest for flower hats, as well as numerous other children-friendly events and activities.
4th of July Water Fight
This quirky tradition is held on the 4th of July when the local firefighters hold a fun-filled water fight with hoses. Watch them have fun and get the kids to take part in the water spraying.
Museums, Shops, and Eateries
On a clear night in the summer, you can take your children to the Loines Observatory, where you and they can view the bright constellations and stars from the two telescopes.
The Juice Bar
Treat your kids to the best ice cream on the island at The Juice Bar. The creamy ice cream is served in warm fresh waffle cones. There are smoothies and other fresh drinks and snacks.
Millie’s Restaurant and Farm
This popular family-friendly restaurant is in Madaket. The entire family can enjoy some mouthwatering Mexican dishes and snacks, and the children will surely love playing on the large playground or on the available Shut the Box game boards on the premises. After dinner, you can all enjoy some ice cream at Millie’s market.
While a brewery is not the typical child-friendly venue, this one is an excellent place to take your kids and enjoy yourselves at the same time. There is a spacious and inviting beer garden, live music, food trucks, and while the children are dancing away and playing, you can try out some of the best local craft beers, wine, or spirits.
The Whaling Museum
This is considered the top attraction of Nantucket by many. It is located in a historic building in downtown Nantucket and contains thousands of exhibits reminiscent of the famous whaling years of the locals.
The children will love touring the museum and seeing some unique things, such as an actual huge Fresnel lens for lighthouses and a hanging 46-foot long real whale skeleton. They can be introduced to or learn more about the true story behind the writing of Moby Dick too.
The Maria Mitchell Aquarium
The aquarium will allow your children to see many of the local sea creatures alive and swimming around. There is even a touch tank to pet, feed, and interact with the fish and other creatures.