Martha’s Vineyard is one of the most classic American destinations. The New England island offers stunning scenery and all the comforts you crave for. But where to stay on Martha’s Vineyard for the best experience?
Edgartown and Oak Bluffs are the most popular towns on Martha’s Vineyard. In both these hubs, you find a wide range of lovely hotels.
Other options for where to stay when visiting Martha’s Vineyard are the gateway Vineyard Haven and placid Up-Island area.
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Edgartown is the easternmost option for where to stay on Martha’s Vineyard. Full of history, this is a Down-Island gem that you happily rest your eyes on — summer after summer.
Marvel at its countless historic white-painted homes in Greek Revival style, many of which were built by ship captains in the 1800s when Edgartown was a whaling center. Completing the townscape, restaurants and shops lure you from one street corner to the next.
For some quality beach time, make acquaintance with Edgartown’s iconic beaches:
- Lighthouse Beach: The closest beach, Lighthouse Beach is a relaxing half-a-mile walk from Edgartown’s downtown area. Embrace soft sand, clear water and Edgartown Lighthouse’s stunning 360 views of the surroundings.
- Joseph Sylvia State Beach: Connecting Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, this Nantucket Sound stretch of coastline was a shooting location in the iconic “Jaws” blockbuster. Don’t miss to stop for photos at Jaws Bridge.
- South Beach: The seemingly endless South Beach faces the Atlantic Ocean, meaning the surf is rougher down here. Walk east or west from the access point, and it’s soon just you, the sun and the waves.
If you want additional seclusion, consider a day trip to Chappaquiddick Island, east of Edgartown. To get there, you just need to take a short ferry ride (under 5 minutes) from Edgartown Harbor.
Is there anything negative about picking Edgartown for where to stay on Martha’s Vineyard?
Well, the fancy setting makes the rates at hotels in Edgartown steeper. So if traveling on a budget, you might find the other alternatives for where to stay when visiting Martha’s Vineyard more appealing.
Pick Edgartown for: Timeless elegance.
Best hotels in Edgartown
- Harbor View Hotel – Harbor View Hotel, set between downtown Edgartown and the beach, offers jaw-dropping views of both Edgartown Lighthouse and the harbor. Here, top amenities, including a seasonal pool, make your stay as comfy as they come. Boasting a rare “wow” factor, Harbor View Hotel is one of the best places to stay on Martha’s Vineyard. But, in fact, the upscale resort is more than a place to stay — it’s a lifestyle.
- The Sydney – The Sydney features boutique accommodations spread across two buildings. The Main House is perfect for those who prefer a contemporary style, while the historic Captain’s House is a gift for all history buffs out there. When hunger calls, grab a bite at the on-site L’Etoile, beautifully set in the Captain’s House.
- The Christopher – Once the home of a ship captain, this eye-catching hotel welcomes you with a swaying American flag. Enter to find cozy rooms dotted with bright coastal colors and appreciated common areas, such as a tranquil courtyard. For the best experience, book a room or suite with balcony — this is vacation.
- The Richard – Right on Main Street, but still sheltered from noise, The Richard is a chic hotel with prime access to shopping and dining. Built in the 1800s as a ship captain’s home, The Richard manages to combine the best of old and new. On the updated property, highlights include a relaxing garden and quintessential front porch.
In the Down-Island region, Oak Bluffs is sandwiched between Edgartown and Vineyard Haven. It’s an alternative for where to stay on Martha’s Vineyard that offers more playfulness than the other island towns.
During the summer season, the downtown area in Oak Bluffs, where you also find several hotels, really wakes to life. Yes, Oak Bluffs is where you find much of the island’s buzz.
For entertainment, Circuit Avenue with its shops, restaurants and bars is the center of activity. In the outgoing downtown area, you more often than not find something fun going on, for all ages.
Go round and round on the iconic Flying Horses Carousel, the USA’s oldest platform carousel. Made in 1876, it first served Coney Island but has since 1884 been part of the quintessential Martha’s Vineyard experience.
The carousel, characterized by bright-colored wooden horses with manes and tails of real horses, has been beautifully preserved. Even if you aren’t a carousel fan, stop by to be amazed by this Oak Bluffs landmark.
Across Oak Bluffs, signature gingerbread cottages in vivid colors contribute to the fun vibe. Once built for camp meetings, you find over 300 colorful cottages in the heart of the Martha’s Vineyard town.
The photo opportunities are many: Make sure to bring your camera.
When hunger calls, head to Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company, which grabs the best-chowder-on-the-island title year after year. Still, maybe the hot lobster rolls served here are even better — try both.
Just beware: This place will leave you stuffed.
A stone’s throw from the active downtown area, the easily accessible Oak Bluffs beach calls for your attention. To have unlimited sand-between-your-toes opportunities, bed down at one of the hotels within steps of the beach.
Pick Oak Bluffs for: Playfulness.
Best hotels in Oak Bluffs
- Summercamp – Want the most whimsical place to stay on Martha’s Vineyard? On an island so famous for its historic summer camps, this hotel unites former campgoers (and former children) in brilliant fashion. At the Summercamp, it’s hard to decide what’s best: the nostalgic decoration, pretty harbor view or position at the heart of Oak Bluffs.
- Pequot Hotel – Only 500 feet (152 m) from those inviting dunes, Pequot Hotel is the beach bum’s favorite. Add to that classic island architecture, including soothing porches, and you have found a hotel where it’s easy to settle in. If you ever want to leave this peaceful scene, Circuit Avenue’s buzz is minutes by foot away too.
- The Oak Bluffs Inn – For access to Oak Bluffs entertainment, you can’t beat the Oak Bluffs Inn. On Circuit Avenue, this place to stay has restaurants and stores on its doorstep. Yet the Oak Bluffs Inn still manages to keep its calm home-away-from-home atmosphere.
On top of Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, a third main population center on Martha’s Vineyard is Vineyard Haven. Also known as Tisbury, the town is the westernmost in the Down-Island area.
Most notably, Vineyard Haven is the only town on Martha’s Vineyard with a year-round ferry service. Each month of the year, excited visitors arrive in Vineyard Haven from the mainland.
As one of the bigger towns on the island, Vineyard Haven is also home to a dynamic commercial district. On Main Street, you find an appreciated selection of stores, restaurants and accommodations.
Does time stand still? At The Black Dog Tavern, it certainly feels like it. This wood-paneled institution serves tasty American fare against the backdrop of the stunning Vineyard Haven Harbor.
Although Vineyard Haven is such a practical town, many visitors fall for the unique appeal of Edgartown and Oak Bluffs. That can be a good thing for you: You often find cheaper hotels in Vineyard Haven.
Pick Vineyard Haven for: Convenience.
Best hotels in Vineyard Haven
- Charles & Charles MV – Charles & Charles welcomes you with open arms and rare attention to detail. Embrace a heartwarming bed and breakfast set on a flower-dotted Vineyard Haven property where the modern yet homey rooms make it easier than ever to settle in. Best of it all? The delicious (and complimentary) poolside breakfast — yes, please.
The Up-Island area of Martha’s Vineyard is the western part of the island. It’s the option for where to stay on Martha’s Vineyard that’s located away from the mainland ferry connections and the island’s busier communities.
From east to west, the towns West Tisbury, Chilmark and Aquinnah are located in the Up-Island region. These rural Martha’s Vineyard towns are much smaller and quieter than the towns further east on the island.
Most hotels on Martha’s Vineyard are also located further east on the island. In the Up-Island area, you find an in general very limited selection of lodging, dining and things to do.
Still it’s the peacefulness that is the big draw of the westernmost part of Martha’s Vineyard. In the island’s western region, you find mile after mile of empty beaches to enjoy.
Pick Up-Island for: Seclusion.
Down-Island versus Up-Island
The third biggest island on the USA’s East Coast, Martha’s Vineyard comprises two main regions: Down-Island and Up-Island. Down-Island is the island’s eastern portion, while Up-Island is the western slice.
Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven are the bubbling towns of the Down-Island region. Filled with things to do, this is the best area to stay for visitors who want a quintessential experience.
Up-Island, home to the humble West Tisbury, Chilmark and Aquinnah, is a much quieter option. Offering unmatched solitude, Up-Island is for those who truly want to escape from it all.
Don’t let the fact that the Down-Island towns actually line up on the island’s northern coast confuse you. The designation is a remain of the whaling era — when heading west, you go up in longitude and vice versa.
Final words about where to stay on Martha’s Vineyard
With not one but six towns, the discussion about the best town on Martha’s Vineyard has existed for a long time. And frankly, it isn’t going to be solved any time soon either.
But where should you stay when visiting Martha’s Vineyard then?
Start with one of the two most popular towns: Edgartown or Oak Bluffs. Here you find lovely accommodations, those cherished vacation vibes and all the distractions you need for a good time.
When you visit, make it a thing to explore every Martha’s Vineyard town. If another one than the town you chose turns out to be your favorite, that’s yet another reason to come back to Martha’s Vineyard soon again.
Where to stay on Martha’s Vineyard FAQ
There’s a wide selection of hotels, motels, inns and other lodging options on Martha’s Vineyard. In the island’s charming towns, you find a place to stay for every traveler.
Edgartown and Oak Bluffs are the most popular options for where to stay on Martha’s Vineyard. In these eastern towns, you find that quintessential vibe and many great hotels. Other alternatives for where to stay when visiting Martha’s Vineyard are Vineyard Haven and the quieter Up-Island.
The two main parts of Martha’s Vineyard offer very different experiences. Down-Island is the busier part of Martha’s Vineyard where the island’s three biggest towns are located. Up-Island is more secluded with fewer things to do and thinner crowds.
Edgartown is famous for its white-painted houses and Oak Bluffs for its colorful gingerbread cottages. Both towns certainly offer the comforts you crave for including quality lodging. However, Oak Bluffs is known as the livelier one among the towns on Martha’s Vineyard.
Oak Bluffs attracts visitors with its colorful cottages, iconic beach and lively Circuit Avenue. Vineyard Haven is the island’s main port of entry with superb restaurants and shops on Main Street. As it’s just a few miles between the two towns, you can easily go between them.
Most hotels on Martha’s Vineyard are located close to a beach. A shining example is the peaceful Pequot Hotel, putting you within 500 feet of the beach.
With friendly, spacious suites and inviting rates (for Martha’s Vineyard), Charles & Charles is one of the best places to stay on Martha’s Vineyard for families. If you prefer a beach-adjacent location, consider the quirky Pequot Hotel.
Each summer, the rich and powerful go to Martha’s Vineyard to recharge. Some of the names on a very long list of celebrities spotted on the island include Oprah Winfrey, Bill Gates, the Clintons, Morgan Freeman, David Letterman and, of course, the Obamas.
A known hot spot for the elite is the luxury Harbor View Hotel brilliantly facing Edgartown Harbor. But you might as well run into a celebrity at Nancy’s restaurant in Oak Bluffs, a Mad Martha’s ice-cream shop or just about anywhere on the Massachusetts island.
There are no hotels on Chappaquiddick Island. You find the hotels closest to Chappaquiddick Island in Edgartown, only a short ferry ride away.
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