5 Marvelous Martha’s Vineyard Adventures

Ask most guests of the Mariner Motel to name the highlight of their visit to Falmouth, and you’re sure to hear, “Our unforgettable day trip to Martha’s Vineyard.” The most popular way to travel to Martha’s Vineyard from the Mariner Motel is via the Island Queen ferry, only a five minute walk away.  Alternatively, you can cruise to the island, with or without your car, aboard one of the Steamship Authority’s large vessels. Just a 6-minute drive from our hotel puts you at Woods Hole for your departure. One of the fleet’s state-of-the-art ferries transports you over the 7 miles of sparkling water between Woods Hole and Martha’s Vineyard in about half an hour. Tickets for both the Island Queen and the Steamship Authority ferries may be purchased in our lobby.

Although only 100 square miles, Martha’s Vineyard overflows with once-in-a-lifetime experiences and bucket-list-worthy scenery. Here are five of our top recommendations for your perfect day trip.

1) Flying Horses Carousel

Drop all your troubles by the riverside
Catch a painted pony on the spinning wheel ride

Blood Sweat & Tears got it right back in ’69. Start your exploration of the Vineyard in Oak Bluffs, and saddle up on America’s oldest platform carousel. This official national landmark dates back to 1876, starting life at Coney Island and finding its way to the current red barn home in 1884. The Preservation Trust acquired the iconic carousel in 1986, performed an extensive restoration, and today the carousel looks like it did in the 1800s. Each hand-painted horse boasts a real horsehair mane and tail. As a 1923 Wurlitzer Band Organ plays nostalgic tunes, grab as many metal rings as you can. Nab the coveted brass ring, and you ride free!

2) Edgartown Lighthouse

Straight out of a Thomas Kinkade painting, this 1800s-era lighthouse was relocated to the Vineyard in 1938. Although the smallest of the five lighthouses on the island, Edgartown is the most charming. Ascend the spiral staircase to take in the jaw-dropping, panoramic view. Under the auspices of property steward Martha’s Vineyard Museum, a Children’s Memorial was created at the lighthouse. Each evening, this working lighthouse illuminates the granite cobblestones bearing the names of deceased children, allowing their memory to shine forth as a symbolic beacon.

3) The Aquinnah Cliffs

These multicolored, massive cliffs carved by glaciers millions of years ago are found on the southwestern tip of the island. A visit provides you with the best of all worlds — amazing cliffside views, a gorgeous stretch of beach to walk, nearby Gay Head Light, cute shops, and fresh seafood enjoyed on picnic tables overlooking the spectacular view. Stop in the information center to learn about the island’s Wampanoag tribe, the original inhabitants who hold the cliffs sacred.

4) Dinner at the Red Cat Kitchen

Grab an early dinner after your full day of exploring at the funky converted house that holds the Vineyard’s most happening restaurant. The Red Cat Kitchen is a stone’s throw from the Flying Horses Carousel and offers an ambiance that’s equally as lively and eclectic.

Although the menu changes daily, count on fresh farm-to-table gourmet fare served with impeccable presentation by a genuinely nice wait staff. Start with the yellowfin tuna tartare, buttermilk onion rings, or renowned Brussels sprouts appetizers, and follow up with the legendary scallops and sweet corn risotto. Vegetarians eat well here: The chef’s “no meat, no fish, no fowl” medley is scrumptious.

5) Chocolate, and more chocolate!

Head to the tiny Chilmark Chocolates for a huge assortment of decadent chocolates made right in front of you. Expect to wait in line, but the reward is worth the wait.

Make your way to Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium where you’ll find homemade truffles, chocolate-covered pretzels, and a mind-blowing selection of gourmet ice creams and gelatos served in generous portions. Their lobster ice cream is a crowd favorite, as is the gooey mud pie. Eat as much as you can while visiting these two stops in chocolate heaven, and ship the rest so it’s waiting for you back home!

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