- August 4, 2017
Nantucket is no doubt a children’s paradise. From beach-combing to the Critter Cruise, to the best ice cream on the planet, the Grey Lady knows how to keep the little ones entertained. Here is Fisher’s list of recommended, Nantucket kids activities for your next vacation. The list includes outdoor and educational activities, rainy day ideas, where to find the best sweets & treats, crafting and, our favorite category, salty activities!
The beaches on the North Shore have warm, calm and shallow water making them ideal for young children and those learning to swim. Popular beaches include Jetties Beach, Brant Point, Children’s Beach and Dionis. See ‘Sandbar at Jetties Beach’ and ‘Children’s Beach’ below for more details on these popular, in Town spots.
Captain Josh invites you aboard the Monomoy for a 1 hour cruise. Because the boat doesn’t leave the harbor, you don’t have to worry about inclement weather or rough seas. Kids get to haul up lobster traps, fish with poles and bait, AND get up close and personal with the on-board touch tank. Purchase tickets online, or for a truly salty experience, book a private Critter Cruise. Don’t forget your camera and sweatshirt if it’s overcast!
Nantucket has two very popular surf schools, available for surf camps, and private/group lessons. Join Nantucket Island Surf School at Cisco Beach or ACK Surf School at Nobadeer Beach. Both are found on the South Shore where there is heavier surf. Surfboard and SUP rentals are also available. Read Danno’s great blog on Learning how to Surf on Nantucket for some tips to get started!
The Nantucket experience is never complete until you join the rich fishing history of the island and catch a fish. No matter your age, you can chase fish around the 82 miles of shoreline. Hop on a boat and fish the rips off Great Point or Tuckernuck and you are bound to have an unforgettable experience. With four main species of fish (bluefish, striped bass, bonito and false albacore), Nantucket waters keep you active and eager for more.
If your kids are adventurous and don’t tire easily, we highly recommend renting double kayaks from Sea Nantucket Kayak. They are located just outside town on Washington Street. Paddle along the shore line, to Coatue (pure magic!) or through the Salt Marsh Creeks. Guides are available but should be reserved in advance and are weather dependent.
Ice Cream Cruise
Ice cream and boating? Sign us up! 6 cruises a day, and kids get a chance at steering the boat on the Shearwater Excursions Harbor Tour. Gluten-free and non-dairy options available. Shearwater also has special boating & fishing trips for children, where they learn the basics of fishing, boating and tying knots.
Sailing on a Pirate Adventure
Q: What did the ocean say to the pirate?
A: Nothing, it just waved.
For a truly salty adventure, learrrrrn about the legends of the most infamous pirates and embark on a pirate hunt complete with maps and treasures! The Endeavor is located on Straight Wharf.
Take Polpis Road to Quidnet and park yourself at Sesachacha Pond for a day filled with beautiful views and swimming in the warm pond.
Nantucket Bike Tours
We can’t say enough about the safety-conscious, friendly and knowledgeable guides over at Nantucket Bike Tours. They have a special “Family Adventure” group tour and custom family tours that take you only as far as you want to go. Nantucket Bike Tours has everything you need including helmets, baby seats (recommended for +1 year) and trailers. Highlights include:
- Beaches and lighthouses
- Frogs, turtles, and bugs oh my!
- Lily Pond and The Story of Love Paddock
Children’s Beach is by far the kid-favorite, located at the end of Harbor View Way next to the White Elephant Hotel. It has everything you could need including a playground, restrooms, park, lifeguards, wave-free waters and the new kid cafe called the Hungry Minnow! Visit the Town of Nantucket Cultural & Tourism website for the calendar of events. Or keep reading this blog for information on their movies and concerts.
Together ’Sconset residents and the Nantucket Land Bank constructed a play area for children and families to play amid the natural beauty of Codfish Park. The design includes swings, benches, picnic tables, but a Sankaty Lighthouse, a rope climber and a nautical ship based play structure. Grab lunch at the nearby ’Sconset market or a meatloaf sandwich at Claudette’s.
Tom Nevers Field & Playground
We love this sandy playground with lots of open space and parking. It is great for all ages and less crowded than Children’s Beach playground in Town. There are beautiful views of the ocean and kids love to play in the sand. Children love to take their remote controlled cars there, fly kites, and play sports on the baseball field, and outdoor concrete rink. Take Milestone Road all the way to the end of Tom Nevers Road and you will not be able to miss it!
Bike Paths + Bike Rentals
We love the Surfside Road bike path, as well as the Polpis and Milestone bike paths for the older kids who are comfortable with longer stretches of bike riding. It’s not hard to find bicycle rentals, there are plenty of shops Downtown (mostly on Broad Street) as well as Mid Island. Many of the bike shops will even deliver to your door if you are renting a Nantucket vacation home!
Feed the Snapping Turtles
On your way out to Madaket, there is a small parking area at Long Pond (41.2838191, -70.1699423). Kids love to walk out onto the dock and feed the snapping turtles. Don’t forget string, raw chicken and hand sanitizer! If you have a little scientist who loves animals, here is a great blog from Dr. Sarah Oktay about the species on Nantucket. Afterwards, drive out to Madaket Millies for lunch, dinner or ice cream.
Marjory Trott’s Dance(S)ing, Yoga & Circus Yoga
Join fun-loving Marjory at the Children’s Beach bandstand every week day morning. Her classes are scheduled by age group. Her movement and music classes are for 10 months-3 years and 3-5 years. Yoga classes are for 6-11+ years and 11.5-18 years.
Friday Night Flix & Sunday Night Concerts at Children’s Beach
Bring your picnic to the park for the FREE weekly movies and concerts! New movies and bands rotate every Friday night all summer long. Schedule.
Sustainable Nantucket’s Farmers & Artisans Market
Every Saturday from 9am-1pm, local artisans and farmers bring their goods into Town. Find the little market on Cambridge Street directly behind our office on Main Street. Come stop by and say hi on your way to the market!
Ray Owen Farm
This hidden treasure is an open to public and just outside town on Hawthorne Lane, with lots of farm animals including baby goats!
Educational Kids Activities
Raven’s Night Walk: Ghost’s of Nantucket Past
Join Robin and her raven, Edgar on a ghostly adventure around town. Bring whatever tools you may need. The ghost hunt is educational, exciting and lots of fun. Tickets are not required, meet at The Hub.
Maria Mitchell Association Aquarium
The MMA hosts the Marine Ecology Field Trip from 10-noon Monday-Saturday for little scientists to collect data on Nantucket’s ecosystem. Participants will catch, identify, measure, weigh and release
MMA One Day Programs (Ages 7-10)
“Nantucket Girls” learns about working women from the Whaling days and at “Games of Long Ago”, kids get to play games from the 18th and 19th centuries including Snail and Blind Man’s Buff. Visit their website for the complete list of junior scientist camps.
Nantucket Whaling Museum
The Discovery Room is a family space at the Museum that dives into Nantucket history through activities and crafts. The room is always open during Museum hours, and craft classes are held daily in July and August from 1:30-4:30. The Nantucket Historical Association also offers Arts & Crafts classes from June through October at the 1800 House on Mill Street. Kids also love the huge sperm whale skeleton in the main room!
Classes with the Linda Loring Nature Foundation
Kids ages 6-9 can join the LLNF on Tuesdays and Thursdays for environmental adventures like Birding Bootcamp, Insect Investigators and Superhero Science. Kids ages 10-13 can join the Science Superfan Club on Mondays for workshops like Natural History Blitz and Citizen Science Extravaganza. Visit their website for 2017 activities.
Trailside Story Walk with the Linda Loring Nature Foundation
Open 7 days a week sun-up to sun-down at the LLNF Nature Center at 110 Eel Point Road.
Keep scrolling through the blog to ‘Rainy Day Activities’ to see some of the program offerings at the Nantucket Atheneum.
Sweets & Treats
Read our full blog on Family Friendly Dining on Nantucket to find the best places to go out to eat!
Sandbar at Jetties Beach
Parents will rejoice when they visit the new Sandbar at Jetties restaurant for lunch, dinner or brunch! There is a large, safe beach (away from the water) where kids can play and parents can watch. There is also a large playground across the parking lot.
Candy Room at Force Five
Escape to the secret room and be amazed by their wall to wall candy display. You will find all the staples and some fun hard-to-get candy as well! We love that they hire high school students (who will impress you with the math skills!) to ring you up.
The Juice Bar Ice Cream
Always worth the wait, their special flavors always impress but the kids always seem to go back to vanilla and chocolate with sprinkles! Check out our great ice cream blog with all of your Nantucket ice cream destinations around the Rock.
Nantucket Bookworks & Barnaby’s Place
Nantucket’s favorite bear in overalls just opened his own cafe! Stop into Barnaby’s Place – the new café for kids inside Nantucket Bookworks. Take a seat on a bar stool and grab an activity sheet placemat or the NEW Barnaby Bear Coloring Book Passport in collaboration with Nantucket Island Resorts. Italian Sorbet, Ice Cream, Cookies, Healthy snacks, and so much more!
The ultimate sandwich shop in the Cliff neighborhood just outside town. Great for a picnic at the beach, or enjoy at their beautiful property. Kids love playing in the boat with a PB&J and chocolate chip cookie.
An island institution with famous donuts! An easy kid-friendly diner for breakfast or lunch.
Arts & Crafts
Mer’s Anchored Arts
Meredith Hanson has journeyed all over the island and found the best painting locations including Brant Point, Sankaty lighthouse, Chanticleer garden and more! She describes her methodology as being “designed to inspire confidence and self-discovery in kids of all ages through their own unique artistic expression.” Your little one will be so proud of their artwork
Artists Association of Nantucket
The Artists Association of Nantucket offers year-round classes at their beautiful Visual Arts Center at the end of Amelia Drive. During the summer months they have over TWO DOZEN classes to choose from, for children ages 2-18. Fun workshops include Hand-Drawn Comic Strips, Oil Painting and Wearable Art.
Create Art Supply Store
Also on Amelia Drive, Create is a great art store filled with creative art projects to bring home. They offer everything for beginners to professionals including crafts, projects, paper, canvas, paints, gift ideas and projects.
Akimbo Bead Shop is located next to Geronimo’s Pet Store at 199 Pleasant Street. They offer all kinds of jewelry making materials including gemstones, glass, and ceramic beads just to name a few. The staff is very helpful and will help you pick out materials, give you simple instruction and let you use their tools to make your own jewelry. They also host birthday parties!
Theatre Camp at the Dreamland
There are four main summer programs at the Dreamland. Weekly camps are held for ages 5-9, 10-13 and 14-18. Every summer they put on a musical theatre production (ages 7-14). This summer the performance is James and the Giant Peach! Auditions were just held on July 3rd, with performances August 6th-11th.
Color Me Nantucket
A Walk Around Nantucket is an island-themed kids (and adults) coloring book. It is a great craft activity to bring home and remind you of your Nantucket travels! Designed by local artist Paul McCarthy and Jean Petty (who has carved most of the Quarterboards you see around the island). Find them on island at TownPool and Mitchell’s Book Corner.
Rainy Day Activities
All of the programs and events at our library are free and open to the public! Some classes include Music in the Morning, Toddler Time, Nanpuppets, Yoga with Marjory and Minecraft Club. Arrive early to reserve your space, especially on a rainy day. For non-rainy days, they have outdoor concerts in their beautiful fenced in garden! The Weezie Library for Children is also nice if you’ve gotten too much sun at the beach and need some time in the air conditioning!
Dreamland Movie Theatre
You may not want to be indoors on your Nantucket vacation, but if you end up inside the state-of-the-art Film and Performing Arts Center, you will not be disappointed. They always have a children’s movie on rotation and special performances including James and the Giant Peach in 2017.
Starlight Movie Theatre
Starlight is the other movie theatre destination in Town that doubles as a restaurant for an easy lunch or dinner!
Mini Golf + More at TownPool
TownPool’s newest location at 33 Main Street has a secret miniature golf course on the second floor. They have score cards and clubs for most ages. But the Nantucket kids activities don’t stop at mini golf. The experiential store extends to 3 floors. and the lower level is geared specifically for kids with a candy store and zero-gravity room! Kids also love exploring the store and finding the yellow rubber duckie, in a new location every day.
Shopping in Town
It may sound silly to go shopping in Town on a rainy day, but that’s what everyone does on Nantucket. There are lots of little shops filled with toys and apparel including Toy Boat, Sunken Ship, Force Five, Nantucket Surf Co, TownPool, Nantucket Toy Company, Pinwheels, Egg, Nantucket Bookworks, Kidding Around, Four Winds Gifts, Peachtrees and MORE!
Cheryl Fudge Fashion Camp
For the little fashionista, Cheryl Fudge is a cute craft store where you can DIY your own clothing with her in-house patches, ribbons and other sewing materials. Bring your own clothing, or pick out something from her shop. At Cheryl Fudge, you pin your designs and leave them for the shop to sew.
Nantucket has a new concierge company for moms and dads! They have put together a wonderful calendar on their website with up to date, daily activities for kids. They say, “vacationing parents now have a source featuring our favorite local businesses that can take your ACK family vacation to the next level! Stay tuned for the Momtucket kids & baby shopping directory too!”