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What is Nantucket Known For?

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Nantucket Activities

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Nantucket Scalloping

Looking for Scallops

What is Nantucket Known For?

Many first time visitors are curious as to how a small island 30 miles out to sea became such a popular tourist destination. So this blog is dedicated to all things quintessential Nantucket- both the Nantucket of the past and the island of today. For more on Nantucket’s location and history, as well as what to expect on your first visit, check out our blog! Nantucket is known for whaling, Nantucket bay scallops, foggy weather, lighthouses (three of them!), Main Street, Cisco Brewers, fantastic fishing, iconic holidays like Nantucket Stroll and the Daffodil Festival and the Rainbow Fleet.

Whaling

Nantucket is the centerpiece of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick and Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea. This is no surprise, considering our island was the whaling capital of the world in the early 19th century. Fleets of ships hundreds strong would depart from our shores. If they were lucky, captains returned years later with barrels full of oil used to light homes across the globe. This legacy is continued by the Whaling Museum on Broad Street- pop over to learn more about our whaling tradition! 

Nantucket Whaling Museum
A Nantucket Whaling Museum Lecture

Fog

Nantucket isn’t called the “Grey Lady” for nothing. In the early mornings and evenings, a thick blanket of fog often covers our shores. But don’t worry, we have our fair share of bluebird days and captivating sunsets. Yet a walk in the mist can be just as beautiful, and might just be easier to come by. However, do be wary of boating when the fog roles in!

Nantucket Fog
The Lynx on a Foggy Day

Nantucket Bay Scallops

Nantucket Bay Scallops are a New England delicacy. Not to be confused with their larger cousin, the sea scallop, Nantucket bays are a real treat. When the commercial harvest season begins in November, small boats head out into the harbor to secure their catch. The scallops are shucked and often frozen, poised to arrive on your July or August plate. Above all, if you’re visiting the island in the winter, don’t hesitate to get your hands on a fresh catch. Nantucket Bays are amazing pan seared, wrapped in bacon, or grilled. 

Nantucket Scalloping
Looking for Scallops

Main Street

Built in 1837, our iconic cobbled Main Street is not to be missed. Designated as one of the Great Streets of America by the American Planning Association, it extends from the waterfront at Straight Wharf all the way to our iconic brick Pacific National Bank. Stroll past numerous high end shops and restaurants, or simply take a seat on one of our many benches and watch the world go by. And don’t be shy about popping in at 21 Main to visit our office here at Fisher! 

Main Street Nantucket
Nantucket Main Street

Brant Point Lighthouse

Brant Point Light is the first thing you’ll see as you pull into Nantucket Harbor. Established in 1746, Brant Point is the second oldest lighthouse site in the country, second only to Boston. The lighthouse grounds are open to the public and just a short walk from the heart of town. For the 4th of July she features a bright American flag on white shingles. For the Nantucket Daffodil Festival and Christmas Stroll, she proudly displays a wreath of flowers or festive garland. So whenever you arrive, head out to the ferry deck as you pull into the harbor for a visual treat! 

Brant Point Light
Brant Point Light

Cisco Brewery

Maybe you’ve seen Gripahs, Cisco Brewery’s grapefruit IPA, being lugged to the beach or tossed onto boats. Or maybe you’ve taken a leisurely bike ride out to the brewery itself to enjoy live music, libations, and good company. If not, now is the time to head out there! Be sure to check out their gift shop for awesome souvenirs and clothing. And perhaps you’ll end up coming home with a bottle of their popular blueberry vodka or a wine from their Nantucket Vineyard.

Cisco Brewery
The Brewery Crew

Fishing

Fishing is just one of the many water related activities which Nantucket is known for. Stroll down Straight Wharf and you’ll encounter a startling number of fishing charters offering both per-person and private trips. Hop on the Just-Do-It Too with Captain Marc Genthner for laid back fun for the whole family. And don’t forget to bring home your catch! Or head out to Madaket for a spectacular charter by Bill Fisher Outfitters, which specializes in fly and spin fishing. 

Nantucket Fishing
A Fresh Catch

Beach Drives

You’ll see Nantucket beach vehicle permits adorning not only the backs of cars, but t-shirts and stickers too. Nantucket boasts a host of car friendly beaches, including 40th Pole by Madaket, Nobadeer in the Surfside area, and Low Beach in ‘Sconset. So pack a picnic, deflate your tires, and enjoy. Or make the trip out to Great Point Light or Coatue- this is a popular way put some miles on, catch some rays, and maybe even see some seals!

Nantucket Beach Permit Tees
Nantucket Beach Permit Tees

Daffodil Festival and Nantucket Stroll 

The Nantucket Daffodil Festival ushers in the sunshine with a weekend of antique car parades, floral arrangement competitions, and quirky costumes. There’s even a Daffodil 5K for those looking to get active! Held the last weekend of April, this festival marks the unofficial start of our summer season.

Stroll is our paramount winter event. Hundreds of visitors pour off the ferries to enjoy hot cocoa and browse our downtown shops which reopen exclusivly for this weekend. Watch Santa parade up Main Street, look for the goose with the golden egg, or simply marvel at all the decorated holiday trees. 

Nantucket Daffodil Festival
Daffy Day Antique Car Parade

The Rainbow Fleet

Each year, Nantucket Race Week ushers in this late-august parade around Brant Point. Colorful sails adorn Catboats, a traditional New England craft used for both fishing and pleasure. The Rainbow Parade has been an island staple since the 1920’s, so head down to Brant Point and see what it’s all about! To learn more about the origins of the Rainbow Fleet, check out our blog.

Nantucket Rainbow Fleet
The Rainbow Fleet: Postcard By H. Marshall Gardiner

Lisa Genthner: Born and raised on Nantucket, Lisa recently graduated from Dartmouth College, where she majored in neuroscience and minored in economics. She feels most at home on the water and loves the endless beauty and entertainment it provides. When she’s not assisting with marketing here at Fisher, you can find her working in the pottery studio or catching a sunset from the beach! 

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Fisher Real Estate