From its notoriety in the film "Jaws" to its reputation as a playground for the rich and famous, Martha's Vineyard has taken its place as one of America's favorite retreats. Secluded away from the mainland, parents can enjoy the laid-back island lifestyle while older kids can venture safely out on their own.
Summer is the Vineyard's famous season, when crowds throng from the mainland, vastly increasing the island's population. All of that's exciting for families who thrive on the hubbub. But for those who prefer a quieter retreat, bumper seasons (late spring and early fall) offer many of the island's amenities but with fewer crowds and cheaper prices.
The Vineyard follows the typical New England pattern of cold winters, wet springs, warm and humid summers, and crisp falls. Sea breezes keep temperatures pleasantly averaged in the 70s during summer. In winter, the same salt water limits the amount of snow. Bumper months (June and September) are popular for light crowds but continued warm weather. Get more weather info.
Both Cape Air and JetBlue fly directly into Martha's Vineyard Airport (MVY). Off island, choose from Logan International Airport (BOS) in Boston or TF Greene Airport (PVD) in Providence, R.I.
Public transportation to ferry ports is provided by Bonanza Bus Lines and Plymouth & Brockton Street Railway Co.. The Cape Cod Transit's Sea Line runs from Hyannis to the ferries at Woods Hole. Catch-a-Train connects Amtrak service and transportation to ferry ports.
Ferries are available from several mainland ports to the island, all of which require reservations. Steamship Authority is the only one to offer transportation of cars as well as people (Woods Hole only). Passenger-only service is offered by Steamship, Island Queen, Hy-Line Cruises, Vineyard Express Ferry, New England Fast Ferry Co., and Falmouth Ferry.Some service is seasonal.
Due to the dearth of car-toting ferries, getting to the island is easier if you leave your car on the mainland, but expect to pay a parking fee. Some resorts offer shuttles that meet guests when they arrive on the island. Oak Bluffs or Vineyard Haven are prime spots for two-wheeled transportation. Cars, on the other hand, are recommended if you'll be renting a house for a while (meaning you'll have a lot of luggage), or if you're staying in a remote area like Menemsha or any place "up island." Vineyard Transit Authority is a surprisingly thorough and inexpensive public transit system of buses, all of which are equipped with bike racks. Purchase passes by trip ($1 per town) or by length of stay. The island also has plenty of taxis (some with bike racks) as well as moped and car rentals.
Peaceful Martha's Vineyard isn't known for perpetual parties, but it does have a few bashes for which it's become known.