It is an island that's drawn presidents, famous writers, actors and artists to its shores for hundreds of years. With summer upon us in Boston, it's time to explore what makes Martha's Vineyard such a treasured summer destination worldwide, and one of the top day trips for Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut residents. President Barack Obama was a recent vacationer there, and his family was photographed biking on the island's spectacular trails!
Located about 90 miles south from the center of Boston, sits the tiny island of Martha's Vineyard, surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean. The distances from one end of the island to another are very small, measuring less than 25 miles across from east to west, and just over 10 miles from north to south, making the island a haven for bike riders and hikers wishing to discover the majority of the island in a short amount of time. Martha's Vineyard is also a short ferry ride away from Nantucket, another famous island in New England and a popular, relaxing getaway for writers and artists wishing to produce their work in peace and in unending inspiration from nature!
The island was named by English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold in 1602, who gave the island the name "Martha" after, disputably, his mother or daughter; he also included the term "vineyard" because of the wild grape vines that were present on much of the island. There is some inconclusive evidence that Norsemen arrived on Martha's Vineyard around 1000 A.D. at around the same time that they landed in northeastern Canada in Newfoundland and Labrador. In surviving Norse writings, they called the island "Vineland", also inspired by the wild grapevines. The native Wampanoag people inhabited Martha's Vineyard thousands of years before European explorers discovered the island, and native camps from as far back as 2270 B.C. have been excavated on the island.
With an incredibly rich history, both with respect to human history, but also geologically (the island is a treasure for geologists studying the ice age and the separation of Matha's Vineyard and Nantucket from the mainland), Martha's Vineyard is both a jewel of natural wonder and a gem of American history. For most visitors to the island, the purpose of the visit is the beach, the island's many exceptionally rated restaurants, quaint shops and B&B's. There are nature trails surrounding the entire island, from the flat plains of the eastern side of the island (very near to sea level) to the striking cliffs rising 300 feet above sea level on the western side of the island.
Check out the slideshow and decide for yourself whether this is a must-do day trip! Most New Englanders would certainly concur!
Martha's Vineyard has many ferries that are constantly bringing tourists and island residents in from the mainland. From Boston, the fastest and least expensive way to reach the island is via the 'Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven Ferry' in Falmouth, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod.