Island Life…Nantucket

Life’s a Beach

For the past 20 years, my husband and I have been traveling to the island of Nantucket each year to visit his family’s home there. Before our kids arrived on the scene, we would go off-season and take in the island’s weathered and natural beauty. September and October (now a difficult time for us with school starting and home life chock-full) was our favorite time to visit back then so, while it is a bit late to advise summer visitors, Nantucket is really stunning in the Autumn.


Known for its beautiful beaches and historic architecture Nantucket evokes feelings of romantic isolation while being simultaneously brimming with commerce and creativity. Windswept beaches and grassy dunes pair perfectly with the cobblestone streets and grayed cedar facades of downtown. It is truly a magical place to be. Every year I vow to alert our Hammertown readers to my “favorites” of Nantucket and I finally am making it happen. What follows is an edited and narrowed-down list to be sure….my true best of the best. Please feel free to comment if you have anything to add. There are so many things to see and do there is no way I could include everything!

Favorite Places to Shop


This shop is by far my fave. Regardless of whether I buy something or not, just browsing the wares here makes me feel good and I visit multiple times on each island visit. The owner, Coleen Darby Wurts, amasses an eclectic and well-edited collection of antiques and home goods that mingle perfectly with classic yet eclectic clothing and stunning jewelry. Sandwiched in-between some more touristy shops (which your kids will love) at 10 Straight Wharf, and housed in a tiny renovated barn (just like Hammertown!).  Atlantic is one shop not to miss!



Situated on the lovely Old South Warf at no. 4 (a shingled bungalow shopping destination) is an eclectic shop whose doors open right out to the docks. Space truly has something for everyone. From baby gifts to beach towels, tunics to tote bags, every item has a story and the owner, Elise, was happy to share with us tales about the makers and designers of every item we touched. The well-curated collection of both vintage and modern items was inspirational and I really loved discovering the origins of each object.  Visit their Facebook Page 


Scrub Oak

Located at 14 Easy Street right across from the Easy Street boat basin, is a small shop behind a delightful picket fence and courtyard. Scrub Oak hosts a refreshing and vibrant mix of items contained in three small rooms. Lovely art pieces, scarves and jewelry, curated clothing and shoe collection….what more could you want from a browsing/shopping experience?! A great place to find gifts for those who are “impossible” to buy for.   Visit them online at


Isobel and Cleo

As an avid and obsessive knitter, I was overcome last year when I came across an inspirational studio and shop called Isobel and Cleo. Housed within was an inspirational, vibrant and tactile world of knitwear created by designer Charlotte Hess. This year the studio and expanded retail shop relocated to an amazing location at 45 Straight Wharf.  Their knitted garments and curated collection of island-made, ethically-responsible items is a testament to the creative spirit of the island itself.  Visit online at



Center Street is another shopping destination on Nantucket. Patina, located at number 23, is a small, Light-filled shop hosting an extensive collection of jewelry by Ted Muehling and Gabriella Kiss. Their elegant knitwear and clothing leaves nothing to be desired. Treat yourself…you deserve it.  Visit for more.


Sweet Liddle / Emily Brook Rubin

This shop, also on Center Street (no. 40) is another light-filled gem. The signature pearl, stone and leather jewels of Emily Brook Rubin evoke both earthy and luxurious qualities. Side by side with the collection of well-crafted wearable and home items, this shop (recently relocated from two smaller shops on Old South Wharf) has it all.


This is truly a knitter’s paradise. If I could, I would go every day (what, no beach mom?), surround myself in the peaceful and creative atmosphere, and knit for hours on end. Each vacation, I stock up on yarns, notions and patterns here to keep me busy throughout the Autumn and Winter months. I also attend at least one of the knitter’s afternoons and meet fellow Nantucket knitters. The owner, Sheila Fee, is a creative powerhouse (albeit housed in a petite frame) and her knitted samples, ideas and assistance always bring me hours of knitting pleasure. Located at 14 Sparks Avenue.  I keep asking her to open another shop in our area….who knows?!  For now you can  visit them on Facebook


The Toy Boat

Possibly the smallest toy shop ever with a varied collection of goodies to entice even the most “mature” grown-up. Fairies and dragons galore and lots of very special items that remind me of how magical childhood can be without anything electronic. The owner, Lauren, is the person whom my kids simply must visit as soon as we arrive each year. I hope they never grow out of wanting to go there each year. Be sure to check out their amazing fairy garden outside the shop.  More at

toy boat

Food & More

beachside bistro


Saturday Farmer’s Market (in town 9-1)

Bartlett’s Farm (groceries and yummy prepared foods)

Favorite Dining Spots

Lola 41 (best sushi ever)

Millie’s   (early dinner before sunset at Madaket Beach)

Oran Mor Bistro

Summer House Beachside Bistro (family dinner or lunch)

The Galley Beach (fancy and romantic)

Sayles (take out lobster dinner and seafood market)

Top Three Beaches

Madaket (sunset is amazing)

Dionis (great family beach)

Cisco (for the surfers among us)

Rainy Day Kids Activities

Ice skating at Nantucket Ice!



Maria Mitchel Aquarium and Science Museum

Whaling Museum


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