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Traveling MA: A Day Trip to Martha’s Vineyard

Change of Plans

We had originally planned to stay three nights at Martha’s Vineyard in what would have been the most expensive lodging of our three-week trip around Massachusetts. But when I found out that it would cost nearly $200 – via the Steamship Authority – to take our rental car there and back, I thought ‘enough is enough!’ So instead we did a day-trip to Martha’s from New Bedford. (And where did we spend our three nights, you ask? In the wonderful town of Sandwich with the cheapest lodging of our trip! )

Taking the Ferry to Martha’s Vineyard

We lucked out in New Bedford – it was the last day of the season to take a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard. We traveled on the Seastreak, costing us $50 same day/roundtrip. It took us an hour to get there but the cabin seats were comfortable, they had a bar selling refreshments, and there were great views from the top deck.

View Leaving New Bedford on the Seastreak Ferry to Martha’s Vineyard
Exiting Port of New Bedford

The Seastreak arrived at Oak Bluffs in Martha’s. From there we took a bus to Edgartown. It was a nice way to see part of the island.

Oak Bluffs Gingerbread Homes

Oak Bluffs, by the way, has an amazing collection (for want of a better word) of gingerbread houses. I called them that before finding out that, yes – that’s what people call them – because they really do look like gingerbread houses. As I walked around looking at the homes/cottages, I spoke to a lady sitting out on her deck. She told me that hardly anyone stays in the cottages past summer because they are not insulated. She also said that most of the owners are forced to rent them out during the summer because Massachusetts taxes are now so high, they can no longer afford to stay in their own summer cottage. Sheesh.

If you want to read more about the gingerbread houses of Oak Bluffs, here’s an article.

Edgartown and JAWS

I was really excited to visit Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard, because that’s where Steven Spielberg filmed JAWS. I looked forward to going on a JAWS tour and buying some tacky souvenirs. Unfortunately, I discovered that the Vineyard is too classy for those kinds of tours, and I had to hunt high and low to find a tacky JAWS souvenir.

Oh well. We did see a few location spots, and the whole island looked familiar because of the movie. And in case you wondered (I did), they do occasionally get great-white sharks off the beaches of the Vineyard. If anyone spots a shark, park administrators immediately close the beach for a minimum of two hours. They also call in a biplane to do a search. After two hours, if they see that the shark has moved out of the area, they re-open the beach.

Downtown Edgartown
Amity Town Hall Location

By the way, if you want to read the true story of JAWS, or, to put it another way, the book that inspired Peter Benchley to write JAWS, read Close to Shore by Michael Capuzzo. It’s the true story of a rogue great white shark who attacked several swimmers along the New Jersey Shore in the summer of 1916. Riveting.

Homes and Scenery

Though we missed out on shark excitement, we loved walking around admiring the homes and scenery.

For lunch we ate seafood salad and tasty fish tacos at The Seafood Shanty in Edgartown.

We spent a lot of time around the Edgartown harbor.

And walked down to the lighthouse.


We enjoyed a beautiful day with perfect weather, and by making Martha’s a day trip, it didn’t cost us a fortune.

Stay tuned for the next blog where I write about a side trip from Massachusetts to explore the mansions of Newport, Rhode Island.




  1. Steve Dahl Steve Dahl

    Another very interesting entry in your journal! I so enjoy your photos and descriptions. Some of these quaint narrow street scenes remind me of Key West! How awesome. Looking forward to your next post. Thanks for sharing your travels with us!

    • KarenGough KarenGough

      Thank you Steve! I’ll have to explore Key West some day. Thanks for commenting!

  2. LOVE the Vineyard! Didn’t know about the true story of Jaws – thanks for posting.

    • KarenGough KarenGough

      I’m glad you liked my blog! Yes, Close to Shore is a really good book because it also includes a view of the culture of the times. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Jeannine Thompson Jeannine Thompson

    I always learn something new and interesting while reading your travel blog posts! Thank you for telling me about Michael Capuzzo’s non-fiction book. “Close to Shore,” that inspired JAWS. I’ve been fortunate enough to swim South Beach on many occasions. Once I took a dip with a new gash on my leg, without even thinking how keenly sharks can smell blood! When I got out of the surf, low and behold, 3 or 4 dogfish sharks were frolicking where I had been swimming! Yikes!!! They were only about 3-4’ long, not a Great White, so I lived to tell of my adventure.
    Jumping off the State Beach Bridge is also lots of fun for kids and adults who are kids at heart. Martha’s Vineyard is truly beautiful but everything is SO incredibly expensive as you mentioned. I bet your seafood salad lunch for two may have cost about $100 if you enjoyed a glass of wine with it.
    For your day trip visit, your photos truly captured the essence of MV. I especially love your picture of the majestic white home complete with it’s white picket fence covered with rambling pink beach roses!
    Thank you, Karen!

    • KarenGough KarenGough

      Ooh, good shark story! Thanks for sharing that. I did read that kids like to jump off the state street bridge, the same one “Chief Brody” ran down in JAWS.
      I love your comments, thank you!

      • Anonymous Anonymous

        Hi Jeannine,

        I can confirm that our lunch was darn close to $100 with two specialty beers. But…it was delicious and worth every penny!


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