Plan a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard! Includes how to get to Martha’s Vineyard, transportation on Martha’s Vineyard, and top attractions.
**A big thank you to the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber for arranging our free entrance into the MV Museum and Island Alpaca Company in exchange for this review. As always, all opinions are our own.**
Day Trip To Martha’s Vineyard
We were super excited about our day trip Martha’s Vineyard! Vicky had never been and it had been a few years since Mark had visited the island (plus, Mark hadn’t been to some of the places we were going to be visiting). We were up very early and didn’t arrive back until late at night, but it was totally worth it because we had a great day.
How To Get To Martha’s Vineyard
So where is Martha’s Vineyard? The small island is about 7 miles south of Cape Cod, on the southeast tip of Massachusetts. The best way to get to Martha’s Vineyard is by ferry.
From the town of Woods Hole in Cape Cod you can take the Steamship Authority’s ferry service to Martha’s Vineyard.
The Woods Hole ferry to Martha’s Vineyard arrives in the town of Vineyard Haven, although from about mid-May to about mid-October the ferry also arrives in the town of Oak Bluffs. You can see the Martha’s Vineyard ferry schedule here.
Do you need a car on Martha’s Vineyard? The answer is no. There is public transportation on Martha’s Vineyard, plus it costs between $43.50 and $81 to transport your vehicle one way on the ferry. A day pass with Martha’s Vineyard public transportation is only $10 a person. You can find more information about the Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) here.
If you do have a car with you in Cape Cod, we recommend leaving it in Falmouth. Because there isn’t a parking lot by the Woods Hole dock, everyone leaves their cars in designated parking lots in Falmouth and then they take the free shuttles to Woods Hole that run continuously throughout the day.
Once you’re in Woods Hole, check to see how long you have before they start boarding the ferry. It’s usually about 15 minutes before departure time. If you have time, take a quick stroll around town or possibly buy a coffee at a local cafe.
Boarding is a simple process and the ferry itself has comfortable seats, plenty of bathrooms, a snack bar, and free WiFi. The journey from Woods Hole to Martha’s Vineyard takes about 45 minutes.
So as you can see, getting to Martha’s Vineyard isn’t difficult. Just make sure you give yourself enough time to get to Woods Hole if you’re parking your car in Falmouth and taking the shuttle. It’s recommended that you arrive at the Falmouth parking lots an hour before your ferry departure time.
Hanging out in Cape Cod before or after your day trip to Martha’s Vineyard? Check out some of our other guides:
– Fun Things To Do In Orleans
– Best Things To Do In Chatham
– Fun Things To Do In Sandwich
– Best Things To Do In Provincetown In A Day
Transportation On Martha’s Vineyard
So what do you do on your one day in Martha’s Vineyard? As we mentioned already, we used public transportation to hop around the island. When we arrived in Vineyard Haven we walked into town to have breakfast.
We also walked to the first attraction, but after that we rode the bus to Oak Bluffs and to Aquinnah to see the rest of the attractions on our list. We think we managed to do quite a bit!
The buses were all clean and arrived quickly. The drivers were all really nice too and if we weren’t sure about where to get off, they always answered our questions and even hollered at us when the stop was coming up.
We’d like to note that on our day trip to Martha’s Vineyard we didn’t make it to the town of Edgartown. We heard good things about it though, so we definitely want to stop there the next time we visit. It’s got a bit more of a modern feel compared to some of the other towns in Martha’s Vineyard and we heard it’s got great restaurants and bars. So where Oak Bluffs is more family friendly, Edgartown is more for adults.
Martha’s Vineyard Map
We’ve created this Martha’s Vineyard map to show you all of the attractions we visited. We hope it gives you a good layout of the island.
We arrived in Vineyard Haven at 9am. We had a bit of time to kill so we walked along Vineyard Haven’s Main Street and decided to get breakfast. Martha’s Vineyard restaurants are known to be excellent so we were excited to try Waterside Market.
We really liked that there was a sign out front saying that in an effort to end plastic pollution, they were changing their materials and containers. They also use fresh and organic ingredients. We also saw that they’d been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
We ordered two coffees and an Avocado Toast with Smoked Salmon. It was pretty big so it was enough for us to share. It came with whipped avocado on multigrain toast and smoked salmon with tomato caper salsa.
After breakfast we walked over to the MV Museum ($18 admission). We believe a day in Martha’s Vineyard should start at this museum, because it’s a good way to learn about the island and it’s diverse history.
Inside the museum is a library that has rare books, pamphlets, manuscripts, and photographs about Martha’s Vineyard. There are also exhibits about the indigenous history of the island as well as nautical history and a hands-on kids area that highlights some of the other information in the museum but is designed for younger learners.
From the MV Museum we walked back to where we got off of the ferry. There’s a bus terminal there and we walked in to buy our day passes. Then we hopped on the #1 bus.
Our next stop was Island Alpaca Company ($5 admission). This is definitely one of the top Martha’s Vineyard attractions. It’s a little outside of Vineyard Haven, which is why we took the bus, but they need to be further out because they have over 50 alpacas on their property.
At Island Alpaca Company they breed alpacas and also offer boarding services. They encourage visitors to come and see the alpacas up close and to check out their large gift shop. While we were there we were able to pet Leonardo, a very handsome three year old alpaca and we also saw two baby alpacas!
Next we got on the bus and headed to Oak Bluffs; you can take either the #7 or #9 bus. There are a lot of things to do in Oak Bluffs and you could easily spend an entire day just there.
Our first stop when we got into town was the Flying Horses Carousel. It’s the oldest operating platform carousel in the country! Unfortunately, it wasn’t running on the day that we visited. But we did get to peek inside!
One of the main Oak Bluffs attractions is the Martha’s Vineyard Campmeeting Association Campground, also known as the Gingerbread Cottages. It’s a National Historic Landmark and is spread over 34 acres.
What once started as a meeting place for Methodist followers where they would stay in tents, eventually became more elaborate homes that still stayed in the footprint of original tent plots. There are now over 300 cottages on the campground with about 30 of them being lived in year round; the rest are seasonal. Each cottage is unique with different colors and themes.
It’s free to walk around the campground and to take photos of the cottages. Just remember that these are private homes so you can’t walk in yards or on porches. To get an idea of what the homes are like inside, you can enter the Cottage Museum ($3 admission). Here you’ll get more on the history of the campground and see period furnishings, photos, clothing, and documents.
We continued to walk around town, occasionally stepping into stores. If you want to do some Martha’s Vineyard shopping, this is the place to do it. The only thing we ended up buying, however, were a chocolate donut and an apple fritter from Back Door Donuts.
We then walked over to Ocean Park for a late lunch. You guys, this park is beautiful and one of our favorite memories from our day trip to Martha’s Vineyard. It’s bordered by Victorian houses on one side, and the ocean on the other. There’s a gazebo and plenty of benches to sit and enjoy the afternoon.
Even though we would have loved to try out more Martha’s Vineyard restaurants, we were traveling on a budget, so we had actually packed our lunches the night before. We’d made sandwiches and had little Ziploc bags with grapes, slices of cheese and salami. And we had our chocolate donut and apple fritter for dessert. Ocean Park was the perfect setting for our yummy picnic.
By the time we finished our picnic and packed up, it was just after 4pm. Our last stop was in Aquinnah, which was all the way on the other side of the island and would take three separate buses to get to.
From Oak Bluffs you can take either the #7 or #9 bus to the Martha’s Vineyard airport (yes, there’s an airport but we wouldn’t say it’s the best way to get to Martha’s Vineyard because flights can be pretty expensive). Next, take the #6 bus towards West Tisbury.
Make sure you ask the bus driver to make sure you’re actually heading to West Tisbury. We thought we saw “West Tisbury” flash on the top of the bus when we got on, but ended up going in the opposite direction towards Edgartown and had to just sit and loop back around which made us lose about half an hour.
Eventually we got to West Tisbury where we transferred onto the #5 bus. From there it took us just under 30 minutes to get to the Aquinnah Cliffs and the Gay Head Lighthouse.
The Gay Head Lighthouse ($6 admission) was the first lighthouse constructed on Martha’s Vineyard, built in 1799. In 2015 it was moved back 134 feet due to cliff erosion, but it stands as magnificent as ever. Plus, it’s the best place to catch a Martha’s Vineyard sunset and the perfect way to end your day trip to Martha’s Vineyard.
There is a pathway to the beach, but we decided we wanted to watch the sunset from the top of the lighthouse, which can be done on Thursdays and Fridays. The views were spectacular and the sunset was magnificent. It is now one of our favorite lighthouses on the East Coast.
Vineyard Haven To Woods Hole
From the lighthouse, we got back on the #5 bus back to West Tisbury. Make sure you’re aware of when the last bus leaves the lighthouse, or else your one day in Martha’s Vineyard might become two!
In our case, we took the second to last bus at 7:10pm and arrived in West Tisbury at 7:32pm. From there, the #3 bus will take 30 minutes to take you back to Vineyard Haven where you can board the ferry back to Woods Hole on Cape Cod.
We arrived in Vineyard Haven just after 8pm but the next ferry wasn’t leaving until 8:30pm and we were starting to feel a bit peckish. Luckily, Porto Pizza is right across from the dock so we bought a couple of slices.
Then we once again boarded the Martha’s Vineyard ferry and waved goodbye to Vineyard Haven. Forty five minutes later, we were back in Woods Hole and taking the shuttle back to the parking lot in Falmouth.
Day Trip To Martha’s Vineyard Video
Below is the video we made about our day on the island. We hope you enjoy it!
Pro Tip: To experience another unique area of the state, consider visiting Western Massachusetts!
Final Thoughts On Our Day Trip To Martha’s Vineyard
We had such an amazing time on the island! There are so many beautiful things to see and everyone is so nice. We hope that our one day in Martha’s Vineyard inspires you to visit as well. Tell them Vicky and Mark sent you!