Village Spotlight: Oak Bluffs

Once known as “Cottage City”, Oak bluffs is a truly unique resort town on Martha’s Vineyard full of color and character to this day.

Located on the northeast shore of the island, Oak Bluffs offers an historical edge which includes The Flying Horses Carousel – the oldest operating platform carousel In the United States, The Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association in the heart of Oak Bluffs which showcases hundreds of painted Victorian “Gingerbread” cottages to be dazzled by, and of course the Tabernacle – the physical and spiritual center of the Campground which was built in 1879 by John W. Hoyt of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Home to the largest marina on the island, the finest golf course, beautiful public beaches, public parks and wildlife galore, Oak Bluffs is your destination of choice for trendy and artsy shopping.  See a movie, enjoy a night on the town with live entertainment and dancing (OB being one of the two “wet” towns on the island that serve alcohol), eat at one of the excellent restaurants or just take a walk down the thrilling Circuit Ave, the town’s main drag.

Several special events emphasize Oak Bluffs personality and take place annually:  Grand Illumination Night in the Campground cottages, the Monster Shark Tournament, and the August Fireman’s Association Fireworks.  At The Grand Illumination, residents of the Campground place ornate Chinese lanterns (some electric, some still lit with just a candle), around each Gingerbread Cottage. The lanterns remain dark until after dusk. At an appointed hour, people gather in the Tabernacle for a sing-along and community gathering. At the end all the lights go out and thousands of Chinese lanterns spring to life in a brilliant cascade of light throughout the campground. The celebration ends after visitors walk through the Campground enjoying the sights and sounds of an event taken straight from the turn of the century and brought to life every year in this quaint town of Oak Bluffs.

Village Spotlight: Vineyard Haven

The village of Vineyard Haven, located in the town of Tisbury, is the main port for Martha’s Vineyard. The harbor is the year-round home to the island ferries run by The Steamship Authority (passengers, cars and freight) and the New England Fast Ferry (passengers only), and it is filled with private and charter sail boats throughout the year and especially each summer. Once you step ashore, some of the best the Vineyard has to offer is within walking distance.

The famous Black Dog Tavern, bakery and retail shops stand steps away from the ferry, and most visitors mark their summer visits by purchasing their annual Black Dog t-shirts. Sitting on the porch at the tavern happily devouring your lobster dinner remains a highlight and is always worth the wait. No reservations accepted, but it’s a joy to sit on the small beach and watch the harbor while you wait for your name to be called.

Bike and car rentals are close by to help you get around, but you don’t even need them to explore Vineyard Haven’s Main Street. This picturesque, shopping extravaganza of a street boasts unique boutique style shops filled with clothes, cool stuff, books and art. Some of our favorite spots are The Green Room (men and women’s clothing), Bunch of Grapes (one of the greatest bookstores ever) and Rainy Day (literally filled with too many fantastic items to list here). Art galleries abound and showcased artists often capture the spirit and beauty of the island.

Vineyard Haven offers excellent dining (Le Grenier) and quick eats (ArtCliff)…and plenty of ice cream (Mad Martha’s) – just to name a few hot spots. The Mansion House hotel, spa, health club and restaurant (Zephrus) stands right on the corner of Main and State Road giving guests full service inside and total access to the town. If it rains, duck into the Capawock movie theater, a refreshing change from the multi-plex, or find the Vineyard Playhouse which features a summer packed with world-renowned plays and actors in a unique Vineyard setting.

And if you have time, wander just a block or two past Main Street, up away from the harbor. You’ll find the a beautiful, seaside, New England town – white clapboard homes, lush gardens and tons of character.

Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair: Reason 423 to Visit MV in August

One of the highlights of the summer on Martha’s Vineyard is the West Tisbury Agricultural Country Fair with Mid-Way sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society. Every August for four days (Thursday – Sunday), the fairgrounds host the classics at this real old-fashioned fair.

Kids and adults alike enjoy rides, games, shucking and fiddle contests, the skillet throw, horse pull, woodsmen competition, the fiber-arts tent and dog & livestock shows. There is no resisting the live music, puppet and dance shows…and, of course, the tournament of all tournaments – Cow Chip Bingo.

NOTE: Come to the fair hungry. Here’s a sampling of what you’ll find: local restaurants have booths showcasing their best recipes, the MV Fire Departments grill hotdogs and burgers, local schools provide ice cream and there’s kettle corn, fresh lemonade and cotton candy galore.

The Ag Fair is just one of the many summer traditions on the island, making August a fantastic and event-filled time to visit Martha’s Vineyard.

Prices and dates for the annual Ag Fair can be found here.

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