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Insider Tips & Staff Picks

Our staff at Yesterday's Island / Today's Nantucket loves sharing the island with our readers, and we want you to make the most of your time here.   That's why we are launching a new weekly column called Insider Tips & Staff Picks, where we'll share with you our favorite things about Nantucket.

With a combined total of 148 years of living here, we're confident that we've found a some island treasures that a visitor may rarely discover and enjoy.  During the summer season, we'll share with you where to get what we consider some of the island's best cocktails and tastiest desserts, the best restaurants for families, and where to find the nightlife.  We'll reveal some special locations, best beaches, and great places to enjoy your morning coffee. We'll even share our picks for the best way to spend a rainy weekend.

So get ready to be privy to some Nantucket insider tips - every week, all season long.  The Picks are also available on your cell phone so you don't have to miss out even when you're back home and planning your next visit to the island. Feel free to share some of your own favorites or let us know that you love one of ours by visiting us at Nantucket.net and score our favorites!

Our Fifth installment of insider tips is an assortment of our staff favorites:


This one is especially great for kids - or kids at heart like us and maybe you, too. Go to the dock at North Head Long Pond with some raw chicken drumsticks. Affix the joint bone tightly to the end of a strong string and dip it into the water, leaving your toes OUT!! Keep it in the water until a turtle comes along and bites it! You can pull it up out of the water and take a good look without hurting the creature! It is important to have a string that is strong enough to withstand the weight of a turtle, and some of them can get pretty hefty! Fishing line definitely won't be strong enough. Try something that is made of fibers, not plastics, and is several ply in thickness. Take everything with you that you bring, and DO NOT leave any strings in the water when you leave. Otherwise the creatures that live in the pond can become entangled. Also, remember that turtle-ing is just for fun, and you can't keep or eat any of Nantucket's turtles. However, if you do want to catch something that you can eat, go crabbing! Complete regulations and permit information can be obtained by calling the Marine & Coastal Resources Department at (508) 228-7261.

40th Polw

Sweet Treats
We love chocolate, and one of our all-time favorite truffles is the Cranberry Cheesecake Truffle created by the artisan chocolatiers at Sweet Inspirations and made fresh in their shop at 26 Centre Street. Last week we discovered another favorite in this shop full of temptations: their Fancy Fruit & Nut Medallions. These thick discs of Belgian chocolate—dark or milk or white—are studded with almonds and cashews and jewels of dried cranberries, crystallized ginger, and dried apricot. They're healthy as well as tasty...at least that is what we tell ourselves as we bit into the luscious morsels. These also make pretty hospitality gifts, so if you're lucky enough to have friends who live on Nantucket and have offered you a room, a box of Fancy Fruit & Nut Medallions from Sweet Inspirations is a delicious way to say "thank-you."

Island Weaves

Sunsets & the Night Sky
No matter what time of year it is, Nantucket has incredible sunsets. One of our staffers and her boyfriend love to bring their dog to a secret spot with beach chairs, a bottle of wine, and a blanket to stay warm while watching the sun set into the horizon. She says that if it's a cloudless evening and you stay long enough, the view of the stars in the night sky is equally as amazing! If you love stargazing on a more serious level, you can join the professional astronomers at the Maria Mitchell Association during one of their their stargazing nights at Loines Observatory. For dates and times of stargazing nights this week, check the calendar of events in this paper. For upcoming nights visit www.mmo.org or call MMA at 508-228-9198.

Our Fourth installment of insider tips is an assortment of our staff favorites:


Fishing for Stripers
It's striper season, and we love to go surf fishing from the gentle waters of Dionis Beach. Last time we did that, we ended up with two huge stripers and we cooked 'em up to feed a crowd! Hint: we used squid as bait. (To legally fish anywhere on Nantucket, you must obtain a permit from www.mass.gov  for just $10. If you are 16 or younger, you don't need a permit. If you are 60 or older, you must obtain a permit, but it is free.) Careful which waters you choose to wade into as the beach does have some strong currents. The stripers are out there; go get 'em!

40th Polw

40th Pole
We love all of Nantucket's beaches, but one of our staffers says that 40th Pole holds a special place in her heart.  It is the first beach she was brought to when she started coming to Nantucket 12 years ago. Her local friends grew up going to this beach, and now they bring their children to play in the warm and calm waters. It holds memories of laughter, new friends, and summer fun. It is also a great place to sneak out to on a muggy August night and splash around in the darkness to witness the green glowing of the phosphorescence. This same staffer met her boyfriend on the shoreline at 40th Pole on one of these August nights!

Island Weaves

Island Weaves
Another of our staffers, who is an artist, very much enjoys Island Weaves on Old South Wharf, next to the café Slip 14. There you can watch local weaver Karin Ganga Sheppard in action.  As a young girl, Karin was fascinated by the weavers at Nantucket Looms and the beautiful fabrics they created. She often dropped in after school to witness yarn being transformed into scarves, stoles, and throws. After graduating from college, she, too, became a weaver at the Looms and worked there for twenty years. She learned her craft from two master weavers: the internationally-known Andy Oates and Sam Kasten.  At Island Weaves you can purchase some beautiful shawls or blankets. They're hand-made, so they are heirloom quality. Definitely a great place to go if you appreciate high-quality craftsmanship.

Our Third installment of insider tips is an assortment of our staff favorites:

Steps Beach

Sconset Bluff Walk
This is an unadvertised public way that leads walkers right through the manicured back yards of a row of stately 'Sconset homes. On one side, pedestrians get an "insider's view" of gorgeous homes; on the other, there are magestic views of Siasconset Beach, dramatic staircases down the bluff (those are private, stay off of them), and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. The Bluff Walk begins at the end of Front Street in 'Sconset where you'll see two signs that read FOOT PATH ONLY, NO BIKES and PEDESTRIANS ONLY, NO BIKES (so do not attempt this with a bike!). The sign appears to refer to a steep paved trail heading downward to the right, but the path you want to follow is the less traveled one to the left, marked a bit further on by a stone post engraved with Public Way. A helpful citizen as scrawled an arrow on the first signs that points the way. Erosion has taken its toll along the 'Sconset Bluff, so the path is shorter than you might remember if you've traveled it in the past. For more about this hidden island treasure, read Robert P. Barsanti's article in this issue.


Cocktails at Jetties Beach
Having a drink with friends after work is a great way to end a summer day. A favorite is The Jetties, where you can sit on the deck and admire the views while listening to live music, or grab your drink
and head to the beach chairs to put your toes in the sand while the sun sinks into the horizon. Plus, there is plenty of parking so you don't have to worry about driving in circles looking for a space.

Mitchells Book Corner

Steak Burger at Starlight Theatre & Café
We recommend you stop in to this café and movie house tucked away on North Union Street (just off Main Street) for one of their Steak Burgers: it's big, juicy, flavorful, and you can order it with salad instead of fries. At just $10, it's reasonably priced for Nantucket! We hear their Turkey Burger, cast-iron grilled with cranberry mayo, is just as good. Sit in their cozy dining room or outside on their patio shaded by an arbor filled with fragrant grapes and listen to live music. Starlight has a good selection
of beers, and you can take your beverage into the theatre while you watch the latest film. If you go to the Starlight for dinner, you get first dibs on a movie ticket.

Our second installment of insider tips is an assortment of our staff favorites:

Steps Beach

• For an outdoor experience that combines the splendor of nature with the awesomeness of the beach, visit Steps Beach when it's low tide. Pick a sandbar and walk along it! You might have to go chest-deep in ocean until you start coming back up again onto the sandbar you choose to visit, but it's worth it! You'll find all sorts of little critters! Last time I did it, I found the tiniest baby scallop
with one side of her shell black and the other one white! She was so cute with her hundred little blue eyes.


• Take a class at the Artists Association of Nantucket. There are family workshops and classes; weekly art camps for ages 6-18; and evening classes for adults. Their free workshops fill up almost as fast as they're scheduled, so watch their website at www.nantucketarts.org and be the first to sign up! They offer lectures and demonstrations, and plenty of opportunities to see and purchase
the art of on-island artists.

Mitchells Book Corner

• I'm already in love with the newest retreat in the middle of downtown. The Nantucket Room at Mitchell's Book Corner is a great place to get away from it all with a book (hopefully purchased on the first floor of Mitchell's). This second floor reading room has comfy leather chairs, good lighting, and a quiet ambiance. In the morning you can bring in your coffee and read a chapter or two before the hustle and bustle of your day begins or browse among the titles to choose a perfect beach book. Plus, the view from the windows overlooking Main Street is beautiful. You won't understand it 'til you do it, but watching Nantucket town from above gives you a totally new perspective on the island as a whole.


• For any fellow runners that I may have out there, I suggest you map out a run on activetrainer.com Get off the bike paths and onto some of Nantucket's side roads! Running on Nantucket is such a great way to see the island; there are so many quiet streets, quaint lanes, and rugged dirt roads to discover away from the main drag. It is peaceful and exciting running past houses, beaches, and vistas that would otherwise remain unnoticed from a car or the bike path. You'll gain a new appreciation of Nantucket through this method of exploration.

Our first set of insider tips is an assortment of our staff favorites:

Go see a show presented by Theatre Workshop of Nantucket. Nantucket is already a little world of its own, and going to see a play featuring a cast of talented islanders just takes you one step further down the rabbit hole. You get to witness some Nantucket culture, and re-emerge after an hour or two refreshed and with something new to chat about over an aprés show refreshment at Dune on Broad Street.  


Enjoy your first Watermelon Cream of the season at The Juice Bar on Broad Street.  What is a Watermelon Cream, you ask?  Just the most refreshing and indulgent smoothie made from fresh watermelon and homemade Juice Bar vanilla ice cream. Yes, you can have one made with vanilla frozen yogurt instead, but aren't you on vacation? An unusual treat, to be sure, but one you'll want every time you visit Nantucket!

Get a cup of freshly roasted Nantucket Coffee Roasters coffee from The Bean (yes, this is a Nantucket company who imports and roasts beans here on-island, not some multinational making money off our name) and head up to The Fair Street Park.  This gorgeous little green space in downtown Nantucket is there thanks to the Nantucket Islands Land Bank.  As Executive Director Eric Savetsky said: "It's what we do...we acquire land to preserve it and for the public to enjoy."

Finished a little over a year ago, this beautiful enclave at the corner of Fair and Main streets exists where yet another big mansion could have stood were it not for local endeavors.  The park is a local effort: designed by David Bartsch, built by Ferrrantella Landscaping, maintained by Land Bank staff with help on flowers from Lindley Landscaping.

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