Nantucket in the off-season is a land of empty beaches and deserted cobblestone streets, an island getaway filled with cozy fireside dinners, the Milky Way, and plenty of wellness offerings to recharge and restore.
NANTUCKET — I come from California, land of no seasons. Yeah, we get the occasional rainstorm and the infamous Santa Ana winds, but my frame of reference growing up along the Central Coast was light jacket weather at worst, T-shirt weather most regularly. Because of this, the notion of off-season travel was relatively foreign to me. Despite my years of adulthood travel, the concept of visiting a destination during a time of year it’s not popular wasn’t consciously appealing to me — until a recent trip to Nantucket and specifically a solo bike ride down a cobblestone street. (I am a sucker for cobblestones.)
As I pedaled down Nantucket’s Main Street, a thoroughfare believed to have been laid out in the late 1600s, I breezed past brick buildings in the Greek Revival style cradled by autumn leaves in complete silence. No swarms of beach-bound tourists, no honking cars, nothing. It was almost easy to imagine what this historic island felt like so many centuries ago. It was — decidedly — my off-season a-ha moment.
Shoulder-season and off-season travel are not new concepts. I know this. Perks like fewer crowds and lower hotel rates make choosing a vacation during this period an attractive idea. But work limitations, children’s school schedules, and myriad other obligations make it so it’s not always a viable option. If you can swing off-season travel, here’s why you should go to Nantucket — and here’s what you should do while in town.
I arrived to Nantucket on a Pilatus PC12 with Tradewind Aviation, a U.S.-based aircraft operator that has been providing private charter and shuttle services for twenty years. The flight was less than an hour from Westchester County Airport and, despite my longstanding fear of small planes, was smooth and stress-free. (Disclaimer: the glass of bubbly may have aided in this perception.)
I checked in at Greydon House on Broad Street, a convenient five-minute walk from the ferry docks if you arrive by water. The hotel gets it name from Nantucket’s moniker, “The Little Grey Lady of the Sea,” and is tucked among colonial and Quaker-style buildings. Half the hotel is an 1850s-era Greek revival building; the other half is a new addition spearheaded by Nantucket-based architect Matthew MacEachern. Out front, I’m greeted by a building facade dressed in seasonal pines and other assorted greenery. (I’m told that in blooming months, native sea roses and wisteria are here.)
Inside, a transportive world of interiors by Roman and Williams cements the property’s old-world charm. The reception features brass lighting fixtures that were constructed from old ship portholes. To the right, the living room and bar offer a cozy space to relax on a vintage sofa or atop a wood-framed French ceremonial chair (this is best done while watching the fireplace crackle). The bedrooms are found via dimly-lit, wood-paneled hallways with elegant runner rugs, making the action of returning to your room feel like coming home. The bedrooms are bright, awash in a palette of blue and creamy whites with wood and brass contrasts. And the shower! The shower is a whimsical mosaic of hand-painted Portuguese tiles that are among the more unique hotel details I’ve encountered.
If you come to Nantucket during the summer, you’ll be occupied with clam bakes and beach swims. Come in the fall or winter, I’ve learned, and you’ll experience a sleepy version of the island that sets a tranquil stage for wellness. Greydon House just launched a partnership with Lavender Farm Wellness, a center that offers functional medicine, massage therapy, specialized bodywork, and mindfulness meditation. It was founded by Brandon Jellison and Ugne Aleknaite, who are by far the most Zen couple I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. The collaboration is a weekend wellness retreat complete with a functional medicine consultation with Ugne (I did this — it was fantastic). Also included is a two-day juice and veggie cleanse from the organic caterers at The Green Nantucket, a massage or private yoga session in the wellness room at Greydon House, and a guided nature experience in the Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge (which I did — also fantastic).
In addition to the weekend wellness package, The Green Market Nantucket debuted their mini-bar baskets at Greydon House this November, which include hyperlocal treats like cold-bottled coffee, chocolate quinoa crisps, dried fruit, and more. Co-founders Jenny Bence and Tessa Cressman are the creative forces behind the shop, which you should visit for their prepared foods, clean beauty products, and home goods. (I fell in love with the vintage birdcage on display.)
A Slowed-Down Pace
Nantucket is innately relaxing with its rows of picturesque shingle style houses and proximity to nature. But like anywhere that has a thriving beach scene, it’s more energetic during the warmer months. Coming to Nantucket in the off-season felt like a recharge. A few blood-pressure-reducing activities I would suggest: a ride around town on an eBike from Wheels of Delight (better for autumn), an evening visit to the Maria Mitchell Observatory for a rare view of the Milky Way, a seasonal ale at Cisco Brewers, and a cozy meal at Ventuno Restaurant, located 292 feet from Greydon House. How’s that for a light lift?
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