If you’ve only got a day or two to spare, a long drive can feel more like a waste of time than a refreshing trip off Island. But that doesn’t mean you have to stay at home this February break. There are plenty of destinations around Vineyard Sound that only take one quick trip by boat or plane. Get packing, because getting off the rock just got much easier.
How to get there: You can take the Steamship Authority (SSA) ferry if you want to bring your car along, but the Patriot boat to Falmouth offers a free shuttle service that will bring you to the Falmouth Mall or Falmouth Plaza (might as well get some shopping done while you’re in America). One way tickets are $12. (patriotpartyboats.com).
Trip time: About 30 minutes.
Where to stay: The Sea Crest Beach Hotel in North Falmouth offers a Cape and Island resident rate, starting at $79 per night. The heated indoor saline pool and jacuzzi await guests who have been missing out on a good soak this winter. (508-540-9400; seacrestbeachhotel.com).
Where to eat: One of our editors once missed the boat because she couldn’t leave Falmouth without getting chinese takeout at Peking Palace (508-540-8204; pekingpalacefalmouth.com). Another swears by a Mexican meal and a margarita at Anejo (508-388-7631; anejomexicanbistro.com).
What to do: If you like learning about the marine wildlife around the Vineyard, visit the seals and other critters at the Woods Hole Science Aquarium (aquarium.nefsc.noaa.gov). If your family spends a lot of time at the Ryan Family Amusements arcade in Oak Bluffs, take them to the Ryan Family bowling alley in Falmouth. (508-540-4877; ryanfamily.com).
Insider secrets: “Flying into New Bedford is such a gem, it’s an easy flight because Cape Air is the only airline in the airport. The car rental is right there, so we see a lot of people pick up a car and get their shopping done at the box stores. Another little known secret is the Airport’s restaurant, the Airport Grille, is fantastic. It’s sophisticated but comfortable, there’s always great entertainment and excellent food. We see people fly into New Bedford just to eat and fly home. (508-994-7455; airportgrille.com).” — Trish Lorino, Vice President, Marketing & Public Relations, Cape Air & Nantucket Airlines
How to get there: Book a Cape Air flight from the Martha’s Vineyard Airport (MVY) to New Bedford (EWB). Flights start at around $55 each way. (capeair.com).
Trip time: Approximately 17 minutes.
Where to stay: Cozy up with the whole family at the Davenport House B&B, a well-reviewed Jacobethan architectural gem just a ten minute walk from downtown. Rates range from $95 to $150 a night, but there’s only three rooms to choose from. (bbonline.com).
Where to eat: The Portuguese restaurant Churrascaria Novo Mundo, which boasts the “holy grail” of barbecued chicken, was featured on the Food Network show “The Best Thing I Ever Ate.” Go see if you agree. (508-991-8661).
What to do: If you like fishing, join a free tour of the Whaling National Historic Park, which explores the same whaling industry that captivated Herman Melville. Our editors thought the Seamen’s Bethel — described as the “Whalemen’s Chapel” in “Moby Dick” — was the highlight of the tour. (nps.gov/nebe). If the winter weather has you feeling cooped up, get moving at Carabiner’s indoor climbing center. (508-984-0808; carabiners.com).
Insider Secrets: “Packed in January just as much as July, beloved local hotspot LoLa 41 is open for dinner nightly and lunch from Monday-Saturday. Staying for the long weekend? Check LoLa out on Sunday Nights for buy one get one Sushi Sunday. This Presidents Day weekend, chic boutiques are opening their doors for huge savings. Word on Washington Street is that Milly & Grace has $400 dresses on sale for just $60. Saturday nights during the off-season mean DJ nights at Pazzo. This mid-island restaurant turns into a dance party with DJ’s from all over the globe. Best part? No cover. Shows start at 10pm. Take a Sconset Bluff Walk tour on the east side of the island. While out there, make sure to get a shot of Sankaty lighthouse. (lola41.com; millyandgrace.com).” — Holly Finigan, the Nantucket blACKbook
How to get there: Book a Cape Air flight from the Martha’s Vineyard Airport (MVY) to Nantucket (ACK). Flights are only about 20 minutes and start at around $45 each way. (capeair.com).
Trip time: Approximately 20 minutes.
Where to stay: The Jared Coffin House won a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence in 2013, and has a great library where guests can kick back and enjoy an afternoon snack. Our editors say their brunch is killer too. Rates start at $135 per night. (jaredcoffinhouse.com).
Where to eat: Though you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the cool wooden sign at Brotherhood of Thieves will draw you in. Our editors say the hearty — but local and organic — food and fresh draught beer will make you stay. (508-228-2551; brotherhoodofthieves.com). If you’ve been missing Morning Glory Farm in the off-season, Nantucket’s Bartlett’s Farm serves up similar fare and vibes. (508-228-9403;bartlettsfarm.com).
What to do: If you like tossing frisbees at the Riverhead Disc Golf Course in the State Forest, the Nantucket Disc Golf Course will be a fun and scenic challenge. (nantucketdiscgolf.org). If sampling the latest brews at Offshore Ale is your idea of a good time, take a tour of Nantucket’s Cisco brewery, winery, and distillery. (508-325-5929; ciscobrewers.com).