Winter’s top 10 countdown

What to do on-Island when the sky turns gray.

—Gabrielle Mannino

Updated Dec. 18

Winter on Martha’s Vineyard can be a lonely affair. The snow, the wind, the chill. Over the years, though, Islanders have come up with creative ways to fend off the winter blues. If the sky starts turning that familiar shade of gray, turn to these tried-and-true techniques to brighten up your day!

Top 10 things to do

  1. Take a class at Featherstone. Never let anyone tell you that the Island has no class. Martha’s Vineyard is blessed to have Featherstone Center for the Arts right here on our shores. When winter strikes, Featherstone turns up the heat with programs in everything from ceramics to printmaking to jewelry making, and even art therapy. Who knows? A little class might just be what the doctor — or therapist — ordered.

Featherstone Center for the Arts, 30 Featherstone Lane, Oak Bluffs. 508-693-1850.

  1. Get outside. Run, walk, hike, or just make a snow angel. According to Harvard University research, getting outside has a range of health benefits including increased vitamin D levels, improved concentration, and a boost in happiness. Those who are feeling a little SAD (seasonal affective disorder) will also benefit greatly from exposure to natural light. When winter gets blue, go green. (Or white.)

Check out Island favorites Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary and the Polly Hill Arboretum.

  1. Read a book/write a book. Have you been procrastinating on writing the great American novel? Well, this might be your year. Whether you’re writing a magnum opus or reading one, these are two of the oldest hobbies … in the book. Reading and writing are ways to “be productive in an interior space,” according to bibliographer Ann Phyllis. Martha’s Vineyard has no shortage of libraries and bookstores. Bunch of Grapes in Vineyard Haven and Edgartown Books are both open year-round.

Bunch of Grapes, 23 Main St., Vineyard Haven; 508-693-2221. Edgartown Books, 44 Main St., Edgartown; 508-627-8463.

  1. Take up pickling. Whatever happened to chili, soup, Christmas cookies? Apparently pickling is all the rage. Defined as “the process of extending the lifespan of food by fermentation in brine or vinegar,” pickling combines handiwork, cooking, and community. Picklers can join a host of online forums or brick-and-mortar clubs where the ultimate pickle is not only sought, but coveted. Feeling sour? Get started at or the National Center for Home Food Preservation,

  2. Visit the alpacas. You think you’re cold? What about our four-legged friends? One of the Island’s best-kept secrets is the enchanting Island Alpaca Co. Located on 19 acres in Vineyard Haven, Island Alpaca boasts a 50-strong herd with genetic lines to include Snowmass Legacy Gold, Peruvian Caligula, and CCNF Archangel.  A close relative of the llama, alpacas are known to be friendly — and friendly to the touch. Stop by the gift shop for cozy sweaters, socks, and more. And meet the alpacas! They might just warm your heart.

Island Alpaca, 1 Head of the Pond Road, Vineyard Haven; 508-693-5554.

  1. Go off-Island. What? Who said that? Contrary to popular belief, the mainland is not a postapocalyptic wasteland where bandits rule the village streets. (Well, maybe a little bit.) Even if it’s just a ferry ride or a trip to the closest Walmart, changing up the wallpaper can be a refreshing change of pace. Veteran Islander Erik Peckar suggests, “Just going to Woods Hole for dinner and coming back can recharge your batteries.” Whether you need new batteries or just a warmer winter jacket, the mainland can be your main squeeze. (Sometimes.)

Steamship Authority; 508-693-0367.

  1. Stay on-Island. The summer crowds are gone. The frost has set in. Let’s party! Martha’s Vineyard might seem cold-hearted in the winter, but you just gotta poke around. The Island boasts a thriving local music scene, bowling alley, movie theater(s), and restaurants and shops all lit up for the season. Sometimes the things you’re looking for are right in your own backyard. What’s best? You might even be able to park.

For a list of off-season happenings, keep up with @What’sOpenOnMV on Facebook, or visit The Times online Things to Do section at

  1. Host a potluck/go to a potluck. Pickling not floating your boat? One of the oldest Island reliables is having a potluck. Defined by Webster as “a meal or party to which each of the guests contributes a dish,” potlucks are a great way to fortify friendships and satisfy appetites. Themed potlucks are also popular these days, with creative concoctions like “Breakfast for Dinner,” “Memory Lane” (comfort food), and “Alphabet Soup,” where the entire groups is assigned a single letter to work with. (“C” for couscous, cake, coconut, etc.) Dig up a sweet idea of your own and dig in.
  2. Improve your game. No, not that game. Board games are back, and they’re anything but boring. Staples like Sorry, Clue, and Monopoly — as well as new classics Cards Against Humanity and Pandemic — engage the mind and stimulate healthy competition. Grab your besties and try to figure out whether it was Colonel Mustard in the study with the lead pipe, or that pesky Professor Plum.

Check out

  1. Just be. Scientists have begun to notice an alarming social trend: Human beings have forgotten how to “be.” Work, purpose, or passion, philosopher Eckhart Tolle explains the phenomena as “the psychological need for the next moment.” To combat the winter blues (and bustle), practitioners recommend taking five minutes out of the day to “do nothing.” It may be harder than you think, but also more rewarding.


Updated to correct the alpaca varieties at Island Alpaca.