Did you fall asleep in American Lit. 101? If so, Nantucket may not be your cup of tea. But if you’ve actually read Moby Dick (the abridged version counts, Cliff Notes do not), then this picturesque elbow of sand some 30 miles off Cape Cod, once the world’s richest whaling port, is likely to take your imagination on a Nantucket sleigh ride.
Walk down cobblestoned Main Street in Nantucket Town in the off season, and it’s not hard to put yourself back to the time of tall ships. Quaker dwellings, simple and sturdy, stand stolidly amid well-preserved architectural masterpieces (Greek Revival, Georgian, Federal) built by captains of the whaling industry. Lighthouses along the shore (the one at Brant Point is the country’s second oldest) and museums that pay homage to whalers and life-saving crews a century ago add more color to the island’s historical tapestry.
And there are those who say the best of Nantucket has never changed: The wide beaches, a landscape of moors and heathlands, beach plums and cranberry bogs (nearly half of the island is held in conservation), and the sound of surf along the long, windswept Atlantic shore.