Text by Marina Davalos
With the arrival of fall, the island begins to move toward its cold-weather rhythm. Take advantage of the change of pace and head to the Vineyard in the off season.
Stroll through the neighborhood of whimsical, colorful gingerbread houses in Oak Bluffs. Built in the 1800s, originally part of a Methodist camp, 318 cottages have been preserved and each is painted a different color and laced in a unique detailed trim. Care to stay the night? A few cottages are available to rent, check mvcma.org for details.
The Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven was the island’s first year-round restaurant. Today the popular local spot serves breakfast all day, dishing out the classics like eggs Benedict as well as signature items like the Egg McDog—a ham, egg and cheese sandwich. For dinner in the chillier months, stop by on Fridays for the $20 lobster special or on Saturdays for the prime rib at the same price.
Bunch of Grapes has operated as an independent bookstore for over 50 years and in that time has serviced a number of book lovers, including President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. In 2011, the first family perused the shelves picking out a few titles as well as the required summer reading for Malia and Sasha. Throughout the year, Bunch of Grapes hosts author talks and books signings; check the store schedule for details.
Over 50 alpacas call the Vineyard home, too. In Vineyard Haven, Island Alpaca produces high-quality fleece in a variety of colors from Huacaya alpacas, and the 19-acre farm is open to visitors year-round. Take a tour for $5, and learn about the farm’s history and its friendly inhabitants. There are also more comprehensive programs for serious breeders, including private tours and birthing classes.
Support island arts and pick up a unique gift item at the Vineyard Artisans Festivals. Find fine, locally crafted furniture, jewelry and pottery. “Nowhere else on the Vineyard can you meet and talk to artist who actually made the work,” says show manager Andrea Rogers. “The artist is here. They can explain how they made the art, they are proud of their art, and the customer goes home with story to tell about this beautiful work and wonderful person that lives and works on Martha’s Vineyard.” The next festival will run November 24-25 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Ag Hall in West Tisbury.
Sunset at Gay Head Light
Above the clay cliffs of Aquinnah is Gay Head Light, the Vineyard’s first lighthouse. For a real treat, head to the brick-red beacon to watch the sunset from the island’s western shore.