September is truly the magic month for travel. For Peter, the magic is on Fire Island once the crowd leaves and the island reverts to what he remembers as a child. But that’s not the only magical off season. Up and down the coast, beach towns are free of the summer crowds. Now is the time to go to capture the local experience, so we sent Lilit Marcus up to Nantucket to see what happens on the island after Labor Day.
Nantucket is one of the most popular summer destinations in the country, but this island has way more to it than the high season. Locals will tell you that the most beautiful time of year in Nantucket is the fall. Not only does the island get prettier and less crowded, but prices go down. So start planning your Columbus Day trip already. Here are a couple of things that the locals suggested you check out:
For the best view in Nantucket, climb the stairs to the top of this church, the tallest building in town. There are binoculars and glass windows offering you a great view of every side of the island, but don’t forget to also check out the church itself, which is ripe with island history and beautiful but austere design.
During the summer, it’s nearly impossible to get a table at this island favorite. But in the fall, the lines shrink and the food stays just as great. Black Eyed Susan’s is famous for their pancakes made Amish-style with cheese. Order a stack for the table in addition to what you want to eat.
If you’re willing to spend a little cash, Galley Beach is where the locals go for a luxurious dinner. The food and custom cocktails are delicious, but the real attraction is the view. Galley Beach is located right on the water, with tables just beyond the reach of high tide, and it has one of the best views of the sunset on the entire island. It’s Nantucket tradition to applaud politely when the sun disappears below the horizon, so be ready.
Nantucket has its own local brews, made courtesy of Cisco Brewery. The names reflect some of the island’s most notable attractions, like Whale Tail (there’s an entire whale skeleton in the local Whaling Museum, which is definitely worth a visit). Our favorite? Grey Lady, which comes from Nantucket’s fog-based nickname and has no connection to The New York Times.
There are no shortage of beaches on this island. But if you want to swim and lie out like a local, it’s worth the trek out to Smith’s Point. If you don’t have a car, the best way to get there is to take the bus to Madaket Beach, get out at the end of the line, and walk north until you see the point extending into the sea. Nantucketers will tell you that this is also the best place on the island for surfing, if you’ve been wanting to learn.
Nantucket is full of shops that will sell you everything from printed dresses to designer coats. But the locals know that the best place to go for clothes, jewelry, and housewares is this thrift shop, whose proceeds support the local hospital. In the summer, the goods are often picked over and occasionally marked up. But once fall hits, the bargains are back.
For more end of season beach towns you should visit now, check out:
- Car-Free Martha’s Vineyard Vacation: Biking, Rowing, Beating Traffic
- Off the Brochure Travel Guide: Long Island’s North Fork, The Hamptons Alternative
- 6 Off Season Islands: Travel Ideas Forget the Crowds Save
Text and Photos by Lilit Marcus for PeterGreenberg.com. Lilit is a freelance writer who lives in Brooklyn and tries to get out of it as much as possible. Her work has also appeared in Glamour, The Daily, and Jaunted.com. Follow her on twitter at @saveassistants.