If you're coming from Chatham, you're probably better off taking the ferry from Harwich (Freedom Cruise Lines) rather than either of the two lines that run out of Hyannis (Steamship Authority and Hy-Line) -- you'll save time and mileage to the dock, and can avail of free parking. I've never taken FCL, so can't comment more specifically on their boat/service, but I'm sure it's fine.
Once you're in Nantucket, I still think renting bikes and riding around is one of the best uses of your time, assuming your children are comfortable on bikes. (See earlier postings on this forum regarding day trip ideas -- incl. one from about a week ago.)
The ride to Surfside Beach is only 3-4 miles from Town, though perhaps that's still too far for your younger boy. There are small sections of mixed traffic, but most of the ride is on a separate bike path.
If you prefer a shorter ride and a sheltered beach (i.e., little wave action), you could try Jetties Beach which is just a 5-10 min. bike ride or 25 min. walk from Town. If you want to stay through lunch, Jetties has a decent snack bar with outdoor seating.
In terms of reasonably priced, family-friendly dining, I think the Brotherhood of Thieves and Atlantic Cafe are both good lunch choices. The Even Keel Cafe is good for coffee, muffins, and the like.
Better yet, hit the Grand Union supermarket near Straight Wharf and prepare your own picnic lunch. There's also a larger Stop & Shop supermarket near the rotary on the way to Surfside.
Re: Ferry service. FYI, FCL's Harwich-Nantucket ferry is on the more limited spring schedule through June 29 whereas their summer schedule, starting June 30, adds more options. See www.nantucketislandferry.com/schedule.shtml for schedule times. For more choices, you may need to go to Hyannis: see http://www.hy-linecruises.com/ and also http://www.steamshipauthority.com/ssa/
Re: What to do. Here are my kids own personal recs:
- Beaches and Biking (water will be cold in June but sand will be nice; biking on most bike paths will be a lot of fun but you should bring/rent tandem bike for you and 6-yr old so the 6-yr old doesn't tire out; 10-yr old will be happy on solo bike)
- Museums (fess): The Whaling Museum, the Old Mill
- Great Views: First Congregational Church Steeple (small fee; requires walking up 94 steps to observation deck); Whaling Museum's widows walk (fee; has elevator);
- Nice nature walk with a great view at the center: Sanford Farm (free; you can bike from downtown to this conservation land)
- Restaurants: For breakfast - Black-Eyed-Susan (downtown) or Downyflake (near rotary); For lunch/dinner - Brotherhood of Thieves (downtown,low-celing'd, somewhat dungeon-like basement dining...big menu and neat atmosphere); For picnic style - Something Natural (edge of town)
- Favorite kid trinket traps: The Hub, The Sunken Ship, Four Winds;
- Favorite candy places: The Hub (Main street); Sweet Inspirations (Centre Street)
Favorite Ice Cream: The pharmacy on Main Street (downtown) and 'Sconset Market ('Sconset)
- Bathrooms: Visitor's Bureau and also Athaneum Library (basement level)
I would agree with the Something Natural suggestion.. it is a nice bike ride up near Cliff road... The sandwiches are to die for and it isn't a bad bike ride...
Great ideas! Any other thoughts? Thanks!
Assumed you were planning a day trip but for a more extended stay, some other family options:
Seal Cruise (fee; hundreds of seals!)
Kite flying (Typically windy Pocomo Head favors success even for a 6-year old but you'll need a car to get there...go during low tide for shelling, too. On very blustery days, you may be able to launch inland at the edge of the Elementary School playground area)
Evening Ghost tour walk (fee; may bore 6-yr old)
Sporadic family movie nights on the lawn and/or teeshirt tye=dying at Children's Beach (movie is free; fee for craft activities; times/days vary -- check with the visitor's bureau)
Nantucket Ice (ice skating, that is, during public skate hours; fee for entry and skate rentals. Just keep this in mind if you happen to be a hockey family and wind up with a very rainy day)
Tom Nevers Carnival (doesn't start until July 5, though)
Also, Whaling Museum, Athaneum, Maria Mitchell Assn, and summer theatre groups may be sponsoring something of interest -- check with visitor's bureau and/or www.yesterdaysisland.com/main_pages/index.php closer to time of your visit.
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