Vineyard Haven is the island's central location for coming and going, year round. It's where the Steamship Authority Ferry docks in, day in and day out, and is the town that welcomes most visitors to the island as the main port of entry. Once you dock, you arrive into the Vineyard Haven Harbor Cultural District, with a working harbor with New England charm, walkable village center, and so much to do.
The area was called “Nobnocket” by the Wampanoag people, and referred to by the colonial settlers as “Homes Hole”, which then evolved to “Holmes Hole”, named after the descendants of John Homes, who had settled in the area in the late 18th century.
Since Vineyard Haven is the main port for the island year-round, the easiest and most common way to arrive at Vineyard Haven is via the Steamship Authority Ferry that docks daily in the Vineyard Haven Harbor. You'll take the trip over from Woods Hole on Cape Cod - and in 45 minutes, you'll be docking in Vineyard Haven!
This is the only ferry that will also bring your car over to the island, so make sure to book your ferry tickets in advance if you are needing to bring a car on island. See the Steamship schedule below.
Getting around Vineyard Haven is made easy with a few transportation options:
- Public bus system
These are for those travelers that choose to not bring their car on the island.
Bringing a car on the island is the most efficient way of getting on the island. If you choose to do so, reserve your ferry tickets well in advance of your visit.
The most reliable mode of transportation from Vineyard Haven to the rest of the island is the VTA (Martha's Vineyard Regional Transit Authority), which has a main bus stop right on Vineyard Haven Harbor, making it easy to get on once you dock. Along with that bus stop, there are plenty of other bus stops and the VTA goes all over the island (all six towns, year-round), with extended schedules in the summertime.
The VTA's peak season of operation typically runs from May to October, with 14 routes that travel all over the island. New for 2022, you can now purchase digital travel bus passes for one day, three days, a full week, a full month, and/or a full year, making this a super easy way to get around the island seamlessly. Check out the Vineyard Transit App for more information.
Taxis and Ride Sharing
Other ways to get around Vineyard Haven are by using the local taxi companies, as well as Uber and Lyft. For those wanting to get some exercise in, renting a bicycle during your stay is a great way to get around town - you'll avoid having to find parking during the peak busy months!
Vineyard Haven is a town that's densely populated with some of the most charming inns on the island, so if you're looking for a great inn, this is your town to stay in. Since Vineyard Haven is the main port of entry to the island, there are plenty of accommodations just a short walk from the ferry, if you're looking for convenience.
When deciding where to stay in Vineyard Haven, you have a few options, some of them including:
- Luxury Bed & Breakfast Inns: The Nobnocket Boutique Inn, The Crocker House Inn, and Charles & Charles MV are just a few of our favorite luxury inns.
- Resorts and Hotels: The Mansion House is truly the only large hotel in Vineyard Haven, with a health club and spa attached to their hotel, and a quick 5-8 minute walk from the ferry.
Another option when looking for accommodations in Vineyard Haven is to check out what local realtors have to offer in terms of vacation rentals. Vacation rental homes are great accommodations for large groups, as well as travelers looking to book long-term stays.
This picturesque town is packed to the brim with things to do, and depending on the time of year you visit, here are our favorite things to do in Vineyard Haven:
- Visit the Martha's Vineyard Museum, a wealth of island history in one single building. It inspires all people to discover, explore, and strengthen their connections to this Island and its diverse heritage. Ever-evolving exhibitions keep the museum a fun location to discover every time you visit, plus their large children's area filled with fun learning is just the thing to do with kids of all ages on a rainy Vineyard day.
- Take a bike ride to the West Chop Lighthouse and explore the great trails of the island. This bike ride is a great way to ride through gorgeous Vineyard Haven neighborhoods and the reward is a lighthouse with an incredible view of the Vineyard Sound.
- Shop local on Main Street Vineyard Haven and be delighted in all the gorgeous retail shops. Some of our favorites include The Trust Shop, Rainy Day, and Martha's Vineyard Made, great examples of locally owned and operated retailers.
- Discover the culinary delights of the town, by eating at some high-quality dining establishments such as Beach Road Restaurant, La Soffitta, Garde East, and Salvatore's, just to name a few.
- Play a round of mini-golf at The Cove, a miniature golf course that is an adventure themed course, meandering through a lush garden landscape, complete with streams, waterfalls, ponds, and their famous cave! Great for every traveler, but especially those with kiddos in their party.
- Explore the art galleries in town, like the Louisa Gould Gallery, the Night Heron Gallery, 51art Gallery, Miner Family Gallery, Amy Cash Gallery, and many more. Each gallery is unique in its offerings ranging from jewelry to paintings and sculptures.
- Go thrifting at Chicken Alley Thrift Shop. If sustainable shopping is your ideal activity, make sure to check out the island's largest thrift shop. Proceeds go to the MV Community Services Organization, so it's a win-win for everyone and you are sure to uncover a sweet treasure while browsing!
- View a movie at the MV Film Society is a member-funded non-profit arts organization dedicated to screening the best in independent films, movie classics, documentaries, and world cinema for diverse audiences of all ages throughout the calendar year, so the perfect activity on a rainy day!
- Indulge in sweet treats like french crepes at Nat's Nook, Brazilian cakes at Sweet Bites, and American butterscotch cookies at Life at Humphrey's.
- Browse Morrice Florist curated shop if you're a lover of all things flowers, as this woman-owned shop is a floral and gift gallery galore. If you're looking for the perfect greeting card to accompany a bouquet of flowers, this is the place.
- Grace Church Lobster Rolls are available during the summer months and for many visitors, it's their first stop on Fridays. Classically made by an all-volunteer crew, they serve lobster rolls and pie slices mid-May to Labor Day, so if you're visiting during those months, make sure to stop by.
- Watch a play at the MV Playhouse, a professional non-profit theater on island that hosts movie nights, poetry cafes, and plays all year long.
- Play a round of golf at Mink Meadows Golf Club and enjoy a day on the course with your friends.
- Spend the day on the beach, because Vineyard Haven is home to incredible beaches! Whether you're looking to rest and relax, or have some fun in the water, VH beaches will not disappoint.
As a cultural district, Vineyard Haven is a wealth of history. The center of it is the Martha's Vineyard Museum, where their permanent exhibitions showcase the history of the island.
Our favorite is the One Island, Many Stories which offers an introduction to Island history arranged in a thematic way. Visitors are able to learn about the diverse history of Martha's Vineyard through the lenses of fishing, farming, changing, voyaging, creating, escaping, and belonging. Here are the other permanent exhibits:
- Jewelbox Exhibit
- One Island, Many Stories
- Flashes of Brilliance
- The Challenge of the Sea
- Hands-on History
- On This Site
- History Highlights
- Doherty Hall
- The Thomas Cooke House
As you know, Martha's Vineyard beaches are world-renowned, so the town of Vineyard Haven also is home to some fantastic and relaxing beaches.
Owen Park Beach is great for families because it is on the harbor and the ocean waves are barely there. It is a calm and protected beach to enjoy anytime of year.
Along those same lines, the Tisbury Town Beach is another favorite of ours.
One that's worth the bumpy ride is the Lake Tashmoo Town Beach - a lot like Menemsha Beach in terms of getting there, but once you get there, it is worth it! Just make sure to arrive early enough to be one of the lucky few, because parking is limited, but if you do score a spot, you'll be on a beach that is close to your car, perfect for any family needs!
Shopping in Downtown Vineyard Haven
Vineyard Haven is a town with dozens of incredible shops, and you'll stop in and fall in love with all their wares. Because the downtown is such a walkable town, the shops are sprinkled all along main street as well as beyond, and cater to everyone's desires.
Start at the beginning of Main Street Vineyard Haven and browse along as you walk: general basic clothing shops that the locals love because they carry anything and everything, couture clothing shops by local designers, a well-stocked independent bookstore, sportswear clothing shops, culinary and kitchenware stores, fine jewelry shops, and much more.
Main Street is the main thoroughfare in Vineyard Haven. We suggest starting on one side of the street, visiting shops along the way, then visiting shops on the other side coming back.
Vineyard Haven also is home to some of the best Vineyard artisans which can be found at shops and galleries like Martha's Vineyard Made and Night Heron Gallery, both co-ops of sorts that house dozens of local artists and the perfect spots for you to find the perfect gift or souvenir of the island.
If you're staying in town for longer than a few days, you'll need to stock up on groceries and Vineyard Haven is home to two of our favorite, locally-owned markets: Vineyard Grocer and Cronigs Market. They both are more focused towards wellness, with great fresh produce, hard-to-source specialty ingredients, and their staff is incredibly knowledgeable in all things food.
Breakfast and Coffee
Vineyard Haven is a foodie's dream come true because it is home to dozens of restaurants that will feed not only your stomach, but your soul. If you're looking for breakfast, a stop at the Artcliff Diner or the Nat's Nook will get you fueled and ready for a day in town.
Looking for a great dinner stop? Salvatore's and La Soffitta are great options if you love Italian, Garde East and Beach Road Restaurant are fabulous choices for the seafood lovers, and we can't forget our long-standing favorites like Black Dog Tavern and Rocco's Pizza.
We also love that Vineyard Haven has two of our favorite Asian cuisine spots: Mikado and Copper Wok, both absolutely delicious spots to grab your favorite sushi rolls alongside your classic Asian comfort food dishes.
Looking for where to grab a cocktail in town? We must remind you this is a dry town, meaning you won't find wine shops or liquor stores unlike other towns, and it also means that you must order food if you want to consume an alcoholic drink. Easily done if you order an appetizer and then decide to drink responsibly.
In this town you'll also find a few food trucks - the great thing is they are mostly stationary, so you won't have to chase them down! Check out Goldie's Rotisserie, El Gato Grande, and the Joy Coffee trucks in town and support the incredible chefs behind them.
New this year, Vineyard Haven is welcoming new locations such as Catboat Coffee, Epicure MV, and MV Cheesery all in one fun location, so imagine like a mini-version of traditional big-city food halls, right on your favorite island. Also, joining forces are The Swimming Pig and North Tisbury Farm, taking over the space previously known as The Larder, where you'll be able to discover prepared foods, cheese, charcuterie, and a focus on cured meats made in house, by The Swimming Pig Chef, Tyler Potter.
Vineyard Haven has some incredible annual events that the community, both on and off island, look forward to every year. Here are the top three events you can't miss in Vineyard Haven:
- Annual Memorial Day Town Picnic: typically takes place at Tisbury Waterworks and is a community event where everyone brings food, games, and there's live music.
- Beach Road Weekend: a three-day live music festival that brings artists from around the US and the world to play music at the Veteran's Memorial Park in Vineyard Haven.
- Street Fair
Whatever you decide to eat, drink, explore, or discover, Vineyard Haven will truly be a treasure trove of activities. But if you're looking to not do anything and just peacefully stroll the streets of this town, you'll also be just as delighted. This town is home to some of the most incredible architecture and walking through neighborhoods like the one on Williams Street is sure to be a treat!