The travel and lifestyle blog of In My Footsteps Podcast host and author Christopher Setterlund. Discovering and sharing the best of today and yesterday. Beautiful and inspiring places to visit now, along with incredible stories of times gone by. From Cape Cod to New England and beyond, from present-day, to some classic 1980's nostalgia, to days long gone by. There is something for everyone here much like with the podcast.
First let me start by saying, yes I
am a lifelong Cape Codder.My family
dates back to Deacon John Doane who helped settle the town of Eastham in
1644.I am proud of my long history on
this peninsula. Now, that being said, I will admit that I had never once been
to either island of Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket, until now.
I had decided that with all of the
trips I had taken across New England it was about time that I visit a spot so
close by but which seemed so far away.By ferry Martha’s Vineyard is only a forty-five minute ride, the island
is easily visible from the shores of Woods Hole, Falmouth, and Mashpee.
Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs
The 100-square-mile Vineyard is
purported to be named after the daughter of English explorer Bartholomew
Gosnold who died in infancy.He first
sailed to the island in 1602.There is a
very long and rich history there and I wanted to make sure that I saw as much
of it as I could upon arrival.The ferry
docked at Oak Bluffs and I found my first place to visit stretched out before
me along the shore.
Ocean Park, situated right along
Seaview Avenue, is seven acres of wide open space surrounded by beautiful
homes.Near the center of the park is a
bandstand gazebo and it is the site of the annual Fourth of July fireworks in
Oak Bluffs.I enjoyed the man-made pond
with a small fountain as it was inhabited by man geese which did not mind posing
for pictures.It would have been easy on
a warm early-autumn day to sit back and enjoy more time at Ocean Park but I
knew I only had a set number of hours on The Vineyard and needed to keep
Since bringing a car over on the
ferry is a little pricy ($137 Round-Trip for a small car), I decided to rent a
bicycle for the day.Before I went I had
chosen Anderson’s Bikes due to its low prices and the fact that they had been
around since 1971 with the same family running it.I was not disappointed with the hybrid street
bike from Fuji I rented.It reminded me
of a spin class bike, a great ride.Since it was technically my first time on the island I let the woman
there give me her
East Chop Light
whole speech about what to see around the area.I even got a map just like a real tourist.
Once equipped with a bike I used the
gps on my phone to set out to my next destination.As many of you know I am a huge fan of
lighthouses, love them, so it was only natural that my first trip to Martha’s
Vineyard would include as many lighthouses as time would allow.First up was East Chop Lighthouse.
Located on East Chop Drive in Oak
Bluffs the lighthouse was not difficult to find.The ride out to it was spectacular as being
on a bike made it possible to really soak in the atmosphere of the small island
town.East Chop Light sits inside a
picket fence on a small plot of land overlooking the ocean, passing ferries and
Cape Cod in the distance.It was
deserted when I arrived and it allowed me the chance to take many photos and also
simply enjoy laying eyes on this landmark for the first time.The current East Chop Light is the third
built on the site with the original being built in 1869. The current tower was
erected in 1878.The view is amazing and
worth spending some time there.
Of course I had to follow up East
Chop Light with the corresponding West Chop Light over in Vineyard Haven.The ride there was just as much fun as the
lighthouse itself.The route leads you
down along Vineyard Haven Harbor.This
is the port where the ferries come in year-round, the port in Oak Bluffs is
only seasonal.There are many beautiful
little side roads along the shore, some of which I saw up close when I could
not hear my gps and became temporarily lost.
There are a
West Chop Light
few differences between
East and West Chop Light, the main one being that West Chop is on Coast Guard
property and thus not able to be seen too closely.The original West Chop Light was built in
1817, and the current tower, like East Chop, is the third built on the site.
The current lighthouse was erected in 1891.Despite being fifty-feet behind a picket fence it is still worth the
ride to see this lighthouse, the ride out itself is just as good as I
After seeing East and West Chop I
decided the only way to continue on The Vineyard was to hop on the
Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road bike trail and ride down to see Edgartown
Lighthouse on the harbor.When traveling
on a bicycle you notice how hilly The Vineyard is away from the shore, it was a
bit of a chore but great exercise getting down to Edgartown.
Many spots in Edgartown were
featured in the movie Jaws and the
entire town is beautiful with a special feel to it as soon as you arrive.One particular spot
Old Whaling Church, Main St. Edgartown
that captures that feel
is the ground of the Vincent House Museum.The house itself is the oldest residence on the island, built in
1672.The house is believed to have been
built by William Vincent who was one of the early settlers of Edgartown’s Great
Harbor area.The Martha’s Vineyard
Historical Preservation Society gained the house in 1977 and moved it from
Great Pond in Edgartown to its current location.It shares the ground with a pair of other
historical sites that add to the special feel of this area.
The Old Whaling Church was
designed by Frederick Baylies and built by whaling captains in 1843.It is an impressive site towering above Main
Street with its beautiful columns. It has now been transformed into a performing
arts center and is very popular for weddings. The church coupled with the narrow street,
quaint homes, and white picket fences made me want to simply sit on a bench and
watch the world go by.It seems like
much of Martha’s Vineyard has that same sort of feel to it.
Not far from this stretch of
historical sites is Edgartown Lighthouse.By the time I had gotten to this point my legs were very tired but there
was no way I wasn’t going to walk out to where the lighthouse was on the water.It is within sight of Chappaquiddick with the
ferries making the very short trip back and forth. Ironically the original Edgartown Lighthouse was
destroyed in the Hurricane of 1938 and when it came time for it to be replaced
it was Rear Range Lighthouse from Ipswich, Massachusetts that was loaded on a
barge and brought down to the harbor entrance
.That fact made the experience even more special and unique.
Though the amazing Harbor View Hotel is nearby it felt
as though Edgartown Lighthouse was in its own world; the lapping ocean waves
drown out all sounds but for a few stray boat horns.I sat on the steps of the lighthouse to enjoy
the atmosphere for a while.My first
trip to Martha’s Vineyard had been a huge success and would not be my last for
My ride back to Oak Bluffs took place along the
Edgartown-Oak Bluffs Road bike path.Much of this ride gives you spectacular views of the surrounding water
along the Joseph Sylvia State Beach.It
was a fantastic end to a trip that was a long time coming.I passed by Ocean Park near sunset, coming
full circle from where I had begun my day.Now I can say yes I have been to Martha’s Vineyard, and plan on going
back as soon as I possibly can.I am
sure I don’t have to suggest that all of you do the same.Have fun and happy traveling!
Directions: East Chop Lighthouse:From
the ferry port go straight on Lake Avenue, take the 1st right onto
East Chop Drive, follow it 1.1 miles to lighthouse on the right.
Chop Lighthouse:From the ferry go
straight on Lake Avenue, continue onto New York Avenue, follow it for a mile,
take a slight left onto Temahigan Avenue, follow it .3 miles, take a slight
right onto Eastville Avenue.Continue
straight onto Beach Road, follow it 1.4 miles, turn right onto Main Street,
follow it 2 miles to lighthouse on right.
Lighthouse:From the ferry go left
onto Seaview Avenue, follow it 1.1 miles, continue onto Beach Road, follow it
2.8 miles, keep right to stay on Beach Road, follow 1.1 more miles.Continue onto Upper Main Street, continue
onto Main Street, follow this .3 miles, turn right onto N Water Street, follow
.4 miles, lighthouse is on right.