Nantucket is a fabulous summertime spot, and is especially fun if you bring along your furry friend, sure to not cramp your style on this pet-friendly island. Only 30 miles from Cape Cod, it’s a destination that has captured the hearts of countless vacationers, with its quaint shops, restaurants and galleries, beautiful beaches, and relaxed New England feel. Remnants of the island’s past, replete with seamen, whales, and lore fortified by Herman Melville, endure on the quaint cobblestone streets. Many of the stones beneath vacationer’s feet, were originally used as ballast on whaling ships returning to the island from voyages to England or the Pacific. Lightship baskets, once made by seamen to relieve their boredom, are now found in shops and homes in traditional form and as delicate gold charms. The symbol of the whale emblazons many of the island’s doors, signs, and souvenirs.
Nantucket is an island perfect for walking, as almost everything is situated close to the historic center. Up and down streets and beaches are dogs of every variety enjoying the offerings of the island, and adding to its family-friendly charm.
There are several ways to get to the island, but if you want to bring along your pooch (and you will, when you see all the fun they have on Nantucket), you will have to plan ahead.
1. If by Air
You can fly to Nantucket from several airports in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Nantucket Airlines, Cape Air and Island Airlines will take you to and from Nantucket in a light aircraft. Cats should be in airline-approved carriers and dogs can walk aboard as long as they are on a leash. Always make reservations for your pets, as the airlines usually will not allow for more than 2 pets per flight.
2. If by Sea
If you choose to travel by sea to Nantucket, there are two boat lines that depart from Hyannis, Massachusetts (a hub for travel to the islands)-the Steamship Authority and the Hy-Line. Both Steamship and Hy-line have a fast ferry that takes an hour, and the Steamship has an auto ferry that takes approximately 2.5 hours. While traveling by boat clearly takes longer, there are some wonderful advantages. Your pets may travel with you with less complications or restrictions than by air, although you must remember to mention your pet when making reservations. More importantly, though, you and your pet can take in the spectacular sights departing from the Cape Cod coast and approaching the island; the sounds of gulls and lapping waves and the salty smells of the Atlantic on your relaxing journey to Nantucket.
Lodging : Be sure to plan ahead-Nantucket is a popular summer destination!
There are many extraordinary places to stay while on Nantucket, but the only two inns that specifically advertise for pets are the Safe Harbor Guest House and the Grey Lady. If you would rather rent a house or cottage near the beaches, the best option is to call a realtor-then you and your pets can stretch out in your own private space. To find lodging perfect for your needs, go to www.nantucket.net.
Upon arrival—breathe in the sea air, and relax….
Of course, one of the nicest pastimes on Nantucket is relaxing on the expansive beaches. There is nothing like a walk on the beach, breathing fresh ocean air and watching the waves break on the shore. Dogs are allowed on the beaches (technically with leashes) and definitely love to check out the surf and sand dunes.
Shopping is another ‘must’ while on vacation and Nantucket is no exception. If you are going to bring Fifi with you, be sure to treat her to some exclusive indulgences. Vacationers shouldn’t miss Geronimo’s (named for the owner’s Chesapeake pup) located on Pleasant Street, a shop with all sorts of gift ideas for your favorite pet or person. Geronimo’s has unique specialty items that will always serve as a reminder of your vacation to Nantucket-including leather collars with hand-sculpted islands in gold or silver, matching leads, and hand painted ornaments with various pedigrees. If you forgot your pup’s pillow, Geronimo’s also sells a ‘Nantucket’ red-cushioned bed. While dogs are the shop’s major market, it also sells wonderful objects for cats and birds and in the summer months-exotic pets.
Cold Noses is another unique boutique for pets and people. Located on Straight Wharf, Cold Noses has a handsome array of treats and treasures. One favorite is the automatic cookie mailer. Imagine your pampered pet receiving his favorite gourmet treats, mailed to him directly every month. This cookie of the month club for visiting four-legged friends offers a wide selection of flavors-a deli assortment of tuna, liver, ham, beef and lamb; and the bakery selection of chippers, peanut butter, strawberry, banana, orange or apple. The best part is that the cookies are all natural so that you can feel good about giving your pets a healthy treat.
Cold Noses also has a wonderful assortment of fanciful cat toys and munchies such as Catviar, Haute Feline Kitty Treats and the Cats Meow selection.
After all that shopping, food is the next necessity. Dining al fresco is preferable with your pooch. Some great stops are the Tavern at Straight Wharf, and the Rope Walk (with extraordinary harbor views). Another popular dining option on the island is ordering take-out from Provisions, so that you and your pooch may enjoy the gourmet food on the beaches. Even the most finicky palate will be satisfied with Nantucket’s delicious cuisine.
For puppy playgroups and daily doggy socials, Nantucket plays host to a wonderful island tradition. ‘Tupancy Links’ is the locals’ best-kept secret (oops!). On the way to Madaket, there is an expanse of conservation land that was at one time the first golf course on the island. The land was dedicated to the conservation foundation and is now treasured by pets and owners alike. Every day between 4:30-5:00pm, people arrive with their dogs to play ball, run around, socialize and enjoy the beautiful unspoiled land. Some extra-lucky dogs actually come here twice a day.
The MSPCA, located on 21 Crooked Lane, brings puppies to Tupancy Links to begin socializing them with other dogs. The MSPCA’s adoption rate is an incredible 100% on Nantucket, a true testament as to how pet friendly the people living and visiting the island are. If you are visiting Nantucket sans pet, and are thinking of adopting a dog or cat because you feel like you are missing out (and you are!), call to schedule a visit with the MSPCA’s adoption specialist.
As your puppy is playing-sniffing and sauntering with the locals at Tupancy Links—and you think you are witnessing a moment to be captured in history, you can turn to island photographers Kris Kinsley and Pat Woodley (508) 228 2710. They are happy to schedule a photo session with your pampered pet enjoying the island’s offerings. A popular place to say your ‘I dos’, Kris and Pat also have photographed many beach weddings that have included pets as ring bearers.
Bird-watching is another favorite pastime on this island, as Nantucket is the north-south flyway of migrating birds, but your dog will have to be well behaved if you want to find any success!
These are just a few of the exciting places to go and things to do on Nantucket. I hope you are convinced…and remember, upon leaving Nantucket by boat; it is traditional to toss a penny overboard and make a wish to return again. If you travel with your pet, aim seaward and toss two. I’m sure your dog will want you to!
For more information go to www.nantucketonline.com.