The frigid winter temperatures on Martha’s Vineyard in the winter keep many tourists away – but that isn’t always a bad thing. The empty beaches and secluded trails make the off season the best time to get to know the quieter side of the island. It’s also an opportunity to participate in the island’s contemporary culture, with holiday celebrations, outdoor sports, and cinema taking center stage.
Are you thinking about visiting Martha’s Vineyard in the winter? Here are 10 bucket list activities :
1. Explore the Rugged Wonderland of Martha’s Vineyard in the Winter
The average temperature on Martha’s Vineyard rarely rises above 46° F during the cold season – but that doesn’t mean you need to stay inside! From guided tours of Polly Hill Arboretum to the Winter Beach Safari on Chappaquiddick Island, there are plenty of ways to discover the island’s winter landscape and learn about its seasonal ecological changes. Just bundle up first.
2. Take Holiday Photos at its Lighthouses
The historic lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard are a great backdrop for your holiday photos. In the summer months, these iconic locations are usually crowded with tourists. Not so in winter. There are plenty of quiet moments to get great photos at the Edgartown Harbor Light, which is hung with lights and wreaths every winter, and other historic lighthouses around the island.
3. Go Sledding at Sheriff’s Meadow
Even without the beaches, there are plenty of outdoor activities for kids on the island during the winter months. Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation has one of Massachusetts’s best public sledding hills, with gentle declines for the little ones as well as steeper slopes for the seasoned sledders.
4. See Real-life Gingerbread Houses in Oak Bluffs
The historic Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association cottages take on new significance around the holidays. While the Cottage Museum is closed during the winter, visitors can see the settlement’s colorful Gingerbread Cottages on a stroll through the historic Oak Bluffs neighborhood. It’s the best place to find real-life inspiration for your next gingerbread creation.
5. Traverse Long Point Wildlife Refuge by Ski or Snowshoe
Every winter, celebrated nature preserves like Long Point Wildlife Refuge and the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest open their trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. These trails are fantastic for recreational skiing and hiking – just make sure you bring your own equipment.
6. Watch Winter Birds at Felix Neck
Martha’s Vineyard hosts many migratory bird species from more northern climates, so there’s plenty to see in winter. Other species like the Black Crowned Night Heron, the Bufflehead, and the Ruby Crowned Kinglet are common in both summer and winter. Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary has winter programs where you can learn about the island’s diverse bird species.
7. Visit the Martha’s Vineyard Museum
If you’re looking for an inside activity on a snowy day, the Martha’s Vineyard Museum is a great place to learn more about the history and culture of the island. The museum’s permanent collections explore topics relevant to the people, land, and industry of Martha’s Vineyard, while its other exhibitions feature work by contemporary artists – many of them local.
8. Skate on Duarte’s Pond in West Tisbury
Is there anything that says winter in New England more than a game of pond hockey when the temp drops? Duarte’s Pond in the Land Bank Commission’s Black Pond Reservation is a great spot for pond skating on Martha’s Vineyard. Be sure to put safety first though. If the ice isn’t thick enough, the Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena in Oak Bluffs is a great indoor alternative.
9. Celebrate Christmas in Edgartown
Christmas in Edgartown is a weekend festival that raises money for charities on Martha’s Vineyard. Every December, more than a hundred local businesses participate in the festivities and thousands of visitors and locals attend events like the lighting of Edgartown Harbor Light.
10. Attend the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival
In March, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival brings people together for a lively celebration of film, food, music, and art in the off season. Every year the festival includes more than 50 films and attracts prominent guests like Maggie and Jake Gyllenhaal, Amy Schumer, and Spike Lee. The festival is a great way to explore modern cinema and get insight from industry insiders.
Martha’s Vineyard has always been a summer retreat for the people who visit its beaches, historical sites, and nature preserves – but the island is so much more than one season. Dive into winter on Martha’s Vineyard by embracing its unique seasonal activities and cultural events.