Are you looking for a serene vacation spot but confused between the majestic Cape Cod and stunning Martha’s Vineyard?
Characterized with scenic views, friendly locals, historical sites, and activities, both of these spots can make your vacation memorable. But which one should you choose?
Cape Cod is suited more for families looking for activities that fit all ages; Martha’s Vineyard makes the best spot for a peaceful and serene vacation. Both offer beautiful views and entertaining activities to spend your holiday in the best possible way.
This guide compares Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard in terms of uniqueness, activities, expense, accessibility, and more. In this way, we can help you decide where your next vacation should be. So, let’s begin.
What Makes Them Unique?
Before we dive into the specifics of each place, let’s know why these places are so famous for vacations.
Martha’s Vineyard’s Adorable Gingerbread Cottages
If you want to experience a world out of storybooks, then Martha’s Vineyard is the place to be at.
Located just the south of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard is known for its serene beaches, farmland, lighthouses, and harbor towns.
It’s known for its diversity and rich history. Contrary to its name, there are actually no vineyards in this place.
But it does offer a very relaxing environment that can help you escape from your everyday responsibilities. There are also enough activities and attractions on the island to keep you entertained.
One of the most unique things about this island is its gingerbread cottages located in Oaks Bluffs. You won’t find such cottages anywhere else around The Cape, and they look straight out of storybooks.
These fairytale-like cottages are one of the most famous architectural sites on the island. Brightly colored, these Victorian cottages stand as reminiscent of the candy and gingerbread house in the story of “Hansel and Gretel.”
And you will be surprised to know; these cottages have a very humble origin. Back in the 1800s, the area around Oaks Bluffs was used for annual religious meetings and retreats by a group of Methodists.
Initially, the group slept in tents. But, over time, when the meetings became more frequent and widespread, they wanted permanent houses to support them.
Due to this need, 500 charming cottages in the architectural style of “Carpenter’s Gothic” was built. Today, only 300 gingerbread cottages remain in the campground, but they are still as magical as before.
Every year, the cottages are dazzled with paper lanterns one night in August as part of the tradition called the “Grand Illumination Night.”
This makes the cottages stand out even more. Besides these unique cottages, the island is also known for its sparkling blue waters and rocky coastlines.
There are dozens of bike paths and hiking trails all across the island, making it a perfect place for outdoor activities.
And if you love fishing, you can also access fishing activities around the island. There are tons of opportunities for sailing and boating.
If you want a taste of urban country living, then you can go out for gourmet dining or shopping. Although there are no shopping malls on the island, there are small stores and some large retailers that you can find.
There are also numerous activities for people interested in arts. For instance, there are films scheduled regularly by Martha’s Vineyard Film Center.
In summer, the island is known for organizing the Martha’s Vineyard Book Festival, Food and Wine Festival, and the Film Festival. How cool is this?
This is why Martha’s Vineyard attracts almost 3.2 million visitors every year despite the land being smaller than Cape Cod. However, the laid-back way of life on the island keeps it serene and tranquil.
Check out more “Must See and Do” activities on Martha’s Vineyard here.
Cape Cod’s Jaw-dropping Landscapes
Its irresistible natural beauty and scenic views are bound to mesmerize you. Cape Cod is known for its abundance of beauty with sandy beaches, fascinating wildlife, and fascinating marshes.
Whether you want to spend your vacations beside a gorgeous beach or take a ride across the greenery, Cape Cod is the place you need to visit.
The island is home to the Cape Cod National Seashore, which comprises over 27,000 acres of beautiful landscapes and beaches.
Cape Cod is much bigger than the Martha’s Vineyard, as well as Nantucket. This is why all those who don’t like smaller islands find Cape Cod to be the perfect vacation spot.
And, not to forget, there are lots of sites to explore on the island. For instance, you can come across thousands of oysters on the Oysters Farms, which is just right off the coast on the north side of the Cape.
If you want to experience the sandy dunes, you can visit the Dune Shacks Trail near Provincetown. The dune shacks are located inside the Cape Cod National Seashore and look out to the sea.
There are also tons of hiking and biking trails all across Cape Cod, making it the best place to have an adventure. Besides these trails, you will also find various lighthouses in Cape Cod.
There are two lighthouses located in Chatham, providing breath-taking views. How about kayaking? Many locals offer kayaking tours across the tides and flow of the island, which makes it the best way to explore Cape Cod.
With a local guide’s knowledge of the area and the beauty of this island, a kayaking tour will be one of the most memorable experiences of your vacation.
Besides these beautiful natural sites and attractions, the Cape Code is also known for its community life. For instance, residents are known for assembling in-town band concerts.
The mix of music and feet tapping is deemed to sway you out of your seat. There are crazy bars and dance clubs found all across the island, jazzed up with drag shows, comedy, and lots of entertainment.
Cape Cod is also home to good food. From freshly caught seafood to homemade cookies, you will never have enough eateries on this island. In short, Cape Cod can add tons of charm to your vacations.
Check out more “Must See and Do” activities on Cape Cod here.
Is Martha’s Vineyard or Cape Cod more expensive?
Before you pack your bags and head over to a ferry, it’s essential to make a budget. The first thing that many people consider before riding to a place is how expensive it is.
We made some comparisons between Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard regarding the amount it takes to travel to these lands and enjoy different attractions.
We found that overall, Martha’s Vineyard is more expensive as compared to Cape Cod. The latest survey by CheapHotel.org has also rated Martha’s Vineyard as the second most expensive destination in the US after Montauk (NY).
Reasons not to visit
So, we discussed all the attractive features of both the islands. But what about the things you should avoid at Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod?
Martha’s Vineyard Has No Vineyard
So, if you are looking to visit a Vineyard, then this isn’t the island for you. Despite its name, Martha’s Vineyard is home to no vineyard, but the restaurants carry wine from all over the world. So, no need to be concern!
On the other hand, it is also difficult to visit this island if you haven’t booked a ferry or plane before. In other words, you will have to skip visiting this land if you have made your plans at the last minute.
Cape Cod’s Crowd
Despite being quite large, Cape Cod invites hundreds of thousands of visitors every year. Due to its accessibility and features such as beaches, restaurants and lighthouses, the island tends to get very crowded at times.
In comparison, Martha’s Vineyard does not get crowded as much and tends to have slow-paced activities.
Therefore, if you are looking forward to enjoying a peaceful vacation away from the crowd, then Cape Cod might not be the best choice for you.
How long Should you stay?
Before heading towards your destination, you need to plan the length of your stay to make the best out of your vacations.
Here’s how long you should stay on each of the islands:
Many people visit the island on day trips through ferries. It’s possible to have a glimpse of the island’s beauty if you are visiting it just for a few hours.
But the best way to spend your vacations on Martha’s Vineyard is by staying for at least two or three days.
It’s pretty easy to get around the island within the set time since it is only 100 square miles.
If your schedule allows, you can cover most of the landscape and architecture on the island, particularly if you are bringing your car on the island.
Even if you are unable to bring one, you can rent a car for the day. However, even without a car, you can visit the best attractions on the island if you plan your trip accordingly.
You can hop on the inexpensive Island Shuttle or VTA bus system to commute across the island. You can also rent a bike if you want and stream through the beautiful island.
Depending upon where you are staying, the locals or the concierge can help you pinpoint the best areas around the island.
Just like Martha’s Vineyard, many people visit cape cod on day trips through ferries. However, we recommend spending at least three days on the island if you want to explore the most popular sites and enjoy your time.
If you live in nearby towns and cities, you can easily make a weekend trip to Cape Cod. For instance, it will take only an hour and a half to drive to Cape Cod from Boston.
However, a three-day trip is also perfect for all those who are visiting from faraway vacations. What you do on Cape Cod depends upon numerous factors, such as the weather and the time of year.
It also comes down to your interests. However, you are deemed to find something that will appeal to you.
There are various inns and hotels all across the island that offer excellent accommodations at an affordable price. To make your vacation more comfortable, you can bring your car through the ferry.
However, depending upon the time of the year, the island tends to get very crowded, and there are chances you will be trapped in traffic instead of enjoying your time. Therefore, it is much better to rent a car for the day or just rely on your bike.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit this island is between May and September.
During these months, the Atlantic Ocean keeps the temperature below the 70s, ensuring the weather is lovely and clear.
If you plan to visit Cape Cod, then the best months to do so will be May, June, September, and October.
These months are characterized by pleasant temperatures, which makes it easier to enjoy outdoor activities. There are also lesser crowds during these months.
Can you visit both on the same trip?
Hmmm…..Martha’s Vineyard is just 28 miles away from Cape Cod. You can easily travel back and forth between the two islands through a ferry.
However, we recommend visiting the islands on separate trips. Traveling on the same trip would only make it difficult to explore the islands fully.
Martha’s Vineyard, because it’s a Smaller Area to Explore Fully
Both Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard have something unique to offer. If you have an extra vacation budget and want a beautiful escape, then Martha’s Vineyard should be your pick.
Each one of them offers extensive attractions and activities that will be worth every penny you spend.