Category Archives: Vineyard Towns

Why Do You Need to See the Famous Flying Horses of Oak Bluffs?

Flying Horses Oak BluffsLooking for something unique on your Martha’s Vineyard visit? Visit Flying Horses in Oak Bluffs. This carousel – the oldest operating platform carousel in the United States – is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and designated a National Historic Landmark. If you’re on the island, stop by and check out this unique piece of American history.

History of the Flying Horses

Experts estimate Flying Horses’ construction occurred somewhere around 1876. It originally stood on New York’s Coney Island. In fact, one of the decorative panels includes a stamp which reads “Coney Island #4.”

In 1884, a man named F.O. Gordon, of New York City, purchased the carousel. He relocated it to a town called Cottage City (what we now know as Oak Bluffs), and situated it near the entrance to Oak Bluffs Harbor. In the late 1880s, the town purchased the carousel, uprooted it from its harbor-side location, and shifted it to its current location on Circuit Avenue, which is Oak Bluffs’ main business and entertainment district.

The carousel has changed hands a number of times since then. Ultimately, in 1986, the Martha’s Vineyard Land Trust acquired it and assumed control over its day-to-day functioning. Today, not much has changed; the 1923 Wurlitzer Band Organ plays tunes from the past century, reading the notes from original paper rolls. Children (and adults!) also still have the chance to grab the lucky brass ring and win a free ride.

The carousel operates daily, from 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Rides cost a mere $2.50. As previously mentioned, riders who successfully grab the brass ring win a free ride. This is a fun, family-friendly activity, and something you can tell people about for years. Come enjoy this piece of American history!

After Flying Horses

After you’ve finished, head out to enjoy some of Oak Bluffs’ many outdoor attractions. There are a number of beaches in the area, such as Joseph Sylvia State Beach, Oak Bluffs Town Beach, and Inkwell Beach. You could rent a kayak and paddle around Oak Bluffs’ picturesque harbor. Those looking for real adventure could charter a fishing boat and head out for a fun-filled day in the sun.

If the water isn’t your thing, there are a number of terrestrial activities you can enjoy, such as renting a bike to cruise around town. You may also consider trading Flying Horses’ wooden steeds for real horses and go on a beach trail ride.

Whatever your preference, you’re guaranteed to have a great time in beautiful Oak Bluffs!

Every adventure in Oak Bluffs begins with a great accommodation. Our Martha’s Vineyard vacation rentals provide a perfect base for relaxing and unwinding in between all of the great activities you can participate in during your time on the island. We have rental properties all over Martha’s Vineyard, so you can choose to stay on your favorite part of the island. Whether you want to be right in town or more isolated, we have the perfect rental for you. Visit our website to check availability and learn about all of our services!

Don’t Miss a Visit to the Edgartown Movie Theatre

Edgartown Movie TheatreThe Vineyard is the perfect place to relax and enjoy life.  While you’re here, come check out the Edgartown Movie Theatre.  This quaint and comfortable theater offers charm and character, all while serving up Hollywood’s latest and greatest movie productions.  The theater is housed in traditional Martha’s Vineyard fashion: a white, wooden storefront right on Main Street in downtown Edgartown.  The inside is equally understated and beautiful, with wooden ceilings, old-fashioned theater seating, and even an open porch on the top floor with tables and chairs.

In short, you won’t find many theaters like this one!  If you’re heading to Martha’s Vineyard, you can check the theater listings courtesy of the Vineyard Gazette.  Don’t miss out on a first-run movie in this charming setting.

Before Your Trip to the Edgartown Movie Theatre

You can’t spend the full day at the theater.  Well, you could, I suppose — but if you’re on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, you’ll probably want to do what everyone wants to do: create lasting memories and eat delicious food.  Well, good news: you can do both without ever leaving Edgartown.

Edgartown is home to the beautiful Edgartown Lighthouse.  The lighthouse, first built on a manmade island in 1828, guards Edgartown’s picturesque harbor.  It’s one of five lighthouses which, historically, has protected ships traversing Martha’s Vineyard’s treacherous waters.  All five lighthouses (Edgartown, East Chop, West Chop, Gay Head, and Cape Poge) stand on the north side of the island.

The Edgartown Lighthouse stands  just off of North Water Street. The Martha’s Vineyard Museum maintains the lighthouse, and offers tours late June through early September.  They haven’t released their 2016 calendar yet, but you can use the following link to view their 2015 tour calendar and use it as a reference.

After your short hike to and from the lighthouse, head out for a delicious meal at one of Edgartown’s fine dining establishments.  We highly recommend Alchemy: a bistro and bar located on Main Street in downtown Edgartown.  Their menu features a wide variety of items, including seafood straight out of the Atlantic, beef dishes, and chicken dishes.  They’re also legendary for their wine selection and cocktails.  Cape Cod Life gave their wine selection a silver medal, while Martha’s Vineyard magazine deemed their cocktails the best on Martha’s Vineyard!

So, if you’re feeling hungry, check out Alchemy for great food, great wine, and (as voted by readers!) Martha’s Vineyard’s finest cocktails.  If the weather’s nice, you can even sit on the back patio and enjoy the fresh sea air.

Everything mentioned in this post adds up to a wonderful afternoon: a walk to the elegant Edgartown Lighthouse, a return to town to enjoy delectable food and drink, and a relaxing movie at the charming Edgartown Movie Theatre.

And if you’re heading this way, you’ll need a great accommodation. Our Martha’s Vineyard vacation rentals provide a perfect base for relaxing and unwinding in between all of the great activities you can participate in during your time on the island. We have rental properties all over Martha’s Vineyard, so you can choose to stay on your favorite part of the island. Whether you want to be right in town or more isolated, we have the perfect rental for you. Visit our website tocheck availability and learn about all of our services!

Why is the Gay Head Light So Famous?

Gay Head Light

If you’ve been to Martha’s Vineyard, you’ve probably heard someone mention the Gay Head Light.  This 170-foot tall lighthouse, located in Aquinnah, first opened in 1799.  A few years before, in 1796, Senator Peleg Coffin requested the lighthouse be built to guide ships past a dangerous range of underwater rocks known as “The Devil’s Bridge.”  They undertook a study to determine its necessity and found that more than 80,000 ships passed that particular area every year.  In 1798, the United States Congress under President John Adams (a Massachusetts native!) approved the lighthouse’s construction.

The Gay Head Light almost met its ruin in the 1970s and 1980s.  The U.S. Coast Guard, the group charged with maintaining the lighthouses, designated the Gay Head Light for destruction (along with two other Martha’s Vineyard lighthouses: East Chop and the Edgartown Harbor Light).  Lighthouses, it seems, are expensive to maintain – and thanks to the increasing prevalence of satellite navigation systems, they’re also largely surplus to requirements these days.  Thankfully, people took notice of its impending destruction and stood up to save this beautiful structure.

Saving the Gay Head Light

The Vineyard Environmental Research Institute (VERI) petitioned the government to obtain control of the lighthouses.  In 1985, the U.S. Coast Guard transferred control of all three lighthouses (Gay Head, East Chop, and Edgartown Harbor Light) to VERI, who took control of management and maintenance.  This marked the first time in American history that the government has transferred control of an active lighthouse to a private institution.  In 1994, VERI transferred the light to the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society (now known as the Martha’s Vineyard Museum).

In 1985 (before it transferred to the Martha’s Vineyard Historical Society), VERI and a litany of private donors set about restoring the lighthouse: replacing broken glass, removing toxic mold, fixing issues with the bricks, and so on.  Since then, the lighthouse has hosted a number of famous visitors, the most notable being the Obamas, who received a guided tour in August of 2009 (making Barack Obama the second president, after Calvin Coolidge, to tour the Gay Head Light).  Other famous visitors include comedian, Dennis Miller; Senator Ted Kennedy and his daughter, Caroline Kennedy; singer/songwriter, Carly Simon; and many more.

In mid-2015, the Gay Head Lighthouse Committee worked with the town of Aquinnah to relocate the lighthouse 129 feet from its original location.  Its current location is a safe distance from the eroding cliffs (180 feet), and geologists estimate it won’t be threatened again until the 2160s.

Visiting the Gay Head Light

The Gay Head Light has been open to the public since it opened.  Today, the lighthouse gives guided tours during the summer months (July – October 12th, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., and some Thursday evenings).  Tickets are $5 for adults.  Museum members and children get in free.  To learn more about the Gay Head Light, visit the Martha’s Vineyard Museum website.

If you’re heading this way, give the Sandpiper Rentals website a thorough look.  We offer outstanding property rentals across Martha’s Vineyard.  Whatever you’re looking for, we’ve probably got it.  If you need help with your search, don’t hesitate to send us an email.  We’ll be more than happy to assist you!