Birds, Bikes & Beaches Sparkle This Spring on the Vineyard
Our human peregrinations may have been halted for the past year, but avian travelers have continued to migrate north and south with abandon, their flights inspiring to us all. As we begin to migrate again, we can follow the example of hundreds of bird species and make a stop on Martha’s Vineyard. The island’s spring refresh always arrives at just the right time after the long winter, with warmer temperatures, open spaces to explore and mile after mile of beaches. The island is typically 8–10 degrees warmer than Boston, and the more temperate climate means meadow wildflowers and cottage gardens bloom a little earlier, a great way to celebrate spring’s unfurling.
To borrow from Goldilocks, traveling to Martha’s Vineyard this spring feels just right—not too far but with enough distance to experience a true getaway from our all-too-familiar homes. Spring travel also promises plenty of room to stretch out with the family during spring break or have the beach practically to yourself for romantic sunset strolls. There’s so much to do on the Vineyard; it’s only a matter of choosing your speed.
Rent bikes at one of five different shops and pedal upon the largely car-free roads. Circle the State Forest outside of Edgartown on the 10-mile loop, or glide through the northeast corner of the woods on a much shorter 3-mile ride, perfect for all ages. The Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road path provides a great journey with little traffic. Pack a picnic lunch in Edgartown and ride to South Beach with a mostly flat and easy flow. Or head in the other direction and pedal to Oak Bluffs and explore the gingerbread cottages, shop on Circuit Ave and grab a bite at a harbor front restaurant.
Prefer traveling on foot? Hikers and walkers will find a trail to suit every ambler’s ambition. The Vineyard’s trails are also well suited for multigenerational families, like the Caroline Tuthill Preserve off Beach Road, a 150-acre conservation area ideal for spotting familiar songbirds and, on Sengekontacket Pond, a cooperative painted turtle or two. The Gay Head Cliffs offer the best vistas on the island, the most reliable locale for capturing views of the mainland. A springtime sojourn into the Mytoi Japanese Garden on Chappaquiddick Island invites reflection beside the pond and thoughts of renewal as the spring azaleas come into bloom. Discover your best adventure on all the Island trails by downloading the free TrailsMV app.
Many of us have rediscovered the rejuvenating power of nature this past year, and few preserves in New England offer the bird diversity coupled with solace found at Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary. It’s here you might spy a sharp-shinned hawk coursing through the forests in search of its next meal or hear the persistent song of a red-eyed vireo, the most repetitive orator in avian America. With four miles of trails transecting the spectrum of coastal habitats, from tidal marshes to woodlands and shorelines, you can spend hours exploring this area with binoculars in hand or just wide-open eyes and ears. Make sure to check for any guided walks before you come.
Nature is a big deal on Martha’s Vineyard in any season, but spring sees culture of all sorts come to life as well. May brings ArtWeek, a wonderful period of open studios and extended gallery hours. The Vineyard is famous for its artists, and ArtWeek provides an opportunity to look inside their studios and imagine a life as an island aesthete. The artists also come out to display their work and share their secrets during the annual Vineyard Artisan Memorial Day Festival.
Like a shiny strand of pearls, the Pink and Green Weekend brings out residents and visitors alike in their preppy best over Mother’s Day weekend. Mother’s Day is a fabulous time to visit the Vineyard. Young families can stroll through the still-quiet villages, celebrate over brunch at numerous restaurants and spend an afternoon among meadows coming into early spring bloom.
The markets open up come June, when the Oak Bluffs Open Market, Vineyard Artisan Festivals and the Featherstone and Chilmark Flea Markets debut for the summer season. Like the Fleas, the Oak Bluff Open market features a blend of artistry and food vendors.
The active don’t wait until June to get going, however, as the Tour of the Vineyard Bicycle Race rolls into town in May, followed by the Memorial Day 5K Road Race. The gently rolling hills, uncrowded roads and mild temperatures combine to make for sublime island bike touring. The Martha’s Vineyard Bike Tour is a two-day pedaling affair that is held one weekend each month between May and September.
Of course, Martha’s Vineyard beaches appear on every itinerary, even when only the heartiest souls will brave a dip in the Atlantic. Lobsterville Beach yawns for two miles along Vineyard Sound. East Beach provides a lovely picnic destination after locating migrant songbirds in the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge and Wasque Reservation. A pedal along the bicycle path from Edgartown or Oak Bluffs invites a carefree entrance into Joseph Sylvia State Beach, another two miles of beachfront to roam free.
Massachusetts has led the country with preparedness during this past year. Stay informed with all the latest safe travel information here. The days are lengthening, the temperature is warming and spring remains a wonderful time to explore Martha’s Vineyard on your own, with a special someone and with your family. Visit the Martha’s Vineyard website to plan your getaway.