When people dream of a Nantucket vacation, they usually conjure images of sun-filled days spent by the ocean. The reality is that Nantucket is also a fantastic place to visit in winter! It will show you an entirely different perspective of the destination and provide a truly memorable experience.

Why to visit Nantucket in the Winter

There is no denying Nantucket makes a great summer vacation, but that does not mean it is not great in the winter too! The beachside town transforms into a charming, winter wonderland (sometimes even with snow) that offers super cosy vibes. This is enhanced even further if you visit around the holiday season when Christmas trees appear in the streets and sparkling lights lace every window. You will also get to make the most of the reduced prices and crowds.

Things to remember when visiting Nantucket

Obviously if you are visiting Nantucket in the winter, you will need an entirely different wardrobe than a summer vacation. Swap out your shorts and cotton dresses for warm jackets and comfy boots – you will be grateful you came prepared! 

You will also need to go through the typical trip planning activities: picking your dates, finding accommodation, arranging transport to get there. If you live in the United States, it is likely to be a bit more straightforward than if you are coming from overseas. Simply jump in the car or book a domestic flight and you are on your way!

For international travellers, you will need to consider a few extra things including currency exchange and time zones (best to be prepared for any potential jet lag). You will also need to do your research and understand the entry requirements that apply to you. For some people, this will involve applying for a USA ESTA form. The ESTA is an online pre-check that will confirm your eligibility for entering the USA. You can only apply for an ESTA if you reside in a country that is a part of the visa waiver program. For people who are not eligible for the ESTA, you will need to get a traditional visa.

The ESTA process is simple and completed entirely online. The ESTA questions address your personal circumstance and travel plans so that you can be assessed for entry into the country. An approved ESTA does not mean you are exempt from going through border control upon arrival, however, it is likely to make the process a bit quicker. It is best to apply for your ESTA several weeks before your departure date to make sure it gets processed in time. If you leave it too late and there is an issue, you may be denied entry or even the boarding of your plane altogether. 

Things to do in Nantucket in the Winter

As mentioned previously, Nantucket makes a great winter vacation destination. Instead of sipping on cold rose by the beach you can warm up with a hot chocolate by the fire! There is something truly magical about Nantucket in winter and we recommend you go to experience it for yourself.

If you are wondering what you can do in Nantucket during the winter, we have compiled a list of some of the things you should not miss.

Downtown Nantucket

Grab your warm, comfy shoes and head out for a stroll in Downtown Nantucket. In winter, you will not have to fight the crowds, so you will get to actually experience the charm of the area. The fronts of the stores are likely to be decorated for the festive season, creating a fun, merry vibe. When you get too cold, make a stop at one of the many cafes and restaurants. Places like the Cisco Brewery remain open throughout the winter so you can even stop in to try the local brew. You can also indulge in some retail therapy (perhaps Christmas shopping if it is early in winter) at the diverse range of little boutiques. If it becomes too cold to be out, pick up a good book and find somewhere comfortable to spend the afternoon. The Nantucket Atheneum is a particularly good spot to settle in with a good book!

Nantucket Aquarium

If you are looking for an indoor activity to get out of the cold weather, consider a trip to Nantucket Aquarium. It is located in the Nantucket Harbour and houses a whole range of local aquatic species. What makes the aquarium especially unique is that the collection of animals changes each year! Nantucket is a seasonal aquarium that updates its species each summer depending on the animals living in the area. Even if you visit annually, no two trips will be the same!

Nantucket Kids Activities

There are also plenty of family-friendly activities to keep the kids occupied during winter. Consider adding these to your itinerary to keep the young (and young at heart) happy.

  • Visit the candy shop

What kid does not love candy? Force Five Water sports looks like a standard shop, but head inside and you will spot a little candy store. It has a huge range of candy that will satisfy all tastebuds.

  • Try the hot chocolate at Handlebar Cafe

There is no better way to warm up from a cold day exploring than with a cup of sugary hot chocolate. Head to the Handlebar Cafe to treat the whole family with some of the best hot chocolate in town.

  • Explore the Whaling Museum

Looking for a rainy (or snowy) activity? Visit the Whaling Museum. You will learn a lot about the industry and even the young ones will be impressed with huge sperm whale skeleton.

Christmas on Nantucket

Nantucket comes alive at Christmas time. The streets are lined with impressive Christmas trees, twinkling lights decorate houses and shop fronts, and everyone is full of Christmas cheer. There is special about strolling the cobblestone streets during the festive period. You can also attend a range of events from cookie decorating sessions to ugly sweater competitions.