Day Trips from Boston By Train – Martha’s Vineyard

It’s been a while since I’ve written a Day Trips from Boston by Train post. For those that don’t know I live in the city of Boston and do not own a car so I’m always looking for day trips to take by train from Boston, especially in the summer.

I know you must be thinking, isn’t Martha’s Vineyard an island? How are you getting there by train? Well, yes, it is an island, and a ferry is definitely involved after taking the train from Boston.

When visiting Boston, renting a car isn’t always a feasible option if you are staying downtown as parking is expensive and driving is more of a hassle than it’s worth since the city is very compact and walkable. Plus, if you want to head to Cape Cod to catch the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard during the summer months, you very likely will spend a lot of time in traffic.

Getting to Martha’s Vineyard from Boston

So, taking the Cape Flyer train from Boston to Cape Cod is the perfect way to get to Martha’s Vineyard in my opinion. The Cape Flyer runs from Memorial Day to Labor day, three days a week, usually an evening trip on Fridays and morning trips on Saturdays and Sundays with return trips on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Make sure to check out the website for their current schedule. The train leaves from South Station which is right in downtown Boston. A roundtrip ticket will cost $40 per person (be sure to check the website for current pricing).

To get to Martha’s Vineyard, get off at the Bourne stop. From here there will be free shuttles waiting to take you to the Steamship Authority ferry terminal in Woods Hole.

Bourne Train Stop

The cape flyer website has suggested ferry times to take that work best with the train schedule. But you can also check the steamship authority website if you didn’t want to be too rushed and wanted to take a later ferry from Woods Hole. I do suggest taking the ferry to Oaks Bluff and then taking the ferry from Vineyard Haven back to Woods Hole.

Woods Hole

About Martha’s Vineyard

Located off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts is the island of Martha’s Vineyard, known by many as just “The Vineyard”. This island has less than 20,000 yearlong residents but in the summer months, the population of this 96 square mile island increases to over 100,000. It’s known a summer vacation home to many affluent people including some well-known people. Many members of John F Kennedy’s family have called the Vineyard home for years. Past presidents, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama vacationed here during their time in office.

But it’s not just political families that love Martha Vineyards, celebrities also love the island, with many owning homes on the Vineyard. David Letterman, Meg Ryan and Carly Simon all own property on the Vineyard. But these famous people are not what helped to make Martha’s Vineyard a place most people have heard of, it’s the movie that was filmed here. Jaws not only took place but was actually filmed right here on the Vineyard.

Celebrities and movies aside, the Vineyard is full of things to see and do and the perfect summer day trip!

Views from the Ferry

Oak Bluffs

As mentioned earlier, there are two ferries, one that goes to Oaks Bluff and one that goes to Vineyard Haven. Oaks Bluff is the busiest town on the Vineyard and where most of the must-see sights are located. Once you get off the ferry, you will be right in the center of town. Some must-see sites while in Oak Bluffs include the following:

  • Flying Horses Carousel – Built in 1876 and originally located at New York’s Coney Island, this carousel came to Oak Bluffs in 1884 and has been in operation in Oaks Bluffs ever since then. It’s the Oldest Platform Carousel in operation in the US. Even if you aren’t interested in a ride on the carousel, it’s definitely worth taking a look at this historic carousel. It’s fascinating to see how different carousels looked over 100 years ago.
  • Gingerbread Cottages – A National Historic Landmark, the Gingerbread Cottages came about from the Methodist Church Camp Meeting. Starting in 1835, annual camp meetings started to be held on this site on Martha’s Vineyard. Over the years, many of the attendees of the camp meetings were staying on the island longer and would camp in tents on the site. Starting in the 1860s cottages began being built on the site. The colorful cottages are reminiscent of gingerbread houses. They are quite the sight to see. While they are privately owned, many are rented out to people visiting.

How cute would these houses be to stay in?

  • Ocean Park – some of the Gingerbread Cottages are located near Ocean Park. This beautiful park is right near the ferry docks and directly across the street from the beach. It’s a great spot to relax, have a picnic or toss a frisbee around.
  • Inkwell Beach – As mentioned, Ocean Park is located just across the street from the beach. This beach is called Inkwell Beach. If you are just here for the day, this is the perfect beach as it’s just a short walk from the ferry dock. Even if you aren’t a fan of sitting on the beach, it’s great to walk the sidewalk along the beach and take in the views.
  • Oak Bluffs Public Fishing Pier – located right by the ferry docks, is the public fishing pier. This is not only a great spot to fish, but also to take a walk. There is a nice little walking bridge by the water near the pier. Who doesn’t love spending some time on the pier during the summer.

Bus Tour of the Island

While there is so much to do in Oaks Bluff that you could spend the majority of the day there, if you wanted to venture out to other parts of the island, you could take a bus tour of the entire island. The tours take a few hours and leave from right across from the ferry docks. This is a great way to see the main sites on Martha’s Vineyard and hear the history of the island as well.

The majority of the tour involves driving by spots on the island and some of these spots may look familiar to you if you have seen the movie, Jaws. In between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown is the Joseph Sylvia State Beach and the infamous “Jaws Bridge” from the movie. While driving by you will probably catch a few people jumping off the bridge.

Beach from Jaws

The whaling town of Edgartown was where they filmed the town of Amity scenes and the fishing village of Menemsha was also featured in the movie.

There is one stop on the tour where you can get off the bus and explore. It’s in my opinion one of the most beautiful spots on the island, Aquinnah. This town is on the western side of Martha’s Vineyard and features sweeping ocean views from atop the red clay cliffs. Located on top of the cliffs is Gay Head Light which is the first lighthouse built on Martha’s Vineyard.

My photo above does not even do the cliffs justice, they were more beautiful than I imagined, and it made me feel like I was somewhere other than Massachusetts. The views in Aquinnah made the 3 hours in the bus more than worth it!

Bike across Martha’s Vineyard

Want to see the whole island but don’t want to take a bus tour, why not see it by bike. Biking is extremely popular on the island. In fact, back when I was probably 11 or 12, I attempted biking the island with my girl scout troop. When I say attempt, it’s because I had quite the adventure, with two flat tires. The first one was right near where we started, so I was driven back to the bike shop for another bike, the other one was halfway thru the ride, so I ended up back in the car for the rest of the way to our accommodations for the night.

My eventful experience aside, seeing the island by bike is definitely a great idea. There are many bike trails, ranging from short trails just 3 miles long to longer trails of up to 25 miles. You can either bring your own bike over on the ferry or you can rent a bike at one of the bike shops in Oak Bluffs.

Vineyard Haven

As I mentioned earlier in the post, you can catch the ferry in either Oak Bluffs or Vineyard Haven. Located just a few miles from Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven is a much quieter and more relaxing town.

Things to do in Vineyard Haven include:

  • Martha’s Vineyard Museum – explore the history of the island.
  • Browse the many art galleries in town.
  • Shop in the local shops.
  • Take a bike ride to West Chop Lighthouse and maybe even visit East Chop Lighthouse on your way to Vineyard Haven from Oak Bluffs.
  • Enjoy one of the local beaches.
  • Just relax by the harbor.

Getting Around Martha’s Vineyard

If you aren’t one to get around by bike, you are in luck as the bus system on the island is very convenient and easy to use. Check out the Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority’s website for updated bus schedules and fare information.

If you are wanting to get out of the city for a great summer day trip, Martha’s Vineyard is the perfect spot.

Looking for more day trips from Boston by train? Check out my posts on Newburyport and Manchester By The Sea.

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15 thoughts on “Day Trips from Boston By Train – Martha’s Vineyard

  1. The gingerbread houses look so adorable, I’d love to take a visit to see them. Thank you for all the detail on Martha’s Vineyard, I’ve never had it on my list but now that I know it’s within a train trip form Boston I am definitely putting it on my list!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve been curious about Martha’s Vineyard ever since I read Summer Sisters by Judy Blume when I was a young teenager. I need to make it to Boston one day and take a day trip over!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, what an incredible post! I never knew there were so many amazing day trip options from Boston by train. Your writing style is so engaging and the pictures are simply breathtaking. Thank you for sharing your travel experiences and providing valuable information.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love that these are all by train – it’s the best way to travel and yet I never do! I’m going to save these ideas for my summer travel plans!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Wow, you live in such a beautiful part of the world. I’ve never been to Boston, but I love that you don’t need a car to go to some pretty cool places, thanks to the Commuter Rail. I have to check out the rest of your train trip posts to see if you wrote anything about a train journey to Providence. They have one of the most beautiful book libraries in the world – The Providence Athenaeum. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

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