For most of the 20th century Martha's Vineyard has been a pleasure destination for New Englanders of all social classes. Once a bustling haven for whaling and merchant fleets, it gradually became a vacation resort where nearby mainlanders could escape stifling summer heat and relax. But recently the island has gone noticeably upscale. Ex-President Clinton and Mrs Clinton chose Martha's Vineyard for most of their annual family vacations in the mid to late 1990s, as did an increasing number of the rich and famous. Despite the abundance of big business and show business types who occupy their second, third or fourth homes here for the summer, the island is still a quiet beach town with a burgeoning art scene which comes alive just in time for the private jets and helicopters to arrive.
Generally, Martha's Vineyard attracts a more ethnically and economically diverse holiday crowd than nearby Nantucket. Unlike much of New England, Martha's Vineyard has long been a beguiling mix in which locals, homeowners, and summer people coexist in an almost effortless comfort, united in their disapproval of traffic, their criticism of the Steamship Authority, and their protective attitude toward the island. Nevertheless the summer tourists still come, and they come in droves, for the beaches, bike paths, charming towns, open spaces, restaurants and inns. To the residents of eastern Massachusetts and those in the know, the island is simply called 'the Vineyard'.
Facts for the traveller
Off the beaten track