Martha’s Vineyard, an island located off the coast of Massachusetts, is known for its scenic beauty and charming towns. One of the best ways to explore this Massachusetts island is to take a scenic drive along its winding roads. Along the way, you’ll encounter pristine beaches and adorable New England architecture. Whether you love nature, history, or beautiful landscapes, Martha’s Vineyard’s scenic coastal roads will not disappoint. Check out the four most stunningly scenic drives on Martha’s Vineyard.
History of the Island
Martha’s Vineyard, like its name, has evolved over time. The Wampanoag Native Americans were more than likely the first inhabitants, and they called the island “Noepe.” English settlers began arriving in the 17th century, and the English explorer Bartholomew Gosnold named the island after his daughter, Martha.
With the influx of European settlers, the island’s main industries were primarily fishing, agriculture, and whaling. With Edgartown being a central port, whaling was a prominent industry near there.
Although the town is often known as being for affluent summer visitors, this island was actually home to one of the earliest known Deaf communities in the United States. As a result, the Martha’s Vineyard Sign Language emerged. In addition to the Deaf community, Martha’s Vineyard was historically a refuge for African Americans as well.
By the 19th century, the island’s whaling industry slowed, and instead, tourism began to take off. Today, Martha’s Vineyard is known for its natural beauty, history, and vibrant arts scene, and it continues to be a destination for those eager to see the New England coast.
Geography of the Island
Often referred to as ‘The Vineyard,’ this island is approximately 88 square miles, and in particular, Martha’s Vineyard is nine miles wide and 23 miles long. Although the island might seem small, it is actually the largest island in New England. It only takes about 45 minutes via car to get from one side of the island to the other. With that amount of time, a day trip around the island wouldn’t be a problem. Let’s dive in and see which scenic drives might pique your interest!
4. North Road
Located near Chilmark, North Road offers a special scenic drive to explore the island’s rural beauty. This scenic route veers through conservation land and teeming forests. The road carries you through Menemsha Hills, the second-highest point on the island. You will get the opportunity to look out over the Vineyard Sound and Vineyard Haven. Visit during the leaf-peeping season to see the fall foliage transform the scenic drive into a vibrant, lush forest of red, orange, and yellow.
3. Katama Road
Located in Edgartown, Katama Road traverses the southeastern part of the island. This scenic drive will carry you through salt marshes and farmland. You can also stop and check out the historic Katama Airfield, which dates back to 1924. The best part of Katama Road is the fact that it carries you directly to the famous South Beach. The road ends right at the sand, so you can head to the beach and enjoy the sun and waves at the end of your scenic beach drive.
2. State Road (Route 7)
State Road, or Route 7 or South Road, is the main road through Martha’s Vineyard, running straight through the heart of the island. This road will take you through the heart of the island, and it runs from one side to the other. State Road starts near the Vineyard Haven area. If you start here, State Road will carry you to the other side of the Vineyard, to Aquinnah where you will find the Gay Head Light and the Aquinnah Cliffs Overlook. As you drive through the island towns, you’ll see historic architecture and lush vineyards. Don’t forget to grab a bite at State Road Restaurant (conveniently located right off of State Road) and pop by Polly Hill Arboretum.
1. Beach Road
The most scenic coastal drive in Martha’s Vineyard can be found while driving on Beach Road. As the route’s name suggests, Beach Road provides picturesque views of the island’s gorgeous beaches. You’ll have a perfect view of Joseph Sylvia State Beach, surrounded by dunes and boasting a crystal-blue shoreline. This drive will also take you between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, which are the two most iconic towns in Martha’s Vineyard. Even more, Beach Road will take you past the island’s most regal homes and adorable, colorful cottages. Along the way, you can have beachside picnics and dip your toe in the waves.
Taking a Drive on Martha’s Vineyard
Although Martha’s Vineyard is arguably quite small, the island boasts beautiful scenery and these four roads will offer access to the island’s diverse landscape and coastal charm. These four stunning scenic drives will provide you with an excellent glimpse of what Martha’s Vineyard has to offer. However, don’t be afraid to take an off-road and create your own journey across the island. Hop in your car, roll down the windows, and experience the beauty of the island as you embark on one of these scenic drives!
Summary of the 4 Scenic Drives on Martha’s Vineyard
|2||State Road (or Route 7/South Road)|
The photo featured at the top of this post is © CJ Larsen/Shutterstock.com
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