Six Places to Visit in Martha’s Vineyard

Martha’s Vineyard is an island that includes the smaller Chappaquiddick Island and it is just off the south of Cape Cod in New England.  It is just less than 90 square miles and boasts a wonderful collection of old cottages, white bluffed sandy beaches and tourist attractions.

 

One of the most notable points of interest in Martha’s Vineyard is a town called Vineyard (Tisbury.) The main attraction in this summer resort area is the West Chop Light House that stands on the north end of the Island.  Not far from this lighthouse is a steamboat wharf that boasts 150 years of history.  The entire town is charming and boasts quaint architectural examples of coastal cottages from the last couple of centuries.

 

Another big attraction for Islanders is the Flying Horses Carousel in Oak Bluffs.  Built in 1876, this is one of the oldest operating carousels in the United States.  It was moved from Coney Island to Martha’s Vineyard in 1884.  Each horse has a smaller animal carved in the pupil of each eye.  As the horses go around riders can catch a brass rings and hook them on top of their horse.  As of 2010, rides are two dollars each.

 

Edgartown is an old whaling town that is full of examples of 18th and 19th century architecture. This is the place where Jaws was filmed. It is also home to the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, which is run by the Massachusetts Audubon Society.

West Tisbury is home to Lambert’s Cove which is a hilly area of the Island with picturesque features such as an old cranberry bog, the public beach known as Lambert’s Cove Beach and a spectacular forest of oak and beach trees.

 

Chilmark boasts one of the most popular sunset watching spots in the world.  This fishing town has the highest average property value of any city or town in Massachusetts.  This town is a swimming haven with five beaches on the ocean and one on the inner shore of Menemsha Bay.

 

Aquinna, formerly known as Gay Head, has a large American Indian population. The Wampanoag were whaling in the area long before English colonists settled it. However the reason to visit Aquinna is to see the brightly colored clay cliffs and the aqua colored oceans with its very high waves.  The cliffs figure very prominently in the myths and spirituality of the Wampanoag. Yet another famous feature of Gay Head is its notorious nude, each which is also known as “Jungle Beach.”

 

As you can see there are tons of relaxing and interesting things to do in this area of the United States that boasts some of the most interesting curious and wonderful scenic vistas in “The New World.”

Castroville – The Artichoke Capital of the World

Castroville, the Artichoke Capital of the World, is located nine miles northwest of the city of Salinas.  It is called this because this small city, that only has a population of 6,742, supplies seventy-five percent of the artichokes sold in the United States.

 

One of the most notable events held every year in this pleasant rural town is the Castroville Artichoke Festival, which takes place on Memorial Day. Every year, the Festival crowns a King and a Queen.  In February of 1948, Marilyn Monroe was crowned Artichoke Queen and William Hung (the American Idol contestant) was  crowned  Artichoke King in 2006.

 

The Castroville Artichoke festival also features a parade and an art competition in which competitors make sculptures from artichokes and other vegetables.  Foodies also flock from miles around to sample the treats produced by the produce and wine vendors in the area. There are usually cooking demonstration, arts, crafts, theatrical and musical performances and visits by celebrities.  There is also an antique car show that takes place as a component of the festival as well.

 

This old town was founded by Juan Bautista Castro in 1863. Aside from artichokes it is known for it’s wonderful mix of Victorian and Spanish architecture. The original old school house and post office, both built in the 1860s, are still there.

 

A wonderful, eccentric landmark is The World’s Largest Artichoke which was a sculpture commissioned in 1963 for a road-side stand. The artichoke is twenty feet tall and twelve feet across and stands on Merrit Street in downtown Castroville.

Culinary-wise this town is known for its dishes and street food based on artichokes.

 

A specialty of restaurants in the area are deep-fried artichoke hearts. These are artichokes dipped in batter, fried in a vat and then served up with all kinds of delicious sauces.   Hot and cheesy artichoke dip is also a specialty of many local restaurants, especially when the artichoke is in season.  These types of treats go well with the wines that are grown in nearby vineyards along Highway 101 and just south of the hills of the city of Salinas.

 

As the town is so small there are not many hotels to stay in during the Artichoke Festival. However the towns of Salinas, Seaside, Marina, Watsonville and Monterey are not that far away and are home to many beautiful hotels that often run shuttle buses to and from the Artichoke festival.   This spares you the problem of driving along California highways inebriated from enjoying the many California wines that are often offered with the artichoke delights offered at the festival.