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FUN ON A BUDGET: MARTHA’S VINEYARD EXPERIENCES UNDER $25

FUN ON A BUDGET: MARTHA’S VINEYARD EXPERIENCES UNDER $25

 
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Gay Head Cliffs, capecodlife.com
Visiting Martha’s Vineyard doesn’t mean having to break the bank. If you’re vacationing on a tight budget, there’s still plenty of fun things to do without spending a lot of money, whether you’re into sightseeing, exploring local culture, or spending some time with the family!

Go Sightseeing 
Some of the best sights on Martha’s Vineyard are open to the public, and don’t cost a thing! If you’re looking to explore the Island, these are some of the best spots to have on your list:

Making the trek out to Aquinnah can take a bit of time, whether you have a car, or are taking the bus. Nevertheless, it is truly worth the trip (expect a 45 minutes drive depending on your starting point). The Gay Head Cliffs are one of the most picturesque locations on Martha’s Vineyard - and maybe even all of New England!  Additionally, the location of  the Island's iconic Cliffs is also the site of  the historic Gay Head Light, the first of the five lighthouses built on the Island, and just a short walk  from the best views of the Cliffs over which it presides.
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Polly Hill Arboretum, pollyhillarboretum.org
Setting Martha’s Vineyard apart from much of New England's other locales is the Island’s diverse and often rural landscape. The climate of the Island is very similar to that of Japan, which allows a variety of flora that cannot be found anywhere else on the East Coast of the United States to thrive here. If this excites you, it is absolutely worth making the trip to Polly Hill Arboretum. For only $5, you can explore Martha’s Vineyard’s most diverse garden which, in addition to an encyclopedic collection of local plants, features rare species from around the world.

Nestled on the island of Chappaquiddick sits Mytoi Gardens, a secluded and intimate Japanese-style garden flourishing with both native flora and exotic plants. The lush garden is home to a small pond and island, which create a habitat for goldfish, frogs, and turtles. For just $5, you can take a stroll down the easy half-mile Salt Marsh trail and take in breathtaking views of the unique landscape and its inhabitants.
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Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association, photo Deborah Loeb Bohren.
One of the most colorful sights on Martha’s Vineyard is the Gingerbread Cottages of the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (MVCMA). Located in the heart of Oak Bluffs, “The Campground” is home to several hundred colorful Gingerbread Cottages and the iconic iron Tabernacle. The 34 acre Campground is open to the public year-round, and can be explored free of charge. For just $3 you can visit the MVCMA Museum, open seasonally from Memorial Day Weekend through mid-October. Here, according to the MVCMA, you can view the interior of a typical Campground cottage, complete with period furnishings that offer a glimpse of life on the Campgrounds in the 1800s. Also on display are vintage photographs, a selection of stereoscopic photos of Cottage City and the Campgrounds,  and interesting documents relating to the history of the Campground.
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Lucy Vincent Beach, mvvacationrentals.com

When you’re staying on an island the beach is never too far, and Martha’s Vineyard is home to plenty! Many of the local beaches are open to the public free of charge, though some such as Moshup Beach in Aquinnah require a parking fee, while others such as Lambert’s Cove Beach, Lucy Vincent, and Squibnocket require a town resident pass in peak summer season. Learn all about our local beaches and how to access them.

Visit an Art Gallery 
Martha’s Vineyard has a wonderful arts scene that encompasses the works of locals and world famous artists alike. If you’re on the hunt for some inspiration, you can find galleries across the Island to fuel your creative juices;  entry and browsing are free!
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The Granary Gallery, granarygallery.com
Found in West Tisbury, The Granary Gallery is the oldest and largest gallery on Martha’s Vineyard. Located in an iconic red barn, The Granary is currently home to over eighty artists, including famous photojournalist Alfred Eisenstaedt and local legend Thomas Hart Benton, to name a few. Exploring the Barn and its spacious courtyard is a fantastic way to spend an afternoon.

Head down-Island to explore downtown Vineyard Haven, making sure to stop by Night Heron Gallery, Martha’s Vineyard’s only artist owned and operated cooperative gallery. Featured here are the works of eleven local artists working with vastly different mediums and materials.

On Edgartown Harbor, the Old Sculpin Gallery is a non-profit art gallery which has fostered and showcased Island artists since 1954. Once a boat builder’s workshop, the Old Sculpin Gallery now hosts weekly art shows and features the works of over 50 local artists.
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Featherstone Center for the Arts, featherstoneart.org
Don’t miss the chance to check out Featherstone Center for the Arts, it’s not only a great place to view art, it is also a great place to create art for the whole family! The Center offers affordable creative skills classes daily through the summer for adults and children, including classes in pottery, drawing, fibers, and so much more.

Fun for the Whole Family 
Traveling with little ones? Martha’s Vineyard is a superb vacation destination for families, and for good reason! There are many family-friendly activities that can be found across the Island in every season, with options for children of all ages:

Does your family love a bit of competition? Challenge them to a round of mini golf at The Cove Golf and Grillin Vineyard Haven! This miniature golf course is an adventure-themed course, featuring a lush garden, streams, waterfalls, ponds, and famous cave. It is open seasonally May to October. Make sure to keep track of your score - if anyone in your party scores a hole-in-one, they'll have the chance to win a free round! After you’re all tuckered out from mini golf, you can cool off with some Mad Martha’s Ice Cream and, if you’re really hungry, the course has a grill which offers affordable burgers, hot dogs, popcorn, and more!
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Flying Horses Carousel, mvtimes.com
If you’re in Oak Bluffs, a must-visit for families is the Flying Horses Carousel, which happens to be the oldest continuously  operating platform carousel in the country. Originally constructed in 1876, the Carousel operated as an attraction on Coney Island until it was moved to Oak Bluffs in 1884. During the summer season, you can ride the antique horses and take a chance at catching the brass ring for a free ride!

Have some avid readers in the family? Spend an afternoon exploring the Island’s six town libraries in Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Vineyard Haven, Chilmark, West Tisbury, and Aquinnah. Each library is open to the public year-round, and offers special programs and events on a regular basis, such as Afternoon Lego Club, Children’s Story Time, live music, and more!
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Island Alpaca Company, crispinhaskins.com
A family favorite for visitors and locals alike is stopping by Island Alpaca Company in Oak Bluffs. Open year-round, this barn is home to over 50 colorful alpacas which visitors can  view, pet, and walk! If you’re lucky, you may even be able to see baby alpacas roaming the property at certain points in the year. When you’re done ogling and commenting on how adorable the alpaca herd is, step into the gift shop which features incredibly soft stuffed animals, hats, vests, and so much more, all fashioned from alpaca fleece. Island Alpaca is generally open free to the public in the cooler months and $5 per person in the summer.

If you have a vehicle during your stay on Martha’s Vineyard, it’s worth heading to the YMCA for the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival Drive-In! Throughout the summer, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival features classics such as Jaws alongside the latest family-friendly movies on Fridays and Saturdays. Just tune in on your car’s radio, bring your own snacks, sit back, and enjoy the show! The Vineyard's Drive-In at the YMCA is a pay-what-you-can event and advance reservations are required.
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Martha’s Vineyard Museum, mvmuseum.org
Learn and experience Island history when visiting the Martha’s Vineyard Museum in Vineyard Haven. This beautiful, newly renovated and repurposed historic property overlooking Lagoon Pond  is home to some of Martha’s Vineyard most iconic historic artifacts, including the magnificent first-order Fresnel Lens, which was first installed in the Gay Head Light in 1854 and remained in operation until its removal in 1952.  An interactive exhibit for children encourages hands-on learning about the history and ecosystems of Martha’s Vineyard. Admission for adults is $18, children 7-17 are $5, and children 6 and under are free.

Still on the hunt for more Martha’s Vineyard history? Make a trip to The Carnegie Heritage Center in Edgartown. The town library for over one hundred years, The Carnegie now exists as an island Heritage Center which offers a reading library, heritage shop, and a dynamic revolving exhibit, Living Landmarks, which illustrates the historical development of Martha’s Vineyard. Admission is free and open to the public though there is a $5 suggested donation to view the Living Landmarks exhibition.

No matter your budget, no matter the season, Martha’s Vineyard has a variety of fun, affordable options for everyone in your party to enjoy without breaking the bank.

  • Visit an Art Gallery
    • Alison Shaw Gallery
    • Featherstone Center for the Arts
    •  Granary Gallery Family
    • Old Sculpin Gallery
    • Night Heron Gallery
    • Pathways Arts
  • Go Sightseeing
    • Aquinnah Cliffs
    • Jaws Bridge
    • Lighthouses
    • Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary
    • Polly Hill Arboretum
    • Beaches
  • Family Fun
    • The Cove Golf & Grill / Mad Martha’s Ice Cream
    • Island Alpaca
    • First Friday VH
    • Martha’s Vineyard Museum
    • Martha’s Vineyard Playhouse
    • MV Film Fest Drive-In

  • See a Movie
  • Edgartown Cinema 2
  • MV Film Center at the Tisbury Marketplace
  • Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival Drive-In

  • Grab a Coffee
    • Espresso Love
    • Little House Cafe
    • Waterside Market
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