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  • Discovering quintessential Martha's Vineyard in Edgartown: For many visitors, Edgartown is Martha's Vineyard. Its regal captains' houses and manicured lawns epitomize a more refined way of life. Roses climb white picket fences, and the tolling of the Whaling Church bell signals dinnertime. By July, a procession of gleaming pleasure boats glides past Edgartown Lighthouse into the harbor, and shops overflow with luxury goods and fine art. Edgartown's old-fashioned Fourth of July parade harkens back to small-town America, as hundreds line Main Street cheering the loudest for the floats with the most heart. It's a picture-perfect little town, a slice of homemade apple pie to go with nearby Oak Bluff's hot-fudge sundae.
  • Eating Clams at a Clam Shack: The Clam Shack, the ultimate clam joint, sits on the edge of Falmouth Harbor and serves up reasonably priced fried seafood with all the fixings. Order the fried clams (with bellies, please!), and squeeze into the picnic tables beside the counter to await your feast.
  • Strolling through Nantucket Town: It looks as though the whalers just left their town of grand houses and cobblestone streets, Tourism may be rampant but without the tackier side effects, thanks to stringent preservation measures. A gamut of enticing shops offers luxury goods from around the world. Time has not so much stood still here as vanished. So relax and shift into island time, dictated purely by your desires.
  • Buying Glass in Chatham: Old-fashioned, tree-shaded Main Street is packed with inviting storefronts, including the Chatham Glass Company, where you can literally look over their shoulders as artisans craft glass treasures.
  • Bicycling along the Shining Sea Bicycle Path: Connecting Falmouth to Woods Hole by way of the shore and the picturesque Nobska Lighthouse, this 3.3-mile path lets you dash to the ferry or dally at the beach of your choice.
  • Admiring Art in Wellfleet: The commercial district is 2 blocks long; the art zone is twice that. Pick up a walking map to locate the galleries in town: Cherrystone Gallery tops the don't-miss list. Seekers of low-key chic will want to check out two designers, Hannah and Karol Richardson.
  • Building a Sandcastle at Jetties Beach: Among the region's beaches, Nantucket's have, as a rule, the best amenities; most have restrooms, showers, lifeguards, and food. For families and active types, Jetties Beach (just a half-mile from the center of town) can't be beat. Offering boat and windsurfing rentals, tennis courts, volleyball nets, a playground, and great fishing (off the eponymous jetties), it's also scenic (those jetties again) with calm, warm water.
  • Shopping in Nantucket: Imagine Martha Stewart cloned a hundredfold, and you'll have some idea of the tenor of shops in this well-preserved 19th-century town. Centre Street -- known as "Petticoat Row" in whaling days -- still caters to feminine tastes, and the town's many esteemed antiques stores would never deign to present anything less than the genuine article.
  • Drinking Local Brews: The Offshore Ale Company in Oak Bluffs is Martha's Vineyard's first and only brewpub, featuring eight locally made beers on tap and entertainment six nights a week in season.
  • Exploring Sandwich: For a "gateway" town, Sandwich is remarkably composed and peaceful. Not-too-fussy preservation efforts have ensured the survival of many of this first settlement's attractions, such as the pond that feeds the 17th-century Dexter Grist Mill. Generous endowments fund an assortment of fascinating museums including the multifaceted Heritage Museums and Gardens, famous for its splendid rhododendrons but interesting to all for its many other exhibits.
  • Dancing at the The Beachcomber: Perched atop the towering dunes of Cahoon Hollow Beach, this bar and dance club is one of the most scenic watering holes on Cape Cod. Although the crowd tends to be on the young and rowdy side, the young at heart are also welcome. You will end up on the dance floor, so wear comfortable shoes.
  • Wandering through Provincetown: At the far tip of the Cape's curl, in intensely beautiful surroundings, is Provincetown. Its history goes back nearly 400 years, and in the last century, it's been a veritable headquarters of bohemia -- more writers and artists have holed up here than you could shake a stick at. It's also, of course, among the world's great gay and lesbian resort areas -- people come here for the pleasure of being "out" together in great numbers. If you're uncomfortable with same-sex public displays of affection, this stop might be best left off your itinerary. More open-minded straights will have a great time -- Provincetown has savory food, fun shopping, terrific company, and fascinating people-watching.
  • Hiking in Sandy Neck Beach: This relatively unpopulated, 6-mile barrier beach, extending from the eastern edge of Sandwich to shelter Barnstable Harbor, features pretty little dunes seldom seen on the bayside. Hike in far enough (but avoid the nests of piping plovers), and you're sure to find a secluded spot. Adventurous types can even camp overnight with permission.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.