For years Hubby and I have talked about taking a day trip to one of the islands off the southern coast of the Cape. Nantucket is a place of family heritage for him, but the cost and duration of the ferry are intimidating for a family with young kids. This year we decided to get our feet wet with a day trip to Martha’s Vineyard this year, and maybe an overnight to Nantucket next year.

We took the Hy-LIne tradtional ferry out of Hyannis, as opposed to the high speed one, mainly to save cash. With a coupon from the Kid’s Cape guide book the kids rode free on the tradtional ferry, and that saved us over $40. The ride was long at about 90 minutes, but it was pleasant.

Hubby snapped a shot of the Things and I watching the sea go by.

Hubby snapped a shot of the Things and I watching the sea go slowly by.

The ferry deposited us in the town of Oak Bluffs just after 11 am. This is clearly a town aimed at taking money from tourists, and it is filled with stores and places to eat. We had learned that there was a Brew Pub, and so that had to be checked out. The Offshore Ale Co. was one of the best meals I’ve had this vacation, and I recommend it to anyone who loves good brew and excellent wood fired pizza-even the kid’s menu pizza was wood fired excellence. Hubby and I sampled three of their brews, including the seasonal blueberry brew, a stout, and their brown ale. My only wish was that they offered a tasting sampler so that we could have tried them all, but we had to content ourselves with a few shared pints and half pints.

Great beer, great pizza, and a surprising pub salad made with Boston bib lettuce made me so content.

Great beer, great pizza, and a surprising pub salad made with Boston bib lettuce left me content.

After lunch we checked out the Flying Horse Carousel in the center of Oak Bluffs. The kids got to ride this antique, which is the nation’s oldest carousel, and try to grab the brass ring. Both kids had a blast riding along and grabbing as many rings as they could snatch, but neither got the brass one and a free ride.

Thing 1 whips around and reaches for the ring. Both kids collected about a dozen little rings as they rode around and around.

Thing 1 whips around and reaches for the ring. Both kids collected about a dozen little rings as they rode around and around.

After the ride we decided to boogie out of Oak Bluffs and check out something a little less likely to be on the standard day trip itinerary. We hopped on the #7 VTA bus and headed inland to Island Alpaca to see the farm and buy some yarn for future knitting. I love that my family is cool enough to go along with that type of adventure! We could have easily spent the day on a tour bus seeing all the typical sights, but they agreed to go off the beaten path and check out the alpacas rather than take family photos at Gay Head Cliffs.

Thing 2 inexplicably used binoculars to view the herd several feet in front of him.

Thing 2 inexplicably used binoculars to view the herd several feet in front of him.

The kids were thrilled to see all the newborn baby alpacas, and I was thrilled to get some locally made yarns to use for my Christmas knitting this year. The past few years I have been hand knitting gifts for my family, and using a “local” yarn taked from a herd they have met will make this year’s batch of presents more meaningful. In addition to selling yarn and knit goods, they also sell alpacas… I wonder if I can convince Hubby to let me have a small herd at the Homestead?

What an alpaca four feet in front of you may look like when viewed through binoculars.

What an alpaca eight feet in front of you may look like when viewed through binoculars.

Our excursion to Island Alpacas did not leave us much time to check out the island’s other tourist favorites, though we did ride the #1 bus down through Edgartown to catch the #13 back up to Oak Bluffs. The weather caught up to us on the #13, and we arrived in Oak Bluffs during a horrible thunderstorm with torrential rains. Even my GoreTex rain coat was powerless against it, and we were all soaked in the mad dash to Mad Martha’s for a planned ice cream treat.

This thing with kids is that once you tell them that they can have ice cream, there is no easily stopping it later without causing heartbreak. Even soaking wet and shivering cold they will insist that they still want the cold creamy treat you promised hours earlier when the sun was out. So soaking wet and shivering cold, we waited out the worst of the storm while eating ice cream. (FYI Mad Martha’s only gets about 3 stars from us. It’s OK ice cream, but not spectacular, and the flavors are pretty standard.)

We spent what little time we had left poking around the shops in Oak Bluffs, where we found a sugar bowl to replace the one cracked at home last month, and checking out the Tabernacle and surrounding colorful gingerbread cottages. I wouldn’t mind doing up the Homestead to look like these.

This is honestly the best photo we could get of the charming cottages. The storm was still farily intense, and the light was not great.

This is honestly the best photo we could get of the charming cottages. The storm was still fairly intense, and the light was not great.

On the whole, we’re happy that we visited Martha’s Vineyard, but I don’t think we’ll be doing another day trip. I think you really need more than one day to truly explore the many things the island offers. We did not have the time to visit the Mass Audubon Society’s Felix Neck Sanctuary as planned, or to really explore any of the other towns on the island. It does look like a great place to bike, though, so maybe in a few years when both Thing 1 and Thing 2 are more accomplished riders we’ll go back and take a biking tour of the island.

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