How To Live The Presidential Life on The Vineyard
Entertainment | Tom Bastek | July 18, 2014
PHOTO: The Mansion House in Vineyard Haven traces its history back to 1791. (Courtesy of The Mansion House)
If you don’t watch Colbert, or miss every other major website and newspaper top headlines, you might not have heard: President Obama is going on vacation in August to Martha’s Vineyard. The Commander in Chief has taken his family there every year of his presidency but one. So, obviously we need to go, too! Here is the How-to Guide on Being All Presidential-like on Martha’s Vineyard.
Here is the skinny on the island: It’s 100 square miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, it is the largest island on the East Coast not connected by bridge or tunnel to the mainland, and the main season for tourism is May through October.
Arrive in Style
The First Family normally comes in on Marine One, the official helicopter of the President. If you want to take a car and don’t want to rent it when you get there, you will be waiting in line for the ferry like the rest of us. Don’t feel you need to bring the car? Mopeds and bikes can get you around locally and the island has many taxis and reliable public transportation.
You can fly to the island if you would like. Flights are a little pricey and typically come through Providence (that is, assuming you don’t have your own official helicopter).
Living it up
The Prez is staying in the Town of Chillmark in a secluded, $12 Million, 17-room house that overlooks the North Shore. If you want to be boss like the country’s boss, you should saddle up in a place, too. There are over 100 house for rent at the rate of $20,000-$50,000 per week should you feel excessive.
There are many fine houses available to rent as low as $800 a week. If you go through www.vrbo.com you can get the price down below $700 a week. Most home are pet-friendly, too. If a hotel is more your thing, there are 13 on the island. I love the style of the Mansion House in Vineyard Haven, and rates start about $309 a night.
Eat like a King
President Obama always makes his way to Nancy’s restaurant. They do two different styles of food at Nancy’s. Downstairs, at the snack bar, you can take away fried fish and seafood, sandwiches, salads, or a list of Middle Eastern Dishes. Upstairs, they have a full sit down lunch and dinner menu including a full raw bar.
I recommend Nancy’s Clambake, a full-out feast for two of New England clam chowder, lobster, steamers (clams), mussels, sausage, corn on the cob and potatoes. I bet you can’t finish.
If you are looking for something else besides shellfish, head over to Black Sheep and Trio, a cheese shop by day and restaurant by night. They offer up fresh cheese and charcuteries with wine pairings and desserts. A great place for as they put it, “before dinner, after dinner, before a movie, after a movie … for dinner … for drinks … for a great experience.”
Don’t miss the island’s only brewery, the Offshore Ale House. They brew beer and serve up traditional pub fare and seafood favorites.
The Obamas frequently ride bikes and head to the beach on the island, and the President golfs quite a bit. Biking, moped riding, charter fishing, and horseback riding are the most popular activities. The shopping, dining and art galleries are fantastic as well.
The waves at South Beach are considerably bigger because they are on the ocean side, so if you like to body surf / boogie board this is the place for you. If you do get some bad weather during your stay, seek out the indy / classic films at the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center. They won’t let you down.
The Gayhead Light, an active aid to navigation, is a lighthouse with one of the best views on the island. If you have ever seen Black Dog brand clothing, it originated on Martha’s Vineyard. They have a store as well as a tavern in Vineyard Haven.
If you want to be like a Kennedy and head to Chappaquiddick, make sure you take the Trustees of the Reservation Tour and find out there is much more to the island than just the infamous Dike Bridge.
There is one “must-do” activity in Martha’s Vineyard: The Flying Horses Carousel. Designated as the nation’s oldest platform carousel, it still has a traditional ring assembly, where you can still grab at the rings hoping for one of brass. I am very proud to say, that is the only place I ever grabbed a brass ring (unless my wife asks, in which case when I found her I grabbed one as well).
I know your mother always told you, “You can be anything when you grow up, even President of the United States.” Well at least at Martha’s Vineyard you can summer just like one.
For visitors who want to hear more than just the song of the seagulls and the sea, Martha’s Vineyard is alive with music all summer long! From reggae to rock, classical to contemporary there is music for everyone to enjoy on the Island. The Featherstone Center for the Arts holds Musical Mondays all summer long with concerts on their outdoor stage from 6:30pm to 8:00pm. Bring a complimentary beach towel and chair from Mansion House Inn and enjoy the show! Tickets are only $10 and children under 14 are free!
For those who enjoy classical music, there are several chamber quartets playing throughout the summer including the Cadler Quarter from Los Angeles, named “one of America’s great string quarters” by critic Mark Swed. The MV Chamber Music Society is also hosting the San Francisco String Quartet which offers a non-traditional take on classical music playing genres from Jazz to blues, tango to swing.
Flatbread Company is one of the Island’s most popular music venues with concerts all Summer long including great acts like Livingston Taylor and G. Love, funkadellic front man for G. Love & the Special Sauce.
And for the aspiring singers visiting the Island the community sing-a-long at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs is a must. Every Wednesday in July and August the entire Island community joins for a fun night singing crowd favorites in the beautiful open-air Tabernacle. It is a “must sing” event, tone deaf or classical trained, everyone is invited!
Be sure to check out our calendar for even more music and events on Martha’s Vineyard!
It’s August on Martha’s Vineyard and that means it’s time for Ferris wheel rides, fair food, thousands of Japanese lanterns lighting the night and skillet tossing! On Wednesday, August 14th the gingerbread cottages at the Oak Bluffs campground will illuminate the night sky with thousands of colorful Japanese lanterns decorating the gingerbread cottages and tabernacle. The campground has been coloring the night since the first Grand Illumination took place to welcome the governor of Massachusetts.
On August 15th the 2013 West Tisbury Agricultural Fair kicks off. A short bus ride from Mansion House, the Fair has all the usual fun, food and festivities with some Vineyard twists. Don’t miss the skillet toss, where the women of Martha’s Vineyard line-up to see who can hurl a cast-iron skillet the farthest. Interestingly, Island hubbys and beau’s seem to be very well behaved all summer during the training months. The ferris wheel at sunset is a fantastic way to snap a panoramic of the midway and get an aerial view of the woods of West Tisbury. Tour the fiber tent at the Fair to see how Island craftsmen make yarn, or to spy who will win the blue ribbon for best vegetables.
A man walks into a bar…218 bars and counting to be exact. Todd Ruggere is visiting all 351 towns in Massachusetts and having a beer in each to raise money for the Dana Faber Children’s Cancer Center in Boston. Mr. Ruggere enjoyed a complimentary stay at Mansion House for two days and had his Vineyard Haven beer in his room at the hotel. He has raised over $23,000 or roughly $105 a pint and hopes to visit all Massachusetts towns before the end of the calendar year. For more information visit http://351samadams.com
Mouths are watering on the Island in anticipation of Copper Wok opening at Mansion House! Restaurateur JB Blau, who owns and operates the popular restaurants Sharky’s Cantina in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown and the Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Company in Oak Bluffs, is transforming Zephrus Restaurant into a brand new, Pan Asian establishment with a completely new flavor for the town.
In an interview with the Martha’s Vineyard Times, Mr. Blau said Copper Wok will feature Chinese food and a sampling of cuisine from throughout Asia.
Copper Wok has long been a dream of Mr. Blau’s and Chef Alex Nagi, who will be the head chef at the new establishment.
“Chef Nagi and I have always talked about doing an Asian restaurant, but thought it was a few years away,” Mr. Blau said. “I sat in the room and it felt like an Asian restaurant to me. There was something about it and it made perfect sense for the town. There’s nothing like that and it would make us completely different,” JB said in an interview with the Vineyard Gazette.
Mansion House Owners Susie and Sherman Goldstein opened Zephrus in 1999 and cherish all the memories associated with the Island favorite. “We’ve had a great run. We are delighted to hand over the reins to JB. We wanted someone who had the same commitment to the community,” Mrs. Goldstein said.
Work in the restaurant is currently well underway as it is being transformed into a new dining experience in Vineyard Haven. In the meantime, Mr. Blau gave a scrumptious preview of what visitors and Vineyarders can expect at Copper Wok:
“Here is a food teaser,” Mr. Blau told Martha’s Vineyard Patch, “80% classic Chinese menu, 15% Japanese (sushi), 5% Thai, Vietnamese and Indian. The Menu will feature favorites with a chef’s spin on them. Not fusion, just fresher, tastier, healthier. The Sake cocktail menu is going to be award winning and mind blowing. Yes, we will have scorpion bowls.”
For more information on Copper Wok visit copperwokmv.com
The unmistakable scent of sunscreen wafted by me on Main Street today, a sure sign of the start of the season. With an unbelievably mild winter and an early Spring arrival, the Vineyard is bustling with activity as we all emerge from hibernation. Shops are opening up and all the restaurants are gearing up for the season. Zephrus at Mansion House is celebrating Summer with a new menu and is open for lunch and dinner every day of the week at 11:30am. New entrees include Steak Frites with Jalapeno Jam and Bleu Cheese Butter, Filet Mignon with Truffle Oil, Potato Gratin & Green Beans, Fish Tacos, and BBQ’d Ribs. Making a comeback is the Z Burger, the fully customizable Zephrus staple with even more toppings, now served with hand cut fries. Two for One Burgers on Tuesdays continues to be a midweek staple in town. Zephrus is also excited to announce the installation of a state of the art draft beer system. The system utilizes an advanced liquid coolant to keep each of the eight draft selections ice cold from keg to pint. The system also blends carbon dioxide and nitrogen to ensure perfect carbonation with every pull. Regional Massachusetts beers will feature prominently and new selections will appear regularly. Two great local beers from Berkshire Brewing Company in South Deerfield, Ma.; Nitro Coffee Porter and Lost Sailor IPA are on tap right now. Lobster Rolls and cold drinks on the patio. A bowl of Gazpacho and Double Turkey Club. Island eating the way it should be.