Like many offshore islands, Nantucket, Massachusetts, has two dramatically different personalities. During summer months, the downtown area, as well as many of the island’s beaches, is crammed with vacationers. The rest of the year, it’s blissfully serene.
I like to visit just before or after the crowds of June, July and August but in the middle of the winter as well. That’s when you can see the unadulterated island which is not only physically beautiful, but is a meticulously preserved piece of American history.
Base yourself in Nantucket Town, which is an official National Historic District that keeps alive the town’s early whaling port heritage. Its cobbledstoned, gas lamp-lit streets are lined with impeccably maintained mansions dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
In fact, you can stay in a mid-1800s brick mansion that was built for a prominent ship captain of the time. The Jared Coffin House (pictured here) is a landmark property located right in the heart of the Old Historic District. It has 43 rooms, all recently refurbished with period antiques and reproductions. It’s open throughout the winter.