Examine history and culture past and present on an exploration of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. Learn how fishing and whaling brought about economic development and explore the diversity of Martha's Vineyard with regard to its iconic island lifestyle and traditions. Contrast the history and island life of the Vineyard to those of the island of Nantucket and discover the arts and culture of Cape Cod, as well as the natural beauty that inspires so many. In some of New England’s most idyllic seaside towns, discuss whaling history, Victorian architecture, influential artists and unique ecology with naturalists and local experts.
One lunch and 3 dinners to buy.
* Learn about the historic role played by the region’s whaling history on a day trip to Nantucket.
* Live the "Island Life" on Martha's Vineyard while learning about its history, diversity and unique Victorian architecture.
* With a naturalist, study the unique ecology of the sand dunes of Cape Cod National Seashore.
Day 1 – Boston / Check-In, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.
(D) Program Registration. After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table in the Registration Office to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing any last-minute changes, and other important information. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes. Transportation will be provided by a variety of vehicles including (but not limited to) ferries, private and taxi vans, motor coaches, and “safari” style trucks. This is a Road Scholar FLEX program. In contrast to our traditional programs, it offers extensive time for personal independent exploration and a number of meals on your own. On the Road programs are journeys that take participants to multiple study sites in a region with a number of overnight stays. Lectures, talks, discussions, field trips, and on-board commentary amplify the program theme. At the hotel, we will enjoy a plated and served welcome dinner. Hotel: Embassy Suites by Hilton Boston at Logan Airport
Day 2 - Ferry to MV, Walk to Tabernacle, Introduction to Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard
Activity note: Climbing up and down stairs between ferry walk on level and passenger level. Walk with luggage from the ferry port to the hotel, about 1/3 of a mile on a flat, paved sidewalks. A taxi will carry luggage for any participants who have difficulty carrying their suitcase. Walk through the Camp Meeting Association grounds is up to 1 mile; standing for about 1 hour; flat pavement.
(BLD) We have a buffet breakfast at the hotel. After checking out, we will board a motorcoach and drive to Woods Hole in the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts, on the far southwest corner of Cape Cod. There we will board the ferry to Oak Bluffs on Martha's Vineyard. The ferry crosses the 7 miles between the mainland and the island in approximately 45 minutes. The vessels of the Steamship Authority — a lifeline to the Islands — are functional with basic amenities.
On the ferry we’ll have boxed lunches. Arriving at the Oak Bluffs ferry terminal, we will take our luggage with us and walk from the ferry down along the waterfront to the hotel, where we will drop off luggage before our field trip. We’ll then be off on a walk with the Group Leader to the Oak Bluffs Camp Meeting Association and the historic Tabernacle at its center. Led by a resident docent, we’ll walk through the campground to learn about the “gingerbread” cottages and the residents who carefully maintain and decorate them. What we see today grew out of Methodist camp meetings that began in 1835.
At a local restaurant, we have a plated dinner. Later, you might like to set off on your own and walk back through the campground, relax on the green of one of Oak Bluffs many parks, or just watch boats in the marina set out to sea. Hotel: Dockside Inn. (3 nights)
Day 3, Exploring Martha’s Vineyard
Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; walking up to 1 mile; standing for about 1 hour.
(BL--) Buffet breakfast at the hotel. Accompanied by resident experts, we’ll set out in vans to explore the island of Martha’s Vineyard. Take in the scenic up-Island country-side, passing through the historic farming towns of West Tisbury and Chilmark. Catch glimpses of centuries old stone walls, views to the Atlantic shoreline, grazing livestock, rolling hills and historic homesteads in Chilmark and the picturesque secluded fishing village of Menemsha. Stop at the multi-colored clay cliffs at Aquinnah. We’ll end the morning in the busy harbor town of Vineyard Haven, main port of entry for the island's residents.
At a local restaurant, we have a plated lunch. A local expert will meet us at our lunch spot and lead us through Vineyard Haven. We’ll be introduced to the African American Heritage Trail and its significance on Martha's Vineyard. Hear about Barber Hammond who opened his business, the first such business on the island and other key milestones on the Vineyard. There will also be time for independent exploration to stroll through the old wharf, shipyard, historic district, art galleries, and quiet lanes. Dinner is on our own.
Day 4 - Chappaquiddick Island Nature Reserve, Historic Edgartown
Activity note: Walking up to 2 miles, standing up to an hour; getting on/off Chappy Ferry; riding in open “safari” type vehicles for 1.5 hours. Bring water bottle, hat, and sunscreen. Field trips operate rain or shine except during thunderstorms and extreme wind conditions.
(B--/--) Breakfast at the hotel. We’ll transfer via taxi vans from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown and take the Chappaquiddick Ferry across the 527 feet of water over to the island that is technically a peninsula. There, we’ll hop aboard “safari” trucks for an exploration of the Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, with its beautiful views of ocean, sound, and harbor. We’ll learn the history of the Cape Poge lighthouse, originally built in 1801, only the second on the Vineyard, and stroll through the Japanese style Mytoi garden that surrounds a verdant inland freshwater pond. Returning to Edgartown via the Chappy Ferry, the remainder of the early afternoon is free for independent exploration.
Lunch on our own. We’ll regroup and stroll Edgartown’s narrow brick paths with a local resident to learn about the history and evolution of the town, from colonial settlement to busy whaling port. Dinner on our own. You are welcome to remain in Edgartown or return to Oak Bluffs.
Day 5 - Historic Cape Cod, Sandwich, Glass Museum, Dexter Grist Mill, Hyannis MA
Activity note: Total walking distance for the day is up to 2 miles; walk from hotel to ferry pier up to 1/4 mile, taxi as needed; each person is responsible for his/her own luggage; 45 minute ferry crossing; total drive distance is 40 miles.
(BLD) Breakfast at the hotel. Walk along the waterfront to the ferry pier for your final morning on Martha's Vineyard. The ferry crosses back to Woods Hole on the mainland. Enjoy a scenic drive on the Cape from Woods Hole to our final destination of Hyannis, MA. Although just one of seven villages in the town of Barnstable, Hyannis is the hub of commercialization on Cape Cod and referred to by some as the "Capital of the Cape". Enroute we will stop to experience a few of the gems of Upper and Mid Cape Cod.
Lunch is at a local seafood shack in Sandwich, MA, with many options available. Settled in 1637 and incorporated as a town just two years later, Sandwich boasts its status as the oldest town on Cape Cod. First, we will visit the Sandwich Glass Museum for a glass blowing demonstration and see how the museum has promoted a broad understanding and appreciation of Sandwich town history, with particular emphasis on the unique contribution of the glass industry to the local community. Afterwards, we will take a short walk to visit the Dexter Grist Mill and explore the grounds around Shawme Pond with commentary from a local expert. Thomas Dexter built the first grist mill on this site in 1654 so that the inhabitants of the village of Sandwich would not have to grind their own corn for cornmeal, their staple food. Finally, we will drive the rest of the way to Hyannis and check into the hotel with time to freshen up before dinner.
A short walk from the hotel, we will enjoy a plated dinner at a nearby restaurant. Hotel: Hyannis Harbor Hotel (3 nights)
Day 6 - Exploring Nantucket, Whaling Museum
Activity note: The Ferry to Nantucket is located a few walkable blocks from the hotel. Activities on the island require walking up to 2 miles (about 1.5 hours).
(BL--) Breakfast buffet at the Bluewater Grill Hotel Restaurant at the hotel. Walk to the nearby dock and board the ferry to Nantucket. Upon disembarking, meet a local expert from the Nantucket Historical Association for a narrated walk through the town center. See the architecture and hear the stories of the houses and the families that lived in them to illustrate the island’s history.
Lunch is at a local restaurant. Enjoy an expert led field trip to the Nantucket Whaling Museum. Housed in a restored 1847 candle factory, a 46-foot sperm whale skeleton floats suspended from the ceiling above many other attractions. Enjoy the views Nantucket harbor from the rooftop observation deck. Put the information you learned on the morning walk and at the Museum to use as you delve deeper into locales of your choosing. Take some time on your own to go “laning” (walking the lanes of the historic district of Nantucket) and explore independently before returning on the ferry to Hyannis.
Dinner is on our own. Take this opportunity to walk along Main Street Hyannis, visit the local brewery, or listen to the waves down at the beach. Look for free time activities in your welcome packets or ask Group Leader for more suggestions.
Day 7 - Exploring Scenic Cape Cod & the Arts, Provincetown
Activity note: This is a full day of motorcoach exploration with frequent stops; one way distance 50 miles— 75-90 minute drive time; 4-wheel driving on soft but bumpy sand dunes.
(BLD) Hotel buffet breakfast. We will start the morning with a lecture by a local expert. This lecture will cover the history of Cape Cod. Afterwards, we will have a full day exploration of Cape Cod, all the way to the tip of the cape in Provincetown. Take in the changing landscape through small towns, historic lighthouses and coastal harbors. On the way, stop and explore the Salt Pond Visitor Center, which is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. On this self-led walk, venture through the walking trails while learning about the different wildlife that inhabits the area as well as the detrimental risks facing this land in the future.
Lunch is at a local seafood restaurant. Following lunch we will visit the Highland Lighthouse to celebrate Cape Cod's first lighthouse and Highland House Museum, a former hotel built on the Highlands in 1907 transformed into a museum. Learn about the fascinating people who settled in Truro dating back to early European settlers and the Native Americans that preceded them. If you're feeling ambitious, climb the 69 steps to the top of the Highland Lighthouse. Later, we will go off-roading with local experts through the sand dunes of Cape Cod National Seashore in specially-authorized four-wheel-drive Jeeps. You will begin this adventure in Provincetown or “P-town,” as the locals call it. Sitting on the outermost part of the cape, P-town has some interesting history— Did you know that the Pilgrims, before settling in Plymouth, first landed in Provincetown? Today it has become known for its lively art scene that enhances the culture of the rest of Cape Cod, while highlighting the unique ambiance that is P-Town.
Our plated dinner is at a favorite local restaurant that highlights the unique atmosphere of Provincetown. Return to Hyannis and prepare for departure in the morning.
Day 8, Program Concludes / Boston / Depart
Activity note: Transfer departs Hyannis Harbor Hotel at 8:30 a.m. to Boston Logan International Airport. Please do not schedule flights before 12:30 p.m. Hotel check-out time is 11:00 a.m.
(B) Hotel buffet breakfast. This concludes our program. Transfer back to Boston airport.