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Volume 37 Issue 14 • July 26 - Aug 1, 2007 now in our 37th season

Activities for Families: A Day in Town

by Zoë Kirsch

The abundance of stores and array of fine dining opportunities provide ample downtown entertainment for grown-up people.  But if you happen to be a parent who wants to enjoy these stores, the dining experiences, and more, is there a stress-free way to do so with your children by your side?  A way in which not only you, but also your children have a great time?  Without spending ridiculous amounts of money?  Don’t worry, there are a number of relatively inexpensive ways to enjoy a day in town together as a family.

Believe it or not…your desire to window shop and your child’s wish to have fun aren’t incompatible.  Window-shop and have fun with the kids by holding a family friendly window-shop-scavenger hunt!  Here’s how to do it.  Before you go to town, create an innovative list of items that might be spotted in shop windows and assign them points, depending upon how hard or easy them will be to find.  If you don’t have time to create your own, use the one we’ve provided below!  Decide how you want to divide the kids into teams (individuals, pairs, large groups) — just make sure you have an adult with each group of children.  Give each team a copy of the list and a pen with which to check off items, and then let the game begin!  Teams head in different directions (each accompanied by an adult so they don’t wander off), and hunt for items.  Have the children look into shop windows; once they see an item, remind her to check that off of the scavenger hunt list.  Meet at a designated location and add up each team’s points (see point system below).  You can give the winning team gets a special prize (maybe a treat or two at Sweet Inspirations, that scrumptiously gourmet sweet shop.)  This game is the perfect chance for your kids to practice teamwork whilst you all spend quality time together (oh, and window shop!)

The Scavenger Hunt Window Shopping Challenge

Look for the following items…

1. Something with stripes — 1 point
2. Anything yellow — 1 point
3. A picture of a whale — 2 points
4. Something fishy — 2 points
5. Nantucket Reds — 2 points
6. A dog bone — 2 points
7. A cup of coffee — 3 points
8. A shiny necklace — 3 points
9. A Nantucket basket — 3 points
10. A silver watch — 3 points
11. A stuffed animal toy — 3 points
12. Something fuzzy and polka-dotted — 4 points
13. A Sailor’s Valentine — 4 points
14. Anything with a shark on it — 4 points
15. A lighthouse in any shape or form — 4 points
16. A kite — 6 points
17. Something with ruffles — 6 points
18. A boat in a bottle — 8 points
19. Anything Harry Potter related — 8 points
20. Picture of a Nantucket Sleigh Ride — 10 points 

How can you reduce your child’s desire to buy everything in sight?  There is indeed a way to have her choose just one Nantucket purchase that she will think is particularly out of the ordinary.  The purchase of a Nantucket souvenir, no matter how small the memento itself may be, is a memorable experience for any child.  And what way to make this purchase even more special than if the child has paid for it herself!  Ask that your child decide on a safe challenge for herself.  Each time she accomplishes this challenge, she gets a penny (or whatever amount of money you deem appropriate).  Once she earns enough, take her to a souvenir shop and let her choose a small something and pay herself!  What better way to let a child feel self-competent? Moreover, this activity makes the particular item extra special.  Whenever your child looks at her special token she’ll remember that she’s fully capable of achieving any endeavor she sets her mind to!

Just because you all are in town doesn’t mean it’s impossible to fully enjoy beautiful weather.  Relax in the great outdoors…right in the middle of town!  The Atheneum, Nantucket’s 117-year-old library, has a beautiful garden space right in its backyard, full of lush green grass.  It’s the perfect spot to spread out some blankets and look up at the clouds.  You can relax (maybe even take a well-deserved nap!) as your children simply look up at the clouds, use their imaginations, or draw on paper you’ve brought with you.  Or take out some books for yourself and your kids (the Atheneum Library is free!) and read to each other.

Yet another way to enjoy some sunshine in Town with the family is to take a walk.  Luckily, there are plenty of walking locations in town, so even if you have no means of transportation, you’re all set!  Try a stroll on the docks by the Hy-line Ferry.  Kids and adults alike can marvel at the striking boats and, if you’re lucky, you might see charter fishermen bringing in a catch.  This spot is so scenic that you’ll want to take a picture of your family, so bring a camera if you’ve got one.  Enjoy your pleasant amble…just don’t fall off the dock!

Another walking site is the pristine Lily Pond.  Its entrance can be found on Lily Street (take Main Street to Gardner Street, Gardner becomes Liberty, and turn onto Lily Street).  Contrary to popular belief, the "pond" is no longer  a pond (see Color Nantucket #3, available at the Museum Shop and other island bookstores to read about the “Lily Pond Secret.”)  Today, it's a field of conservation land: a natural sanctuary nestled in the bustling streets of Town.  Scenic and calming, Lily Pond is also the ideal setting for a picnic, game of tag, or hide and seek with the kids.  If you happen to visit Lily Pond in August, look out for blackberries along the path.  Collect, wash, and then eat these when you get home!

From Lily Pond it's but a short walk to the First Congressional Church at 62 Centre Street.  The Church runs a Tower Tour Monday through Saturday from 10 am to 4 in the afternoon.  While donations are encouraged, the tour is free.  A helpful hint: wear your sneakers!  It's a bit of a hike to reach the top.  Once you get there, you'll find a 360-degree panoramic view of the island, complete with detailed maps and four pairs of binoculars to borrow for a closer look.  In addition to bringing you an extraordinary view of Nantucket, the Tour provides visitors with unique stories from the island's past.  Halfway up your Tower Tour you'll encounter an exhibit detailing the Church's life.  The display uses old sketches, photos, and paintings to teach visitors how the Church was started, what group led it through devastation such as the Great Fire of 1846, and how the church became what it is today.  Furthermore, towards the top of the Tower you'll find a magnificent bell that dates back to 1914 and is inscribed with a moving Tennyson poem.  Even more important than the Tour's great lookout spot and historical significance is the fact that it is run by approachable, friendly people who know Nantucket.  This Town experience is not to be missed!

If your children are at all interested in wildlife, a visit to the Maria Mitchell Aquarium on Washington Street is well worth your time.  Don't be deceived by the aquarium's quaint disposition…it's jam-packed with Nantucket sea creatures!  The Aquarium has an outdoor tank where visitors can pick up crabs and clams, a gazebo which houses stripers, blue fish, flounder, and horseshoe crabs, and indoor tanks containing much, much more (including three baby sharks, a gigantic lobster, and a bug-eyed puffer fish).  The staff is friendly, informative, and completely receptive to questions about the sea creatures (who'd have thought that clams have about thirty eyes?)  If you want a special treat, participate in the name-a-seahorse contest.  Or, come to the aquarium at 2:30 and watch the staff feed the animals!  The MMA is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and tickets cost $5 per adult, $4 for seniors and children.  (If you're looking for more marine life activities, check out  The Maria Mitchell Assn offers Marine Ecology field trips for families and more!)

If you're looking for something beachy, there's a beach in Town!  It also happens to be perfectly child-friendly.  The locale of which I speak is aptly named "Children's Beach.”  On top of being an ideal family destination (it has benches, a great view of the harbor, food, a large playground, a scenic park, a wide beach, access to bathrooms, and lifeguards) Children's offers a myriad of free activities.  At noon look out for tie-dying opportunities.  At 10:30 am on July 28, August 4, 11, and 18, Joe Zito and the Nantucket Puppet Players perform complimentary puppet shows.  Furthermore, Friday night flicks are offered and free concerts are provided every Thursday and Sunday.  Children's Beach is an easy-access destination that provides endless sunny-day opportunities.

If there happens to be bad weather, Nantucket Town is the also the place for kids to engage in a multitude of indoor activities.  The Weezie Library, the children’s section of the Atheneum library, offers a broad, fun, and innovative selection of opportunities gratis.  Their calendar of children’s events ( and click on events), list something new and exciting for each child at the Weezie Library, whether he be young or old, musical or literary.  The musically oriented can learn about songwriting, while the bookish can participate in writing workshops.  There is yoga class for teens and storytime for little ones.  Check the Events Calendar in this publication an at for information on upcoming activities at the Weezie Library.  Just remember to get to these popular events on time…space is limited!

To cap your day off with some kid-friendly entertainment, I'd highly recommend that you see the Theatre Workshop of Nantucket production of the musical Cinderella.  Performances are in the lower level theater at 2 Centre Street (the Methodist Church).  Curtain time is 5:00 pm on July 26, 27, and 28.  Beautifully acted by child performers, this show will end your day on just the right note.

To sum up the reason you can and will enjoy town, let me put it this way...   Scavenger Hunt: free.  Nantucket Souvenir: $10.  Reading at the Atheneum: free.  A walk around town: free.  Tower Tour: free (donation encouraged).  Visit to Maria Mitchell Aquarium: $4/$5 per person.  Beach activities: free.  Activities at the Atheneum: free.  Seeing Cinderella: free.  Day in Town with the family: absolutely priceless.

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