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Volume 37 Issue 16 • August 10 - 16, 2007 now in our 37th season

Activities for Families:
A Day in 'Sconset

by Zoë Kirsch

The village of ‘Sconset is unlike any other part of Nantucket.  Smaller in size than Nantucket Town, it has a sort of fairytale poetry that can’t be found anywhere else on the island.  Hydrangeas, smiling bemusedly, poke their heads over and between rustic garden fences, while roses bask in the sun from all across cottage roof lines.  And all this is but a few steps away from the Atlantic Ocean.  ‘Sconset isn’t just whimsically beautiful; it presents plenty of activities for a fun-filled, family day.  

Clearly, to enjoy ‘Sconset you have to get there first.  While driving is an option, what if your family is staying all the way in Madaket and you don’t have a vehicle?  Don’t lose all hope!  The Nantucket Regional Transit Authority (N.R.T.A.) runs buses that can take you to ‘Sconset from nearly anywhere on this island.  To reach this destination from town, take either the Milestone or the Polpis route from the bus stop outside Force Five.  For rate information and more complete directional info regarding the NRTA routes, visit and click on “Fares and Passes” and “Island Map and Shuttle Routes.”  Or check the N.R.T.A. ad in this publication.  If biking is your preferred means of transportation, Young’s Bike Shop has a helpful map of the island that will direct you to ‘Sconset.  When cycling remember to stay on the bike path as much as possible and be wary of cars!

Once you’ve arrived, it won’t be long before you come across Claudette’s at 12 Main Street.  Here you’ll find supreme boxed lunches that make the perfect picnic.  Choose any kind of sandwich from Seafood Salad to Veggie.  The staff favorite?  Jason Laffert, who works at the scrumptious sandwich shop, answers, “I’d have to say Roast Beef.”  So try this popular sandwich for yourself or go with another…you can’t go wrong!  Add slices of lemon cake and drinks for the family, and you’re ready to go.

A visit to ‘Sconset’s beach, with its wide expanse of sand, lifeguard, and unbeatable scenery is a must-do.  To get there, stroll down Elbow Lane where you’ll encounter a rustic footbridge.  Look to your right and you’ll see a sundial gracing the side of the large gray-shingled house.  From here, it’s but a few steps down before your destination is straight ahead.  The beach’s breadth means that it’s just right for a game of Frisbee, hackysack, or wiffle ball.  It’s also a prime picnicking locale, so unpack your sandwiches and have lunch on the beach.  Be aware that this beach has heavy surf — so, it’s best that young children not swim here.  But then what can young children do?  They can always go a ways down the road with their parents to the playground.  Meanwhile, the rest of you can get a taste of the Atlantic Ocean!  Take a swim, bodysurf, or try your hand at boogie boarding.  Just remember to wear sunscreen and be safe in the water.  It’s an excellent idea to review beach safety with each other, too.  (See the Beach and Beach Safety page at 

Next, you’ll want to stop by the bathrooms at the intersection of New and Shell Streets to change into dry clothes.  Afterwards, why not relax right across the street at Pump Square?  Here you’ll find the historic ‘Sconset Pump and plenty of benches situated around a cobblestoned circle, the ideal place to unwind and enjoy the outdoors.  You and the family can paint, draw, or play games.  One amusement that will not only test your stealth, but also provide buckets of fun is “Killer Frog”.  All you’ll need is a deck of cards.  In this game, the more people the better!  To begin, participants sit in a circle.  One person, the dealer, selects the same number of cards from the deck as there are players.  All of these cards should have numbers except one that has an Ace.  For example: if your family has five participants, the Dealer should select four number cards and one Ace.  Now, the Dealer sets aside the rest of this deck, mixes up the selected cards face down, and distributes one card to each player.  Every player looks at his or her card without showing it to anyone else.  If you received an Ace, you’re the Frog; if you didn’t, you’re a Fly.  But each player keeps secret who he or she is!  As soon as the Dealer says, “begin”, the Frog starts to try and subtly “kill” Flies.  To “kill”, the Frog must make eye contact with someone in the circle and quickly stick out his or her tongue.  The person who has been “killed” must say, “I’m dead” and can’t tell other Flies who the Killer Frog is.  If someone who isn’t dead sees the Frog “killing” a Fly, he or she says “I think the Frog is (name here)” and the Frog loses.  However, if the Frog manages to kill everyone he or she wins.  Set up tournaments, keep score, or just play for fun!                  

Just a half-block from the Pump is a charming shop to visit: G.S. Hill Gallery at 1 New Street displays the beautiful works of island artist Gregory S. Hill and carries many of the fun gift items that can also be found in their shop and gallery on Straight Wharf.

Next, visit the Siasconset Market for a sugary treat!  The store, located at 4 Main Street, serves Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, sorbet, and frozen yogurt.  If you’re feeling up to it, go all out and buy a pint (or two…or five…) of Chocolate Fudge Brownie from the Market’s freezer, take a seat on one of the convenient benches right outside the Market’s door, and eat the whole thing as a family!

The best way to appreciate ‘Sconset’s proximity to the ocean is to take a walk on the path that runs along the bluff.  If you haven’t finished eating, take your ice cream with you on the stroll.  In the same spirit of subtlety that makes ‘Sconset so endearing, the path doesn’t immediately make itself clear.  In fact, it’s downright elusive.  So finding this walkway is all a matter of knowing where to look.  From Main Street go to Broadway Street.  From Broadway, turn onto Front Street (the road covered in shells).  When you come to the second light post on the road, turn right onto the asphalt and continue along.  When you reach a sign that says, “foot path only, no bikes,” follow the sign’s enigmatic instructions: take the dirt path to the left in the direction that the sign’s arrow is pointing, not the brick path leading down to the beach.  Don’t be mislead by the fact that this walk takes you through people’s backyards…you’re not trespassing as long as you stay on the path!  The stroll is about half a mile each way, but it’s well worth it.  In addition to allowing you to see the beautiful sights overlooking the ocean, the walk lets you have an excitingly eccentric and somewhat voyeuristic experience.  

If you’re up for another walk once you get back to Main Street, head down Baxter Road to see the stately Sankaty Lighthouse.  Built in 1851, the Lighthouse has been standing in the same location for 156 years and will be moved inland this fall.  Learn more dramatic details and see this beacon in its momentous location. 

Once you’ve kindled an appetite from all that walking, stop by the Summerhouse Bistro for casual fine dining!  If your children are older and enjoy fine dining with parents, dinner at The Chanticleer can be a special treat.  You would do well to make reservations in advance at either restaurant.

End your day in ‘Sconset with a well-priced movie.  The ‘Sconset Casino, located at 10 New Street, shows movies throughout the summer for just $5 a person!  To name a few showings that are family-friendly: Evan Almighty (showing August 16th), and Ratatouille (showing August 23rd).  For slightly older kids: Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (showing August 19th), Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix (showing August 28), Transformers (showing August 31st), and Who’s Your Caddy (showing September 2).  Doors open at 8:00 pm and movies start at 8:30, so get there in advance for great seats!

Families have been enjoying summers at ‘Sconset for hundreds of years.  And that trend isn’t stopping anytime soon!  With its accessibility, tasty eateries, gorgeous beach, historic sites, and beautiful bluff ‘Sconset provides a family experience that will long be a treasured memory.

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