loading spinner
21005
Massachusetts

On the Road: Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket

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.
Rating (4.86)
Program No. 21005RJ
Length
8 days
Starts at
1,999
Massachusetts

On the Road: Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket

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.
Length
8 days
Starts at
1,999
Program No. 21005 RJ
Prefer to enroll or inquire by phone? 800-454-5768
climate
Plan ahead.
What kind of weather can you expect? Take a look!
Select your type of room
Price will update based on selection
Prices displayed below are based on per person,doubleoccupancy.

DATES & PRICES

Hotel - Standard
Details
Accommodation Details
Comfortable accommodations that meet our high standards.
Hotel
Details
Accommodation Details
Comfortable accommodations that meet our high standards.

DATES & PRICES

Hotel - Standard
Details
Accommodation Details
Comfortable accommodations that meet our high standards.
Hotel
Details
Accommodation Details
Comfortable accommodations that meet our high standards.
Jun 5 - Jun 12, 2021
SOLD OUT
Hotel - Standard 2,959
 
Jun 19 - Jun 26, 2021
SOLD OUT
Hotel - Standard 2,959
 

At a Glance

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.
Activity Level
Keep the Pace
Walking up to 2 miles per day; standing in museums. Some unavoidable stairs in historic sites. Getting on and off coach.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • 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.

General Notes

Program includes independent time to explore the city and several meals on your own. Group Leaders will provide directions for self-directed excursions. Suggestions for free-time activities provided in preparatory materials. All rooms in the Martha Vineyard hotel have only one queen-sized bed; therefore, we cannot offer roommate matching services on this program or guarantee 2 bed room requests. Please see lodging description for more information.
Featured Expert
All Experts
Profile Image
Jim Coogan
Jim Coogan is an author and retired teacher who lives in the historic seaside town of Sandwich on Cape Cod. He grew up on the Cape, graduated from Boston College and served in the U.S. Navy before teaching high school history for almost 30 years. Since his retirement in 1999, Jim has written eight books about Cape Cod, including three for children. His “Sail Away Ladies: Stories of Cape Cod Women in the Age of Sail” won the 2004 U.S. Maritime Literature Award. Jim is a popular speaker on Cape Cod history, a regular columnist for the Cape Cod Times daily newspaper and the owner and publisher of Harvest Home Books.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Ruth Bennett
Ruth Bennett View biography
Ruth Bennett grew up in the Boston area and now lives in Hingham, Massachusetts. She earned her BA and MA from Emerson College and taught there for several years before becoming a freelance trainer and consultant in communications in the workplace. She now leads groups for Road Scholar internationally, in New England and other areas in the U.S. In her spare time, she can be found walking on the beach, reading, traveling, painting, taking OLLI classes and attending cultural events in her area.
Profile Image of Jim Coogan
Jim Coogan View biography
Jim Coogan is an author and retired teacher who lives in the historic seaside town of Sandwich on Cape Cod. He grew up on the Cape, graduated from Boston College and served in the U.S. Navy before teaching high school history for almost 30 years. Since his retirement in 1999, Jim has written eight books about Cape Cod, including three for children. His “Sail Away Ladies: Stories of Cape Cod Women in the Age of Sail” won the 2004 U.S. Maritime Literature Award. Jim is a popular speaker on Cape Cod history, a regular columnist for the Cape Cod Times daily newspaper and the owner and publisher of Harvest Home Books.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The House on Nauset Marsh
by Wyman Richardson
A Cape Cod classic first published in 1947, these leisurely essays form a reflective portrait of the land, sea and wildlife.
National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America
by Jon Dunn
From Alaska to Baja California, Nova Scotia and Florida, this guide is the veteran's choice for birding anywhere in the United States. Tabbed for easy access, the color range maps in this sixth edition are outstanding.
Cape Cod
by Henry David Thoreau
The classic work, accompanied by Scot Miller's stunning photography of beach scenes which may have inspired Thoreau.
The Big House, A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home
by George Howe Colt
The author's personal tribute to the elaborately eccentric home where he spent most of his summers. This poignant memoir records 100 of history of the house, which was perched on a Cape Cod promontory overlooking Buzzards Bay.
Against the Tide, The Fate of the New England Fisherman
by Richard Adams Carey
A discussion of the crisis that faces the New England fishing industry from a journalist who spent a year among the fishermen of Cape Cod.
In the Heart of the Sea, The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex
by Nathaniel Philbrick
The seafaring tale of fearsome whales, cannibalism and sturdy 19th-century Nantucketers; a history of the true life events that inspired Melville's "Moby Dick" -- and a fascinating history of 19th-century society in Nantucket.
The Whale
by Philip Hoare
A deeply engaging meditation on all things whale. Philip Hoare saves his special love and attention for the sperm whale -- not only via a beautiful literary analysis of Moby Dick -- but also by indulging in a childhood fantasy and actually swimming with the whales in the Azores.
The Perfect Storm, A True Story of Men Against the Sea
by Sebastian Junger
A gripping, now-famous blow-by-blow account of a 1991 disaster at sea. Junger reconstructs the final hours of six men aboard a 72-foot swordfish boat in the North Atlantic, battling against a torrential storm.
The Enduring Shore: A History of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket
by Paul Schneider
The natural and human history of Cape Cod and its surrounding islands, as written by a resident of Martha's Vineyard.
Cape Cod Map
by Rand McNally Maps
A map of Cape Cod, including Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket Island, at a scale of 1:107,000.
Ahab's Wife
by Sena Jeter Naslund
A first-rate example of historical fiction, this absorbing, lyrical and well-researched novel was inspired by Melville, Nantucket whaling and 19th-century America.
Away Off Shore, Nantucket Island and Its People
by Diane Swartz, Nathaniel Philbrick
A cultural history of Nantucket and, most notably, of its storied whaling industry. This book is informed and entertainingly written, with a strong slant toward telling the stories of individuals.
Blues
by John Hersey
In this classic novella, Hersey turns a tale of a young stranger and an experienced fisherman, out fishing on Cape Cod, into a marvelous meditation on fishing -- and the natural history of the region.
Death of a Hornet and Other Cape Cod Essays
by Robert Finch
A collection of serene essays on the nature, wildlife, and inhabitants of Cape Cod by a keen observer and year-round resident.
Cape Cod Seashore Life, An Introduction to Familiar Plants and Animals
by James Kavanagh
A handy foldup plastic card with color illustrations for easy identification.
Time and Tide: A Walk Through Nantucket
by Frank Conroy
An impressionistic memoir and account of life and love on the island of Nantucket. Conroy first visited as a 19-year-old in 1955.
National Audubon Society Field Guide to New England
by Brian Cassie, Peter Alden
A compact, easy-to-use overview of 1,000 of New England's trees, wildflowers, mammals, insects and other flora and fauna. It also provides an extensive overview of the area's geology, weather patterns and natural sites.
Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard & Nantucket: An Explorer's Guide
by Kimberly Grant
A practical guide to the popular tourist destinations of Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, compiled by a local photographer and writer.
The Outermost House, A Year of Life on the Great Beach of Cape Cod
by Henry Beston
The chronicle of a year spent living alone in a remote Cape Cod beach house in 1925. These beloved essays, first published in 1928, capture the essence of the Cape, the sea, weather and animal life.
Cod, A Biography of a Fish That Changed the World
by Mark Kurlansky
A sparkling extended essay on the cod in the tradition of Lopez or McPhee, looking at the importance of the fish to cuisine, commerce and history, throwing light on Viking voyages, the Hanseatic League, and both Scnadinavian and Canadian economic history.
Print All
Map details are not available for this location.
View Map
Expand All
8 days
7 nights
16 meals
7 B 5 L 4 D
DAY
1
Check-In, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Boston, MA
D
DoubleTree by Hilton Boston Bayside

Activity note: Hotel check-in from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: 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 your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation. The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Everyone will be responsible for their own luggage, with some assistance available. Transportation will be provided by a variety of vehicles including (but not limited to) ferries, private and taxi vans, motorcoaches, and “safari” style trucks. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please be aware that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. 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. Some journeys involve great distances and may take hours, others are much shorter. Long or short, On the Road journeys are learning experiences that make the most of our time together.

Dinner: At the hotel, we will enjoy a plated and served welcome dinner, plus coffee, tea, water.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow participants, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead, including morning check out.

DAY
2
Ferry to MV, Walk to Tabernacle, Introduction to Oak Bluffs
Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard
B,L,D
Dockside Inn

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.

Breakfast: In the hotel, breakfast choices include: oatmeal, cereal, fruit, eggs, toast and pastries, plus coffee, tea, water.

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, 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.

Lunch: On the ferry we’ll have boxed lunches.

Afternoon: Arriving at the Oak Bluffs ferry terminal, as a group we will walk to our hotel before our field trip. The hotel will provide transport for our luggage. 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.

Dinner: At a local restaurant, plated and served with coffee, tea, and water.

Evening: At leisure. 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.

DAY
3
Chappaquiddick Island Nature Reserve, Historic Edgartown
Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard
B
Dockside Inn

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, sunscreen. Field trips operate rain or shine except during thunderstorms and extreme wind conditions.

Breakfast: Buffet at the hotel, includes coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Weather dependent, 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 your own to enjoy what you like.

Afternoon: 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: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Exploring Martha’s Vineyard
Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard
B,L
Dockside Inn

Activity note: Getting in/out of vans; walking up to 1.5 mile; standing for about 1 hour.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: 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.

Lunch: At a local restaurant, plated and served with coffee, tea, and water.

Afternoon: After lunch we will depart on foot for the Martha's Vineyard Museum which houses a collection of exhibits related to the islands history. Back in Vineyard Haven there will be time for independent exploration to stroll through the old wharf, shipyard, historic district, art galleries, and quiet lanes.

Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. You are welcome to remain in Vineyard Haven or return to Oaks Bluff.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Historic Cape Cod, Sandwich, Glass Museum, Dexter Grist Mill
Hyannis, MA
B,L,D
Hyannis Harbor Hotel

Activity note: Total walking distance for the day is up to 2 miles. Each person is responsible for his/her own luggage getting on and off the ferry; 45 minute ferry crossing; total drive distance is 40 miles.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Say goodbye to Martha's Vineyard as we depart by taxi for the ferry terminal at Vineyard Haven. 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". En route we will stop to experience a few of the gems of Upper and Mid Cape Cod.

Lunch: At a local seafood shack in Sandwich, MA, with many options available.

Afternoon: 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 before enjoying a lecture by a local expert on the history of Cape Cod.

Dinner: A short walk from the hotel, we will enjoy a plated meal at a nearby restaurant with coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Exploring Nantucket, Whaling Museum
Hyannis, MA
B,L
Hyannis Harbor Hotel

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).

Breakfast: Buffet at the Bluewater Grill Hotel Restaurant at the hotel.

Morning: 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: At a local restaurant, plated and served, includes coffee, tea, water.

Afternoon: Enjoy a self-guided 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: On your own to explore local fare. Hyannis, like the rest of New England, is known for delicious seafood and clam "chowdah", but still offers various other dining options that cater to most preferences.

Evening: At leisure. Take this opportunity to walk along Main Street Hyannis. 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
Hyannis, MA
B,L,D
Hyannis Harbor Hotel

Activity note: This is a full day of motorcoach exploration with frequent stops; one way distance 50 miles— 75-90 minutes drive time; 4-wheel driving on soft but bumpy sand dunes.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet.

Morning: Departing from the hotel via motorcoach 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: At a local seafood restaurant, plus coffee, tea, water.

Afternoon: 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.

Dinner: At a favorite local restaurant that highlights the unique atmosphere of Provincetown, plated and served with coffee, tea, and water.

Evening: Return to Hyannis and prepare for departure in the morning.

DAY
8
Program Concludes
Hyannis, MA
B

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.

Breakfast: Hotel buffet. This concludes our program. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






Your Well-Being is Our #1 Priority

We’re committed to making your experience as safe and enjoyable as possible.

See Our Safety Roadmap
Click here to provide website feedback
Website Feedback