First-time visitors to Nantucket usually want to do the typical “touristy” things: shop along the cobblestone streets, take a historic tour, and go to the beach. But if you know the island well or are looking for something novel to do, here are seven offbeat ideas.
Learn to skate
with Dorothy Hamill
Three years ago, Dorothy Hamill, the 1976 Olympic gold medal figure skater, who has a house on Nantucket, founded her island-based Skating Fantasy Camp, where, according to her vision, adult skaters of all levels can “learn, skate, relax, and bond over one common passion — figure skating.” This year, the six-day camp (held at the Christopher Nugent Bovers Community Rink) runs from Sunday through Friday, Aug. 19-24,
and includes a welcome reception, personal instruction, and private lessons with Hamill and coaches, transportation to and from the rink, an official camp T-shirt and gift bags, a souvenir DVD of the camp, two group dinners, and a final group performance. Despite enrollment deadlines noted on the website, the camp has openings and welcomes applicants. www.dorothyhamill.com
Take an Ice Cream Cruise
You’re never too old to enjoy one of Shearwater Excursions’s six daily cruises around Nantucket Harbor with ice cream included. The trip takes place aboard the Minke, a 26-foot Classic Crosby Launch with seating for up to 25. Beginning at Straight Wharf, the boat slowly cruises past Brant Point Lighthouse, classic whaling-era homes, and the various swanky yachts and motorboats sprinkled throughout the harbor. “We have a smorgasboard of ice cream flavors,” says co-owner Rachael Perkins, “from raspberry sorbet for adults to the latest choices for kids, like Reese’s Klondike Bars.” Daily departures, Slip 1011, 10 and 11:15 a.m., 1, 2:15, 4, and 5:15 p.m., $32 per person, (includes ice cream), 508-228-7037, www.explorenantucket.com
Shop for hidden gems
at the Madaket Mall
When visitors, residents, and businesses have goods they want to unload, but not throw away, they haul them to what’s known as the Madaket Mall, a grey-shingled building at the Nantucket Landfill in Madaket, where treasure hunters stop by at set times during what’s called Take It or Leave It.
“It’s like a yard sale but without any money because everything’s free,” says Dani Henke, a bookseller at Nantucket Book Partners. “There are tons of books, clothes, bikes, plates, and furniture, as well as building supplies like doors, windows, and boxes of tiles.” And, while quality varies, sometimes visitors hit gold. “I know a guy who found $100 dollars in the pocket of a discarded golf bag and another who found a painting that turned out to be worth almost $50,000,” says Henke. 188 Madaket Road, Sat-Sun
8-11:30 a.m., Mon 8-2:30 p.m.,
Tue-Wed closed, Thu-Fri
11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Look up the Maria Mitchell
Most Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights (9-10:30 p.m.) through Labor Day you can enjoy a night out “with the stars” on Stargazing Night at The Loines Observatory, home to a 24-inch research telescope and 8-inch Clarke telescope. The association’s astronomy team demystifies the night sky through a telescopic viewing of the moon, various planets, nebulae, and galaxies. Programs take place at 59 Milk Street Extension, weather permitting. No pre-registration necessary. Members free, nonmembers adult $15, child $10.
Find your inner Astaire
Maybe you won’t make it onto “Dancing With the Stars,” but you will have fun twirling with a partner during a drop-in ballroom dancing class, $50 for 30 minutes. “We’re the only place on the island that offers these classes and our teachers are national dance champions,” says owner Andrey Stanev, who was Bulgaria’s 2000 National Dance Champion. 48 Main St.
at The Studio
(second floor), 508-796-2200,
Go on a scavenger hunt
Ideal for children, this scavenger hunt occurs through “The Look Book of Nantucket,” available to purchase on island at area bookstores such as Mitchell’s Book Corner and Nantucket Bookworks ($12.95). The book asks questions about the island and is a fun way to learn about various sites, stores, and restaurants, with stickers provided to record each finding. Mitchell’s Book
Corner, 54 Main St., 508-228-
1080. Nantucket Bookworks,
25 Broad St., 508-228-4000
Get a bird’s eye view of the harbor and town
From its perch on Beacon Hill above Centre Street, the First Congregational Church Nantucket, founded in the early 1700s, offers visitors the chance to climb the bell tower for an aerial view every Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. from now until mid-October. On a clear day, after mounting the 94 steps, you can see for miles across Nantucket Sound and in and around the cobbled streets of town. 62 Centre St., 508-228-