What we love most about Martha’s Vineyard are the things that don’t change: A Dirty Banana at Nancy’s, a lobster roll at Net Result, the garlic fries at Martha’s Vineyard Chowder Co., the storybook beauty of the Camp Meeting Association’s gingerbread cottages. But things evolve, even on an island. In the last year or two, some Vineyard mainstays have moved or improved, while new places are cropping up and keeping things fresh. Here’s a look at some potential new must-sees for your MV hit list. (Note: When we say “new,” we mean it — the paint is still drying at some of these places. Call first to avoid disappointment.)
The big news: The opening of the newly relocated and greatly enlarged Martha’s Vineyard Museum in March. (See full story, M2.) The museum moved from small digs in Edgartown to the former 1895 marine hospital in Vineyard Haven, set on a hilltop overlooking the lagoon. Conceived as “a portal to the island,” according to executive director Phil Wallis, the bright, sunlit museum houses 15 interactive exhibit spaces (twice as many as before). Half of these are changing exhibits. Permanent exhibits include “One Island, Many Stories,” which explores the history of the island through themes like fishing, farming, and voyaging.” The island’s quirky side is revealed with a look at the Vineyard’s first celebrity, Nancy Luce, and her bantam chickens, and the storyboards from the movie “Jaws.” The main exhibit area is devoted to the work of artist and Vineyard regular Thomas Hart Benton. Glittering like a faceted jewel, the museum’s centerpiece is the restored 19th-century, 1,008-prism Fresnel lens that once lit the Gay Head Lighthouse. “Hands on History,” designed for kids, offers fun elements like “fishing” from a dory, and a kid-size captain’s house. A large barn houses boats, surfboards, farm implements, and other oversize items. Even if you’ve visited the island many times, you’ll get a sense of its uniqueness here. $18; 18 and under free; 508-627-4441; www.mvmuseum.org.
More news on the arts scene: The Featherstone Center for the Arts, in Oak Bluffs, has doubled its amount of exhibit space. A new, 6,200-square-foot Art Barn is home to the Francine Kelly Gallery, showcasing community art shows and curated exhibits. The building also houses two new studios for painting, drawing, and mixed media. A new structure holds pottery and jewelry studios. Ever wanted to try this art form, or take a class in printmaking or poetry? You couldn’t ask for a prettier spot. They also do “paint and sip” art nights. 508-693-1850; www.featherstoneart.org.
This new activity has people buzzing (couldn’t resist): You can become a beekeeper for an hour at Ginny Bee Honey Farm in Oak Bluffs. On this tour, adults and kids age 8 and up can don protective clothing — jacket, veil, and gloves — and get up close and personal with honeybees. You’ll assist a beekeeper in finding the queen, measuring honey output, monitoring bee life cycles, and more. Thinking about becoming a beekeeper, or are you part of the hive mentality (heh heh)? “It’s a once in a lifetime experience to see what goes on in the hive and to learn what keeps these amazing insects buzzing,” says beekeeper Brent Brown. Visitors discover “a humble appreciation for the critical role that honey bees have in all of the foods we eat,” he says. The tour includes a taste test of the farm’s organic honey. $25. 508-505-4650; www.ginnybeehoneyfarms.com.
If bees aren’t your thing, but gosh darn it, you love a good bivalve, consider a Martha’s Vineyard Oyster Farm Tour, offered by Farm. Field. Sea. On this family-friendly evening excursion, you’ll learn about aquaculture from a shellfish biologist, then visit Cottage City Oyster Farm, where the purveyors will show guests the harvest process. Of course, there will be shucking and slurping of fresh oysters, followed by a sunset sail around Oak Bluffs harbor. $140 adults, $50 ages 4-10. 508-687-9012; www.farmfieldsea.com.
The Harbor View Hotel on Edgartown Harbor has been an island landmark since 1891. More than $15 million later, and whoa! The 124-room luxury property has been renovated from top to bottom, with a lively summerhouse vibe in public areas, and room design that ranges from sophisticated-classic to surfer-cool. More reasons to check it out: Two new restaurants, Bettini and Roxana, led by executive chef Patrice Martineau. At the more formal Bettini Restaurant, menu items will include a coffee-crusted veal chop with pea mousseline, chive gnocchi, and onion rings, and a lemon-basil risotto, mascarpone with crispy Parmesan and preserved lemon. The kitchen also offers a lava stone grill. At Roxana Bar, count on tasty tapas like citrus-cured Hamachi with kimchi cucumber, and Spanish sardine toast with tomato-lemon jam. Rates from $249. 844-248-1167; www.harborviewhotel.com.
A bright, cozy farmhouse vibe: That’s what they’re going for at the newly renovated (under new ownership) Lambert’s Cove Inn in West Tisbury, reopening Memorial Day weekend. The 15-room property includes a restored, circa 1790 farmhouse, a stable, a barn, a general store, and a restaurant (called Woods, with a farm-to-table menu), set amid 8 acres of forest and farmland. New owners Keya and John Cain plan to stretch their season from April to December, and they welcome families with children. From $249. 800-535-0272; www.lambertscoveinn.com.
RIP, Down Island restaurant in Oak Bluffs. In its place is the Cardboard Box, a steakhouse owned by Ben DeForest, longtime island chef and owner of the Red Cat Kitchen. Head chef is Dominic Giardini. But it isn’t fancy-schmancy (this is the Vineyard, after all.) Fish, chicken, soul food favorites, and a nightly pasta dish round out the menu; there’s also the cheekily-named Caesar Salad I Never Wanted to Make ($14) and White Trash Macaroni & Cheese ($10). Come for chowder and a beer or steak and a martini, and plan to stick around for some late-night cocktailing and music — DJs entertain nightly in season. Entrees from $23. 508-338-2821; www.thecardboardbox.com.
Upstairs, something fishy is going on, Oyster Bar 02557. This new oyster house, a partnership of Ben and Erica DeForest and Red Sox vice chairman/Loon Farm owner David Ginsberg, will offer local and regional oysters and fish. With Chef Hope Hushion running the kitchen, the oyster bar is slated to open in May. Entrees from $24; www.oysterbar02557.com.
Tacos — they’re not just for Tuesday anymore. And you can now get your fill in Oak Bluffs, at Dilly’s Taqueria, open from May to November. Helmed by Vineyard native Adam Rebello, Dilly’s features tacos, burritos, and rice bowls, with most of the ingredients made in house. Seasoned house-made tortilla chips are a specialty at this fast-casual spot — and it’s open all year. Base price is $9.99 to $11; add-ons like kale, avo, quac, and sautéed Brussels sprouts/kale slaw are extra. 508-687-9171; www.dillystaqueria.com.
The space that housed the storied and star-studded Hot Tin Roof nightclub has changed hands over the years. It is now home to Black Sheep Mercantile, a handy spot for a quick lunch or tasty takeout near the airport. Not keen to cook on your vacay? Grab the makings of a beach picnic — cheese, charcuterie, gourmet fixings — or prepared foods for an instant dinner. They also carry an eclectic selection of gifts and home goods, including Black Sheep tea towels, designed by local artist Robin Morse Nagle. 508-338-7770; www.blacksheeponmv.com.
Finally, if you’re on the Vineyard the weekend of July 12-14, look up: The Trustees of Reservations (www.thetrustees.org) are launching a reflective hot air balloon at Long Point and the Farm Institute. The mirrored balloon will be illuminated and paired with music, part of a traveling artwork installation and series of live happenings called New Horizon by contemporary artist and filmmaker Doug Aitken. The balloon launch is one of several events featured in this summer’s Art & the Landscape project, coming to multiple Trustees sites in the state.
Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at email@example.com.