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The Gray Lady Awaits You

Susan France Morris, author of THE SENSITIVE ONE finds writing inspiration on Nantucket.

My first trip to Nantucket was thirty years ago. It was right before I married my current husband. I wanted him to witness the beauty of the island and fall in love with it as I did. Its natural beauty and preservation of historic nature bring me back to a time of simpleness in living. And I love that. As a writer, my soul comes alive, and reflections come easier to me here. While sitting on the beach at dusk, I wrote the first chapters of my memoir, The Sensitive One. The wonderment I feel looking at the ocean's vastness always captivates me. I imagine what it would be like to live here year-round. I came back the next year and finished my second draft.

While I still love Cape Cod, where I have been going since I was a child, The tranquility of a ferry ride to an island to "get away from it all" breathes life into me. It's the hydrangeas (my fav flower), the clam chowder, the seafood, and the delicious ice cream that seems to get better each year. Whether it is Martha's Vineyard of Nantucket Island, this is where I am most at peace.

Nantucket Island —nicknamed the Gray Lady of the Sea by sailors due to the fogs that swept in quickly is one of my favorite places to visit any time of the year. The ocean surrounding the Island provides a buffering that keeps it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.

September and October are my preferred months to visit; the lodging rates are slighter lower, the waits are not as long in restaurants, and it's easier to get a parking space in town.

This quaint seaside village will bring you back in time —from the mid-1700s to the late 1830s, Nantucket was the whaling capital of the world. While the men were away searching for sperm whales, sometimes for as long as five years, the Island had a prosperous female-driven economy. Nantucket wives took charge of local businesses, and Centre Street was dubbed "Petticoat Row."

From weathered grey shingled cottages to multimillion-dollar coastal mansions, the Gray Lady’s cobblestone streets, pink climbing roses, multicolored hydrangeas, and beautiful beaches beckon you to enjoy.

How To Get There

The Gray Lady sits 30 miles south of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. At 14 miles long by 5 miles wide, this glorious Island is easily accessible by ferry. The fast ferry from Hyannis, MA, takes one hour. If you want to take a car, you need to take the Steam Ship Authority ferry, a two-and-a-half-hour ferry ride.

Where To Stay

On my recent visit to Nantucket, I stayed at the Seven Sea Street Inn — A bed and breakfast located on Sea Street and a quick walk from the town and ferry. It's a little hard to wheel suitcases on the cobblestone streets, so if you can pack lightly or use a carry bag, you won't struggle as much as I did. Matt and Claudia are the innkeepers and take a lot of pride in their work. Claudia makes the best quiches, pastries, and hot chocolate chip cookies every afternoon. The morning was my favorite. I took a tray and sat outside enjoying my coffee in the newly renovated terrace area.

The Seven Sea Street Inn is convenient if you rent a jeep for a day or two. There is a jeep rental shop located right on the corner of the street. I would highly recommend taking a ride out to Great Point Beach. There is a lovely view of a historic lighthouse, and that's where all the seals hang out.

I've also stayed at the Nantucket Hotel and Resort, which is lovely, and it is in the same essential area as the Seven Seas. Its décor is more modern seaside, has a restaurant on-site, an outdoor pool, activities for families, and is more expensive.

Places To Visit

The Whaling Museum is a restored 1847 candle factory and where to go for all information on the Island's whaling history.

I like the gift shop; it is reasonably priced, unlike some tourist shops in town.

Downtown, with its cobblestone streets and cute boutique shops, this is the go-to place for shopping, grabbing a smoothie or coffee drink, browsing the bookstore, or simply sitting on a bench to people-watch.

Bookshops/Local Authors

If you love reading and quaint local book shops, Mitchells Books Store located on Main Street and just a brief stroll away, Nantucket Bookworks on Broad Street. Both are great for browsing local authors and more.

Elin Hilderbrand, a famous nonfiction author, was outside signing her latest book Golden Girl at one. Her books are fun beach reads about the Island, and they never disappoint.

Nancy Thayer is a local author and New York Times Bestseller of nonfiction. I purchased Surfside Sisters and am currently reading it.

Nat Philbrick is an award-winning local author and the leading authority on Nantucket and its history. In The Heart of The Sea, the tragedy of the whaleship Essex, his book inspired the movie, Moby Dick. A must-read for anyone that enjoys historical reads.

Freedman’s of Nantucket

This is no ordinary clock store. This one of the most creative and unique stores I've seen. Inside Freedman’s of Nantucket, you will find unique treasures and the most extraordinary clocks, all designed and hand-made by Mr. Freedman. He has been a staple of the Island for over forty years. 14 Centre Street,

Emily Elisabeth Photography

If you want to capture your time on Nantucket as I did, Emily is a great choice. Reasonable, priced, laid back, and captures the moment to have forever.


Lemon Press for smoothies and coffee drinks. 41 Main St.

Fresh for sandwiches and a good bottle of wine. Closed Tues. and Wed. 5 Salem St.

Nantucket Pharmacy— lunch counter. With its turquoise-colored stools, you can sit at the counter and have a great milkshake. I had a very satisfying egg salad sandwich. 45 Main St.

The Sea Grille Restaurant is busy specializes in local fish and seafood. I would recommend reservations. I sat at the bar and was happy with the service. I had Oysters, and the lobster Bisque dilled puff pastry. The best lobster bisque I have ever had. 45 Sparks Ave.

I hope you find Nantucket Island as quaint and inviting as I have, and you bring home memories that will last a lifetime.

© 2021 Susan Frances Morris


Susan Frances Morris is the author of The Sensitive One, a memoir dealing with childhood trauma, abuse, health, and healing. Susan was born and raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, and has been vacationing on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, and Nantucket since she was a child.


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