Travel Guide: Martha's Vineyard
Sarah Waldman grew up outside of Boston and went to Skidmore College, where she met Nick (an architectural designer and her college friend turned husband). She fell in love with food while playing “cooking show” with her little sister Anna in the 1980s. They would wear pink and purple bathrobes and host a show called “The Cooking Sisters”. It was pretty epic.
In the summer of 2006, Sarah read tons of books about food - those written by Michael Pollan, Sally Fallon, and other thought provoking authors and decided to follow her passion to the Institute of Integrative Nutrition to study the connections between food and personal wellness. Sarah's cookbook, Feeding a Family: A Real-Life Plan for Making Dinner Work, was published by Roost Books in 2017 and was recently nominated for an IACP cookbook award.
She writes stories and develops recipes for websites and magazines like Edible Vineyard, Food52, Taproot Magazine, The Coastal Table, and Parents Magazine while her two boys are at school. As a health-focused home cook, she develops and offers recipes for simple, whole-food meals appropriate for every member of the family and loves to get her two boys, Dylan and Gray (ages 7 and 4) involved in the kitchen. Sarah also has a 5 month old Australian Shepherd puppy named Fisher and a pet hermit crab named Hermie.
BB: How long have you been living on Martha’s Vineyard?
SW: Nick and I moved here in May of 2012 with our then 1 year old son. My mom started visiting the island as a teenager in the 1970s and my grandparents bought a classic old beach house here in 1984. My parents bought a run-down barn/artist studio on island in 2003 and they spent years renovating it themselves. I have been coming here all my life and have always known I wanted to live here someday, somehow. I noticed at a very young age how much at home my mom felt here and I think her love for this place was immediately passed on to me. I still get butterflies in my stomach when the ferry starts pulling into the harbor.
BB: What do you love about living on Martha’s Vineyard?
SW: I want to say everything because that’s how it feels most of the time, but of course there are challenges (mainly affordability, access to the mainland, and career paths.) I love so much about living on Martha’s Vineyard though, so I can confidently say today, at 36 years old, that I don’t ever want to live anywhere else for a long period of time. I used to get the feeling while traveling - hmmm, this feels like a great place to live, I want to move here! But I don’t get that feeling anymore. I love visiting new places but this is the only home I want. The community here is invaluable - it is tight-knit, supportive, encouraging, interesting, and inspiring. The boys and I know someone everywhere we go, whether it be the grocery store, post office, or for a beach walk.
The island’s natural beauty is incredibly special and something that does not get lost on us. We really take advantage of the outdoors and pond skate, sled, hike, surf, swim, fish, bike, run, forage, and go exploring almost daily.
BB: For anyone considering a trip to the Island, what are some must-sees?
SW: There is so much to see and do! The island is surprisingly diverse so it really depends what you’re interested in. Our favorite things to do/see are:
- Hike Land Bank Trails (many end at the beach)
- Take a Trustees tour to the Cape Poge Lighthouse
- See the Gay Head Cliffs
- Eat dinner in Menemsha while the sun sets (Menemsha is one of the few places on the east coast where the sun sets over the ocean
- Walk around the Gingerbread Houses in Oak Bluffs
- Try to catch the brass ring to win a free ride on the country’s oldest platform carousel, The Flying Horses Shop
- Eat your way through the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market
- Get a backdoor donut in Oak Bluffs (the bakery opens its doors from 7-12:58 am and sells hot donuts and apple fritters out their back screen door. They are AMAZING.
BB: Food is an important part of traveling. What are some of the best places to eat on Martha’s Vineyard? We have a feeling you may know of a few hidden gems!
SW: The Vineyard has no shortage of good food! Our family’s favorite spots are The Art Cliff Diner for breakfast (go early), 7a Foods for lunch, Sweet Life Cafe for a special date night, and The Port Hunter for a casual date night. Behind the Bookstore (with locations in Vineyard Haven and Edgartown) has the best coffee, as does Chilmark Coffee Company that is at the West Tisbury Farmer’s Market. The fish markets in Menemsha (Menemsha Fish Market and Larsen’s) make the most delicious classics like little neck clams and lobster rolls.
BB: Can you share some tips for getting around the Island, especially with kids?
SW: I would bring or rent a car. The bus system is good and there are many taxi options, but the island is not small and you’ll want to bop around on your own schedule.
BB: What are the essentials you pack in your Birdling for a day out on Martha’s Vineyard?
SW: Sunscreen, snacks (like pounds and pounds of food), beach towels, water, goggles, a change of clothes for all of us, sunglasses, hats, our dog’s portable water bowl, bug spray, a picnic blanket, and a mason jar for beach treasures.
BB: If you could drop everything and travel today, where would you go? Who would you bring?
SW: I would take our oldest son who is about to turn 8 on the trip of his choice. He and I were alone together most of the time until his little brother was born 4 years ago, and I would love to have some alone time with him again. My guess is he would choose to go to Alaska - I’m in!
BB: What’s your most funny, terrible or memorable travel moment?
SW: Oh jeez, this is embarrassing... In 2011 my husband Nick and I flew down to Asheville, NC with our then 1 year old baby for a long weekend. Nick and I are both afraid of flying. On our way home we had to take a tiny plane from Asheville to a city airport, then connect up to Providence. The weather was awful and the plane was bouncing around - we were terrified. We landed and started to board the big passenger jet home when the flight crew told us it was going to be a bumpy flight again because of the storm. Nick and I just looked at each other, said we had an emergency, and got off. All of our bags were checked and we were just standing there in the airport like, what have we done?! We ended up renting a car and driving all night from North Carolina to Washington DC. Then we hopped a train to Providence, RI. We have flown together since then, but really we shouldn’t… we're not a great traveling couple.