Get Your Family Hooked on the Vineyard

Martha's Vineyard's Winnetu Oceanside Resort goes the extra mile for families
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Winnetu Oceanside Resort, Martha's Vineyard
CHECK MATE: Kids love the Winnetu's life-size chess set (courtesy, Winnetu Oceanside Resort)

Having one of our favorite New England family resorts on the island only adds to the allure. In 2000, Mark and Gwen Snider transformed the shell of a run-down motel and created a grand Victorian, shingle-style lodging called the Winnetu Oceanside Resort, where every spacious suite affords great ocean views. Ideally located next to the three-mile expanse of white sand called South Beach, the Sniders could have easily let the location speak for itself. But instead, these parents of three added unique touches to keep the little ones entertained. One of Mark's first purchases was a 1945 fire truck from Notowwa, Michigan, to take kids on rides around the resort. New this year is a fun bike, which six or seven kids can hop on and take for a spin.

And that's only the beginning: There's the pool with snack bar next door; yoga around the pond most mornings; fresh lemonade and homemade cookies every afternoon at three; daily kids camp and tennis clinics; ping pong and life-size chess; a fine dining restaurant where you can eat fresh seafood while the kids are entertained nearby; and our personal favorite, the weekly clambake. Of course the requisite clam chowder, lobster, and s'mores are served, but the Sniders once again go out of the way to provide something interesting for the kids. They hire a naturalist from nearby Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary to come to the cookout with his intriguing collection of owls, snakes, snapping turtles, and massive African frogs.

The Winnetu almost makes it too easy for you and your family to unwind and have fun. The kitchen in each suite can be stocked upon your arrival with a grocery list of food you've chosen online, and rental bikes, sized to you and your children's height, are delivered to the bike racks at nearby Cutler Bike Rentals in Edgartown. This is another one of the joys of going to the Vineyard—leaving your car behind on the mainland and using bikes and public transportation to get around. You feel more relaxed from the get-go, knowing you won't have to worry about driving and parking.

Whether you spend your time biking, sea kayaking, fishing, or simply skipping rocks, the days go by far too quickly on the Vineyard, leaving you with the desire to stay just a bit longer. Save some activities for your next trip to the island: Walk below the multi-colored cliffs of Gay Head Beach, take a stroll along the ponds and marsh of Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary, and bike a bit further past the East Chop Lighthouse into Vineyard Haven. Because no matter what you do on the island, one thing's for certain: After one trip to the Vineyard, you'll be back for more.


Boston-based writer Stephen Jermanok has authored or contributed to 11 books on the outdoors, including Outside Magazine's Adventure Guide to New England , Discovery Channel's Backcountry Treks , Discovery Channel's Paddlesports , Outside Magazine's Guide to Family Vacations and Men's Journal's The Great Life . His latest book is New England Seacoast Adventures . His many adventures appear in National Geographic Adventure , Outside , Men's Journal , Forbes FYI , Travel + Leisure , Hooked on the Outdoors , and Backpacker . He can be reached at farandaway@comcast.net.

Published: 5 Aug 2008 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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