<< Island Towns

Oak Bluffs

In 1835, this community was originally the campsite of the Methodist Church group's annual summer meetings.When the members, who had been living in tents started to build houses, the invention of the bandsaw and the jigsaw helped them to develop Martha's Vineyard's only original architectural style, called "Camp Ground Gothic Revival."

By 1880 the camp had grown into Cottage City, a village of fancifully designed gingerbread cottages. In the early 1900s, it was re-named Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard's first summer resort, which created a tourism economy that, in time, replaced whaling as the Island's principal industry. In the summer Oak Bluffs is one of the two ports of arrival for the steamship ferries. The atmosphere is festive and colorful; a combination of youthfulness and nostalgia. These are two sensations you may get walking down Circuit Avenue, or looking at the Flying Horses Carousel with its worn, circus-poster facade, and the architecturally quirky, sun-bleached pastel cottages.

Because there are few trees near the coastline, the view is unobstructed and sweeping. Boats pour into Oak Bluffs Harbor for the full summer season, creating a center of fishing, boating, sports and activities. Small businesses tucked into funky buildings rent cars, boats, bicycles and mopeds. Restaurants run the gamut from elegant seafood to home-style diners; clam bars to ice-cream parlors.