Much of what makes the Vineyard special is found in its rural reaches in the agricultural heart of the island and the largely undeveloped lands south and west of the Vineyard Haven- Edgartown line; known as “UP-ISLAND”. Country roads meander through woods and tranquil farmland, and dirt roads, abandoned cranberry bogs, and conservation lands. In Chilmark, West Tisbury, and Aquinnah, nature lovers, writers, artists, and others have established close, ongoing summer communities. In winter, the isolation and bitter winds generally send even year-round Vineyarders from their Up-Island homes to places in the cozier Down-Island Towns.
6½ miles southwest of Vineyard Haven, 12 miles northeast of Aquinnah.
Founded in the 1670’s by settlers from Edgartown, among them the son of Myles Standish and the son-in-law of the Mayflower Alden’s, West Tisbury was know for its first 200 Westernized years simply as Tisbury. Most important among the settlement’s advantages over Down-Island outposts was a strong-flowing stream that ran into a pond, crating a perfect mill site- a rarity on the Vineyard. Farming, especially sheep farming, became Tisbury’s mainstay.
West Tisbury retains its rural appeal and maintains its agricultural tradition at several active hors and produce farms. The town center looks very much the small New England village, complete with a white, steeple church. Half the 5,146 acre Manuel F. Correllus State Forest lies with the town limits.
- Lambert’s Cove Beach. (Lambert’s Cove Rd) one of the island’s prettiest, has fine sand and clear water. The Vineyard Sound-side beach has calm waters good for children and views of the Elizabeth Islands. In season it is restricted to residents and those staying in West Tisbury. Rest rooms are available.
- Long Point, a Trustees of Reservation preserve, has a beautiful beach on the Atlantic, as well as freshwater and saltwater ponds for swimming, including the brackish Tisbury Great Pond. Rest rooms are available.
- Uncle Seth’s Pond (Lambert’s Cove Rd) is a warm freshwater pond on Lambert’s Cove Road, with a small beach right off the road. Seth’s is very popular with families. Parking is very limited.
Hiking & Walking Trails & Preserves
Cedar Tree Neck Wildlife Sanctuary
Indian Hill Rd. Off of State Rd. for 2 mi, and then turn right 1 mi onto Obed Daggett Rd., and occasionally steep, rocky, dirt road to the parking lot, free.
Daily 8:30am-5:30pm 300 acres with trails through woods, beach, ponds, brook, dunes, hilltop view. Bathing and picnicking prohibited. Owned by Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation
Mayhew Chapel and Indian Burial Ground
Off Indian Hill Rd., off State Rd are suffused with history.
The tiny chapel built in 1829 to replace and earlier one, and a memorial plaque are dedicated to the pastor Thomas Mayhew, Jr. leader of the original colonists who landed at Edgartown in 1642. Mayhew was noted for his fair dealings with the local Wampanoags. Within a few years, he had converted a number of them to Christianity. Called Praying Indians, they established a community here called Christiantown.
An overgrown wildflower garden grows near the chapel. Beyond the boulder with the plaque are the rough-hew stones marking Native American grave mounds-the dead are not named, for fear of calling down evil spirits. Behind the chapel is the beginning of the Christiantown Woods loop trail, which leads to lookout tower. You’ll find a map at the head of the trail.
Sepiessa Point Reservation
Off Tiah’s Cove Rd.
A 164-acre area of the Land Bank Commission. A long walk along Tiah’s Cove leads to the beach, at the southerly point, alongside Tisbury Great Pond. Across the pond you can see the ocean. The very narrow beach is perfect for those with canoes or kayaks. You can put your boats in at the trailhead and paddle across the pond to the barrier beach for picnicking and swimming. There’s parking only for a few cars at the trailhead.
Manuel F. Correllus State Forest
At the center of the island, is a 5,000 acre pine and scrub-oak forest crisscrossed with hiking trails and circled by a pave but rough bike trail. There’s a 2-mi nature trail, a 2 mi par fitness course, and horse trails. The West Tisbury side of the state forest joins with an equally large Edgartown parcel to virtually surround the airport.
The weekly West Tisbury Farmers’ Market-Massachusetts largest- is held Wednesday and Saturdays in the summers at the 1859 Old Agricultural Hall (South Rd.), near the town hall. The colorful stands overflow with fresh produce, most of it organic. Built in 1996, the New Ag Hall (35 Panhandle Rd.) about a mile from the Old Agricultural Hall, is the setting for various shows, lectures, dances, weddings, and potluck dinners. A yearly country fair- including a woodsman contest, dog show, oyster/clam shucking contest, games, and of course, livestock-and produce-judging-is held here in mid to late August.
Polly Hill Arboretum
A rich and expansive collection of flora and serene walking trails are the attractions of the Polly Hill Arboretum. The late Polly Hill was a horticulturist and tended some 2,000 species of plants and developed nearly a 100 species herself on her old sheep farm in West Tisbury. On site are azaleas, tree peonies, dogwoods, hollies, lilacs, magnolias, and more. Hill raised them from seeds without the use of a greenhouse, and her patience is the inspiration to the arboretum. Now run as a nonprofit center, the arboretum also runs guided tours, a lecture series, and a visitor center and gift shop. (809 State Rd. 508-693-9426, Late May-Mid Oct.)
The Field Gallery
The Field Gallery (State Rd, 508-693-5595, across from West Tisbury Church) The late Tom Maley’s white sculptures, such as the colonial horse and rider or a whimsical piper are displayed on a wide lawn. Inside there are changing summer exhibitions of island artist’s work, which is for sale.
Alley's General Store
Step back in time with a visit to Alley’s General Store (State Rd.), the heart of the town since 1858. Alley’s sells a truly general varies of goods: everything from hammers, house wares, kid’s toys, gifts, cards, candy, milk, ice cream, coffee, muffins, fresh produce, even a post office inside.
Martha's Vineyard Glassworks
The Martha’s Vineyard Glassworks gives you a chance to watch glass being blown, by glassmakers who have pieces displayed and also for sale. (529 State Rd. North Tisbury 508-693-6026)
- Arrowhead Farm — Indian Hill Rd. 508-693-8831
- Pond View Farm — Off New Lane. 508-693-2949
- Rising Tide Therapeutic Equestrian Center — 508-693-1185
- Red Pony Farm — Off Edgartown-West Tisbury Rd 508-693-3788