Martha's Vineyard Tips for President Obama
August 14, 2013

Dear President Obama:

I think it’s wonderful that you and your family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard! It’s one of my family’s favorite places, too. I understand that you have certain routines on the island. Anyone who comes on a regular basis usually has a set of must-do activities that reassures them that, yes, they are on vacation, and yes, everything is just like they remember it. The ice cream tastes like summer, the view is as perfect as last time, and the comforting bookstore is still just as wonderful to browse in. But vacations are also an opportunity to explore new places and try different things. Here are a few recommendations for other great places to visit on island.

Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary, a Massachusetts Audubon Society property, has four miles of trails to explore through woodlands, meadows, ponds, a salt marsh, and barrier beach, plus a Nature Center and Discovery Room. Look for nesting osprey, shorebirds, winter waterfowl, and the resident barn owls. Everyone knows that the First Lady likes gardening. Perhaps she’d like to volunteer at the Butterfly Garden Work Party on Thursday?

Mytoi Garden, on the island of Chappaquiddick, is a charming small Japanese-style garden within an open pine forest. There’s a small pond and meandering footpaths that take you through a birch walk, camellia dell, stone garden, and hillside garden. It is a delightful island surprise. To get to Chappy, you take the tiny “On Time” ferry, always a fun ride. Today, and August 21 and 28, are volunteer days at the property, where the public is invited to help with upkeep.

At Island Alpaca, an alpaca breeder’s farm, guests can feed the animals and (with advance reservations), accompany them, with a trainer, on a walk around the 19-acre grounds. The alpacas are amazingly soft (and adorable!). The gift shop is stocked with alpaca hats, scarves, and sweaters, all made on the island, and a wonderful reminder in winter of your summer vacation.

The Polly Hill Arboretum, a horticultural and botanical landmark, is a 70-acre property with rare trees and shrubs from around the world, including North Tisbury azaleas, camellias, clematis, crabapples and magnolias, among others. The arboretum, where you stroll by stone walls, meadows, and fields, is a peaceful place. Pick up a Family Explorer Backpack at the visitor center, for a fun, educational way to tour the grounds and learn about the plants.

It’s probably not a coincidence that you’re visiting the week of both Grand Illumination Night (tonight), when the gingerbread cottages in Oak Bluffs are adorned with Chinese and Japanese lanterns, and the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Fair (Aug. 15-18). My daughter saw your daughters there two years ago, so we assume they liked it. There are fair rides, games, livestock, live music, food and animal competitions, craft demonstrations, shopping and an art show. It’s one of summer’s highlight events on the island.

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Look for signs of life in streams, ponds, puddles, or vernal pools. Local nature centers often offer trips to seasonal vernal pools.



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