West Tisbury, incorporated in 1892, was the former "industrial" heart of the Island though today it is better known for its peaceful beauty and tranquility. It once was home to a grist mill, a clay works, a salt works, and for extensive trap fishing operations. It is 34 square miles and runs from the North to the South shore of the Island. It is the second largest village of the six on the Vineyard with only population of about 1700. There are two village “centers”, one on State Road (called North Tisbury by some) and one on South Road.
You can definitely "get away from it all" in West Tisbury! It is a traditional agricultural and seaside community where ocean beaches (entrance only allowed by sticker or by paying), scenic vistas, and the trees that canopy the roads, have a special protected status. The Island's leading conservation groups all have properties within the town boundaries and one can take easy, peaceful hikes of varying durations on properties such as Long Point Wildlife Refuge (633 acres), operated by the Trustees of Reservations, with a trail to an Atlantic ocean beach, or to Cedar Tree Neck Sanctuary (site of an Indian burial ground and the Mayhew Chapel), owned by Sheriff's Meadow Foundation, which has a series of trails, one of which leads to a bench overlooking Vineyard Sound, and the other takes you down to the Vineyard Sound (not a fishing or swimming beach). One may also explore at the beautiful Polly Hill Arboretum on State Road which is open for visitors for a fee, sunrise to sunset and for guided tours once a day in the summer.
There is an aura of the whimsical in this village! In the village cemetery, visitors leave small toy birds on the grave of 19th century poet Nancy Luce, who kept chickens as household pets. There is Music Street, in the heart of the village, which got its name from the sound of the pianos brought back by the whaling captains and heard through open windows. The tiny police station by the Mill Pond is just as described in the mystery books of 13th generation town resident, Cynthia Riggs.
West Tisbury is home to a number of Vineyard artists, many of whom are inspired by the tranquil setting, and some of whom have galleries in their homes (look for roadside signs). The Field Gallery, across from Alley's General Store (the heart of the village), has big white dancing statues of women by Vineyard artist Tom Maley on its lawn. The Granary Gallery at the Red Barn, on Old County Road, has memorable displays of photographs by summer resident Alfred Eisenstadt, and many paintings and sculptures. Don’t miss going to the Martha’s Vineyard Glassworks where you can watch world class glass blowers at work and buy their amazing creations! Art openings in West Tisbury, and across the Island for that matter, are frequent and are great social occasions.
Events in the Summer include an elegant, juried Artisan’s Fair every Thursday and Sunday and a fabulous Farmer's Market every Wednesday and Saturday, both at the Grange Hall, and a very popular annual fair on the grounds of the Agricultural Society Hall. The Ag Fair is an old-fashioned country agricultural and livestock fair that features vegetable, flower, food (the gastronomical event of the year) and animal judging contests, woodsman contests, and a frying pan tossing competition. There are all sorts of carnival rides and games! People eagerly line up for the strawberry shortcake, tempura and ribs prepared by local organizations, then go over to the rides to see if they can keep it all down.
So, though it is known for its peaceful beauty and tranquility there is, as you can see, ample opportunity for a little lively fun!