Martha's Vineyard may conjure up images of inflated hotel prices and posh retreats for presidents and a select few wealthy New Englanders. But it's possible to enjoy the 100-square-mile Massachusetts island without breaking the bank.
Add to this the yearly events and local cuisine, and the Vineyard is an ideal getaway for any demographic. Six towns present their own unique feel, with the three towns of Vineyard Haven, Edgartown and Oak Bluffs accounting for about three-quarters of the island's year-round population of about 15,000 people.
From a vacationer's perspective, Oak Bluffs may be the best bet. Outdoor areas are plentiful, including Ocean Park, which hosts summer concerts. Oak Bluffs also provides the energy of Circuit Avenue, a bustling strip that offers bars, a movie theater, restaurants and even an arcade for children.
Another visual treat is the gingerbread cottages, built in the 1800s by a Methodist church community. They're brightly colored and ornate homes that look straight out of a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale.
With summer behind us now, fall brings with it cheaper prices at some of the island's more expensive boutiques. Bed-and-breakfast hotels are plentiful on the island. A room at the Madison Inn provides an intimate country appeal, complete with breakfast in the morning and a porch to sit on and watch passersby. Nightly rates run from $99 to $129 in the fall.
Next door to the inn sits a local favorite, the Sidecar Cafe & Bar. If the sound of lobster macaroni and cheese tugs at the foodie in you, Sidecar's signature dish will not disappoint. For an even more personal stay, try the 1720 House in Vineyard Haven, which gives travelers the true experience of living in a home, without having to pay property rental prices. Rates run at a reasonable $85 to $120 per night. If you don't mind sharing space, to really save, consider the Hostel International Martha's Vineyard, where a bed in a dorm costs $29 to $39 per night.
Summer film festivals have continued to gain in popularity on the island in recent years; most notably the African-American Film Festival and Martha's Vineyard International Film Festival . This year, the International Film Festival, organized by self-proclaimed film buff Richard Paradise, hosted more than 20 films from around the world, including South Korea's controversial "Madeo" and the 2010 Oscar winner "El Secreto de Sus Ojos."
This year, actor Matthew Modine received the Global Citizen award, and premiered his new film, "The Trial." Although not the big lights of Sundance or Toronto, this festival encompasses an intimate community that appreciates a greater understanding of stories from afar, complete with after-hour parties and locally hosted dinners starring filmmakers' works.