If the Island has a town best known for its rural, agricultural heritage, it is West Tisbury, which lies just west of Edgartown. West Tisbury is home to the fairgrounds of the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society, whose annual fair and livestock show is the place to be for four festive days every August.
Driving from Edgartown, the road to West Tisbury takes you past the 5,100 acres of the Manuel S. Correllus State Forest, a nature preserve originally created in 1908 in an attempt to save a dying species of bird called the heath hen. (The bird went extinct, but by happy accident the state forest turned out to be a critical bit of environmental protection: it was placed perfectly above the aquifer, the lens of groundwater that provides the Island’s primary fresh water supply.)
Driving from Vineyard Haven, the road to West Tisbury takes you past farms and fields that speak to the Island’s agricultural heritage. In the downtown village center, you’ll find a white-steepled church, a quaint town hall that was once an academy for aspiring young mariners, and the famous Alley’s General Store, whose motto, “Dealers in Almost Everything,” pretty much sums up its mission as the last all-purpose retail outpost on the western end of the Island. In addition to Alley's, for a wonderful take out lunch go to 7A. Then sit on the benches and enjoy the tranquil gardens of the Field Gallery, its lawns dotted with whimsical dancing sculptures created by a beloved Island artist, the late Tom Maley.