By Alister Bull and Laura MacInnis
VINEYARD HAVEN, Massachusetts (Reuters) - President Barack Obama took his daughters to a Martha's Vineyard bookstore on Friday on the first day of his vacation, where he is expected to keep a low profile.
They were greeted by applause and cheering from crowds on the main street in Vineyard Haven, a quaint harbor village dotted with high-end restaurants and specialty boutiques selling cupcakes, jewelry, clothing and ice cream.
Obama, wearing jeans, a short-sleeved shirt and sunglasses, shook the hands of about a dozen people after emerging from the Bunch of Grapes bookstore with Malia and Sasha.
The Democratic president is expected to lay low in Martha's Vineyard, a wealthy island retreat near Cape Cod and Boston, amid concerns about his stewardship of the U.S. economy and signs of financial market distress.
He has been widely criticized for taking the vacation while some 14 million Americans remain out of work.
But the White House says the public does not begrudge him spending some time with his family away from the spotlight, as previous presidents have done.
The Obamas, who also vacationed in Martha's Vineyard in 2010 and 2009, are staying at a 28-acre waterfront estate called Blue Heron Farm.
For their return to the island, one retailer named a frozen yogurt flavor "Obamaberry" and the hotel hosting the media's filing center sported a banner reading: "Having achieved much against division and dysfunction President Obama deserves a Vineyard vacation and our thanks."
With stock markets dipping and his approval ratings low, the White House sought to emphasize Obama was not fully off the clock despite his distance from Washington.
A picture released by the White House earlier on Friday showed him sitting on an Adirondack-style chair with a stern expression listening to a national security briefing from top adviser John Brennan.
Obama received a written update on the economy on Friday. Brian Deese, deputy director of the National Economic Council, will travel to Martha's Vineyard next week to provide the president regular face-to-face briefings, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.
Earnest said on Thursday that Obama intended to spend part of his nine-day break in Martha's Vineyard working on a plan he will unveil in September to boost hiring and trim the deficits his Republican rivals are focused on ahead of the 2012 vote.
"He will be in touch over the course of the next nine days talking to his economic team about that speech ... making some policy decisions and preparing for that roll-out shortly after Labor Day," Earnest said.
He said the plan would build on already-announced ideas including patent reform, free trade deals and a payroll tax cut extension, with "some new ideas above and beyond that."
After the morning bookstore stop, Obama played golf on Friday afternoon at a private course in Edgartown, another Martha's Vineyard village, with family friend Eric Whitaker as well as White House colleagues Marvin Nicholson and Michael Brush.
(Editing by Jerry Norton and Cynthia Johnston)