If you’ve yet to explore this magical little paradise 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island, you should definitely change that ASAP! There are so many beautiful places to see and fun things to do on Block Island, you’ll want to immediately book a trip to one of the top New England islands to visit in summer.
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How to Get to Block Island
First things first: how to get there. You can get to Block Island by boat or plane, but most people opt to “sail away on the Block Island Ferry” to begin their journey. Just 30 minutes away via the fast ferry in Point Judith, RI, it’s also worth mentioning that if you plan to bring your car aboard the ferry, you’ll need to book it way in advance to ensure a spot.
They start taking ferry reservations for the coming season in early January each year, and the prime weekend slots tend to fill up quickly, so plan ahead for your Block Island day trip, or better yet, leave your car at home and stick to walking, biking and swimming as your preferred modes of transportation during your visit. If someone asks “do you need a car on Block Island,” the answer is, nope, not really!
Best Time to Visit Block Island
Block Island is a beautiful place year round, but the population drastically decreases in winter months and very few businesses are open, so you’ll want to plan your trip between May and October when there are the most lodging options available, the weather is favorable and the shops, restaurants, and bars are all open for business.
Oh, and if you’re looking for Block Island things to do this weekend or wondering what’s open on Block Island, check out this Block Island events calendar to get up to date on what’s happening on Block Island!
Once you step foot on Block Island, be prepared to slow down and enjoy life on “island time” for a bit. Here’s what I recommend you do and see during your Block Island getaway.
Top Things to Do On Block Island
Take in the scene at Ballard’s
Just steps from the ferry landing in Old Harbor and one of the top bars in Block Island, Ballard’s is many people’s first – and sometimes only – stop on a day trip to the island. It’s easy to stay put at Ballard’s Block Island as they have everything you need for a day of fun in the sun. Ballard’s Beach is a private beach complete with lounge chair and umbrella rentals, tiki bars, beach volleyball, daily live music, and waitress service so you can dine and drink without ever leaving your spot in the sand.
Order up one of their specialty drinks served inside a whole carved pineapple, and you’ll feel about as tropical as it gets here in the Northeast. If you decide to make a night of it, there’s also an onsite hotel, and private beach bonfires can be arranged.
Check out the views at Mohegan Bluffs
Standing about 200 feet above sea level, the views from these cliffs are undoubtedly some of the best on the island, but it doesn’t end there. After taking in the scenery from the top, you’ll want to muster up all your energy and make the trek down the 141 stairs to the Mohegan Bluffs beach below, where you’ll be rewarded with more spectacular views and an uncrowded spot to lay your towel down for the afternoon and soak up some rays.
Visit the North Light
This historic lighthouse should definitely be on your Block Island to do list; not only is the North Light one of the loveliest lighthouses in Rhode Island, but it has some other cool Block Island things to do nearby, too, like a museum that is open weekends Memorial Day to Columbus Day and Settler’s Rock, a monument to the first few settlers who arrived in Block Island in 1661. The views on this end of the island are spectacular, so come ready to take plenty of photos!
Swim at Mansion Beach
A bit off the beaten path, but totally worth it. Forgo the town beach and head to the best of Block Island beaches. Continue on until you come to a dirt road with a sign for Mansion Beach, where you’ll find a big dirt parking lot and a path straight down the beach, which offers great waves and great views; enjoying these coastal views is always one of the top activities on Block Island.
Browse unique Block Island shops
No big box stores here, you can find some very cool shopping in Block Island! From art galleries to jewelry stores to apparel shops, you can definitely find some interesting souvenirs to take home from your vacation in Block Island.
Explore the Island by Bike or Moped
Whether you’re looking for a leisurely ride or adventurous Block Island activities, exploring the island by bike or moped is definitely the way to go. You can visit the island’s famous lighthouses, explore the nature trails, beaches, and Great Salt Pond, and take frequent stops for a bite or a beverage along the way. Several places in town offer rentals, tours, and maps, including Old Harbor Bike Shop, Island Bike, and Aldo’s Mopeds.
Eat a Lobster Avocado BLT at Dead Eye Dicks
There’s certainly no shortage of places to eat and drink on Block Island, but this sandwich alone is worth a visit to Dead Eye Dicks! If you’re looking for where to eat on Block Island in the New Harbor section of the island, you’ll find tasty offerings for lunch, dinner, and cocktails with stunning sunset views from their deck.
Have a Mudslide at The Oar
Those who make the frequent Block Island trip know that mudslides are the unofficial cocktail of choice while on island time. One of the best around is served at the Oar, a casual outdoor spot overlooking the Great Salt Pond. As the name implies, the walls are adorned with personalized oars from the many visitors throughout the years. Go for the mudslide, but stay for the delicious food, people watching and spectacular sunsets.
Linger on the lawn at The Atlantic Inn
If Victorian charm, fancy cocktails, jazz music, and tapas are more your thing, head on up the hill to the Atlantic Inn, where you’ll find one of the best Block Island hotels with all the makings of a classic New England experience. The iconic blue and white inn, which dates back to 1879, is home to a bed and breakfast, a fine dining establishment, a veranda bar and a sprawling lawn made for leisurely sipping.
They also host lovely wedding weekends here, which is where I said my “I do’s” nearly 4 years ago now, so I might be a bit biased when it comes to my enthusiasm for this spot, but I can assure you it’s well worth a visit! ☺
Dine like a local at the Mohegan Café and Brewery
Looking for a casual bite and a beer right in town? Pop into the Mohegan Café for a frosty brew and a menu that has a little something for everyone at one of the best restaurants Block Island has to offer. Located right across from the ferry landing in Old Harbor, you can watch the boats pulling in and out if you’re lucky enough to grab a window seat.
See a ZeeDonk
If you’re looking for fun things to do on Block Island with kids, or you’re just an animal lover yourself, you’ll definitely want to plan a stop at the 1661 Inn Animal Farm located on the property of Block Island Resorts. They’ve got all kinds of animals roaming around, including the famed ZeeDonk – a zebra/donkey hybrid.
Take the kids to Baby Beach
Do you have small children tagging along? One of the best beaches on Block Island for kids is the aptly namFed Baby Beach, so if you’re looking for a Block Island beach with calm and shallow water, Baby Beach it is! Heads up, street parking only at Baby Beach.
Walk Rodman’s Hollow
This particularly scenic 230-acre glacial outwash plain is known as Rodman’s Hollow and it’s become an island favorite for nature walks through woods, bluffs, and beaches. It’s also a great spot to hunt for the handcrafted orbs that have been placed all around the island as a part of the Glass Float Project.
Visit the Southeast Light
That’s right, there’s a Southeast Light in addition to the North Light, and it’s located, you guessed it, on the southern end of the island! The Southeast Light is actually near the Mohegan Bluffs, so it’s a “can’t miss it” kinda thing if you’re going to the bluffs. This lovely lighthouse is a National Historic Landmark and it has actually been moved from its original location on the bluffs due to location; a giant boulder marks its original spot!
Rest your head at one of the quaint B&B’s in town
You won’t find any high-rise buildings or chain hotels on Block Island, but that’s part of what makes it so charming. There are plenty of options for Block Island accommodations, but you’ll definitely want to plan ahead as they book up fast during the summer months.
If you’re looking for a home away from home with all the amenities, you may want to consider a rental cottage or house, which you can book through a number of on-island realtors, or check AirBnB, VRBO, etc. The other option is to stay in one of the many idyllic Block Island inns, small hotels, and bed and breakfasts dotting the island. The Block Island Tourism Council is a good place to start, and here are a few favorites I’d recommend for places to stay on Block Island:
A short walk from town, this B&B is a tranquil little escape from the real world.
Most rooms here come with a private bath and porch or garden sitting area, which is perfect for enjoying the hand-delivered homemade breakfast that arrives each morning in a basket, along with a thermos of hot coffee and carafe of fresh juice.
Like most places on the island, this property has a rich island history dating back to the 1800s. The recently renovated inn run by two sisters now offers 11 stylish and comfortable rooms and suites, including pet and kid-friendly accommodations, daily happy hours, complimentary beach chair and towels and a short walk to the beach and town.
Block Island is a place like no other, offering the best combination of classic New England charm, the chance to unplug, slow down and relax, delicious food and drink, and some of the best natural beauty in the region. If you haven’t yet experienced it, I highly encourage you to hurry up and make that Block Island ferry reservation today!
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Allie Herzog is a NY transplant currently living by the sea in little Rhody. She is a writer, blogger and social media consultant, currently chronicling her adventures as a working mama, beach lover, and dreamer at heart on her blog, alliezog.com. You can find her writing in various publications throughout New England, where she often writes about her favorite restaurants, bars, local businesses and hidden gems.