Block Island, just thirteen miles off the southern coast of Rhode Island and easily accessible from the mainland by ferries, commuter airline and private boat, is loved as a getaway place with fun things to do for visitors across all ages. The small, hilly island of only 10 square miles is lovely partly because there is limited development. Old Harbor is a village of lodgings, shops and restaurants a step from the ferry docks, but elsewhere, houses are tucked naturally and cozily among the hills, wetlands, and beaches.
The village of Old Harbor has plenty of places for dining, shopping, and live music, but the big attraction of the island may be its outdoor beauty. Two lighthouses flank the island. Southeast Light stands at the top of the majestic Mohegan Bluff, where a set of wooden stairs allow people to descend the face of the bluff to a stretch of glorious beach below. North Lighthouse guards a stretch of flat, rocky beach at Sandy Point.
Ferries, including some high-speed vessels, connect Block Island on schedules from Point Judith (only year-round, vehicle ferry) and Newport, RI, as well as New London CT, and Montauk, NY. All ferries will carry and bikes and passengers (in the summer, make ferry reservations early). For boat owners, harbors on the east and west sides of the island offer docking at full-service marinas. Block Island state airport is served by a commuter airline connecting Block Island with Westerly RI in 15 minutes.
On the island, it is easy to walk from the ferry docks to the village center of Old Harbor and its many shops, lodgings and restaurants. Several businesses rent out bikes and mopeds, which are a common sight on the island’s two-lane roads. Taxi service to all parts of the island is available.
There are many ways to step into nature – in the form of beaches, bluffs, wetlands, and bird habitats -- on the island. Rodman’s Hollow is 230 acres of marked paths among native trees and shrubs, with panoramic views of the Atlantic. Clayhead Trail and maze is a 190-acre parcel with gorgeous spectacular scenery and opportunities to see songbirds on a busy migratory path. The Block Island Nature Conservancy manages the Greenway Trails, and will sell you a $2 map of the 28 miles of walking trails (leashed dogs allowed).
Island restaurants offer the gamut of dining from formal dining in a Victorian hotel to casual beachside window service of ice cream and lobster rolls. Since this is New England, seafood, of course, is at the top of most menus. You can find a little of everything on Block Island when it comes to dining, most restaurants don’t take reservations and there are no dress codes.
The island has plenty of fun shopping for everyone from art collectors to people buying a small memento of a weekend visit. Find jewelry, clothing, cat and dog gear, books, bait & tackle and other sporting equipment, and fine gifts appropriate for wedding presents or to enhance your own home. As you might expect, nautical themes are abundant, and Block Island maritime and natural history is ever-present at the local historical society museum store and the local bookstore.
Families enjoy the island’s beaches, which range in character from the calm waters of Baby Beach to the popular fishing jetty at Charleston Beach. A couple of fun places for children are Abrams Animal Farm – known more formally as The 1661 Inn Farm and Gardens – an informal and kid-friendly petting zoo of exotic animals like llamas and emus who live next to the 1661 Inn. Also fun are walks and bird-watching among the coastal meadows of the Lewis-Dickens Farm and wildlife refuge, operated by Audubon of Rhode Island, which runs nature programs and expeditions of all kinds for people of most ages.
Known for its hospitality and old-town charm, Block Island maintains a variety of establishments to suit anyone's needs. Whether you are vacationing with the family or on a romantic weekend getaway, you will find on Block Island a great selection of comfortable places to call home during your stay.
It is always best to call a lodging directly, or use the direct website, for the most up-to-date availability on Block Island. Many hotels, inns and B&Bs do not use third-party booking sites like Expedia or Hotels.com. Those that do might not release the full inventory. So if you are looking online and it looks like everything is booked....it probably isn't.
The majority of cottage rentals are handled by the many real Estate offices on island. You’ll need to plan six months to a year ahead. On Block Island you won't find chain resorts where nobody knows your name; you will find cozy accommodations with beautiful views run by managers who care about you and about making your stay perfect.