Best Things to Do in Block Island, Rhode Island This Weekend With Kids

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Escape to the enchanting shores of Block Island, Rhode Island, where serene landscapes and captivating activities await every visitor. Nestled in the Atlantic, just off the coast of Rhode Island, this hidden gem offers a plethora of things to do, from exploring its stunning bluffs and secluded beaches to discovering the local wildlife and historic lighthouses.

Best Things to Do in Block Island Rhode Island
Best Things to Do in Block Island Rhode Island

In this guide, we’ll unveil the top attractions and must-visit spots that make Block Island a perfect getaway. Whether you’re looking for adventure or tranquility, our curated list will help you plan an unforgettable visit. Get ready to explore the natural beauty and charm of Block Island, where every path leads to a story waiting to be told.

See also: Top 10 Best National Parks in the USA

Getting to Block Island

Travel Options

Ferry from Point Judith, New London, or Montauk:One of the best ways to get to Block Island is by ferry. The ferry services from Point Judith, New London, and Montauk offer a scenic and relaxing journey to the island. The Point Judith ferry, operated by the Block Island Ferry, provides both traditional and high-speed options. The traditional ferry takes about an hour, while the high-speed service can get you there in 30 minutes.

If you’re coming from Connecticut, the New London ferry by Block Island Express is a great choice, offering a high-speed trip in about an hour. Those traveling from Long Island can catch the Viking Fleet ferry from Montauk, which also takes around an hour​.

Flights from Westerly, RI: For a quicker trip, you can fly to Block Island from Westerly, Rhode Island. New England Airlines offers daily flights that take just 12 minutes. It’s a perfect option if you’re looking to maximize your time on the island. The flights are frequent and provide a spectacular aerial view of the island and the surrounding waters.

Best Times to Visit

Summer (June to September) Summer is the peak season on Block Island, with warm weather ideal for beach activities, hiking, and exploring. This is the best time to enjoy the island’s beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and various outdoor events. However, it’s also the busiest time, so expect more crowds and higher accommodation rates. Booking your ferry or flight in advance is highly recommended during these months​.

Fall (September to October) If you prefer a quieter visit, fall is an excellent time to explore Block Island. The weather is still pleasant, and the fall foliage adds a beautiful touch to the landscape. This season offers fewer crowds, making it easier to enjoy the island’s natural beauty and outdoor activities at a more leisurely pace. Many local businesses remain open through October, so you’ll still have plenty of dining and shopping options​.

Personal Tips and Practical Information

During my last visit in late September, the island was beautifully serene. We took the ferry from Point Judith, enjoying the crisp sea air and scenic views. The fall foliage was starting to peak, adding vibrant colors to our hikes around Mohegan Bluffs and the Southeast Lighthouse.

Ferry Tips:

  • Booking: Reserve your ferry tickets in advance, especially during peak seasons.
  • Arrival: Arrive at the ferry terminal at least 30 minutes before departure.
  • Parking: There are parking facilities at the ferry terminals, but they can fill up quickly during the summer.

Flight Tips:

  • Luggage: Check the luggage restrictions for flights, as smaller planes have limited space.
  • Weather: Flights can be weather-dependent, so it’s wise to have a backup plan if flying in early spring or late fall.

Visiting Block Island is an unforgettable experience, whether you choose the vibrant summer months or the tranquil fall season. Plan ahead to make the most of your trip, and enjoy all that this charming island has to offer!

Outdoor Activities

Hiking and Biking

Mohegan Bluffs: Scenic Views and Challenging Trails Mohegan Bluffs is a must-see for anyone visiting Block Island. These dramatic clay cliffs rise 200 feet above the shoreline, offering breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. The hike along the bluffs is moderately challenging but immensely rewarding, especially if you make your way down the 141 steps to the secluded beach below. On clear days, you can see all the way to Montauk, New York. This spot also carries historical significance as the site of a 16th-century battle between the Niantic and Mohegan tribes​.

Mohegan Bluffs Block Island
Mohegan Bluffs Block Island

Clay Head Preserve: Unique Clay Cliffs and Nature Trails Known locally as “The Maze,” the Clay Head Preserve is famous for its winding trails that offer stunning views of the northeastern shore of the island. The 3.5-mile out-and-back trail is relatively easy, making it accessible for most visitors. Along the way, you’ll encounter unique clay cliffs and diverse wildlife, making it a perfect spot for nature lovers and bird watchers​.

Clay Head Preserve Block Island
Clay Head Preserve Block Island

Beaches

Crescent Beach: Popular Spot for Sunbathing and Swimming Crescent Beach is the go-to spot for sunbathing and swimming on Block Island. Its soft, sandy shore and gentle waves make it ideal for families and those looking to relax. Located conveniently near the ferry dock, it’s easily accessible and offers amenities like food stands and restrooms. The beach gets busy during peak season, but the vibrant atmosphere is part of its charm​.

Crescent Beach Block Island
Crescent Beach Block Island

Mansion Beach: Less Crowded, Perfect for a Quiet Day by the Sea For a quieter beach experience, head to Mansion Beach. Named after a mansion that burned down in the 1960s, this beach is more secluded and perfect for those seeking tranquility. The waves here are a bit stronger, making it a great spot for body surfing and boogie boarding. Bring a book, lay back, and enjoy the sound of the surf without the hustle and bustle of the more crowded beaches​.

Mansion Beach Block Island
Mansion Beach Block Island

Water Sports

Kayaking and Paddleboarding

Great Salt Pond: Calm Waters and Rental Options The Great Salt Pond is a haven for water sports enthusiasts. Known for its calm waters, it’s an excellent location for kayaking and paddleboarding. Rental shops around the pond, like Pond and Beyond Kayak, offer a variety of equipment and guided tours. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, exploring the pond offers a serene way to enjoy Block Island’s natural beauty. Don’t miss the eco-tours that take you through oyster farms and fiddler crab colonies​.

Fishing

Charter Boats: Deep-Sea Fishing Experiences If you’re into fishing, Block Island won’t disappoint. Charter a boat for a deep-sea fishing adventure where you can catch species like striped bass, bluefish, and fluke. Local charter companies provide all the gear and guidance you need for a successful fishing trip. It’s an exciting way to spend a day on the water and possibly bring back a fresh catch for dinner.

Shore Fishing Spots: Best Locations Around the Island For those who prefer staying closer to shore, Block Island offers numerous spots perfect for casting a line. Popular locations include the docks at New Harbor and the beaches around the island. Each spot offers a different fishing experience, from catching flounder in the shallow waters to reeling in bluefish from the deeper channels. Be sure to check local regulations and obtain the necessary fishing licenses before you start​.

Historical and Cultural Attractions

Block Island Southeast Lighthouse

History and Significance The Block Island Southeast Lighthouse, an iconic structure perched atop the Mohegan Bluffs, was built in 1873 to help navigate the treacherous waters around Block Island. By the 1980s, erosion threatened its existence, prompting a massive effort to save it. In 1993, the lighthouse was moved 300 feet inland to preserve it for future generations. Today, it stands as a testament to the island’s rich maritime history and community efforts​.

Block Island Southeast Lighthouse
Block Island Southeast Lighthouse

Guided Tours and Museum Visitors can explore the lighthouse through guided tours that take you to the top of the tower, offering stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean. These tours are available daily from late June to Labor Day, and on weekends in spring and fall. The on-site museum, housed in part of the original keeper’s quarters, showcases exhibits on the lighthouse’s history and maritime artifacts. Admission fees are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors, active military, and students.

Island Museums

Block Island Historical Society Museum Located in a charming old house in Old Harbor, the Block Island Historical Society Museum is a treasure trove of local history. Exhibits include artifacts from the island’s Native American inhabitants, maritime history, and Victorian-era tourism. The museum is open seasonally, and admission is $10 for adults, with discounts for seniors and children. It’s a great place to learn about the island’s rich past and its evolution over the centuries​.

Ocean View Foundation The Ocean View Foundation focuses on environmental education and sustainability. It offers programs and events aimed at preserving Block Island’s natural beauty. From beach clean-ups to educational talks on local wildlife, the foundation’s activities are perfect for eco-conscious visitors. Their events are often free, though donations are encouraged to support their mission.

Unique Island Experiences

Wildlife Watching

North Light Fibers Farm North Light Fibers Farm is a delightful spot where you can meet alpacas and other farm animals. Located near the North Lighthouse, this farm offers a unique blend of agriculture and tourism. Visitors can tour the farm, interact with the animals, and learn about fiber production. The farm store sells beautiful hand-made items, making it a perfect place to pick up a unique souvenir​.

Block Island National Wildlife Refuge The Block Island National Wildlife Refuge is a haven for birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. Covering over 120 acres, the refuge is home to more than 70 species of migratory birds. The trails offer peaceful walks through diverse habitats, from sandy beaches to lush wetlands. Fall is an especially good time to visit, as many birds stop here during their migration.

Local Markets and Shops

Block Island Farmers Market The Block Island Farmers Market is a must-visit for fresh produce and local crafts. Held twice a week during the summer, the market features a variety of vendors selling everything from fresh vegetables and baked goods to handmade jewelry and artwork. It’s a vibrant community event that offers a taste of island life​.

Unique Boutiques Block Island boasts several charming boutiques perfect for souvenir shopping. Shops like the Glass Onion and Block Island Trading Company offer a range of items, from island-themed gifts to artisan jewelry. Whether you’re looking for a keepsake to remember your trip or a special gift, these shops provide a unique shopping experience.

Dining and Nightlife

Top Restaurants

The Oar: Waterfront Dining with a Seafood Focus, The Oar is a beloved spot on Block Island known for its relaxed atmosphere and stunning harbor views. Located at 221 Jobs Hill Road, it’s a perfect place for families and groups. The outdoor seating on the lawn allows kids to play while adults enjoy their meals. The menu features a variety of seafood dishes, with their famous mudslides being a must-try. The Oar is open daily from late May through September. Be sure to try their clam chowder and lobster rolls for an authentic island experience.

Dead Eye Dick’s: Casual Dining with Island-Inspired Dishes Situated at 218 Ocean Avenue, Dead Eye Dick’s is a historic restaurant offering casual dining with a focus on fresh seafood. The outdoor deck provides beautiful sunset views over New Harbor, making it a popular choice for dinner. The menu includes favorites like swordfish bites, crab rangoon flatbread, and a variety of fresh salads. Open daily from May through September, it’s an excellent spot to enjoy a laid-back meal after a day of island exploration​.

Nightlife Options

Ballard’s Beach Resort: Live Music and Beachside Bars Ballard’s Beach Resort is the go-to spot for nightlife on Block Island. Located right on the beach, it offers live music, beachside bars, and a lively atmosphere. Whether you’re looking to dance the night away or enjoy a relaxing drink by the ocean, Ballard’s has something for everyone. The resort is open daily during the summer months, providing entertainment and a fun beach party vibe​.

Club Soda: Local Bar with a Lively Atmosphere Club Soda is a favorite among locals and visitors alike for its vibrant nightlife. Located at 35 Connecticut Avenue, it features live music, karaoke nights, and a friendly crowd. It’s the perfect place to unwind with a drink and enjoy the island’s local talent. Open year-round, Club Soda is a staple in Block Island’s nightlife scene, offering a cozy atmosphere and a great selection of beverages​.

Accommodations

Hotels and Inns

The 1661 Inn: Historic Charm with Modern Amenities The 1661 Inn, located at 5 Spring Street, combines historic charm with modern comforts. It offers stunning ocean views, luxurious rooms, and a complimentary breakfast featuring local specialties. Guests can enjoy the serene gardens and the nearby attractions like the Southeast Lighthouse and Mohegan Bluffs. Open year-round, it’s an excellent choice for those looking to experience the island’s hospitality and history​.

Block Island Beach House: Oceanfront Views and Luxury Services Situated at 32 Dodge Street, the Block Island Beach House provides a luxurious stay with its oceanfront location and upscale amenities. The hotel features stylish rooms, a beachfront bar, and an on-site restaurant. It’s a prime spot for those looking to indulge in comfort while enjoying the beautiful views of Crescent Beach. Open from late spring to early fall, it’s perfect for a summer getaway​.

Camping and Glamping

Block Island Campground: Traditional Camping Experience For those who love the great outdoors, the Block Island Campground offers a traditional camping experience. Located at 1101 Connecticut Avenue, it provides tent and RV sites with basic amenities like restrooms and showers. Open from May through October, it’s ideal for nature lovers who want to immerse themselves in the island’s natural beauty​.

Glamping Options: For a More Luxurious Outdoor Stay If you prefer a bit more comfort, glamping on Block Island is a fantastic option. Various local companies offer glamping sites equipped with cozy beds, electricity, and even Wi-Fi. These sites allow you to enjoy the island’s outdoor charm without sacrificing comfort. It’s a unique way to experience Block Island’s serene environment while still enjoying the luxuries of a modern stay​.

Seasonal Events and Festivals

Annual Events

Fourth of July Parade and Fireworks: Island-wide Celebrations Block Island’s Fourth of July celebrations are a highlight of the summer. The festivities kick off with a spectacular fireworks display on the evening of July 1st, lighting up the sky over the island. On July 4th, the excitement continues with a lively parade starting at 11 a.m. The parade features floats, marching bands, and local organizations, and this year’s theme is “Time Travel: Our History and Our Future.” The parade route runs from The Oar along West Side Road, ending at the roundabout at Rebecca Statue.

Block Island Music Festival: Local and Regional Musicians The Block Island Music Festival is a six-day event held annually in June at Captain Nick’s Rock n’ Roll Bar. This festival showcases a diverse lineup of local and regional musicians, offering a range of genres from rock and blues to folk and jazz. The event is free and family-friendly, with performances running from afternoon until late at night. It’s a great way to experience the island’s vibrant music scene and enjoy some fantastic live performances.

Special Activities

Fall Fest: Crafts, Food, and Family-Friendly Activities Fall Fest is a charming autumn event held in late October, celebrating the season with local crafts, delicious food, and various family-friendly activities. The event takes place at the Block Island Historical Society and other locations around the island. Visitors can enjoy pumpkin carving, hayrides, and live music while exploring the festive market stalls. It’s the perfect way to experience the island’s community spirit and fall beauty​.

Holiday Stroll: Winter Holiday Shopping and Festivities Block Island’s Holiday Stroll is a delightful event that kicks off the holiday season in early December. Local shops and boutiques open their doors, offering special discounts, holiday treats, and festive decorations. It’s a great opportunity to find unique gifts and enjoy the island’s winter charm. The stroll often includes carolers, holiday lights, and even visits from Santa Claus, making it a magical experience for all ages​.

Tips for Visiting Block Island

What to Pack

Essentials for Different Seasons

  • Summer: Pack light, breathable clothing, swimwear, sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable walking shoes. Don’t forget your beach gear and a reusable water bottle.
  • Fall: Bring layers, as the weather can be unpredictable. Include a warm jacket, comfortable hiking boots, and rain gear.
  • Winter: Although winter visits are less common, if you do go, pack warm clothing, including hats, gloves, and scarves, as well as sturdy boots for potential snow or ice.
  • Spring: Similar to fall, layers are key. Include a mix of warm and light clothing, and be prepared for rain showers.

Recommendations for Outdoor Activities For hiking and biking, bring sturdy shoes, a backpack, water, and snacks. If you plan on kayaking or paddleboarding, quick-dry clothing and water shoes are helpful. Always carry a map or a fully charged phone with GPS capabilities.

Local Etiquette and Safety

Respect for Wildlife and Nature Block Island is known for its natural beauty and wildlife. Always stay on designated trails to protect the fragile ecosystems. Do not disturb wildlife, and if you encounter animals, observe from a distance. Dispose of trash properly and consider participating in beach clean-ups.

Safety Tips for Water Sports and Hiking

  • Water Sports: Always wear a life jacket when kayaking or paddleboarding. Check the weather forecast before heading out, and be aware of tides and currents.
  • Hiking: Stick to marked trails and let someone know your hiking plans. Carry sufficient water and a small first aid kit. Be cautious of ticks and other insects, especially in wooded areas.

By following these tips and respecting local customs, you’ll ensure a safe and enjoyable visit to Block Island, making the most of all the island has to offer.

Final Thoughts on Best Things to Do in Block Island Rhode Island

As our exploration of Block Island concludes, it’s clear that this island is more than just a destination; it’s a vibrant experience steeped in beauty and adventure. Whether you’ve spent your days hiking the scenic trails, soaking in the panoramic views from the bluffs, or simply unwinding on the peaceful beaches, Block Island offers a unique blend of relaxation and exploration.

We hope this guide inspires you to visit and create your own memories on this charming island. Block Island awaits your discovery, promising each visitor a slice of paradise and a multitude of stories to bring back home.

FAQs on Things to Do in Block Island Rhode Island

Is it worth going to Block Island?

Absolutely! Block Island is just a short ferry ride from the mainland and offers a quintessential island experience. Picture yourself enjoying food and drinks with an ocean view, strolling through boutique-lined streets, marveling at spectacular natural sights, and relaxing on some of the most unspoiled white sand beaches in the country. It’s a perfect getaway that promises relaxation and adventure.

How many days do you need to see Block Island?

You can experience a lot of what Block Island has to offer in just one day. The ferry ride takes about an hour, and once there, you can bike the loop from Old Harbor to the Southeast Light and Mohegan Bluffs, continuing around to New Harbor—a journey of about 6.5 miles. Along the way, you can have lunch, shop, and take a relaxing walk on the beach. This makes a day trip a great option for first-time visitors.

Can you walk everywhere on Block Island?

Yes, Block Island is very walkable and bikeable. You don’t need to bring a vehicle; instead, you can explore the island on foot or by bicycle, which you can bring or rent on the island. Mopeds are also available for rent and offer a fun way to zip around to the island’s beaches, cliffs, and lighthouses.

Is Block Island like Martha’s Vineyard?

Block Island is often compared to Martha’s Vineyard, but it has its unique charm. Located off the coast of Rhode Island, Block Island tends to attract a less wealthy and more down-to-earth crowd. It’s also known for its abundant natural beauty, making it a great destination for nature lovers looking for a more laid-back vibe.

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