Things to do on Block Island, Rhode Island

Living in Rhode Island, we visit Block Island at least once a summer. Block Island is a convenient day trip from Rhode Island, Connecticut, or New York, and you can get a completely different state of mind and atmosphere in only about an hour. Block Island is also small enough to explore thoroughly in a short amount of time. Read on to plan your Block Island trip. Whether you are looking for a party with the girls or a day with kids, I know it will give you great ideas for things to do on Block Island.

What is Block Island?

New England has four main islands, including Block Island, which is the only of its islands not in Narragansett Bay. Block Island is one of the prettiest locations in Rhode Island, and it is small enough for an easy day’s exploration at just under seven square miles. At less than twenty miles from Rhode Island and Connecticut, it is close enough to be convenient. The water is clear, and the beaches, lighthouses, and bluffs are beautiful.

How to Get to Block Island

How to get to Block Island from Rhode Island

Ferry from Narragansett

I like to take the hi-speed ferry from Galilee. There is convenient parking at the corner of Galilee Connector Road and Great Island Road for around 25 dollars daily, cash or credit.
The boat is lovely, well-maintained, and with a friendly, helpful crew. The trip is usually very calm, although I have been on days where people around were turning green, so bringing SeaBands is a good idea if you are prone to seasickness.
There is also a traditional ferry from Narragansett, which is the only way that you can take a car to the island. (But I don’t think you should for a day– see below.)
You can also get to Block Island from Newport in-season. If you are exploring our state, this would be a great way to visit two of our most popular destinations. Read my guide to Newport before you go.
things to do on Block Island, New England, USA

Getting to Block Island from Connecticut

You can get to Block Island from New London, Ct.

Ferry Service to Block Island from New York

Viking Ferry Service can take you from Montauk, NY, to Block Island.

Where Does the Ferry Bring You in Block Island?

The ferry lets out right in the middle of the action in the old Harbor of New Shoreham, Block Island’s town.

Things to Do on Block Island

Things to do on Block Island with kids

Feed cups are for sale- cash only.

Located on Spring Street, just a couple blocks to the left off the ferry up the hill past the statue of Rebecca, is a unique farm. It is right behind the 1661 Inn, which has beautiful gardens. This is a private collection of animals the owner wants to share with the world. Caged animals, such as lemurs, are directly after the parking lot.

Since you can buy feed cups, the animals come over to you. A big gated field contains a zeedonk with one eye, yaks, and goats. There are many birds around, in cages and free. Up the hill and through the gates are free-range alpacas. They were available for petting but seemed a little wary of our littlest and craziest children and kept looking like they were about to spit on us.

Take a Tour at North Light Fibers

See how alpaca hair is made into yarn. North Light Fibers also use bamboo, soy silk, and many other fibers in their thread and are located within Manisses Farm.

Explore how to book a tour here, which happens on weekdays at 10 am

Explore Block Island Beaches

Ballard’s is our beach of choice- definitely the best beach on Block Island if you have kids. It is just a short walk from the ferry terminal. For a quick day trip, the ease of not having to bring chairs and food is essential. For about $35, an amiable worker, usually from a foreign country, will put an umbrella in the sand and set up a lounge chair and table.
My kids have a great time playing in the sand and body surfing. There are some waves, but they are not too significant for all but the very young. Block Island’s water is beautiful and very clear for New England. Ballard’s has a substantial patio for eating; every once in a while, waiters come around to take food and drink orders.
The beach is pretty crowded but convenient, being a five-minute walk from the ferry. There are clean bathrooms and cold showers for $2.00. Later in the day, there is a live band and dancing. If you walk up the beach away from Ballard’s, you will find tide pools to explore.

Mohegan Bluffs

 

Mohegan Bluffs is one of the prettiest places on the east coast. There is a gorgeous, rocky beach at the bottom of the limestone cliffs, but to access it you need to go up and down a very steep and lengthy set of stairs.

There are not food or bathrooms at this secluded but popular beach. Visitors cover the beach with stone cairns, which make the beach even prettier. This beach’s water is much rougher, so it is more suited for older children or adults. There are no lifeguards on duty.

Block Island’s Lighthouses

Explore a lighthouse or two.

Block Island Southeast Lighthouse

The Southeast Lighthouse is located only about a block from the Mohegan Bluffs. I highly recommend taking the tour up the lighthouse, especially to see the incredible Fresnel Lens.

Block Island North Lighthouse

A day trip to Block Island
The brown granite building looks more like a house than most lighthouses.
This lighthouse is in a wildlife preserve, and it has a beautiful long, relatively empty beach and many nesting seagulls. Although you can pay to enter the lighthouse, it only allows you into the bottom floor, which serves as a museum. You cannot see the light, which is one of my favorite parts of seeing a lighthouse.
Block Island day trip
The North Lighthouse is a fifteen-minute walk over rocks from the parking area and is not handicap-accessible.

How to Get Around Block Island

Do I need a Car for my Trip to Block Island?

Although the roads are crazy for pedestrians or bike riders, cabs are ubiquitous, and only the traditional ferry from Narragansett allows cars. It is more efficient to rely on cabs.

Take a Cab Around the Island

The roads around Block Island are very narrow and winding, and tourists drive crazy. When I am here, I walk around town or take one of the cabs that are readily available near the ferry dock. We used Rondo’s Cabs last time we visited (401-466-5550).

Ride a Bike around Block Island

Right as you get off the ferry, there are many bike rentals. The ride to the Southeast Lighthouse and Mohegan Bluffs is about 2 miles from town but is steep and busy with traffic.

The ride to the North Light is flatter but longer, about 4 miles, and it is also hectic.

Martha’s Vineyard is flatter if you want to bike with younger kids.

Where to Eat on Block Island

National Hotel

Our tradition is to eat dinner at the National Hotel, which overlooks the beach and the ferry. The view is impressive. Dinner isn’t too expensive, considering the view, and everything to eat is excellent.

I love their award-winning clam chowder, which lives up to that claim. It is perfectly seasoned with dill, just like I like it. It may be the best chowder evah (spoken in a Boston accent). The salads come in half sizes and are also delicious. The crab legs were perfectly cooked and sweet, which is hard to find on the left coast.

The Oar

Set on the Boat Basin on the Great Salt Pond, this place has the famous Block Island Mudslide, made with real ice cream. They also serve seafood and sushi. In summer, the lines are long, but the kids can run around if you score a table on the lawn. The menu is smaller but worth it.

What to do on Block Island
Play some corn hole on the lawn of The Oars in Block Island.

Block Island Accommodations

You can search here for the perfect Block Island hotel from Hotels.com. Since I live so close, I have never stayed.

Block Island attractions/ Block Island activities
After diner, the kids explored the jetty in front of the National Hotel.

Read on about more adventures in my little stateĀ in A Local’s Guide to Rhode Island or 24 Hours in Newport, Rhode Island, or any of my other Rhode Island posts. For more New England island exploring, read 47 Fabulous Things to do in Martha’s Vineyard.

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8 thoughts on “Things to do on Block Island, Rhode Island”

  1. It sounds like we will need to plan a visit to Block Island if we ever spend some time in the area. Great to know that there are more than one way to get to the island. But that not all can be used with cars. I like the idea of heading over without a car and using a cab to get around the island. A lovely day trip.

    Reply
  2. Block Island sounds really relaxing! I would love to rent a bike if I ever visit, and $35 for a full beach set up doesn’t sound too bad either. You are lucky to live you so close!

    Reply
  3. This seems like a great place to add to a trip I’ve been planning for a while around New England. I wanted to add one of the islands, as part of our road trip and this one seems perfect for that!

    Reply
  4. I learned a lot about Block Island in Rhode Island after reading your post. It definitely evokes curiosity in me about the place and would definitely like to visit it if an opportunity arises in the future. Nicely captured pictures.

    Reply
  5. Reading more of your posts really makes me want to visit New England in the summer! I love little beachy towns and islands and your pictures make it look so beautiful. Plus the seafood sounds so good!

    Reply
  6. This looks like such a fun place! Rhode Island always has flown under my radar, but I think now I’m gonna think of ways to bring it into my next trip up to New England. Just gotta find the time to plan that one!

    Reply

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