From the Author: Our family has been taking week-long vacations on Block Island for 5+ years. We love this island and know it well. If you have any questions, we respond quickly to comments!
You’ll be surprised by just how many things there are to do on Block Island – especially for such a small piece of land (3-by-7 miles to be exact)!
Whether you’re staying the week with access to car, or just here on a day trip walking around, this guide has something for you.
NOTE: All asterisked * activities below are within a 20 minute walk from the Ferry Landing in Old Harbor and can be experienced during a day trip!
Ok, with out further ado, here our favorite things to do on Block Island…
NOTICE // We try our best to keep the information in this guide as up to date as possible. If you notice anything has changed, please leave us comment down below.
1. Payne’s Donuts First Thing in the Morning (seasonal)
Payne’s Donuts is a 50 year Island tradition, and the perfect way to start your day.
Each morning at 7AM, their trailer take out window opens on Ocean Avenue.
If you enjoy hot, fresh donuts, you’re in for a treat. First come, first served – they stay open until they sell out.
Open daily in the summer.
This is a very popular spot and the line starts early!
2. An Afternoon at Mansion Beach
Block Island has 17 miles of beautiful beaches, and Mansion Beach is one of the best beaches on the the island.
Mansion Beach has it all – white soft sand, clear blue waters, and big waves.
From the moment you turn down Mansion Road you feel like you’ve escaped the normal hustle and bustle that takes place downtown.
This beach is located at the end of a dirt road. Bikes and cars are allowed, but no mopeds.
A plus to this beach is that it is generally less crowded due to its “off the beaten path” location.
No lifeguards on duty. Porta potty available on beach walkway.
3. A Night of Live Music at Captain Nick’s* (seasonal)
Captain Nick’s is located on Ocean Avenue, shortly after you drive through the Islands only four-way-stop.
If a night of dancing, good music, and fun cocktails is up your alley, this is your spot.
Although Captain Nick’s indoor venue is 21+, all ages can enjoy live entertainment on Sunday afternoons.
Ask the bartender to sparkle you if you’re up to have an extra “glow” that might carry into your next morning…
4. Outdoor Movie Night on Town Beach* (seasonal)
Town Beach (officially known as Fred Benson Town Beach) is located on Corn Neck Road – only a 20 minute walk from the ferry landing.
It’s a family friendly beach by day, and movie theatre by night (well on Tuesday nights at least).
During the summer months they play a movie every Tuesday night at the beach. It’s a free event for all age groups to come and enjoy.
Pack some snacks, beach chairs, and blankets and enjoy a movie under the stars. The movie lineup is posted on the Beaches Facebook page.
Past movies include: Little Rascals, A Bug’s Life, Ratatouille, Toy Story, Frozen, Finding Nemo, The Goonies, etc.
Alcohol is not permitted on this beach.
5. Visit a Lighthouse (or two!)
Block Island has two lighthouses – Southeast Lighthouse and Block Island North Light. The Southeast Lighthouse sits atop a 200 foot clay cliff known as Mohegan Bluffs.
During the summer months you can tour the tower, learn about historical Block Island shipwrecks, and browse the gift shop.
North Light stands 55 feet tall (3 feet taller than Southeast Lighthouse) on the northern part of the Island.
This lighthouse is a bit more difficult to access due to the 20 minute walk on a sandy beach once you arrive at the lighthouse parking lot.
The North Light lighthouse isn’t open to the public but you can learn more about it at North Light Interpretive Center (800 feet away).
This museum is open limited weekend hours from Memorial Day to Columbus Day and daily 10am-5pm in the summer.
6. Charter a Fishing Trip with Fishworks Block Island
Fishing off Block Island is a memory you won’t forget; I definitely won’t forget my first charter in 2020 thanks to Captain Chris from Block Island Fishworks.
Block Island Fishworks will be celebrating 20 years of business this summer, and it’s no surprise given their experience.
The local captain and guides know all the hot spots to keep your reel busy the moment you hit the water.
They have two boats and multiple charter offerings (small and large party pricing, 3/4/6/8 hour options) to best fit your needs, experience, and interests.
In addition to the charters, Block Island Fishworks offers rentals (kayaks, paddleboards, etc.) and a full service bait and tackle shop.
7. Bike or Moped Rentals from Aldo’s*
My favorite way to see the island is via bike or moped, and they are both popular modes of transportation on Block Island.
With that said, it’s important to note:
You aren’t able to ride down dirt roads on a moped. So if you are hoping to explore all the nooks and crannies the island has to offer a bike rental might be best for you.
However, the island has some hills which might make pedaling for the average joe a bit more challenging depending on your route/destination.
After a moped fatality in 2021, The New Shoreham Town Council adopted new restrictions which limits the hours of operation to between the hours of 10am-6pm as well as all moped renters need to watch an educational safety video and pass a proficiency test.
8. Enjoy Appetizers on the Lawn at Spring House Hotel*
The Spring House Hotel is the oldest hotel on the island. You’re guaranteed to experience authentic New England charm when visiting.
In front of the hotel there is a large rolling grass hill that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and it’s lined with white Adirondack chairs.
There is nothing better than ordering a drink and appetizer while taking in the ocean views.
My favorite: an Aperol Spritz and caprese salad!
The Adirondack chairs are first come, first served but if you are interested in a more formal dining experience on their porch or inside I would recommend making reservations.
9. Watch the Sunset from Grace’s Cove
This secluded beach is on the west side of the island, and provides a perfect view of the sunset over the ocean horizon.
Since it’s located furthest from town, you can usually expect to find the beach blissfully quiet.
You may find a couple sitting on a driftwood log, a few people walking the rocky beach, and occasionally a group of people surrounding a beach fire.
It’s located down a small dirt road, so you won’t be able to access by moped.
10. Visit the Island Zedonk*
The Abrams Animal Farm is home to the Island Zedonk (half zebra/half donkey…yes, it’s a real thing!).
The farm can be found on Spring Street (behind Hotel Manisses), and even though it’s on the smaller side, it’s packed with interesting animals that you wouldn’t expect to see at a small farm on Block Island (yes, Kangaroos and Camels too!).
It is free to enjoy, but there is a donation box outside the building.
There is also a small store which sells yarn and other items that come from the animals on site.
11. Clamming in New Harbor
Clamming on Block Island is the perfect family outing, and a great way to create your own “farm to table” experience.
My favorite spot to do this is in New Harbor on Great Salt Pond.
This pond is on the western end of the island and is known for its diverse ecosystem.
In addition to the clams, there are plenty of fish, crabs, and even a number of tropical species.
The best way to access the pond is via Andy’s Way.
When you pull down the dirt road there is a small area for parking at the end (there is a bike rack here as well).
This access point brings you to a crescent of sandy beach that is often lined with kayaks.
Keep in mind that the sand path from the parking lot to the water is narrow which makes navigating a beach wagon a little more challenging. As always, dirt road = no mopeds.
If you want to go clamming, you’ll need a license! You can get one at the Harbor Master’s office, right behind The Oar.
12. Blvck Market on Water Street
I always hope for at least one gloomy weather day when I visit Block Island because that’s when my sister and I browse the shops of Old Harbor!
One of our favorites is Blvck Market.
This boutique is owned by island local, Sean Dugan (fun fact: his wife is a co-owner at The Darius Inn – THE best B&B).
In this store you’ll find t-shirts, skirts, dresses, towels, bathing suits, headbands, etc.
Dugan lives in Bali during the off-season and many of his pieces are made there.
Not only does everything have unique and fun designs, but the material is super soft too.
You’ll find locals and tourists alike repping this brand!
Other honorable mentions would be: Glass Onion, Lazy Fish, Diamond Blue Surf Shop, & Minnow 02807.
13. Indulge in an Ice Cream from The Ice Cream Place*
Ice cream and summer are one of my favorite duos but when you add vacation and Block Island to the mix it’s a must.
Block Island has a few solid options for ice cream, but my absolute favorite is The Ice Cream Place.
You get to enjoy the “old-fashioned” ice cream shop feel and smell as soon so you step inside .
They make homemade fudge sauce, whipped cream, and waffle cones that are to die for.
The only problem you may have is trying to decide–there is no shortage of flavors and toppings.
Don’t let a long line scare you away; it moves quickly and it’s worth the wait!
This is a cash only facility.
14. Order a Mudslide from The Oar
The Oar is always a repeat visit when I’m on the island. This place is perfect for food and drinks or just drinks.
They have a lot of outside lawn seating options (wooden chairs and picnic tables with umbrellas) as well as indoor “open air” seating.
I’ve found this to be a great restaurant for families because the outdoor lawn tables allow the kids to run around while you wait for your food.
They also have a few cornhole boards and bags set up for use.
As for the mudslides – this is a non-negotiable part of your order. Your waiter will ask three questions: 1. Top shelf? 2. Floater? 3. Whipped cream?
I’m usually a “yes, no, yes” but my husband would say “yes” to all three is the only correct answer!
As for the name—The Oar—you’ll notice many wooden oars hanging around the restaurant, inside and out.
Each oar has a memory written on them from visiting guests.
I always wondered how you get an oar put up on the wall, and I was surprised to find out all you have to do is drop one off at the front desk!
15. Breakfast at the Airport Cafe
UPDATE: The Airport Cafe closed at the end of 2022.
I’m a big fan of breakfast and my favorite sit-down breakfast spot on Block Island is Bethany’s Airport Diner.
It’s located at the island’s airport so you get prime viewing of all the action that takes place on the tarmac.
On a nice day, you have the option to enjoy breakfast from a picnic table outside – this is where you will have the best view of the arriving and departing planes.
The long-time owner, Bethany Coviello, has been running the diner since she was 28 years old.
It’s a local hangout but you’ll definitely see tourists here as well.
This is your traditional diner when it comes to menu items.
A fun added twist is a beer and wine menu and, most recently, a dinner menu that they are trying out a few nights a week.
16. Visit the Town Library*
Some claim this is the friendliest and most professional community library on the East Coast!
With every visit, I’m more and more impressed with what they offer – there is something here for all age groups.
Their website has an up-to-date calendar of all of their events. They have everything from nature walks and storytelling to knitting and “film and soup” nights.
If you are looking for a good deal – don’t miss the basement level. There are books and games for only $1.
AC and free Wi-Fi
17. Hike Rodman’s Hollow
Rodman’s Hollow hiking trail is comprised of 230-acres of rolling hills, beautiful wild flowers, and panoramic views of the ocean.
As for difficulty level, it’s definitely on the easier end and well-suited for most people.
If you are up for an adventure, you are able to access Black’s Beach from this trail.
18. Devour Clam Cakes from Rebecca’s*
Rebecca’s Seafood is located on Water Street right across the street from the Old Harbor ferry landing.
This cash only facility is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, they have quite the extensive menu.
There is a take-out window and outside eating area (picnic tables with umbrellas) as well as a small inside eating area with counter and table seating options.
I consider this to be the perfect “quick bite” stop.
My family goes to Rebecca’s for their clam cakes. They are served hot and fresh!
Make sure you ask for tartar sauce – they make their own on-site! (Keep in mind, the clam cakes are usually not offered until after 11:30am).
There is another location – Rebecca’s Beach – located on Fred Benson Town Beach. They serve lunch inside the Town Beach Pavilion.
Lobster roll on the beach? Yes, please!
19. Stroll the Island Farmers Market
The Block Island Farmers Market is open late June – early October.
It’s held on Saturdays at Legion Park from 9am-11:30am.
You can find anything from fresh baked goods and yummy drinks to photography and pottery.
My three favorite stops included a warm scone, freshly squeezed lemonade, and a bouquet of flowers.
Legion Park is a small peninsula of land surrounded by roads (no fence so keep this in mind if traveling with small children).
There are a few benches and some trees for shade if you plan on packing a blanket to people watch, enjoy some live music, or just relax.
The market is open rain or shine.
20. Take in All the Action at Payne’s Dock
A family owned operation for years which has become quite the Block Island landmark.
Payne’s Dock is located on the south side of Great Salt Pond in New Harbor.
The dock consists of 100 boat slips, Mahogany Shoals (awesome dockside bar), Rebecca’s Dockside Restaurant, and a store that sells sporting goods and beach supplies.
There is live music nightly in the summer that fits in perfectly with the laid back/casual vibe.
Keep in mind it’s cash only at the bar. You’ll find people of all ages, consisting of boaters who are docked at the marina, locals and tourists.
21. Join the Island’s Glass Float Hunt
Each summer, 550 handcrafted glass orbs (similar in size to an orange) are hidden around the island as part of an interactive art experience.
Everyone is encouraged to try and find one which you then get to keep.
The hunt starts in June and continues until all the orbs have been found. It’s important to note that they are not all put out at once.
More are added as the summer progresses.
The orbs are never put on private property, in the dunes, on the side of bluffs or further than a few feet from any trail.
If you find one you register it online. Then what? Finder’s keepers!
They only ask that you only keep one if you happen to find more throughout the year…
I haven’t been lucky enough to find an orb but I always keep an eye out hoping it will be my lucky year.
Block Island may be small, but there is always something new and exciting to explore.
Whether you’re a car-less “day tripper”, or a week-long “vacation goer”, you’ll have plenty to see and do.
What’s your favorite thing to do on Block Island? Leave me a comment below!