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!
My wife and I were born and raised in Massachusetts.
Ask most anyone around here where the best Summer vacation spot is, and they’ll enthusiastically tell you, “Cape Cod!”.
Up until recently, we were enthusiastic “Cape people” too.
Growing up my parents had a house in Hyannis Port, and my wife’s family rented the same house in Dennis every Summer.
As I got older, I started tagging along with my wife and the in-laws more and more.
The house they rented was directly on Mayflower Beach.
It was perfect – only a handful of steps to the ocean.
And there was just enough space for all the “kids”. It was tight, but we made it work.
But there was a problem.
Us “kids” starting having kids of our own…
We simply no longer fit.
The following year the older family members stayed at the rental on Mayflower Beach, and us “kids” got separate rooms at a nearby B&B.
But it just wasn’t the same.
So at the end of vacation that year we had a talk.
It was time for change – a new tradition.
We decided Summer vacation 2019 would be different.
Block Island was my Mother-in-laws idea.
We’d never been before, but had heard good things.
We decided to give it a shot – if it didn’t work out, we’d just try a new vacation spot the following year.
But that wasn’t necessary – we fell in love with Island almost immediately.
Admittedly, it’s challenging to put into words why I care about this place so much, especially when so many feelings are tied up in years of shared memories – lots of little moments, that by themselves aren’t all that significant, but together are everything.
So, I’m going to leave out most of the sappy stuff (being with Family, and people you just enjoy being around in general, is, in my opinion, what makes any vacation great).
The amazing company we keep, and vacation with aside, here’s why we love 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.
Ease of Travel
All vacations begin (and end) with some sort of travel – so it’s only fitting that we start there.
Getting to and from Block Island is easy.
There are a few modes of transportation you can take – a 12 minute flight out of Westerly, RI, charter a private boat, etc.
But by far the most popular way to get there is via the Block Island Ferry.
We take the the ferry out of Point Judith. The entire process is relatively painless.
If you’re not taking your car to the island, the ferry parking lot is directly across the street, so you’re only a short walk away. Which is great, especially if you kids and luggage.
The ferry ride is short – it takes about 30 minutes if you’re on the Hi-Speed Ferry, and an hour if you’re not.
There’s both indoor, and outdoor seating, with food and drinks served once you’re onboard.
Some people might be turned off by having to take a Ferry to get to their vacation destination, but we love it.
There’s a great mental shift that happens when you leave the “mainland”. You leave all your work and stress behind you and enter “vacation mode”.
And the kids get so excited during the journey over!
As soon as you dock in Old Harbor and get off the ferry, you find yourself in the middle of downtown Block Island.
Restaurants, bars, shops, beaches, hotels, etc are all just a short walk away.
Even New Harbor, where Payne’s Dock, Dead Eye Dicks, The Oar, etc. are, is only a 30 min walk from the ferry (9 min bike ride).
This is one my favorite things about Block Island – you can walk EVERY WHERE.
The entire island is less than 10 square miles – it’s 7 miles long, and 3 miles wide.
And the two main destinations on the entire island, Old Harbor and New Harbor, are just 1.5 miles apart.
We still choose to bring our car over when we stay for the week for those Mansion Beach days with all the kids and our beach stuff.
But most of the time, you’ll find us walking.
Block Island has the best beach variety of any place I’ve ever been – and they’re all within a few minutes of one another.
I love a good beach day, but going to the same beach, or even the same type of beach for a week straight gets old.
We are never bored with the beaches on Block Island.
There’s your “traditional” beach experience at Fred Benson Town Beach – sand, ocean, swimming, beach shack food.
Then there’s your “hideaway”, secluded beach at Mansion Beach – our favorite. It’s about 3 miles from downtown but it’s always worth the trip. It’s a beautiful beach, with not so many people!
When you’re done with the typical beach experience, you can go to Great Salt Pond via Andy’s Way and go clamming, or just walk through the marsh looking for sea-life.
Then there’s Charlestown Beach, where you can go and watch all the boats come and go all day long.
Or, if you’re up for an adventure and a bit of a hike, try Black Rock beach.
I could go on, but you get the point – you can visit Block Island for a full week and have a unique beach experience every single day.
When you’ve had your fill of relaxing and lying around on the beach all day, adventure awaits.
Go for a mini-hike along the Bluffs. Take a lighthouse tour. Or visit The Scared Labyrinth.
Rent a moped, and spend the day cruising around the Island.
Or, if you’re into running/biking, take the 5 mile journey down Corn Neck Rd. to North Light and take in the views.
If you’re looking for something a little bolder, consider chartering a boat and go fishing! There are plenty of Stripers and Blues to be had just off the coast.
Mackenzie and I went towards the end of June, and we couldn’t count how many fish we caught – no exaggeration we caught a fish every other cast.
These days, you can bring your kids most places, but it seems like Block Island goes out of its way to make kids feel welcomed.
Like they truly belong. Like they are the rule, not the exception.
And we get that feeling everywhere we go – even the restaurants.
Family is just engrained in this place.
You can take them to the Block Island Maritime Institute to look at fish, or to touch the horseshoe crabs and starfish.
Or take them to the Abrams Animal Farm to see the island famous “Zedonk”, and feed the ducks and other animals.
If it’s raining, go to the kids room at Island Free Library where there are books, toys and even kids movies you can take home!
There are endless places to go, and things to do with your kids here.
Food and Drink
I think if you asked the average person, they’d probably say Block Island food is just good. Not bad, not great – good.
I’m a little biased because I’m a seafood junkie – but I love the food on Block Island.
I usually eat some type of seafood every day, for 7 straight days. Lobster rolls, shrimp, muscles, oysters, clams – you name it, I’m eating it.
And no Summer vacation is complete without a great cocktail, or two – mudslides with a floater at the Oar, Painkillers at Dead Eye Dicks, and an Old Fashioned on the lawn at the Spring House.
Recently my brother-in-law and I have been grabbing an “end of vacation” Miami Vice at Ballards, while we wait for the ferry ride home 😂.
We’re Comfortable Here
But above all else – we’re just comfortable here.
That’s partly due to the fact that we visit just before the real Summer rush – we arrive the final week of June, and leave just before July 4th.
That means the beaches aren’t crowded and there’s no waits at any of the restaurants or bars – we never have to make reservations.
There’s also a lot of comfort that comes from knowing a place so intimately.
We’ve been to many of the beaches, bars and restaurants here 10+ times.
We see familiar faces. Recognize changes. Hear the town gossip.
We care about the Island.
It’s crazy to think we’ve now spent 5 straight years vacationing on Block Island.
Here’s to the next 5!