Something happens when you grow up going to the same place every summer.
It starts to feel like home. The people there start to feel like family. The atmosphere starts to feel like a culture, and you start to feel like a piece of your soul stays there year round.
Block Island is that place for me.
I’ve traveled the world and still get a rush as I step off the ferry in Old Harbor, crave the smell of a killer donut, and long for the sound of the blender mixing me a banana mudslide.
A small island off the coast of Rhode Island, “the Block” as we regulars like to call it, has all the charm and allure of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, without all the pretentiousness.
On the island, boaters, tourists and locals have a deep appreciation for the art of relaxation. They’ve found the perfect composition of boat, beach and bar that all comes together to form the perfect tropical masterpiece.
Those lucky enough to stay for more than a weekend quickly find they’re on “island time,” which is code for no concept of time at all. Who can blame them? Its easy to lose yourself in the sun, sand and sunsets.
If you’re looking for a family friendly destination where adults have just as much fun as the kids, Block Island is the place for you. Here are some of my favorites on the island.
Where to Stay
Payne’s Dock – Payne’s Dock rests in the center of New Harbor, which is the quieter of the two main island harbors. This family owned and operated marina is an oasis for boating families. Kids are able to go crabbing or swimming off their boats while the parents are able to enjoy the tiki bar, restaurant and sunsets from the dock. I’ve spent two weeks of every summer since I was 3-years-old at Payne’s so I can say from experience that staying here is like staying with family.
Payne’s Harbor View Inn – If you’re not a boater and prefer to sleep on solid ground, Payne’s Harbor View Inn is right up the road. This quaint bed and breakfast offers a more low-key vibe — perfect for a romantic getaway. Try their sushi. It’s fantastic.
Spring House – A bit upscale, the Spring House is steps away from the center of town where you’ll find shopping, eating and entertainment. The hotel itself is offset on a rather secluded hill, where the views are second-to-none. Their restaurant is one of the best on the island but their martini night is probably their most popular attraction. Check it out on a Thursday!
Rent a house – If you’re traveling with a larger group there are plenty of houses all over the island for rent. Be sure to plan early though as many rent out as early as January.
What to do
Scotch Beach – There’s about 17 miles of beach along Block Island’s coast, but my favorite by far is Scotch Beach. It is about a ten minute walk from Town Beach and tends to be less crowded and touristy. It boasts spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean with sand and surf that can’t be beat.
Kayak/Paddle Board — If you’re looking a water activity without the sand, kayaking and paddle boarding is popular around the island. There are several rental shops but I’d suggest Pond and Beyond Kayak. Renting from here, you can paddle around New Harbor, which tends to be sheltered — allowing for a much more enjoyable ride.
Bike — Want to avoid the water all together? Rent a bike and explore the island. Only 7 miles long and 3 miles wide, you can see most of the island by bike in one day. Just be careful of cars and be sure to hydrate — the terrain is not the most forgiving.
Mohegan Bluffs — While you’re biking your way around the island, be sure to pull off to explore the bluffs. These beautiful clay cliffs tattoo the southern edge of the island. If you can handle the hike, be sure to walk down the stairs and take in the view from the beach as well.
North Lighthouse — On the other side of the island, the North Lighthouse is worth the journey off the beaten path to get there. I personally feel it has much more character than the Southeast Lighthouse, but I would certainly suggest seeing both.
Where to party
Mahogany Shoals – Payne’s Dock makes the list again. A cozy, pub like environment this it truly the bar you’ve been practicing for. The music is great, the people are great and the drinks are great. What’s not to love?
Trader Vic’s – At the end of the dock at Champlin’s Marina, Trader Vic’s sits along side some huge yachts. Check them out while you sip on your banana mudslide.
Captain Nick’s — Two words: Regae night.
Ballards – A stones throw from the ferry in Old Harbor, on the weekends this is the ultimate beach party. On week nights it’s a bit more low key, John Brazile plays almost every night. He is one of the most talent musicians I’ve ever stumbled across. Don’t miss him while you’re on the Block.
So throw on some flip flops, grab your koozie and sail away on the Block Island Ferry — paradise awaits.