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Monday, July 24, 2017

Weekender's Guide to Block Island, Rhode Island

I am sad to say we are nearing the end of the Amanda in New England trip (#AmandaInNewEngland).  A lot of our trip was spent exploring some of the Northeast’s best cities, Boston and New York.  We also spend some time wandering around Connecticut, stopping at Avery Point, Fort Trumbull, Kayaking around Old Lyme, and even a day at the barn where Amanda rode Bradley.  While Amanda had surely gotten a taste of New England with historic Boston and beautiful Connecticut, I really wanted her to experience some of the best parts about New England, the parts that make me swoon- the coast, the charm, the character.  I wanted to do that without trekking all the way up to Acadia, Maine, or through the backwoods of Vermont/New Hampshire.  To show Amanda what I thought was some of the best of New England, I decided to take her to Block Island, Rhode Island and plan the perfect weekenders guide for a weekend of quintessential New England close enough to home.  

With Thatcher’s family house available for the weekend, and the Point Judith ferry (the cheaper ferry) only 45 minutes away, getting away to Block Island for the weekend is always an affordable, relatively easy and relaxing destination.  You could easily spend a week in Block Island, discovering all the fun little bits and pieces, hiking through Rodman’s Hollow, spending the morning at the Farmer’s Market, and for the really ambitious, walking the whole extent of the island.  But for just a weekend, you have to be a little pickier and that's what I did.  Here is the itinerary I set up for Amanda and the group out on the island to see some of my favorite sites and really get a feel of the island.  Aside from this, we did the other island necessities like reading on the lawn, grilling at the house, and of course, a 1,000 piece puzzle.  This little weekend of sights I have planned for you is the right mix of sight seeing, physical activity, walking, eating and drinking.  This is the best way to spend a weekend in Block Island.   


Stairs to Mohegan Bluffs
Beach at the bottom of the bluffs

 Mohegan Bluffs are a beautiful place to visit any time of year.  I have to admit, I have made the journey down these stairs many (many) times to show off the island or just stop for a few photographs.  A series of steep stairs (141 to be exact) will take you down to the waters edge where you can stand amongst the 200' bluffs of Block Island.  This is the perfect place to see how beautiful the BI coastline really is.   After climbing the bluffs and walking around the beach below, you can head back up and read all about the Mohegans, and how the bluffs got their name. The bluffs were named after a Native American battle dating to 1590, where 40 members of a Mohegan raiding party were said to have been driven off the cliffs to their deaths by the Manisseans, the victorious natives of the island.  

Mohegan Bluffs Information/Marker

Southeast Lighthouse 

After visiting Mohegan Bluffs, make your way (almost) next door to see one of New England's most beautiful lighthouses (fun fact: it has been deemed one of the most architecturally sophisticated lighthouses built in the U.S.). There is something about a New England Lighthouse sitting atop a ragged cliff that just forces you to stop and take a picture. This one is historic, insanely photogenic, and is easy to get to by car, bike, or walking. A walk around the grounds and admission into the small one room museum is free, while a chance to tour the rest of the museum and climb the light tower will cost you $10.  The small museum that is free to the public offers a lot of great images and information on this famous lighthouse.

"Although Congress appropriated $9,000 to build this light in 1856, the funds were used to build a new Block Island North Light after the old one was washed away in a storm. This light was finally built in 1874 (1873 according to prints in the museum), with the lamp first lit on February 1, 1875. Because of the ongoing erosion of the bluffs, in 1993 the entire 2,000 ton structure was moved about 300 feet (91 m) back from the cliffs."   - Source

From here, you can also see the Deepwater Wind Project, North America’s first Deep Water Wind Farm. You can see the large turbines jutting out of the water from the lawn by Southeast Light. There is often a food truck here as well if you need a drink or a snack while visiting the lighthouse. 

Southeast Lighthouse

Southeast Lighthouse 

Southeast Lighthouse 
Point of the island 

Deep Water Wind Farm 

Abrams Farm 

This stop if a family-friendly fun activity from a stop at the zoo to a tour through the mill. A small petting zoo/collection of animals located off Spring Street and maintained by Justin Abrams, owner of the 1661 Inn & Hotel Manisses.  Llamas, emus, sheep, donkeys, goats, turtles, camels, and a zeedonk (Cindy the Zebra/Donkey).  Free to the public and open all year round dawn to dusk.

Northlight Fibers is a micro yarn mill making artisanal yarns from exotic fibers (alpaca, yak, marino, wool bamboo and camel to name a few), 100% made on Block Island. The mill goes through the process form washing, dying, carding, spinning and finishing yarn. They also sell had knit and handwoven garments and home decor. Get a tour of the mill and grab some yarn, crafts (including fun kits!), and gifts at the shop. The mill is located right in the middle of the farm.  


You can get Mudslides just about anywhere on the island but the most-reliable-best-mudslide-every-time-you-can-even-add-a-banana is at Champlins. It comes out of a big mixing machine and for 1$ you can add a banana and be in boozy frozen drink heaven. Be warned, these do pack a punch and you won’t need many to be stumbling down the dock. They taste so good and go down so fast you can easily forget about the high alcohol content of these. The brave like to take it one step further, adding a rum floater on top to turn this muddled into a one-drink-wonder. Trust me when I say that if you want to have a mudslide, you need to go to Champlins and sip this delicious cocktail out of the big styrofoam cup while watching the boats go by on the Great Salt Pond.

Clay Head Trails 

Clay Head Trails 

150 acre preserve on the Northeast portion of the Island. There is 3.5 miles of out and back trails along the cliff's edge. Easy level, mostly shaded with amazing views along the bluffs. Dog-friendly and generally very quiet/little traffic. Look for a post marker on the ride side of Corn Neck Road, about 3 miles from town and across from a big yellow farm house. About 1/3 of a mile down the trail you will come to an intersection- right will take you to a beautiful sandy beach, left will take you along the bluffs and to the section of the trails called "The Maze".

Lobster Club at The Oar 

The Oar 
I love the Oar. Simply put. The place has an amazing view and the lawn/building has alllll the charm.  The walls are decorated with oars from all over the place, the Adirondacks facing the ocean, the corn hole set up on the long, the dog friendly vibe - the Oar just has it going on. The food is good but on the pricey side (the name of the game on Block). The sushi is great and the Lobster Club is uniquely delicious (I always need to order this). But when I am on a budget, I just go for the atmosphere and the drinks. A cold one on the lawn while Olive naps in the shade is just about the best way to relax on the island.

Lawn at The Oar

Dog-Friendly beaches of Block Island 
One of my favorite things about the Block Island Beaches is that they are Dog-Friendly. With the exception of Town Beach, there are no lifeguards on duty and there aren’t really many rules regarding dogs. You can have your dog off-leash and spend the afternoon walking the wide beautiful sandy beaches of Block Island. Look for sea glass or just skip rocks at the waters edge, Block Island’s beaches make this island such a fantastic summer get away for swimmer and sun bathers alike.

Read more about the Beaches of Block Island HERE. 

Walking the beaches of Block Island 

North Light 
While Southeast Light gets a lot of attention because it is so close to town, a visit to North Light on the other end of the island is often overlooked. Its all the way out on the north end of the island and you definitely need a car/taxi or a bike to get out here.  From the lot, its a long walk out on the beach to the lighthouse, and a little farther out to the point. We usually leave our shoes at the sign and walk out but be warned, we have had our shoes stolen from this spot before. The walk out is usually quiet, with maybe a few people out on the beach as well. Make sure you make it to the most northern point of the island for a photo op before heading back to the parking lot. 

"The first light on the site was built in 1829. The current structure at Sandy Point is the fourth lighthouse built on the site and was made of granite and iron in 1867. The light was deactivated in 1973 and United States Fish and Wildlife Service acquired the lighthouse. The lighthouse was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.[1]

After years of neglect, the lighthouse, along with two acres of land, was sold to New Shoreham in 1984 for 1USD. Following much renovation by the North Light Commission, it was relighted in 1989, and a museum opened on the first floor in 1993. Then, in 2008 the light underwent restoration at Georgetown Ironworks in Massachusetts and was returned in 2009. Finally, on 23 October 2010, a relighting ceremony took place".  -- Source

North Light
North Light walk

Amanda at North Light
What would a trip to Block Island be without some time spent on a bicycle?  While the island isn’t very bike friendly (i.e. no bike paths and very narrow shoulders) there are always so many bikers on the road that they dominate the traffic.  It can be tougher to drive the island than to bike it at times.  But with that being said, be warned the island is quite hilly.  You will need to be in decent shape, or at least humble enough to walk your bike up some of the hills as many tourists do. There are several bike rental shops on the island.  While we have bikes at the house, it does cost a substantial fee to rent them on the island, and a fee to bring them on the ferry as well.  Plan wisely.

Biking Block Island 

As the the summer day comes to a close, the best way to end any day on Block Island is to catch one of it's killer sunsets.  I like to enjoy the view from the front porch on the north end of the island with a cold cocktail and good company.  No matter where you are on the island (even on the ferry out), you are almost guaranteed to catch a gorgeous sunset.  

Block Island sunset
Block Island sunset
Block Island sunset

Block Island is the perfect new England get away.  All the charm, great food and drinks, and the perfect place to unwind after a few chaotic days in New York City.  This is my guide on how to see the best of the island (in one weekend), eating, drinking, walking and biking your way around my favorite spots.  

Other Block Island Posts:  Ferry and Attractions   Beaches of Block Island

Happy Island-ing,
Katie Wanders 

Olive and I at Abrams Farm

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