Travel Spotlight

Summer Spotlight: Block Island

Summer weekends in the Northeast often see city dwellers flocking in droves to the waterfront retreats of the Hamptons or Cape Cod, making the low-key, less crowded Block Island feel like an even more tranquil escape. With its quintessentially New England grey-shingled houses and bobbing boats filled with fishermen and sunbathers, Block Island feels like a smaller Nantucket.

Ferries dock directly across from the tiny strip of downtown, which is made up of several blocks lined with inns, surf shops, ice cream parlors and stores selling beachwear and knickknacks. The cinema often screens just one film per day, and there is a single well-stocked grocery store for the entire island. But it is precisely this small-town feel and intimate setting that sets Block Island apart from larger, more bustling beach retreats.

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Where to Stay

While Block Island does not boast the level of five-star luxury available at nearby resorts like Ocean House in Watch Hill, the island’s grande dame Spring House Hotel recently opened the beautiful and secluded Inn at Spring House just down the hill from the main hotel, offering the freshest accommodations on the island ( The newly completed inn features spacious rooms with private balconies, complimentary wine and cheese each afternoon and a quiet common sitting area with a small kitchen where a chef cooks delicious breakfast using produce from the hotel’s garden. Other charming accomodations on the island include Hotel Manisses ( and The 1661 Inn ( However, visitors looking for maximum space and privacy should consider renting their own house. Indagare members can contact the Bookings Team for recommendations.

Related: Jill Kargman's Nantucket

Where to Eat

The line often spills out the door at Persephone’s Kitchen, a bakery and café with a Brooklyn vibe and delicious pastries (235 Dodge St.). It’s the perfect spot for breakfast or lunch, serving coffee, smoothies, yogurt bowls, salads and sandwich melts. Dinner on Block Island is centered on local seafood. The restaurant at Hotel Manisses boasts a charming patio with tables encircling a three-tiered fountain and a spacious indoor dining room where white tables with turquoise accents look out at the trees through a crescent of windows. The menu features handcrafted cocktails, seafood, meats and pasta. The Spring House Hotel—a popular wedding spot on the island—offers al fresco dinner at both of its eateries: the casual bistro and bar on the front porch overlooks the sprawling lawn, while the more formal dining room features seating indoors and on the back patio with a view of the Atlantic.

What to Do

Block Island is first and foremost a beach community with plenty of options for sun worshippers, ranging from the youthful, music-filled party scene of downtown Ballard’s Beach to quieter options on the opposite side of the island. There is no shortage of bicycle and moped rental shops, and these two-wheelers are visitors’ preferred modes of transport. Scenic trails throughout the island are perfect for walking, hiking or biking, with the most popular route leading from town to the red brick Southeast Lighthouse (122 Mohegan Trail) and then on to the spectacular, 150-feet-high Mohegan Bluffs. Descend the cliff-side wooden staircase down to the beach for a view of the towering bluffs jutting out into the ocean. Other family friendly activities include sailing, fishing, kayaking, horseback riding on the beach, visiting the emu, camels, alpaca and yaks at the 1661 Animal Farm or taking a ferry ride over to the nearby towns of Narragansett, Newport or Montauk.

Related: New On Nantucket

Where to Shop

The shops on Block Island feature classic beachfront offerings like Lilly Pulitzer and Vineyard Vines. Find breezy attire at The Tipsy Mermaid (232 Water St.), home décor at Marye-Kelley (233 Dodge St.) and unique housewares, antiques, vintage clothing and textiles at Lazy Fish (235 Dodge St.). Stop by the small but light-filled art gallery Jessie Edwards Studio (Second Floor, Post Office Building), and sample dozens of gourmet popcorn flavors at Pop on the Block (459 Chapel St.).

Related: Guide to Litchfield County

Getting There

Located 12 miles off the coast of Rhode Island, the island isn’t accessible by road, and while many visitors arrive on their own boats, public ferries are also available (from Point Judith, Newport, Fall River and New London), and 15-minute flights are available from Westerly, Rhode Island for those prone to seasickness. Once you’ve arrived, keep a hand on your hat, since the 10-square-mile island feels the strong ocean breeze from all sides.

Published onJuly 25, 2017

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