Summer Guide – Day Trips

Block Island: Our Own Island Oasis

Everyone who says “I haven’t been to Block Island in years” - we’re looking at you, here - is missing out. Just a half-hour ferry ride from Narragansett, the island has expansive natural spaces, views for days and, best of all, free beaches.

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Start in Old Harbor
You could take the slow boat to Block Island, and also bring a car. Unless you’re staying for a week, you don’t need to do that. For a day trip, hop on the fast ferry: 30 minutes is the exact right length to enjoy one of the ferry’s signature cocktails (don’t sleep on that Bloody Mary – it’s the best around).

From the RI ferries, you’ll land in Old Harbor, which is the busy “Main Street” area of the island. You’ll be tempted to shop on Dodge and Water Streets at shops selling beachwear, souvenirs, jewelry and nautical gifts, like Heart Space and Glass Onion. If you do, rent a locker in the ferry parking lot to stash your purchases. Ferry: 401-783-7996, BlockIslandFerry.com. Heart Space: Water Street. Glass Onion: 241 Water Street. 401-466-5161

A lot of Block Island is walkable, but, let’s face it, mopeds are more fun. There are several places to rent them in Old Harbor. Rent a bike from Old Harbor Bike Shop or a moped – you’ll see a lot of these on the island – from Aldo’s Mopeds and Bikes or The Moped Man. Old Harbor Bike: 401-466-2029, BlockIslandTransportation.com. Aldo’s: 130 Weldon Way, 401-466-5018. Moped Man: 435 Water Street. 401-466-5444

Head west out of Old Harbor and you’ll quickly land at the Southeast Light. One of two lighthouses on the island, it has great views of Mohegan Bluffs and a small museum inside. From there, take a drive and explore the natural beauty of the island. Nearly half of Block Island is protected from development by organizations like the Block Island Conservancy, which offers resources on exploring hiking trails around the island. The Block Island Maritime Institute gives kids and families opportunities to explore the ocean and sea life. The Ocean View Foundation leads guided nature tours daily in the summer. Southeast Light: 122 Mohegan Trail. BIConservancy.org. BIMaritime.org. OceanViewFoundation.org

Lunch in New Harbor
New Harbor, where most of the boats dock and the New York ferries arrive, is about a mile away from Old Harbor. It’s definitely walkable, but easier to get to on wheels. Stop in at The Oar for lunch. The boater-friendly restaurant has showers on the lower level and a lively restaurant (with an outdoor bar) above. Also in New Harbor: kayak rentals, Payne’s Donuts and Champlin’s Marina. Walk down the marina dock and you’ll be rewarded with a mudslide at Trader Vic’s, a rooftop bar where you can watch the boats come in and out. The Oar: 221 Jobs Hill Road. 401-466-8820. Payne’s: 1 Ocean Avenue. 401-466-5758. Champlin’s/Vic’s: 80 West Side Road. 401-466-7777

Afternoon in the Tropics
By which we mean, tropical drinks. After lunch, it will be time to turn in your moped. Lucky for you, your next stop is in Old Harbor, at Ballard’s. This beach resort has its own shoreline and serves food and cocktails – in pineapples, no less – right on the sand. Live music every afternoon and evening brings a fun, if somewhat younger, crowd. 42 Water Street. 401-466-2231, BallardsBI.com

For a quieter beach afternoon, you could try your luck at one of the many small private beaches, or head to Fred Benson Town Beach where they rent beach chairs and equipment, and the waves are kid-friendly. 7 Corn Neck Road. 401-466-7717

Take in the View
On weekends in the summer, the last boat out for the night isn’t until 9pm, so you have plenty of time for a leisurely evening. From Ballard’s, take the short walk up the hill to Abrams’ Farm, a menagerie that’s home to exotic birds, kangaroos, a camel, lemurs, water buffalo and a zeedonk, among others. From here, you can see the luxury hotels with fine dining restaurants: Hotel Manisses, The Atlantic Inn and Spring House, the latter two having some of the best vistas on the island, and Adirondack chairs from which to enjoy them (where you will probably be waiting if you don’t have a reservation). Abrams’ Farm: 1 Spring Street. 401-466-2421. Manisses: 251 Spring Street. 401-466-9898, HotelManisses.com. Atlantic: High Street. 401-224-7422, AtlanticInn.com. Spring House: 52 Spring Street. 401-466-5844, SpringHouseBlockIsland.com

Closer to the ferry, The National has delicious, more casual food and great views of the harbor from its wraparound porch. Best of all, you can pay your check and just cross the street to get back on the boat to go home – if you can force yourself to leave, that is. 36 Water Street. 401-466-2901, NationalRI.com