A Day Trip to Block Island, Rhode Island

Living in Rhode Island, we visit Block Island at least once a summer. Block Island is a very convenient day trip from Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, or New York. In only about an hour, you can get a completely different state of mind and atmosphere. Block Island is also small enough to explore thoroughly in a short amount of time. Read on to plan your Block Island trip. Whether you are looking for a party with the girls or a day with kids, I know it will give you great ideas for things to do on Block Island.

24 Hours in Block Island / A day trip to Block Island
Mohegan Bluffs, Block Island, Rhode Island

What is Block Island?

New England has many small islands off its coast, including Block Island. Block Island is one of the prettiest locations in Rhode Island. At just under seven square miles, it is small enough for an easy day’s exploration. At less than twenty miles from Rhode Island and Connecticut, it is close enough to be convenient. The water is crystal clear, and the beaches, lighthouses, and bluffs are beautiful.

How to Get to Block Island

How to get to Block Island from Rhode Island

Ferry from Narragansett

I like to take the hi-speed ferry from Galilee. There is convenient parking at the corner of Galilee Connector Road and Great Island Road for $15 cash or credit. The boat is lovely, well-maintained, with a friendly, helpful crew. The trip is usually very calm, although I have been on days where people around were turning green, so bringing SeaBands is a good idea if you are prone to seasickness.
There is also a traditional ferry from Narragansett, which is the only way that you can take a car to the island. (But I don’t think you should for a day– see below.)
You can also get to Block Island from Newport in-season.

A Day Trip to Block Island from Boston or Anywhere in Massachusetts

To get to Block Island from Massachusetts, you can leave from Fall River.

Getting to Block Island from Connecticut

You can get to Block Island from New London, Ct.

Ferry Service to Block Island from New York

Viking Ferry Service can take you from Montauk, NY to Block Island.

Where Does the Ferry Bring You in Block Island?

The ferry lets out right in the middle of the action in the old Harbor of New Shoreham, Block Island’s town.

Things to Do on Block Island

Things to do on Block Island with kids

Feed cups are for sale- cash only.

Since you can buy feed cups, the animals come over to you. There is a big gated field containing a zeedonk with one eye, yaks and goats. There are many birds around, in cages and free. Up the hill and through the gates are free-range alpacas. They were available for petting, but seemed a little wary of our littlest and craziest children and kept looking like they were about to spit on us.

Located on Spring Street just a couple blocks to the left off the ferry up the hill past the statue of Rebecca is a unique farm. It is right past the Manisses Hotel, which has beautiful gardens. This is a private collection of animals that the owner wants to share with the world. Right after the parking lot, there are caged animals, such as lemurs.

Take a Tour at North Light Fibers

See how alpaca hair is made into yarn. They also use bamboo, soy silk, and many other fibers in their thread and are located near Manisses Farm.

Explore how to book a tour here.

Explore Block Island Beaches

Ballard’s Beach club

Block Island beaches
When at Ballard’s, we always have a pina colada in a pineapple to make our day complete!
This is our beach of choice- definitely the best beach on Block Island if you have kids. It is just a short walk from the ferry terminal. For a quick day trip, the ease of not having to bring chairs and food is essential. For about $35, an amiable worker, usually from a foreign country, will put an umbrella in the sand and set up a lounge chair and table.
My kids have a great time playing in the sand and body surfing. There are some waves, but not too significant for all but the very young. Block Island’s water is beautiful and very clear for New England. Ballard’s has a big patio for eating, and every once in a while, waiters come around to take food and drink orders.
The beach is pretty crowded, but so convenient being a five-minute walk from the ferry. There are clean bathrooms and cold showers for $2.00. Later in the day, there is a live band and dancing. If you walk up the beach away from Ballard’s, you will find tide pools to explore.

Mohegan Bluffs

Mohegan Bluffs is one of the prettiest places on the east coast. It has a gorgeous beach set at the bottom of the limestone cliffs, but to access it you need to go up and down a very steep and lengthy set of stairs. There are no food or bathrooms at this secluded, but popular beach. Visitors cover the beach with stone cairns, which make the beach even prettier. The water is much rougher at this beach, so it is more suited for older children or adults. There are no lifeguards on duty.

Things to do with kids on Block Island, just 20 miles off the shore of Rhode Island. #thingstodoonBlockIsland #BlockIsland
The tide pools near Ballard’s

Block Island’s Lighthouses

Explore a lighthouse or two.

Block Island Southeast Lighthouse

The Southeast Lighthouse is located only about a block away from the Mohegan Bluffs. I would highly recommend taking the tour up the lighthouse, especially to see the incredible Fresnel Lens.

Block Island North Lighthouse

lighthouses of Block Island
The brown granite building looks more like a house than most lighthouses.
This lighthouse is set in a wildlife preserve. It has a beautiful long, relatively empty beach and many nesting seagulls. Although you can pay to enter the lighthouse, it only allows you into the bottom floor, which serves as a museum. You cannot see the light, which is one of my favorite parts of seeing a lighthouse.
A day in Block Island, Rhode Island
The North Lighthouse is a fifteen-minute walk over rocks from the parking area and is not handicap-accessible.

How to Get Around Block Island

Do I need a Car for my Trip to Block Island?

Although the roads are crazy for pedestrians or bike riders, cabs are so ubiquitous, and only the traditional ferry from Narragansett allows cars. It is probably more efficient to rely on cabs.

Take a Cab Around the Island

The roads around Block Island are very narrow, and winding and tourists drive crazy. When I am here, I walk just in town or take one of the cabs that are readily available near the ferry dock. The last time we visited, we used Rondo’s Cabs (401-466-5550).

Ride a Bike around Block Island

Right as you get off the ferry, there are many bike rentals. The ride to the Southeast Lighthouse and Mohegan Bluffs is about 2 miles from town, but is quite steep and busy with traffic.

The ride to the North Light is flatter but longer, about 4 miles. It is also hectic.

Martha’s Vineyard is a flatter place if you want to bike with younger kids. I only bike offseason, because in-season the roads are way to crazy for me!

Where to Eat in Block Island

National Hotel

Our tradition is to eat dinner at the National Hotel, which overlooks the beach and the ferry. The view is impressive. Dinner isn’t too expensive, considering the view, and everything to eat is excellent. I love their award-winning clam chowder, which is really up to that claim. It is perfectly seasoned with dill, just like I like it. It may be the best chowder evah (spoken in Boston accent). The salads come in half sizes and are delicious. The crab legs were perfectly cooked and sweet, which is hard to find on the left coast.

The Oar

Set on the Boat Basin on the Great Salt Pond, this place has the famous Block Island Mudslide, made with real ice cream, seafood and sushi. In summer the lines are long, but if you score a table on the lawn, the kids can run around. The menu is smaller but worth it.

What to do on Block Island
Play some corn hole on the lawn of The Oars in Block Island.

Block Island Accommodations

You can search here for the perfect Block Island hotel from Hotels.com. Since I live so close, I have never stayed.

Block Island attractions/ Block Island activities
After diner, the kids explored the jetty in front of the National Hotel.

Read on about more adventures in my little state in A Local’s Guide to Rhode Island or 24 Hours in Newport, Rhode Island, or any of my other Rhode Island posts. For more New England island exploring, read 47 Fabulous Things to do in Martha’s Vineyard.

If you liked it, please share it. Thank you!

12 thoughts on “A Day Trip to Block Island, Rhode Island”

  1. Over the years I have spent countless days weeks hours on Block. I dont think there is anything like it in the world. It is an incredible place. I was married at the epicopal church on the Island my daughter met her now husband on the Island and it goes on and on. If I could live there I we would

  2. Living on the west coast, I had never heard of Block Island before. But it definitely sounds like a nice little getaway, especially living as close as you do! I’m hoping to get back out to the east coast again in the coming years and will keep Block Island in mind!

  3. I have lived in Washington DC for about 20 years now been to Bethany and OC many of time. I never heard of Block Island before. This is great post and I have to say I may have to take a trip over there some day. Your photos are amazing looks like a wonderful place to visit.

  4. I’ve never heard of Block. (Though, to be fair, I’m not that familiar with Road Island in general) It looks super cute! I am hoping to make it to New England this fall!

  5. I’ve never heard of Block Island before, but it looks like a great place to spend a day or two! I like that it’s in decent proximity of a lot of major spots!

  6. Thank you for providing such a great post! I would love to visit all the lighthouses. They all look gorgeous. I’m glad to hear that I wouldn’t need to rent a var to visit the island. I’m not keen on driving (even in my own city), so I love places where I’m able to use alternative methods to get around. I think I would rent a bike and cycle around the island.

  7. What are your thoughts on renting a moped for the day? I’ve heard good and bad. I don’t thing we want to bicycle all over. It may be too pricey to bring our car over, plus not sure what the parking situation is. What do you suggest? Is it really super dangerous?

    • I have never tried, so am not sure there is a place that rents them. The drivers are pretty crazy and there are a lot of curves, so the safety is questionable, but that is up to your risk adversity. You can take cabs around.


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