Aboard the Viking, I admitted that I’d never been to Block Island, let alone Rhode Island. In a preparatory motion, the guys made an effort to most accurately convey our destination’s defining feel. “It’s sort of this place lost in time…wait, no—it’s more that it’s timeless.”
The next seven hours consisted of immaculate, unending views, single-mudslide visits to multiple longstanding establishments, ageless conversation with salt of the earth people, and an overall experience that did more than verify the boys’ statement on the ferry ride over.
Before we get into how to spend a proper day on the island, you should know that not having a plan may very well be your best plan. Of course, if you find yourself stranded without a thing to do, or wandering by one of the featured spots in this guide, you’d be wise to walk in and see what’s up. Last but not least, if you run into a outrageously friendly local by the name of Ross, jump in the backseat of his jeep and don’t ask questions.
Stuff to Do
Rent Mopeds and Explore
It might seem strange to open up the guide with a suggestion that we didn’t actually take ourselves (we were fortunate enough to have an accommodating off-road vehicle), but I’m a firm believer that any place on this planet with a booming moped economy is not without good reason. Walk into one of the several moped rental agencies, request one in your favorite color, and boom—you have access to almost anywhere on the island. North Lighthouse and Southeast Lighthouse are popular venture points with grand views, and cruising through the architecturally-diverse and beautiful hillside that connect both points is worthwhile fo sho.
Abram’s Animal Farm
Do not be discouraged by past animal farm visits, this place is an experiential gem. In the ~45 minutes we were on the farm, we helped in giving an alpaca a haircut, met a sizable tortoise, fed lemurs, hung with camels, and kicked it with two rare Rhode Island kangaroos. You can explore the property and its animals for free—just have your phone battery charged, as this place is more than likely to offer up an ace for your Snapchat story.
Spend It If You Got It
Diamondblue Surf Shop
The only surf shop on Block, since 2008. Diamondblue carries the majority of known and regional surf brands, as well as offering board rentals and lessons. Also a good spot to ask questions and pick up some basic knowledge on good spots to check out. The beach closest to the shop has a small, accessible beachbreak with a little wave to get on if you’re not into venturing around the island. Definitely worth popping into if you’re planning on hoping in the water.
Located in the Old Harbor shopping district, Block Market has a strong selection of brands to check out. If you’re like me and didn’t bring a bag or backpack on your day trip to Block, this is a good spot to pick one up. Same goes for sunglasses. I’m a guy and don’t wear women’s clothing, but I kinda peeked their selection and it looked pretty fashionable and like something a girl I’d be into would wear. The shop’s located right next to the Empire Theater (the island’s summer movie theater) and a boutique clothing store that carries quintessential Block-logo’d apparel for those of you trying to go full tourist.
Sleep on It
The 1661 Inn
The family-owned-and-ran spot sits right on the outskirts of town and sits scenically above Spring Pond and the Atlantic. It has a strong traditional feel to it but the accommodations have a super rad, contemporary style. We got to check out the massive, newly-renovated honeymoon suite. If the Tinder game was stronger over there and we had known a local priest, we probably would’ve found a way to get married on the spot…just to justify renting out the suite for that night. On the real, we didn’t visit a hotel that’d we’d be more willing to stay in than the 1661. If you’re looking to overnight it, definitely give these folks a ring.
A bay-front restaurant with one of the chillest views of New Harbor, the Oar serves up seafood, steaks and some damn good sushi. Get things going with the Nihon Nachos, sweet Sriracha swings, or both—I know a few guys that did and they’re not unhappy. From there you can play it tastefully safe with a Rita Roll or get weird with the lobster grilled cheese. None of the aforementioned, or really anything on the menu, will disappoint. The drinks, scenery and outdoor lawn at the Oar are also on a level of their own, but we’ll get to that in the next section.
Aaand we’re back. Maybe you’re venturing out onto the restaurant’s lawn and looking for one of the many picnic tables to post up at on the water’s edge and enjoy a signature mudslide. Maybe you’re at the bar polishing off the last remnants of dinner and shifting gear into happy hour mode. Maybe I don’t know you at all and it’s 11AM and you’re trying chugging Shifty’s (iced coffee topped with a mudslide). Far be it for me to judge what and when you drink…but your where should be the Oar.
Just south of Old Harbor and Abram’s Animal Farm, Spring House has one of the finest outdoor patio bars on the island. The elevated eastern-facing view overlooks Spring Pond which overlooks the Atlantic. Spring House is also a prime destination-wedding spot, so if you catch it on the right day, you can definitely get into some untamed action and possibly meet unmarried single folk looking to make their Block Island trip most memorable. You didn’t hear it from us.
A staple beachfront party spot and home to probably the most Instagrammed mudslide on the eastern seaboard. Expect to encounter a small army of bachelorette parties and a scattered handful of relatively more calm but low-key equally as intoxicated couples on vacation. There is a lot of fun to be had at this place if you’re rolling with a group of friends, and like the other spots in this section, the sight from the bar is top notch.