By Yankee Staff
May 15 2019
An 11-square-mile island located off the coast of Rhode Island, Block Island lures summer visitors with dramatic bluffs overlooking pristine beaches, saltwater ponds, and twin lighthouses — all waiting to be admired on foot, by bicycle, or in a kayak.
Here are some of our favorite ways to spend a summer weekend on Block Island. For even more travel inspiration, check out episode 8 in season 3 of Weekends with Yankee, in which cohost Richard Wiese discovers a whimsical treasure hunt that features glass orbs hidden all over Block Island.
No Block Island weekend is complete without a visit to Payne Overlook for a view from the majestic 200-foot-tall Mohegan Bluffs. Descend the 141 steps to the rocky beach below for a swim — but only if you’re willing to climb back up!
Spanning 190 acres at the northeast tip of the island, Clay Hill Preserve offers extensive trails that let visitors wander past the beach, atop clay bluffs, or to unmarked, intertwined mystery destinations in an area known as the Maze.
Built in 1874, Southeast Light has been visited by both Ulysses S. Grant and Bill Clinton. It would have fallen off an eroding cliff if not for a grass-roots effort to move it back 300 feet from the edge in 1993. Need more lighthouse eye candy? Head to the northern tip of the island for a short trek to North Light.
If your Block Island weekend includes kids, you won’t want to miss a (free!) visit to pet the alpacas, camels, kangaroos, yaks, and zeedonk at Abrams Farm, located across the street from the 1661 Inn. In the middle of the farm, you’ll also find North Light Fibers, maker of handcrafted artisanal yarns.
Stop by the Old Harbor Bike Shop or Island Moped and Bike Rental, then get pedaling to such favorite destinations as Crescent Beach (don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for hidden glass orbs). Prefer the water? Pond & Beyond Kayak offers rentals and a variety of guided tours, including family-friendly options and a two-and-a-half-hour small-group ecotour of the shallow, serene Great Salt Pond.
With its elegant ambience and sophisticated dining, Hotel Manisses is a perfect spot for lovebirds. A 2016 interior makeover has given the Victorian landmark’s 17 rooms and its restaurant a fresh, posh appeal.
Built in 1852, Spring House Hotel has oodles of historic charm and multiple lodging options to suit your needs, including the 17-room Mott House, a trio of luxury Barn Suites, and a newer, 10-room boutique hotel, the Inn at Spring House.
Traveling with kids? The 1661 Inn, with private decks and ocean views available from many rooms, welcomes children of all ages. Family perks include a playground on the large back lawn and a complimentary gourmet breakfast buffet.
Some say it’s the Block Island water that makes these doughnuts taste so good, but we suspect the simple menu (choose from plain, cinnamon, or sugar) and more than 50 years of experience make this family-owned walk-up window a sweet island tradition.
With three convenient locations (including one at the Fred Benson Town Beach pavilion on Crescent Beach) and a menu that stretches from breakfast to late-night eats, the wraps, burgers, salads, and seafood offerings at Rebecca’s keep hungry summer customers happy.
Great service and refined cuisine have combined to make Winfield’s a fine-dining favorite. Its menu mixes an abundance of local ingredients with both New American and far-flung influences, and the extensive wine list ensures the perfect pairing for any meal.
Don’t miss what Yankee has called “the premier sunset-cocktail vantage point on the island.” At the inn’s Restaurant 1879, dishes like pesto-rubbed chicken, seared sea scallops, and baked stuffed lobster earn rave reviews.
At Eli’s, an island standby, the menu is short but satisfying, featuring creative bites such as tuna nachos complemented with sriracha sour cream and pickled ginger, and a burger of ground prime short rib topped with pimento cheese spread, caramelized Vidalia onions, and smoked bacon.