Fourteen miles east of Montauk, New York and thirteen miles south of the coast of mainland Rhode Island, there is a magical little island that comes alive during the months of July and August.
During the rest of the year, this island plays home to just under 1,000 residents — many of whom spend parts of the other year building up to these two months where their shops, restaurants, inns, and other businesses will be entirely packed, only to later become quiet again by the time the leaves think about changing. On this island, you'll find sandy beaches around every turn of a hill, a surprising amount of happy, roaming wildlife, and an endless amount of Del's soft frozen lemonade. You'll also find some of the nicest people you will ever meet.
Welcome to Block Island, Rhode Island, considered one the "Last Great Places" on Earth. In my time spent there, I can say that is undoubtedly true. It's an incredibly special place with lush greenery, delicious seafood, and overall, a huge heart.
If you're looking for a getaway this summer (or this fall, because I've heard September is actually the best kept secret of the island), consider taking a ferry on over and heading to some of these spots for nature, shopping, and snacking.
Forty percent of Block Island's land is conserved due to the work of the nature conservancy. One of the beautiful results of this is the preservation of things such as the Mohegan Bluffs, the place where the Mohegan Indian tribe used to reside that was formed from glaciers melted and forming steep slopes on the island thousands of years ago.
One of the two lighthouses on the island, this is located just down the road from the Bluffs (the building is shorter because of its positioning on top of the natural structure). Having its origin back in 1874, the lighthouse was moved back due to erosion in 1990, an impressive task that required the funds and architectural skills to preserve what is now a National Historic Landmark.
Located near Settler's Rock and the North Lighthouse, Cow's Cove is not the friendliest of beaches with its rocky shoreline. However, it will offer you one of the clearest views the island has to offer. In one direction, you can look out and on a clear day see to Montauk. In another, do the same and you will see coastal Connecticut.
A shop located and inspired by the colors of the ocean, you will find an assortment of clothing, jewelry, and other things for your home in its many nooks and crannies. Spend time going through each little section, chat with owner, Mary, and enjoy one of the many "Dames of Dodge Street" businesses (most of the businesses owned on this street are owned by women!).
This might be the only time you could be bummed not to have your car with you on Block Island, and only because owner Carolyn (another Dame of Dodge) has a number of found, vintage, or refurbished pieces of furniture that you will want to reclaim yourself and take home. Instead, maybe look at the vintage clothing in the back.
The Glass Onion
Filled with things as delicate and dainty as the name suggests, the store is home to unique gifts (think quirky and cool cups, mugs, and wine glasses), interesting reads, and fun jewelry pieces inspired by the sea. It's doubtful you'll be able to walk out without picking up at least a thing or two to take back with you to the mainland.
Nothing says summer quite like the taste of a lobster roll or some fried shrimp...well, at least in my book. Both of these are available at Finn's. Whether you eat in or take out, you'll have the experience of what it truly means to have the best simple seafood at your fingertips, and you might miss it the most when you bid adieu.
Ballard’s Restaurant and Inn
If you're looking for waterfront dining, entertainment, and a drink list longer than my required reading last semester, Ballard's is the place to go. There are thirteen different kinds of lobster to choose from alone! Start with a cup of New England Clam Chowder and work your way around the menu with friends, agreeing to share.
If you've saved room for dessert (spoiler alert: you should have), then make your way inland just a tad for one, or two, or more scoops of homemade, delicious and diverse ice cream from a family who has been making it and serving it to boaters for generations. If you're more in the food for soft cookies or chocolate-covered strawberries, those are also available.
It is guaranteed that you will find all of this and more on your travels to one of my favorite places in the whole world. If you're lucky, you might also find yourself.