The Best Things to do in Block Island, Rhode Island

The 15 Best Things to do in Block Island, Rhode Island

Located just 12 miles off the coast of Rhode Island, Block Island offers a scenic retreat for those looking to experience something new on their New England beach vacation. More than a place for a beach getaway, though it does have 17 miles of sandy shores to explore, it’s a location dedicated to conservation. Thanks to these efforts, there’s so much natural beauty to see here! 

Are you a wildlife lover? You’ll adore seeing more than 40 state and federal rare or endangered species happily at peace in their home. Outdoor adventurer? From hiking trails to kayaking to biking, you’ll play all day in the sun here. History buff? You’ll be able to learn about the past and present of Block Island, as well as how the island has played a role in the history of New England and beyond.

Looking for the best things to do on Block Island for your vacation? We’ve compiled a list of the best Block Island activities and attractions to help you plan your itinerary. Stick to this Block Island bucket list, and you’re bound to have an amazing time on this stunning, pristine island!

15 Fun and Unique Things to do in Block Island, RI

1. Take a Self-Guided Bike or Moped Tour

Best Things to do in Block Island, Rhode Island: Bike Tour

Although Block Island has taxi services available, there’s no other form of public transportation. And because you likely hopped on a ferry to get to Block Island, you may not have a car to help you get around. Luckily, you don’t really need one. Block Island is very bike-friendly, and it’s easy to see the entire island by cycling around.

If you don’t have a bike with you, you can rent one on the island. One of the top spots to rent is Beach Rose Bicycles, which offers everything from mountain bikes to beach cruisers. If you’re bringing along the whole family, you can also rent things like child seats and tag-a-longs. If you’re not used to biking around hilly neighborhoods, you may want to get mopeds instead, which are available at Island Moped and Bike.

Once you’ve rented a bike or moped, you can explore the island yourself. Or you can take Block Island’s official self-guided bike tour. The tour consists of 12 stations around the island. Once you get to each one, you’ll shoot the QR code on the circular signpost to receive a minute-long video that shows you the location’s history. The route consists of 16 miles, but a shorter 7.5-mile loop is also available.

2. Marvel at the Views from the Top of the Lighthouses

Cool Things to do in Block Island, Rhode Island: North Light

Block Island has long had a reputation for being difficult to navigate by mariners. That history left behind two landmarks that are two of the best Block Island attractions. The island is home to two lighthouses that offer incredible views! 

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, North Light is a granite and iron lighthouse that dates back to 1867. Although there’s no tower access, the building contains a museum that’s open from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. The walk to the lighthouse from the parking lot on Corn Neck Road is also worth the trek as it offers scenic views and passes by Settler’s Rock.

Unique Things to do in Block Island, Rhode Island: North Light

Over atop the Mohegan Bluffs is where you’ll find the second lighthouse, built in 1875, the Southeast Lighthouse. Unlike North Light, this lighthouse tower is available for visitors to take a tour, at least during the summer. The lighthouse is visually striking itself, but the view from the top is also not to be missed. 

3. Explore the Lewis-Dickens Farm Wildlife Refuge

Block Island, Rhode Island Bucket List: Lewis-Dickens Farm Wildlife Refuge

Looking for a peaceful place for a morning hike? Then, the Lewis-Dickens Farm Wildlife Refuge belongs on your Block Island bucket list! 

This scenic location is preserved by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, which strives to maintain its delicate beauty. It’s a rather quiet spot, as the Audubon Society has prohibited anything that might endanger the flora and fauna. When you visit here, you’ll mainly see other hikers and bird-watchers.

Fun Things to do in Block Island, Rhode Island: Lewis-Dickens Farm Wildlife Refuge

In addition to protecting the wildlife, this area is also designed to preserve some of Block Island’s farming history. It’s named for Elizabeth Dickens, known as the “Bird Lady of Block Island,” and the Lewis family of Block Island, whose history on the island dates back to the 1800s.

This 120-acre wildlife refuge is home to wildlife, including deer, the Block Island meadow vole, and many species of birds, from warblers to owls to falcons. If you want to look for critters, you’ll find plenty to see here. But you’ll also be able to take in incredible views of the Atlantic along your walk through the coastal meadows. 

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4. Shop and Dine Around Downtown

Must do things in Block Island, Rhode Island: Bound Bookstore

Block Island is known for its natural beauty, but once you explore the downtown area, you’ll find that there’s plenty of beauty in the structures built by the island’s residents as well. Throughout the island’s downtown, you’ll find quaint and adorable shops and restaurants lining the main street. You can’t end your trip to Block Island without spending some time perusing these stores.

Peel back the layers of the Glass Onion, a one-of-a-kind home goods store located in a historic cottage. Or visit Chapel Sweets for roasted nuts and handcrafted chocolates. Looking for a good beach read? There’s no better place to go than Island Bound Bookstore. If you’re visiting with little ones, this is one of the best things to do in Block Island because they’re for sure going to want to stop inside Minnow!

5. Spend a Day at the Beach

Best Things to do in Block Island, Rhode Island: Spend a Day at the Beach

There are many beaches around Block Island, each with something different to offer visitors. While spending a day at the beach is one of the best things to do on Block Island, you might find that you want to take several beach days to explore the unique sandy shores on this island.

If you’re looking for a quiet place to read a good book in the sand, Mansion Beach, named for an actual mansion here that burned down in the 1960s, is a perfect choice. It’s often one of the calmer beaches on the island. But what’s not calmer are the waves, which are typically large and a great fit for boogie boarders and body surfers.

If you’re worried about little ones getting swept away by the big waves, head to Fred Benson Town Beach instead. Though it’s often more crowded, it’s a good choice for families, as it also has many amenities Mansion Beach doesn’t have, like concession stands and changing rooms. It also has lifeguards on duty during the summer, which Mansion Beach does not have.

But if you’re wondering where the party is at, head to Ballard’s Beach. Ballard’s Beach, which is walkable from the ferry, is always packed, but that’s part of its charm. Who wants to party alone? 

Throughout the summer, you’ll find live music performing at Ballard’s oceanfront restaurant, adding to the party vibe. You can also find several tiki huts along the beach, so you’re never too far from a daiquiri.

6. Kayak the Great Salt Pond

Best Things to do in Block Island, Rhode Island: Great Salt Pond

The Great Salt Pond is Block Island’s only estuary, and it has a unique history. Once a freshwater pond, a channel opening it to Block Island Sound was dug in the 1870s, turning it into a tidal salt pond. 

As with much of Block Island, the Great Salt Pond’s natural beauty is celebrated and protected today. But it wasn’t always this way. While it was once ignored by the community, things turned around nearly 40 years ago, helping to turn it into one of the top Block Island attractions.

One of the best ways to see the pond and one of the best things to do in Block Island is hopping on a kayak or paddleboard. Pond & Beyond Kayak offers both rentals and tour options to get you out on the water. 

With their “Eco-Tour,” you’ll cruise your way around the pond as you learn about the environment around you. You’ll visit an oyster farm, see a fiddler crab colony, and much more throughout the two-hour excursion. Other unique offerings include a tour under the full moon, a sunset tour, and a sunrise tour for the early risers.

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7. Go Bird-Watching at the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge

Cool Things to do in Block Island, Rhode Island: Block Island National Wildlife Refuge

Block Island is known for its conservation efforts, as is evident from places like the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a perfect place to take in some scenic views, but the biggest reason to spend some time here is the wildlife.

The refuge lands on Block Island are known for their migratory songbirds. There are over 70 species on the island. Block Island is recognized as one of the most important migratory bird habitats on the East Coast. From piping plovers to night herons, many species of birds call this refuge home for parts of the year. 

Unique Things to do in Block Island, Rhode Island: Block Island National Wildlife Refuge

Even if you’re not much of a bird-watcher, you’ll find this location to be a peaceful and pristine place to visit, perfect for hiking and picnicking. Enjoy wandering the diverse trails, then settle in for a picnic lunch on the beach.

8. Enjoy the Panorama at Mohegan Bluffs

Fun Things to do in Block Island, Rhode Island: Mohegan Bluffs

Looking for one of the best views of all of Block Island? You’ll find it at the Mohegan Bluffs, which are 200-foot cliffs with an incredible vista of the Atlantic Ocean. These bluffs stretch on for nearly 3 miles, and you’ll want to walk along it all to enjoy the astonishing panorama. 

If you’re feeling adventurous, venture down to the sandy shore beneath the large clay cliffs. There’s a set of 141 steep steps leading down to the sand, but the effort is well worth it. Locals and visitors alike often say that the beach at the base of the bluffs is the most beautiful on the whole island.

If you have some time, take the 6.9-mile Mohegan Bluffs Trail, which goes between the bluffs and the ocean. Be sure to bring sneakers instead of flip-flops, despite this being a beach trek. You’re going to want the extra support.

9. Hike Clay Head Nature Trail

Block Island, Rhode Island Bucket List: Clay Head Nature Trail

Much of Block Island is protected land, and you’ll find the Clay Head Nature Trail, one of the best Block Island activities, in one such place. The Clay Head Preserve is a 190-acre property that’s open to the public and is one of the best places to look for migratory songbirds in North America throughout the spring and fall. 

As you walk along the Clay Head Nature Trail, you’ll head toward the ocean, passing by Clay Head Swamp. About a third of a mile into the trail, you’ll come to an intersection. Turn right to find a sandy beach that’s often calm and deserted. Or head left to trek your way around the area’s picturesque bluffs. 

At the top of the trail, you’ll find what’s commonly called “The Maze,” a series of interconnected, unmarked trails that take you all around the preserve. This area is particularly known for its bird-watching. 

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10. Go Horseback Riding

Must do things in Block Island, Rhode Island: Horseback Riding

We know that biking around Block Island is one of the best ways to get around, but how about horseback riding? If you want to take in the island’s scenery, there are few better ways to do it than going on a guided trail ride, making it one of the coolest things to do in Block Island.

What to do in Block Island, Rhode Island: Horseback Riding

Rustic Rides Horse Farm is a family-owned company providing beach and trail rides through the island’s nature preserves. Each tour is led by a knowledgeable, friendly guide who will ensure you don’t miss out on any attractions throughout your ride. In addition to beach and trail rides throughout the day, you can also book a ride at sunset for even more stunning views.

11. Picnic in Rodman’s Hollow

Block Island, Rhode Island Things to do: Rodman’s Hollow

For a relaxing, scenic place to spend an afternoon, Rodman’s Hollow is one of the coolest things to do in Block Island. This plain, formed by a depression left behind by glaciers, is considered the birthplace of conservation on Block Island. 

It was in 1971 that the Block Island Conservancy was formed to preserve open spaces on the island. Rodman’s Hollow was one of the first sites they focused their efforts upon. Today, about 44% of the island is preserved open space.

Rodman’s Hollow covers 230 acres, featuring views of the Atlantic Ocean. From Rodman’s Hollow, you can walk down to Black Rock Beach, with native trees and shrubs lining your path. Throughout Rodman’s Hollow, you’ll find several trails perfect for a stroll. You can also find a spot to have a lovely picnic.

Rodman’s Hollow is also a perfect place to look for glass floats, numbered orbs that have been hidden around the island as part of the Glass Float Project. There are 550 in total, all placed around the island in places that are accessible and won’t hurt the surrounding habitats. 

12. Step Back in Time at the Block Island Historical Society Museum

If you’re a history buff, then visiting the Block Island Historical Society Museum is one of the best things to do on Block Island. This building is both the headquarters for the historical society, which strives to preserve the island’s history and a museum designed to share the history with others. 

The museum has a unique collection of artifacts, including stone tools and points from the Manissean tribe, early New England maritime and farming tools, and memorabilia from the colonial age. Exhibits dive into Block Island’s founding, as well as the history of those who inhabited it for 4,000 years prior to Block Island’s naming, the Manisseans. Rotating exhibits explore the unique facets of Block Island’s culture, such as its sailing history.

While a visit to the museum is a wonderful way of transporting yourself back through Block Island’s history, the historical society also has many events that help you see even more. Each week on Thursdays, you can go on a guided walking tour of the Old Harbor. Or, on Thursday evenings, you can go on a more extensive tour of the whole island, courtesy of the island’s Peter Pan Taxi Service.

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13. Get Up Close to the Critters at 1661 Farm and Gardens

Unique Things to do in Block Island, Rhode Island: 1661 Farm and Gardens

If you’re an animal lover, 1661 Farm and Gardens offers one of the most unique things to do on Block Island. Located across the street from the 1661 Inn, the 1661 Farm and Gardens is home to animals from all over the world, living in well-kept, spacious conditions. 

Here you’ll see animals you don’t often see on other farms or even zoos, like yaks, zebus, red kangaroos, camels, and pygmy goats. But what people are often most excited to see is the one-eyed zedonk, which is a hybrid of a zebra and a donkey, named Cindy!

The farm was the brainchild of Justin Abrams, which is why you may also hear of this location being called Abrams Animal Farm. Abrams has since passed, but he left the farm to his grandsons, who continue his vision of caring for exotic animals today.

There’s no charge for visiting the farm and gardens. You’re welcome to stop by to see and pet the animals during the farm’s business hours. However, you can also help support the farm and make the animals very happy by buying a bag of feed to give to the critters.

14. Take a Tour of North Light Fibers

Traveling with someone who loves getting crafty? Then, North Light Fibers is one of the must-do things to do on Block Island. This incomparable location is a micro yarn mill where they produce minimally-processed yarns made from exotic fibers like yak, camel, and much more. All of the yarn is made on the island, from the washing to the dying to the spinning. 

The company produces finished products, including beautiful handmade garments and home products made by knitters on the island and organizations that serve women in need to help them find fulfilling work. 

You can also purchase skeins of yarn yourself or buy the company’s kits, which can teach you to knit scarves, hats, mittens, and more. You can also learn to felt with their kits, which allows you to make everything from holiday ornaments to adorable animals.

If you want to learn more about the company, you can also take a tour of the mill itself. Simply call or email them to set up a time to explore the one-of-a-kind facility.

15. Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Block Island, Rhode Island Bucket List: Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

Would it be a vacation if you didn’t chow down on some delicious food you could only get on Block Island? And while there are several charming restaurants on the island, what really stands out is its dessert scene.

One of the most famous is Blocks of Fudge, a family-owned candy store that’s been serving the island with sweet treats for 30 years. As the name suggests, this causal spot is known for its fudge. 

Fun Things to do in Block Island, Rhode Island: Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth

In fact, it’s been voted the best fudge in Rhode Island and one of the best places for fudge in the United States. From creamsicle to maple walnut to chocolate peanut butter, the hardest part will be deciding which ones to try.

If you’re more of an ice cream fan, visit the Ice Cream Place or Aldo’s Bakery. The Ice Cream Place is the island’s original ice cream parlor, serving up creamy treats for over 40 years. This old-fashioned location is perfect whether you’re craving a massive sundae or a simple scoop on a waffle cone. 

Over at Aldo’s Bakery, a family-owned business that’s been serving Block Island for over 40 years, you’ll find tons of baked goods alongside their homemade ice cream. But the real star here is the gelato. Featuring 24 flavors of creamy goodness, you’ll have a hard time choosing between their unique options, which include Italian Flaming Coffee, Limoncello, and Tiramisu. 

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There you have it! The 15 best things to do on Block Island. What are your favorite things to do on Block Island? Let us know in the comments.


About the Author:

  • Jacqueline Gualtieri

    Jacqueline is a writer and editor pursuing the freelance life to explore the world. Born and raised in New Jersey, she spent her college years in Boston before settling down with her partner and puppy in Monterey, California.

    When she’s not writing, you can often find her planning her next trip. Road trips are her favorite, whether it’s driving across the country or simply exploring a new city in her own backyard. She loves uncovering the history of every new place she goes.

    Jacqueline has a restless passion for learning and makes it a goal to pick up a new skill every year. She’s picked up embroidery, crocheting, knitting, and cross-stitching, but she’s hoping to master more languages to help her in her travels. She’s also a published author, with short stories and poetry appearing in several anthologies.

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