Block Island, No It’s Not Part of New York
Block Island was founded in 1661 when European settlers arrived to find gently rolling forests and an unspoiled landscape dotted with hundreds of fresh water ponds. They established a farming and fishing community that grew to the thousands around the time of the Civil War. As the population grew the Federal Government was convinced to build the Block Island Sound to attract steamboat traffic from the New York to Providence and New Bedford routes. A breakwater was erected at Old Harbor giving the Island its first real harbor; within 20 years a plethora of Victorian Hotels were built for the visiting passengers. The Island’s magnificent reputation as a vacation destination had begun.
Things on Block Island began to change as steamship traffic declined and the automotive age was on the rise. By the middle of the 20th Century, the Island had reverted to primarily farming and fishing, as even their resort communities dwindled. The year-round population, still not particularly high, fell below 500. Fortunately for Block Island commerce and for current visitors, the Island began to be rediscovered in the 1960s. Newcomers were enchanted by the landscapes, beaches, and wildlife, and began to buy property. One by one, the rustic hotels were restored and the village as it is today began to take form. In the real estate boom of the 1980s, a number of large development projects were proposed, but these projects were opposed and shot down by environmentalists unwilling to let Block Island become just another over-developed coastal community.
The result was a cozy community, only around 800 permanent residents during winter months, and a land of stunning vistas and amazing an ecosystem that has been preserved for all to enjoy. Due to the particular forces of nature that work on Block Island, no other place on earth shares its geography, nor its balance of species. The Island is a local rarity indeed. Its environment isn’t its only attractive quality either. The Island moves at its own pace and is known for its relaxed way of life. Those who live there (and those who visit) recognize Block Island is a special unit, as unique as the North Light or the 250-foot bluffs that it offers to those who frequent its terrain. More than 350 freshwater ponds (from natural springs), 17 miles of beach, and plenty of shops and restaurants invite you to jump in the surf, spend a lazy afternoon building a sandcastle, or enjoy a delicious meal and a great cone of ice cream at the end of a hot day.
Things to do:
The Island’s size is certainly not indicative of the amount of dining experiences or entertainment it has to offer. Here are just a few selections, but you can check out Block Island Dining to find anything more to your taste or expense range.
The Atlantic Inn Restaurant-
Elegant and romantic fine dining at an “unhurried” pace. Spectacular sunsets and ocean views, tapas, and a cocktail on the lawn or veranda in the afternoon is an unforgettable experience. Call 401-466-5883.
Spring House Hotel
- Enjoy the finest prime chops and steaks as well as the largest lobster served on the Island while enjoying beautiful scenic views of Rhode Island Sound. Call 401- 466-5844.
Mohegan Café & Brewery-
Serving lunch & dinner daily in air conditioned casual atmosphere. House made beer brewed by the chef on tap. Call 401-466-5911.
The Tap & Grille-
Famous porch overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Local fish and steaks on the grille. Local entertainment and satellite TVs. Call 401-466-2901.
Enjoy your meal on the beachside patio, harbor patio or in the traditional dining hall and stop in at the most popular bar in New England. Call 401- 466-2231.
Captain Nick’s Rock and Roll Bar- Home of “Monday Night Disco” and June’s “Block Island Music Festival” among other great acts all season. Call 401-466-5670.
Outside of the many shops in town, Block Island offers a plethora of experiences ranging from beautiful cliff beaches, to water sports, camping, and luxurious dining and hotels. Whichever you prefer you can find it here during the gorgeous summer months of Rhode Island. Check here for an extensive list of activities.
Spring Street Gallery-
Gallery of art and more by local Block Island artists: Watercolor, oil, print, jewelry, quilts and photography. Open May-October. Call 401- 466- 5374.
Diamondblue- Kiteboarding sports shop. Call 401-466-3145.
Rustic Rides Farm- Horseback riding on guided beach trails for adults, pony rides for children, and Carriage rides for special occasions. Call 401- 466-5060.
Champlin's Resort & Marina Tennis: Tennis club. Call 401- 466-2641.
This old wood-frame theatre is one of the oldest existing theatres in Rhode Island and exudes a certain kind of summer-camp charm. Call 401-466-3132.
Oceanwest Theater- The building has a functional plain exterior, with a front of corrugated metal and beach-shingles. The theatre has been used for dramatic productions and for movies during the summer season. Call 401- 466-2971.
Special Events: (Calendar)
Block Island Music Festival 2008 June 10-15
Spring House Summer Concert Series July 13
Oyster Festival Summer Concert Series July 27
Annual Block Island Art Festival 2008 August 9-10
Below are a few select Hotels, Inns, and Bed & Breakfasts, but Block Island has far more to offer than what is presented here. Go to the Block Island website for an entire list.
Bed and Breakfasts/ Inns:
The Upstairs - Secluded, yet near town, this B&B provides a private bath and deck, a separate entrance, and also a cottage with deck. Call 401-466-2627.
Anchor House Inn - Newly renovated inn located in the Historic district, the rooms have private baths and include continental breakfast. Call401-466-5021.
The Bellevue House - An 1880’s Inn that offers its visitors rooms with ocean views and beautiful gardens very close to Old Harbor. Call 401-466-5891.
New Shoreham House - Across the street from Old Harbor Landing, central to shops and restaurants, beaches and theaters. Most rooms offer ocean views. Call 401-466-2605.
Spring House Hotel - The Island’s largest and most historic hotel holds 50 recently renovated rooms, a beautiful wrap-around porch and magnificent views from 17 acres of extensive lawn. Call 466-5844.
The National Hotel - Centrally located, the National Hotel is a beautiful Victorian circa 1888 with a celebrated porch and the Tap & Grille Restaurant. Call 401-466-2901.
The Hotel Manisses - This 19th Century Romantic Victorian hotel features seventeen meticulously appointed rooms with authentic furniture. Call 401-466-2421.
- 401- 466- 5018
Block Island Bike and Car Rental, Inc.
- 401- 466- 2297
Island Moped & Bikes
- 401- 466- 2700
Old Harbor Bike Shop - 401- 466- 2029
Clark's Cab - 401- 741- 0038
Mig’s Rig Taxi
- 401- 480- 0493
Kody’s Taxi & Tours - 401- 595- 9004
Oceanside Taxi - 401- 241- 7433
Dockage & Moorings:
BI New Harbor
Gas & Diesel
BI Boat Basin
Gas & Diesel
Champlin’s Marina and Resort
Gas & Diesel
Old Harbor Dock
Payne’s New Harbor Dock
Gas & Diesel
Smuggler’s Cove Marina
Dockage& Moorings Available