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Block Island Rhode Island is a Stunning Getaway From NYC

Block Island Rhode Island is a Stunning Getaway From NYC

Block Island, Rhode Island is the perfect getaway from all the noise with 17 miles of beach and Victorian style accommodations, you will never want to leave!

I am constantly looking for beautiful getaways from NYC. I love my city but a quick getaway is such a beautiful refresher. I especially love a place that is a quick drive, or train ride away. I’ve visited all the states south of NYC on the east coast but can you believe that I have never gone north? When I got the invitation to visit Block Island, Rhode Island with other bloggers–I really couldn’t say yes fast enough because I had heard such amazing things about Rhode Island plus it was FINALLY my chance to go North!

After a beautiful, scenic, nearly 3 hour ride to Kingston on the Amtrak (which is really my happy place–insanely relaxing and PRODUCTIVE!). We took about a 20 minute drive to the Block Island Ferry and learned so many awesome things from our tour guide along the way.

History of Block Island

The Beginnings of Block Island

Block Island is a small, picturesque island situated approximately 13 miles south of the coast of Rhode Island. Named after the Dutch explorer Adriaen Block, who is credited with discovering the island in 1614, Block Island has a rich history steeped in Native American culture, maritime activities, and a unique blend of architectural styles. Before the arrival of Europeans, the island was inhabited by Native Americans, specifically the Niantic tribe, who called it “Manisses,” meaning “Island of the Little God.”

European Settlement and Development

In the mid-17th century, English settlers began to arrive, led by John Clarke who obtained the island from the Native Americans through negotiation. With this, the European phase of the island’s history began to unfold. Early settlers engaged in fishing, farming, and whaling, the last of which became a significant industry for the island. Over time, Block Island was integrated into the Rhode Island colony, which itself was unique for its focus on religious freedom and individual liberties.

During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the island gained a reputation as a haven for pirates and smugglers, partly due to its strategic location. It was situated along popular trade routes but was also isolated enough to serve as a convenient hideaway. The most notorious pirate associated with the island was Captain Kidd. According to legend, he buried treasure there, although no such treasure has ever been found.

Victorian Era to the Modern Day

The Victorian era saw a significant shift in Block Island’s economic landscape, as the island began to develop as a tourist destination. Steamboats started operating between the mainland and the island, hotels were constructed, and by the late 19th century, the island had become a popular resort area. Tourists were particularly drawn to its natural beauty, including the famous Mohegan Bluffs, a series of clay cliffs that overlook the Atlantic Ocean. The Southeast Lighthouse, built in 1874, became another iconic landmark and remains an important navigational tool for ships.

During the 20th century, Block Island worked to balance tourism and ecological preservation. In the 1970s, efforts to conserve the island’s natural beauty took precedence. Much of the island has been preserved as open space, in part due to the work of the Block Island Conservancy and similar organizations. The island also ventured into sustainable energy, becoming home to the first offshore wind farm in the United States in 2016.

Cultural and Architectural Richness

What’s perhaps most fascinating about Block Island is its unique blend of architectural styles. The island is home to an array of buildings that range from Victorian-era hotels to historic New England-style cottages. This architectural diversity is a testament to the island’s complex history, influenced by Native American, European, and American cultures. Many of these buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places, providing a tangible link to the island’s varied past.

Current Status and Future

Today, Block Island remains a much-loved destination for tourists, who come for its unspoiled beaches, outdoor activities, and laid-back lifestyle. At the same time, it continues to be a place where efforts to preserve both its history and its environment are ongoing. Tourism remains the backbone of the island’s economy, but there is an increasing focus on sustainable practices to ensure that the natural beauty and historical significance of the island are maintained for future generations.

Block Island offers a fascinating tapestry of history that has been shaped by its Native American origins, European settlements, maritime activities, and more recently, by its transformation into a popular but carefully preserved tourist destination. It serves as a microcosm of American history, encapsulating elements of exploration, colonialism, industry, and conservation, all within its modest landmass.

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Did you know these things about Block Island?

  • Named “one of the twelve best unspoiled areas in the Western Hemisphere”
  • Has 17 miles of unspoiled beaches
  • Brilliantly restored Victorian Inns and B&Bs
  • Activities include bike riding, hiking, horseback riding, bird-watching and snorkeling
  • More than 50 specialty shops and more than a dozen art galleries

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Arriving on Block Island

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The moment I stepped foot off the Amtrak and into Rhode Island, even the AIR was different. NYC can be a super intense place, and Rhode Island gave me a super relaxing vibe. We boarded the Block Island Ferry and it was beautiful to watch–that was until the boat sped up! It was SOO windy! I’m pretty sure my cheeks were rippling. 🙂 But oh man was it worth it, as we arrived on the island, I knew that we were in a really special place.

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We had lunch a few steps away from the ferry at a stunning restaurant/hotel called The National. The food was phenomenal–so good. I had a plain burger with pasta salad and most of my fellow bloggers had the famous lobster rolls. I couldn’t partake because of my seafood allergy, but it all got extremely rave reviews!

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SouthEast Light House

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Next we headed quickly to the Southeast Light House. A 52 foot tall tower that serves as a guide to boats all over the east coast. The building was actually picked up and moved from it’s original location on the edge of the cliff to 300 hundred feet away in 1993. The entire building remained in tact, and it was the coolest thing ever to climb to the top and see the light in all its glory up close and personal.

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Glass Float Project


Afterwards we toured more of the island and stopped on one of the most beautiful trails for the Glass Float Project:

550 Glass Floats (glass orbs about the size of a grapefruit) will be hidden on Block Island. Floats will be dated, numbered and stamped with the shape of Block Island. All floats are clear glass except for 16 (because it is 2016), which are special colored orbs. One super special float is made entirely out of gold leaf. 

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We walked and walked and search but unfortunately none of us found one of these special orbs, but I think I definitely need to go back and take a closer look because the orbs are SO beautiful!


How Do You Get To Block Island Anyway?

Glad you asked, so you can take the Block Island ferry from Newport, Rhode Island, New London Connecticut, or even via the Montauk Ferry on Long Island!

Just off the coast of Rhode Island, this secret gem is a throwback to the mid-1800s: Antique-filled Victorian Inns, miles of pristine rolling hills, and towering cliffs with stunning views of the Atlantic. –

Overall thoughts of Block Island

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Block Island is really a place that celebrates a life of relaxation, old school values and beautiful scenery. Most every hotel has a limited amount of rooms, I’m pretty sure I didn’t see a hotel over 2 floors. Every restaurant I saw had a beautiful view of the beach and so did every B&B. The island is also a great place to bike, swim and run too! Although, I went for a day trip the island really left a lasting impression on me. I would love to take my family here before the summer is out!

Transportation, excursions and meals were graciously provided by Rhode Island Tourism.

What are some other fun travel posts to check out?


Tuesday 12th of July 2016

Looks like a lovely place to take your soulmate to. Did you make videos of Block Island to compliment this post? Would love to see. :-)


Thursday 23rd of June 2016

Gorgeous photos Nellie! I love Block Island! We vacationed there every year when I was a kid. I loved the waves at the beach. I remember climbing that lighthouse. We loved riding bikes around the island. It is such a cute and picturesque place!


Tuesday 21st of June 2016

I can't believe it, but I've never been. I have friends who lived in Rhode Island so I've visited Providence, but never Block Island. I think I need to get there immediately!


Tuesday 21st of June 2016

Come to think of it, I've never been in states north of New York, either. This whole post makes me look forward to our vacation in a few weeks, and also makes me want to go find gems like this up north. Thanks for the review!


Monday 20th of June 2016

Such stunning images! Makes me want to head over to Rhode Island. Would be a great place to visit this summer.