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Block Island, Rhode Island is perfect for families looking to unwind and enjoy the simpler things in life. There are many things to do on Block Island with kids such as swimming in the ocean, kayaking, checking out one of the three lighthouses, or enjoying the wildlife and natural beauty.
Rhode Island is called The Ocean State for a reason, and being surrounded by the ocean, Block Island is the best example of the state’s nickname. It is the perfect place for active families who love the outdoors as there is an abundance of hiking trails, places to ride your bike (or a rented bike), and water activities. You will never get bored while on Block Island, that’s for sure.
Where is Block Island and how do you get there?
Block Island is a small island off the coast of Rhode Island that is only accessible by ferry, boat, or airplane. Just getting to Block Island will be a blast for kids of all ages.
Block Island is about an hour’s ferry ride from the mainland, which means it’s a great place to get away from it all. There are several places to catch the ferry, such as Point Judith, RI, Newport, RI, New London, CT, Fall River, MA, and Long Island, NY. Note: the Fall River ferry isn’t available for the 2021 season
During the summer months, Block Island experiences an influx of tourists and locals which makes visiting the beach a little bit challenging if you don’t plan ahead. The parking lots fill up quickly which means families who want to enjoy time on the beach must arrive early or make reservations for one of the public parking lots.
Block Island has taxis but they don’t have any other public transportation to the only way to get around on Block Island is by a taxi, private car, or a bicycle, which you can rent when you get to the Island if you didn’t bring your own on the ferry.
When is the best time to visit Block Island?
Summer is one of Block Island’s best times to visit even if it can get crowded. We love summer on Block Island because there are a variety of beaches to choose from. Some great beaches to visit include Ballard’s Beach, The Golden Drift, and Rip Ryder Beach.
You can even rent kayaks at Ballard Bay, and there is no better way to explore and enjoy the ocean with your family than while kayaking.
Horseback riding is available on the Island as well, which allows you to explore from a unique vantage point.
If you want to enjoy some of the quieter beaches, you should visit during the off-season. May and September are beautiful on Block Island and there is still plenty to do, but far fewer tourists.
This also gives families an opportunity to really get to explore the Island. Block Island might be small, but there is always something new to explore which makes it a popular location for families.
Rent a bicycle on Block Island
You can bring your own bike on the ferry for an added charge, but if you would rather rent a bike on Block Island, there are several places that offer bike rentals.
- Old Harbor Bike Shop
- Island Moped and Bike Rental
- Beach Rose Bicycles
- Aldo’s Mopeds (also has bicycles)
- Block Island Bike and Car Rental
- Moped Man (also has bicycles)
What to do with kids on Block Island
Go to the beach
Block Island might be small, but when you’re surrounded by water, you can expect there to be a lot of beaches. There are lots of beaches on this small island and if you have the time, you can explore them all.
Play at Crescent Beach
Crescent Beach is a white sand beach that stretches along the Island’s east coast from Old Harbor (where the ferries dock) to Clay Head. This is a great beach for families because there is a concession stand, umbrella and chair rentals, and a lifeguard on duty. Bring some shovels and pails and have a spectacular beach day overlooking Block Island Sound.
Spend the day at Fred Benson Town Beach
The Fred Benson Town Beach is perfect for families. Not only do you have a beautiful beach to build sandcastles and play in the water. There is also a lifeguard as well as bathroom facilities, concession stands, and even ice cream.
If you don’t have everything you need for the perfect beach day, you can rent it. There are chairs, umbrellas, and boogie boards available for rental to make your beach day perfect.
Relax in the sand at Ballard’s Beach
Ballard’s is one of the most popular destinations on Block Island because it’s a beautiful and fun beach to explore. Look for horseshoe crab shells, build sandcastles, and more.
During your visit to Ballard’s Beach, take a walk across the sand from Ballard Bay to Schoolhouse Pond to see the historic schoolhouse tower.
Ride the waves at Mansion Beach
Mansion Beach is built on the site where a mansion owned by Edward F. Searles once stood. The mansion burned down and now the beach is one of the most picturesque places on Block Island. Mansion Beach tends to have larger waves than the town beaches and is perfect for body surfing if you have older kids.
The beach runs for about 1/2 mile and at the western end of the Island there are small cliffs that have a wide plateau area that overlooks the ocean. There are some great trails to explore here as well.
Take in the view at Mohegan Bluffs
Located near the southern end of the Island, there is no better view on Block Island than the Mohegan Bluffs. Look out over the ocean and see the wind turbines or catch a glimpse of the Southeast Lighthouse.
Walk down the stairs to the beach if you would like to look for shells or just relax. This is one of the prettiest beaches on the Island.
See the animals at 1661 Exotic Farm & Garden
The 1661 Exotic Farm is home to many types of animals such as sheep, camels, kangaroos, goats, geese, and so many more.
The garden is home to rows and rows of beautiful flowers. 1661 Farm & Garden is the most popular destination on the Island for families, and for good reason.
Go birdwatching at the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge
Part of the Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge Complex, the Block Island Wildlife Refuge was established in 1985. It is a refuge for migratory waterfowl, nesting birds, shorebirds, songbirds, as well as numerous small animals.
Block Island Refuge consists of 2,093 acres and encompasses the southern half of Block Island and also features a variety of bird habitats such as salt marshes and vernal pools which provide feeding grounds for sanderlings, willet sandpipers, and several species of herons.
Go horseback riding at Rustic Rides Farm
Rustic Rides offers easy trail rides down to the beach as well as pony rides and sunset beach rides.
Hike along the Clayhead Nature Trail
The Clayhead Nature Trail is a fantastic place to visit if you want to see wildlife and enjoy nature on Block Island. It’s located in Noyack and takes approximately 45 minutes to walk one way and is worth the hike because the view at the end is breathtaking!
Take in the view at the Southeast Lighthouse
The Southeast Light is the last of Block Island’s three lighthouses to be erected. It was built in 1870 by Nathaniel Ray Thomas and sits on the southeastern tip of the Island overlooking the Mohegan Bluffs. This lighthouse guides boats into Quonset Point Harbor and is one of the most beautiful views on Block Island.
For anyone who wants to tour this beautiful lighthouse, there are tours available, or you can go on your own.
Be one with nature at Rodman’s Hollow
Rodman’s Hollow is a gorgeous 230-acre glacial outwash plain with spectacular views of the ocean. Take a walk to Black Rock Beach or have a picnic at this beautiful nature preserve.
Walk the Greenway Trail
Covering over 30 miles of the Island, these walking trails include views that can’t be seen from driving on the road. The Greenway Trail is perfect for families with children because none of the trails are classified as difficult.
Stop by the Block Island Historical Society Museum
Located in North Block Island, the Block Island Historical Society Museum is one of the best attractions for those with kids. The museum has exhibits that showcase the history of Block Island, including fossil remains and other island artifacts.
Join one of the Block Island History Tours to get a real feel of the Island’s history.
Rent a kayak at Pond and Beyond Kayak
Pond and Beyond Kayak offers Block Island kayak rentals as well as tours and instruction for all of your exploring needs. They offer a variety of different boat sizes, suitable for families or adults. Rentals also include a lifejacket, which is perfect, especially if you are traveling with children.
Rentals are on a first-come, first-served basis, so plan to book ahead of time, especially if you’re planning a trip with a larger group.
Enjoy nature at Lewis-Dickens Farm Wildlife Refuge
This 120-acre refuge provides easy hiking through coastal meadows and is a great spot for birdwatching. It houses a variety of habitats including salt marshes, sand dunes, the forested western shoreline, and vernal pools which are located in the central part of Block Island.
Catch the sunset at Block Island North Light
The North Light is an octagonal granite tower that was built in 1824. It sits on the northernmost edge of the Island and has been an active aid to navigation for over 157 years.
The lighthouse is open for tours throughout the year and includes a guided tour of the lighthouse tower which introduces visitors to its history and architecture.
Leading up to the North Light is a rocky shore where children might love to climb and build rock towers.
Cruise around on the Great Salt Pond
The Great Salt Pond is a popular place to visit for the whole family. The pond offers amazing views of the ocean and has many great activities you can do with the kids, such as shellfishing, sailing, or renting a paddleboard or kayak.
If you’re looking for a summer adventure destination in Rhode Island that’s as exciting for adults as it is for children, Block Island is a great choice.
There isn’t a shortage of fun family-friendly things to do on Block Island with kids. Whether you are visiting for the day, the weekend, or longer, or if you want to relax or be more active, your family will always find something to do here.