Block Island, RI
Block Island offers a relaxed, casual atmosphere for your next family vacation. If you're searching for a place like Nantucket used to be decades ago, this might be the place for you. Almost one-quarter of Block Island is conservation land, offering miles of protected beaches and dunes. In fact, this commitment to conservation caused the Nature Conservancy to name Block Island one of the 12 Last Great Places in the Western Hemisphere.
The small island offers miles of hiking trails and beautiful beaches. Crescent Beach is one of the most beautiful, stretching for over two miles along the island's eastern shore. The surf is calmer here than on the rest of the island, and you'll find lifeguards at the Fred Benson Town Beach access area. This is also where you can rent watersports equipment, chairs, umbrellas, and buy lunch. Personally, I think Mansion Beach is the prettiest area, but you won't find any amenities here. Families with small children enjoy the beaches at Sachem Pond, where the waters are warm and calm.
If you're seeking a place to stay on Block Island, you might want to try one of the following options:
Hotel Manisses: While this 1870 landmark bed and breakfast and restaurant is expensive, it offers beautiful rooms and amenities. Children under 10 can't stay in the main hotel, but they are welcome in the 1661 Inn across the street. If you'd like more information, call (401) 466-2421 or (800) 626-4773 or visit them online at: www.blockislandresorts.com.
The Bellevue House: This inexpensive Bed & Breakfast find offers a casual atmosphere perfect for family guests. Rooms are small, but there are also cottages available. For more information, call (800) 718-1446 or (401) 848-6242 or visit their website at: www.bellevuehouse.com.
The Atlantic Inn: This Victorian inn offers 21 rooms just a short walk away from the Old Harbor. Families will enjoy the tennis courts and a playhouse replica of the inn for the kids. Children under 12 stay free in their parents' room. For more information, call (800) 224-7422 or (401) 466-5883 or visit their website at: www.atlanticinn.com.
New Shoreham House Inn: Located in the historic district, this inn overlooks the Old Harbor. Special family packages are offered at selected times during the summer, and kids under 12 stay free in their parents' room. For more information, call (800) 272-2601 or (401) 466-2651 or check this website for reservations: New Shoreham House Inn Reservations.
Fishing is big on Block Island, as is biking and hiking along the miles of trails that lace this three-mile by seven-mile island. The Nature Conservancy maintains about 20 miles of walking trails on the island, offering spectacular views and glimpses of wildlife. While hiking, make sure to wear long slacks and after you return, check your skin for ticks.
We enjoyed the clam chowder at The Beachhead in Old Harbor, ice cream at The Ice Cream Place, and lots of great seafood. Nightlife isn't big here, but there are movie theaters and a few bars and nightclubs. For more information on Block Island, call the Block Island Tourism Council at (800) 383-BIRI (2474) or The Block Island Chamber of Commerce at (401) 466-2982. Or visit: www.blockislandchamber.com .