Block Island? Isn’t that somewhere off the coast of Canada? Or one of the Thousand Islands? Nobody knows The Block. And that’s precisely what makes it so special (and what makes me hesitant to post this). 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.
But don’t go expecting a Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard. Everything about the island is low-key—no over-the-top hotels or foam-enhanced entrees—just pure old-school New England charm. All you need is your bathing suit and a pair of flip flops. Here are a few of my favorite Block Island spots and activities:
Eat: Head to Eli’s in old town for dinner, a low-lit grey clapboard cottage with a buzzing bar and a wood-beamed ceiling. Start with the tuna nachos, followed by marinated chicken with Thai curry fried rice. Dinner for two $60.
Do: The island has some of the most fantastic hiking on the northeast. My favorite trails: On the northern tip, the eight-mile long Clayhead Trail snakes along coastal bluffs. To the southwest, Rodman’s Hollow, a 230-acre natural ravine, passes through knolls of bayberry, and shadbush. Looking to relax instead? Spend the afternoon on Mansion Beach.
Stay: If you’re coming up for a weekend, check-into the Inn at the Manisses or 1661 Inn, overlooking the Ocean. Both are Victorian-style, but not too stuffy. And their breakfasts alone are worth sleeping among a couple of doilies. Consider renting a house for a longer stay.
How to Get There: Ferries depart from New London, CT and Point Judith, RI daily.
Clara Ogden-Sedlak is an associate editor at Travel + Leisure.