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Close To Home, A World Away

Block Island Tourism Council |

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Block Island Beckons! Take a step back in time when you visit Block Island, Rhode Island. Whether your idea of an escape from day to day life includes relaxing on the beach with a good book, going on a vigorous bike ride, or kayaking through pristine waters, Block Island is the place for you. Natural, beautiful scenery is everywhere you turn. This is probably why Block Island is the perfect location for weddings and special events. Guests will enjoy a lifetime of unforgettable memories after attending an event hosted on this quaint little island. Dining is a reason in itself for a visit. Restaurants offer everything from the freshest seafood to diverse ethnic cuisine. The Farmers’ Market held twice a week will delight you with not only homemade delicacies but also one-of-a-kind local artist creations. Old Harbor — our Business and Historic Districts— are home to a wide range of shopping and places to stay. All are just a short walk from the ferry landing. Block Island, at just seven miles by three and a half miles, is located twelve miles off the coast of Rhode

Zena Clark with husband Jamie Johnston and their son Fisher at Grace’s Cove Beach.

Island. When you arrive you may feel like you are far away from the mainland’s hustle and bustle, but it’s a quick ferry ride from Newport or Point Judith, Fall River, MA, New London, CT, and Montauk, NY. Flights from Westerly, RI take just fifteen minutes. Leave your worries on the mainland and come visit us on beautiful Block Island! Zena Clark President, Block Island Tourism Council

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Close To Home, A World Away








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2 Close To Home, A World Away

Sachem Pond Photo by Brian Drivdahl

Block Island: Close To Home, A World Away is produced jointly by the Block Island Tourism Council and The Block Island Times.

The Block Island Tourism Council Center Road, Box 356, Block Island, RI 02807 President Zena Clark Vice President Steve Filippi 2nd Vice President John Cullen Secretary Sven Risom Treasurer Julie Fuller Members Julie Kiley, Logan Mott Chase Executive Director Jessica K. Willi

Table Of Contents 1.

Block Island Beckons!

22. Living History


You’re Closer Than You Think!

23. Keeping It Green


B.I. Basics

26. Good Eats


Endless Beaches

29. Nightlife

12. A Natural Beauty

31. Favorite Times and Happenings

16. Rest, Relaxation, Recreation

33. Our Island Community

18. New England’s Boating and Fishing Paradise

35. The Perfect Place For A Wedding

20. The Goods Ocean Avenue, Box 278, Block Island, RI 02807 Phone: (401) 466-2222 Fax: (401) 466-8804 Publisher Michael Schroeder Editor Kari Curtis Writers Brent Lang, Judy Tierney, Jessica K. Willi, Susan Gibbons Photographer K. Curtis Contributing Photographers Jillian Katz, Peter Mannka, Mark Heiss, Sue Pranulis, Lisa Sprague, Brian Drivdahl, Reneé Meyer, Thea Monje, Ross Draper, DTAMBELLINI PHOTOGRAPHY Production John Barry of Macsperts © 2017 Block Island Tourism Council & The Block Island Times

Cover photo by Jillian Katz

24. A Room With A View

36. Group Tours

About the Cover Photo: Our cover photo this year was taken by Jillian Katz. Jillian, who is from NY, took the photo while on vacation with her fiancé and sent it in after seeing a call-out for island photos on our Facebook page. Jillian writes “Block Island was the first vacation my fiancé and I ever took together. Christian surprised me with a trip to Block Island for my birthday in late October. We were lucky enough to visit our favorite places on the island with weather that made it feel like June, proving that it’s always a good time to visit Block Island. We continue to visit the island whenever we can, and look forward to getting married here in 2018.”  We are glad that she took the time to share her photos with us. Thank you, Jillian! The Block Island Tourism Council is always on the lookout for photography of Block Island for these pages, so feel free to post on our Facebook Page ( or email us at We look forward to seeing the island through your eyes.

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4 Close To Home, A World Away

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You’re Closer Than You Think! More than 20 million people are within a four-hour drive of the ferries and airlines that bring visitors to Block Island, and more than 10 million can reach a ferry or airplane in less than two hours. By Ferry

Block Island Ferry/Interstate Navigation provides year-round service from Point Judith, Rhode Island (304 Great Island Road, Narragansett, R.I.) to Old Harbor, Block Island. This is the only ferry that can take vehicles to the island, and reservations for them are required (the sooner you can do this the better). Passengers do not need reservations for the roughly one-hour trip. You can find schedules and travel and reservation information for Interstate Navigation at (866) 783-7996 or Block Island High-Speed Ferry/ Interstate Navigation runs a high-speed catamaran from midMay through mid-October that gets you from Point Judith (304 Great Island Road, Narragansett, R.I.) to Old Harbor, Block Island, in 30 minutes. A second high-speed catamaran runs daily from Fall River, Massachusetts, to Newport, Rhode Island, and on to Block Island. For schedules and more information call (866) 783-7996 or visit

Block Island Express gets you to Old Harbor in just over one hour on a high-speed catamaran from a terminal in New London (2 Ferry St., New London, Conn.) that’s right next to the Amtrak train station. It runs May through September. Block Island Express also offers connections to Block Island from Orient Point, Long Island, via its Cross Sound Ferry service. The two services have matched-up schedules making it convenient and quick to take the fast ferry from Orient Point to New London and connect to the ferry to B.I., all in 2 hours and 45 minutes, including layover. Schedules and connection information for Block Island Express are at (860) 444-4624 or Montauk Ferry runs between the tip of Long Island, New York (462 West Lake Drive, Montauk, N.Y. ), and Block Island during the summer. The trip takes just under two hours. Schedules and information at (631) 668-5700 or vikingfleet. com.

By Private Boat

Dock your own boat at one of four full-service marinas or anchor in either Old Harbor or New Harbor. For more information on marinas, moorings, and anchorage, visit

By Commuter Plane New England Airlines has provided daily scheduled air service to Block Island from Westerly, Rhode Island, since 1970. The airport (56 Airport Road, Westerly, R.I.) is just off Interstate 95 and is an easy drive or train ride from anywhere in the northeast. (Amtrak serves Westerly with

daily trains between Washington/ New York and Boston.) Flight time is 12 minutes. Find schedules and information at (800) 2432460 or

By Private Plane

Block Island State Airport welcomes private planes on its one lane runway. There is no control tower, but pilots should announce themselves on frequency 123.00. For more information visit or call airport manager, AvPorts, at (401) 466-5511.

With its undulating topography and green hills rolling toward an azure sea, Block Island has been called “the Bermuda of the North.” Indeed, The Nature Conservancy deemed Block Island one of the “Last Great Places.” — Yankee Magazine

Close To Home, A World Away


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6 Close To Home, A World Away

B.I. Basics The Facts

Photo by Peter Mannka

1661 The year Block Island was founded. 1672 The year the Town of New Shoreham was incorporated. Area 7 miles long and 3 miles wide, Block Island is shaped like a pork chop, and covers 6,000 acres. Location 12 miles off the southern coast of Rhode Island. Population 1007 year round; as many as 20,000 in summer. Ponds Legend has it there are 365 freshwater ponds, one for every day of the year. Stone walls 300 to 400 miles of

man made stone walls. Nature Trails 28 miles of trails. Open Space More than 46 percent of the island is preserved open space. Beaches 17 miles worth, all free, all gorgeous. Education One K-12 school with 120 students.

Getting Around On Foot The sneaker express is an easy way to enjoy the shops, restaurants and hotels in Old Harbor. It’s a 15-minute walk from the ferry to the main beach. On Bikes Bicycles are an

affordable and enjoyable way to explore the island. Rental stands offer bikes to fit the needs of the entire family or bring your own over on the ferry. On Mopeds Mopeds can be rented around the island, and can accommodate one or two passengers. Mopeds may be driven on all paved island roads, but are not allowed on dirt roads. By Taxi Taxi service is available island-wide. A taxi stand is located by the ferry docks in Old Harbor, and taxis regularly wait for customers at New Harbor and the airport. Most offer island

tours as well. By Car Depending on your itinerary, you may or may not require a vehicle while here. In the busy summer months, keeping the number of cars on-island to a minimum is encouraged. However, the spring and fall provide comparatively empty roads.

More info at: Or at the Visitors Center in the ferry parking lot; call (800) 383BIRI (2474) or (401) 466-BIRI (2474).

“Block Island, with its [1,007] year-round residents, is a laid-back community whose beauty is reminiscent of the coast of Scotland. About 12 miles off Rhode Island’s southern coast, the island has 17 miles of beaches open to everyone. Despite the influx of summer visitors and thanks to the efforts of local conservationists, Block Island’s beauty remains intact. More than 46% of the land is preserved, and the island’s 365 freshwater ponds support thousands of bird species that migrate seasonally along the Atlantic Flyway.” —

Close To Home, A World Away


Come Home To

Block Island

Real Estate Sales and Service Whether you are looking to purchase that special Island property or planning a relaxing vacation, Ballard Hall Real Estate is on-island year round to assist you. Sign-up at our website,, browse our listings and connect with one of our agents for buyer or seller representation. Principal Broker: Gail Ballard Hall Associate Brokers: Blake Phelan, Judith Cyronak Licensees: Michele Phelan, David Graham, Chelsea Redd Phelan, Laurel Littlefield, and Elizabeth Carlson (RI & CT) Office Assistants: Heidi Tallmadge and Diane Kildea Corner of Ocean Ave. and Corn Neck Rd 401-466-8883

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Endless Beaches 17 miles of sandy fun and peaceful stretches of paradise

2 Mansion Beach

4 Town Beach lifeguards


3 Scotch Beach

Baby Beach

7 Ballard’s Beach

1 Settlers’ Rock

Surf Beach Photo by Thea Monje

Close To Home, A World Away

6 9

9 Vaill Beach


11 Dinghy Beach

Mohegan Bluffs

Silas Monje, Senior at the Block Island School

Silas will be heading to Brown University in the fall.

Life on Block Island isn’t like life anywhere else. There are very few people that can say they’ve graduated high school with the same five kids they started with in kindergarten. Kids on Block Island grow up learning how to protect the natural wonder that 10 Close To Home, A World Away

is our island home and gain a deep respect for nature in the process. The sense of “community” on Block Island is unmatched by anywhere else in the world. The people of this town are always ready to help a fellow islander in the event of a personal crisis, no matter what their personal or financial situation may be. The town’s Fire Department and Rescue Squad are completely staffed by volunteers, some of which are even high school students (myself included). The volunteers go about their lives normally every day, working on the island as carpenters, chefs or business owners, but will spring into action at a moment’s notice when someone is in need of help. It’s not rare to see an islander driving a cab in the morning, an ambulance in

10 The Bluffs at Black Rock

My Block Island the afternoon and tending bar in the evening; in fact, it’s quite normal. The students of the Block Island School are like a big family. We spend the entire day together in school, see each other after school at either soccer, basketball or baseball practice, and spend our weekends together watching movies or enjoying the beautiful beaches and trails the island has to offer. Kids growing up here learn the value of a strong sense of community and charity through the actions of their parents and mentors; all of whom contribute to the community through volunteer-ism or work. It is truly a magical situation to grow up in, and I am incredibly proud to say I am a member of this amazing community.




12 Andy’s Way





Coast Guard Beach 15









13 West Beach

Block Island Beaches 1. Cow Cove is near Settlers’ Rock. Although the shoreline is rocky, it offers some of the best coastal views and also sports the historic North Light. This is not a place for swimming because of a strong riptide. Be careful where you walk too: the beach is a nesting area for many rare birds. 2. Mansion Beach lies at the end of a dirt road with the same name. The island’s most stately mansion once sat here until fire destroyed the house. It was never rebuilt. However, the beach fits the name by being one of the island’s grandest. Mansion marks the north end of what’s known as Crescent Beach. 3. Scotch Beach is a quarter mile north of Fred Benson Town Beach. Scotch is a sandbox for kids and the place boaters end up when they cross Corn Neck Road from Dinghy Beach. A small parking lot sits between the road and the dunes. 4. Fred Benson Town Beach is home to Block Island’s fully equipped bathhouse. In addition to showers, lockers, food, and rental items, the beach is staffed with lifeguards in the summer months. 5. Baby Beach is a well-sheltered beachfront toward the south end of what’s known as Crescent Beach (Mansion marks the north end), where children can easily play in the shallow waters. 6. Surf Beach, named for The Surf Hotel above it, is an ideal place to snorkel





Charlestown Beach

and check out the abundant sea life, such as small crabs and starfish, and to hunt for shells and sand dollars. Surf Beach marks the south end of what’s known as Crescent Beach. 7. Ballard’s Beach is located on the south side of the Old Harbor breakwater adjacent to Ballard’s Inn and its restaurant that serves on the beach. Staffed with lifeguards throughout the summer months, it is also a popular destination for sunbathing, swimming, and volleyball. 8. Mohegan Bluffs beachfront is found at the bottom of a steep set of stairs, 141 steps to be exact. It’s pretty treacherous going at the base of the stairs, so take care. The payoff is a secluded and spectacularly beautiful, if rocky, place to swim and surf. 9. Vaill Beach is a large beach at the bottom of a hollow. The path to it is located at the bend in Snake Hole Road. The surf here is rough and rocks line the shallows, so swimmers should exercise caution. 10. Black Rock boasts expanses of sand and a series of coves at the base of a cliff. Swimming is difficult because of the large number of rocks, but it’s a perfect place for an oceanside hike. The area takes its name from a large, dark rock that rests offshore in about 15 feet of water and has spelled the end for many ships. Located a pace off the main road, it’s best to walk or bike to get there.

a place for boaters in New Harbor to tie up their rafts and dinghies. There are majestic views of Great Salt Pond, making it a good backdrop for photos. 12. Andy’s Way is the island’s premiere clamming spot. Standing at the end of a dirt road that bears the same name, it’s a good place to take a stroll. Just north is Beane Point, U.S. Fish and Wildlife property that is home to many rare birds. 13. West Beach is narrow, but it’s lightly trafficked and has gentle surf and stupendous views of the North Light. 14. Coast Guard Beach is at the end of Champlin Road and derives its name from the decommissioned Coast Guard station there. Don’t swim here, but it’s a good place for clamming and fishing. 15. Charlestown Beach is popular with fishermen because it has a long jetty at its end. Typically uncrowded, it’s a nice spot to watch the boats come into New Harbor. 16. Grace’s, Dorry’s, and Cooneymus Coves are secluded beaches on the west side of the island. Perfect for hikers and those looking for an out-ofthe-way spot to catch a sunset.

11. Dinghy Beach, also known as Mosquito Beach, is located just across the road from Scotch Beach, providing


Close To Home, A World Away


A Natural Beauty Twenty-eight miles of walking trails, acres of open space, many of the most beautiful beaches on the eastern seaboard, spectacular havens for fish and wildlife — it’s no wonder Block Island was named one of the last great places in the western hemisphere by The Nature Conservancy. More

1 Clay Head Nature Trail

than 46 percent of the island is preserved, and walking is an excellent way to take in the rolling hills, lush farmland, and stunning vistas. Look for peregrine falcons and red-tailed hawks in the sky. Ring-necked pheasants and American woodcocks can be found among the abundant wildflowers, and seals perched on beach rocks. Block Island is renowned for its beauty and commitment to preservation. Once you visit, you’ll understand why.

2 Rodman’s Hollow

12 Close To Home, A World Away

3 Southeast Lighthouse

3 North Light. Photo by Mark Heiss

3 Mohegan Bluffs. Photo by Peter Mannka

4 Abrams Animal Farm

Close To Home, A World Away


5 Ocean View Pavilion


Photo by Sue Pranulis

Walking along a trail

7 Block Island Conservancy Education Center

8 Enjoying the Great Salt Pond

9 Bikes in town

“Whatever you are searching for, Block Island seems to have it: art galleries, hiking, fishing, bars, food and shopping are all available within arm’s reach, and you’ll be no farther than a 20-minute bike ride from the southern and northernmost points of the Island.” — 14 Close To Home, A World Away

10 Block Island Maritime Institute (BIMI) Center

Don’t Miss

1. Clay Head Nature Trail, also known as The Maze, offers walkers unparalleled views along the northeastern shore of the island. Off Corn Neck Road, its paths meander along the bluffs before ending at Settlers’ Rock. 2. Rodman’s Hollow is a wild and beautiful cleft in the rolling terrain left over from a melting glacier. Hawks and deer are among the wildlife that populates the hollow. Its trails lead to Black Rock. 3. Both lighthouses on the island are open to visitors. Southeast Lighthouse, east of Mohegan Bluffs, provides a magnificent coastal view. On clear days it’s even possible to glimpse Montauk, New York, some 20 miles away. At the end of Corn Neck Road, a walk down the beach from Settlers’ Rock brings you to the beautiful North Light. 4. Abrams Animal Farm offers a diverse collection of exotic and domestic animals maintained by Justin Abrams, whose family owns and operates The 1661 Inn. Visitors to the farm can view and pet llamas, emus, sheep, donkeys, goats and more. There are even kangaroos, lemurs, and a zedonk (zebra/ donkey).

11 Seals off Pebbly Beach

5. Ocean View Pavilion is a comfortable sitting area near Old Harbor that offers stunning ocean vistas. Maintained by the Ocean View Foundation, the area marks the spot where the magnificent Ocean View Hotel once stood. The Foundation runs environmental education programs year round. 6. Walking Trails crisscross the entire island. The Greenway is a web of trails that connects miles of natural habitat and provides memorable hikes for visitors. Among many other worthwhile hikes is the one pictured here, which winds through the recently conserved Ray-Durfee land on the West Side. 7. A new Education Center on Weldon’s Way, run by Block Island Conservancy, and an office on High Street housing The Nature Conservancy, provide a wealth of information about the island’s wildlife and plants, and the island’s ongoing efforts to preserve open spaces. Stop by to pick up trail maps or bird checklists and find out about nature walks and other free programs. 8. Explore the island Ponds and Inlets by renting a kayak or paddleboard (available at both harbors).

12 Glass Float

9. There’s no better way to see B.I. than by bicycle. The Block Island Tourism Council recently unveiled a 7.5-mile Video Bike Tour. The loop begins and ends at the Tourist Center off Water Street in Old Harbor. Just scan the QR codes on signs along the route to get the video tour. It includes nine stops along major sights at the southern end of the island, plus an option to add another 8.5 miles of island beauty. Don’t forget a helmet! 10. BIMI (Block Island Maritime Institute) runs many marine exploration programs from its “offices” in New Harbor (near Dead Eye Dick’s restaurant), which is where you’ll find their popular touch tank and squid dissection workshops. 11. Seals The island has two seal populations in winter, often visible from the lawn of Saint Andrew Parish Center and off Coast Guard Beach. Keep your distance; they are protected mammals! 12. The Glass Float Project has become one of the island’s most popular activities in recent years. Find these grapefruit-sized orbs along beaches and trails, then register your find at www. Visit the same site for more information. Close To Home, A World Away


Rest, Relaxation, Recreation WHETHER YOU SURF, SAIL, KAYAK, snorkel, or fish, Block Island offers plenty of ocean and pond adventure. The pounding surf and temperate waters are perfect for surfing, paddleboarding, windsurfing, kiteboarding, parasailing, scuba diving, sea kayaking, and banana boating and there are a number of local businesses that rent equipment and offer lessons and summer camps. There’s offshore adventure in the form of sail and powerboat charters. Inland pursuits include biking, hiking, and all manner of exercise classes, such as yoga, Nia, aerobics and more — you can even take yoga classes on paddleboards at dawn. Or you can hit the spa. Or simply hit the hammock! For more information, visit the Block Island Tourism Council’s web site at

Biking to the North Point

“The attractions, for the agenda-compulsive, are mainly found outside. There are 17 miles of exceptional white-sand beaches, all open to the public and free (including parking). The ocean waves are the real deal, high enough for great body and board-surfing and capable of beaching a whale. The best swimming spots with easy access are along Crescent Beach, just north of Old Harbor.” — The New York Times 16 Close To Home, A World Away

Relaxing on the Spring House lawn

Enjoying a sunset. Photo by Lisa Sprague

Boating fun in New Harbor

Dinghy Dock at the Boat Basin

Paddleboarding the pond inlets

Kayaking on the Great Salt Pond

Close To Home, A World Away


New England’s Boating and Fishing Paradise BOATERS FROM AROUND THE

the Storm Trysail sailboat races.

WORLD find harbor in more than

Or take to the miles of sandy

50 acres of anchorage and more

beaches and rocky shoreline for

than 100 public moorings.

fly fishing and surfcasting. Shore

No boat? No problem.

access is unrestricted around the

Rental boats and a charter fish-

entire island. Just don’t forget

ing fleet await to take visitors out

to stop by the island’s two tackle

on the Great Salt Pond, the Block

shops for bait or suggestions

Island Sound, and, of course, the

about where the action is. And

Atlantic Ocean for striped bass,

don’t forget about the clam flats,

bluefish, tuna, bonito, mahi-mahi,


shark, and more. The island hosts

For mooring, anchorage, licens-

premiere races and fishing tourna-

ing and docking information, visit

ments including the Tri-State Can-

the Block Island Tourism Council’s

yon Shootout fishing tourney and

web site at

18 Close To Home, A World Away

Twin Maples on Beach Ave is a tackle and bait shop

Fishworks is a tackle and bait shop in New Harbor

Fishing tournament weigh-in at the Boat Basin

Fishing charter boats leave daily from Old Harbor

“Bo” Gempp — A Tribute

By Lisa Sprague, Bo’s daughter

“Bo” Gempp

“Want to buy the treasure map?” The gleam in his eyes was a portal to the mischief in his soul. The “treasure map” he offered to unsuspecting seekers of the best of Block Island purported to indicate abundant clamming spots, secret fishing ranges, watermelon patches, and bountiful blackberry bushes. Hermann “Bo” Gempp loved Block Island from the very first time he stepped ashore to obtain provisions for the fishing boat he was working on. He wasn’t

exactly welcomed with open arms by the shopkeeper at the Seaside Market - he clearly didn’t come from here and she was reluctant to part with the supplies the boat needed so they could continue their trip. Only an intervention by Frank Tinker, a fellow fisherman and Block Islander, calmed the waters. The provisions were procured. The voyage continued, and a lifelong friendship was sealed. Bo returned to the island on a more regular basis in the 1950s, purchased property, built a house and started to set much deeper roots. He had been a commercial shell fisherman in Narragansett Bay before his career with the Bell System and as his affiliation with the phone company began to wind down, his enthusiasm for the marine world on and around Block Island grew. He was a partner in a lobster business for several years, worked for the Harbor’s Department, and well into his 80’s, he was a

His Block Island very vocal member of the Town’s Shellfish Commission and Harbor’s Committee. He took particular pride in his work with the Shellfish Commission in making the Great Salt Pond a viable, sustainable resource for both seasonal visitors and the year round community. In recent years he was probably best known for his small retail lobster business. He sold, daily, from his boat in the Hog Pen while spinning great tales and dispensing advice to captive audiences. He fished the pond and the outside reaches of the New Harbor until his 89th year - picking up an interested deckhand now and then, and readily sharing his vast knowledge of all things marine, weather-related, and beyond. Bo passed away on August 13, 2016. Men like him were a special breed. The footprint he left on Block Island will be difficult to fill, but the impact of his vision and persistence will be enjoyed for generations. Close To Home, A World Away


Diamondblue Surf Shop at Bridgegate Square

Block Island Trading Company on Water Street

Glass Onion on Water Street

Wave on Water Street

The Goods DO A LITTLE CREDIT CARD damage in some of the

Block Island’s natural beauty, its rolling hills, vivid skyline,

island’s fine clothing shops; pick out a memento or Block

clifftop vistas, and fog-cloaked hollows have inspired scores

Island-themed sweatshirt as a keepsake from your island

of poets, painters, potters, musicians, and photographers.

vacation at one of the charming gift shops; or browse for

Its solitude and grandeur have also created a vibrant

fine art and pottery in the downtown’s many galleries.

community where artists can create in a place that, in

Only steps away from the ferry dock in Old Harbor is

the off seasons, is removed from the hustle and bustle of

the heart of Block Island’s historic downtown. Most island

ordinary life and, in summer, is filled with visitors seeking

stores are Mom and Pop businesses and the range of items

to view and buy their work. From the Highview Hotel’s

offered is truly astounding. Homemade honey and candles

frescoed scenes of simple island life, created by H.D.

vie for space with designer handbags and fashionable

Wetherbee in 1948 in exchange for whiskey and rent, to

bathing suits and board shorts. Forget something? Not a

Malcolm Greenaway’s landscape photography, Block Island

problem. There are a host of choices to hook you up with

art has become world-renowned.

everything from fishing and surfing gear to sunscreen and paperback books. In addition to the shopping in town, there are farmers’

Local artists and craftsmen show at the many galleries that dot the downtown, during the Arts and Crafts Guild shows hosted on the Historical Society lawn a few times

markets where island artists, chefs and farmers gather each

each season, and at the twice-weekly Farmers’ Markets. Be

Wednesday and Saturday morning to sell their wares. It’s

sure to pencil in the Holiday Shopping Stroll for late fall:

a great way to pick up locally grown produce, home-baked

During the Thanksgiving weekend, island stores open their

goodies, locally made preserves, handcrafted jewelry, and

doors and offer dynamite discounts just in time for the

much more.


20 Close To Home, A World Away

My Oyster on Corn Neck Road

Bracelet at Wild Flowers Boutique on Water Street

Watercolors on Dodge Street

Jennifer Brady, Owner Wild Flowers Boutique, True North and Savvy Girl

Jennifer Brady

After growing up in New Jersey and moving to Las Vegas after school, I came to Block Island in 1995 in search of a quieter, simpler life in a beautiful place. I settled into the community, married, and while raising three wonderful children went to work for the Town, where I’ve been the Land

Use Administrative Officer for the past twenty-one years. After fifteen years, I decided to expand my horizons beyond Town Hall, so in 2010, I opened Wild Flowers Boutique on Water Street, which carries apparel, shoes, and accessories, and in 2017 will also be featuring local Island Mist products. With my first store opening, I quickly realized that I truly love the retail business; meeting visitors, finding quality merchandise, negotiating new lines, and employing great people. I love the retail business so much that in 2016, I opened True North Outfitters in the northwest corner of the National Hotel, featuring outerwear and gear for outdoor living. This summer I am opening another retail store, Savvy Girl, next door to Ernie’s Restaurant. Savvy Girl will

My Block Island

have clothing, jewelry, and fashions for younger and more budget-conscious shoppers. My stores each have a distinct character and personality, much like the people of the Block Island community. It’s one of the many reasons I love Block Island. I love that my kids can walk to the beach or the movies all summer. I love that they can walk to school in the winter. I love that if one of my dogs gets free, someone will call me right away and deliver him (or her) back to me. I love that my oldest daughter comes home to Block Island every chance she gets, because she loves it here too. I hope that visitors will all enjoy my stores as much as I have enjoyed creating and sharing them, and that they become memorable parts of a wonderful island experience. Close To Home, A World Away


Pam Gasner, Executive Director of the Historical Society

Old Harbor views in the early 1960s

The Block Island Historical Society

Living History BLOCK ISLAND’S HISTORY is a rich one, encompassing

mentioning shipwrecks. While some have become the stuff

Native American tribes, Revolutionary War heroes, legend-

of legend, others remain accessible for sport divers. Among

ary shipwrecks, and its emergence in the late 1800s as one of

the legendary is the Princess Augusta, which inspired John

New England’s premiere summer attractions.

Greenleaf Whittier’s 1867 poem “The Palatine.”

Learn more about the island’s history by visiting the His-

Block Island’s rough seas and rocky coastlines would

torical Society Museum and gift shop downtown. A white

certainly have claimed more ships were it not for two

mansard-roofed building, the Historical Society houses an

lighthouses. The North and Southeast Lighthouses have

extensive collection of furniture, textiles, quilts, oral histo-

achieved iconic status, revered for their historic significance

ries, fishing gear, tools, and Native American artifacts. Then

and as symbols of the community spirit that has allowed

head to Isaac’s Corner, at the intersection of Center Road,

them to be restored and preserved.

Lakeside Drive, and Cooneymus Roads. Named for the

The Southeast Lighthouse made national headlines in

island’s last full-blooded Native American, who died in 1886,

the early 1990s when, after years of erosion, it found itself

it is near the Indian burial ground and the stone monument

just 50 feet from the cliff’s edge. Islanders banded together

erected just last year in honor of the Manissean Indians.

to save the beloved structure, raising nearly $2 million in

On that same corner, overlooking Fresh Pond, sits the

federal and private grants, and donations to move the Na-

gambrel-roofed cottage of composer and poet Arthur Penn,

tional Historic Landmark 245 feet back from the bluff.

who lived there with his wife Nell in the 1920s. His song

You’ll want to see the North Light, too, by hiking past

“Smilin’ Through” is named for his Block Island home.

Settlers’ Rock. The lantern on that lighthouse was recently

No history of Block Island would be complete without 22 Close To Home, A World Away

restored and re-lit, and its small museum renovated.

Hodge Nature Preserve

The Block Island Wind Farm


add up, and all efforts at conservation do matter. Turn

proudly celebrates the 45th anniversary of its

off lights, use less water, give up those plastic bags,

founding. In 1972, when Captain John R. Lewis

refill your re-usable water bottles, walk more and

and other Island residents founded Block Island

drive less, switch to and support the development of

Conservancy, local land trusts were a little known

clean fuel sources, defend evidence based science and

idea. Since then, grass-roots local support and local,

conservation- there is no end to this list, and every

state, and national cooperation has resulted in over

action you can think of has merit.

46% of Block Island being conserved and protected.

BIC’s education

Block Island Conservancy, Block Island Land Trust

center provides a

and The Nature Conservancy are vital partners and

hub for conservation

together with many other organizations and federal

information and Land Trust

and state agencies sustain Block Island’s successes in

accreditation ties us to


credible and documented

Conservation efforts provide recreational areas,

decision-making, planning

preserve scenic views, support crucial habitats for rare

and practices. The fight

plants and animals, and protect the natural recharging

for sustainable practices and evidence based decision

of the Island’s sole source aquifer, our only fresh

making to support the Earth as a whole and our

water supply. But there is still much to be done. Land

individual community has never been more important.

acquisition becomes more difficult as we approach

Visit our education center on Weldon’s Way, donate

50% of conserved areas on Block Island. We now need

your time and/or money to our efforts, and support the

to focus on sensible actions that help us combine our

work of all conservation organizations by making real

tourism-based economy with resource protection

efforts to carry out sustainable and efficient practices

and sustainable practices critical to the heritage and

in your own life.

character that is Block Island.

Photo by Ross Draper

What can we all do? Activism and personal responsibility begin at home, at school and in the

Sue Gibbons Vice President, Block Island Conservancy

community, and are accomplished through education and real life experiences. Small strategies and actions

Close To Home, A World Away


The Atlantic Inn and Restaurant 1879

The Blue Dory Inn

The Anchor House Inn

The Barrington Inn

A Room with a View

Rent a cottage for a week or choose among dozens of hotels, inns, and B&Bs Block Island has the largest collection of Victorian era

to hand out advice about things to see and do. For longer

hotels of any vacation destination on the Eastern seaboard.

visits, Block Island has a slew of rental properties and able

Among the architectural gems are the Atlantic Inn, the

real estate agents to help you find the picturesque vacation

Spring House, Hotel Manisses, the National Hotel, and the

home that’s just right for you and yours. There is higher

Surf Hotel. For the luxury traveler, new boutique hotels and

availability for accommodations and ferry reservations the

Inns provide modern amenities. The island is also famous

week after July 4 and in the last week of August.

for its quaint bed and breakfasts and guest houses. You’ll find friendly and knowledgeable proprietors who are eager 24 Close To Home, A World Away

For specific accommodation information visit the Block Island Tourism Council’s web site at

The Surf Hotel

Rose Farm Inn

The Spring House

The 1661 Inn

Hotel Manisses

Brad & Anne Marthens, Owners The Atlantic Inn, Restaurant 1879 and Eli’s

Brad and Anne Marthens

In 1994, my wife and I quit corporate America, sold our house, packed up everything we had, and moved our family and ourselves to beautiful Block Island. With the help of local banks, we bought The Atlantic Inn, a full service 21room inn and restaurant overlooking the ocean and harbor, and became innkeepers and restaurateurs. Everyone we knew thought we were nuts. Buy an Inn and business on a seasonal island twelve miles off the coast — what were we thinking? It just didn’t make sense to some. We had a vision. We loved being together, working with our hands (painting, plumbing, tile work, gardens, landscaping, equipment repair — you name it

— you will learn it all here) meeting new people and making new friends. My family and I wanted to be able to produce a simple quality product and service. We wanted to learn how to live, work and enjoy what it takes to be here in one of the most beautiful places you could possibly find. Maybe we were nuts, but we worked at it and made it work, made friends, and learned what it takes to live, work and play here on Block Island. The Atlantic Inn and Restaurant 1879 have been here for over 135 years and learning how to care for, repair, and upgrade a building and business is not a seasonal option but a year round labor of love that requires time, effort, and patience. You need a willingness to listen to and learn from people — some of whom families have been here since 1661, and they know a few things. We have learned that as hard as it is on relationships and the amount of work you need to do, you also need to make time to stop and relax — even if only for a few minutes and enjoy the beauty of Block Island, learn the island’s secrets and let it tell you its own unique message. Work hard and play hard, enjoy living and life. This is very true even if you are visit-

My Block Island

ing our beautiful home for only few days. Block Island has something for everyone; beautiful beaches everywhere you look, majestic bluffs, unparalleled views, walking and hiking trails for all and of course fishing, surfing, sailing, spear fishing, great shops, art galleries, great food and sunsets — just to name of few of the things that we love and is available to all. My wife and I love to go for quick walks to just relax together for a few minutes, it’s therapeutic. Or, better yet, sneak away for a walk on our beautiful beaches, sun or rain, summer or winter and add to our collection of sea glass. To live on Block Island you have to work a lot and you learn to appreciate the snippets of alone time you are able grab. Whether you’re an artist, a dreamer, a pragmatist, a practical minded person, an entrepreneur, an uncomplicated or complicated person — there is a lot to contemplate here. A person will easily fall in love with Block Island and as many have found out through the centuries, “Block Island will just get into your blood and keep calling you back for more.” We hope you find out what we already know. Close To Home, A World Away


Mohegan Cafe

The Oar


Bethany’s Airport Diner

Old Post Office Bagel Shop


Poor People’s Pub


from the beach or ferry. Bite into one of our legendary fish

Block Island can satisfy your hunger at any of nearly 40

sandwiches, snack on clam cakes or mahi-mahi, feast on

restaurants and pubs.

buckets of shrimp and enjoy the spectacular ocean views.

Seafood lovers will delight in the dizzying number of ways

But Block Island offers more than just seafood. Hungry for

our local chefs prepare fresh catch. Many of the island’s

falafel, eggplant rollatini, sushi, pad thai, freshly-made ba-

most beloved seafood joints are less than a five-minute walk

gels, or a lemon-lime gelato? Block Island has you covered.

26 Close To Home, A World Away

Winfield’s Restaurant

The Narragansett Inn

Southeast Light Delights

“There are day visitors who take the ferry to Block Island for no other reason than to dine at one of the isle’s elegant restaurants. Perhaps this is because many of the island’s fine dining establishments boast views that are every bit as impressive as the food.” — Pots & Kettles Food Truck

Marc and Katie Scortino, Owners Mohegan Café, Captain Nick’s and Harbor Grill

Marc, Katie and their dog, Lightning.

I came to Block Island in 1996 to work at a moped rental shop during the day and at Captain Nick’s as a bouncer at night. Katie showed up a few years later in 2002 and worked as a bartender at Ballard’s. As the years passed I ended up working more and more at Captain Nick’s and eventually took over as general manager in 2006. At that time, some mutual friends introduced Katie and I. Katie was looking for a change of pace, so she began bartending at Captain Nick’s. We hit it off and pretty

soon we became an item. Katie’s knowledge of the bar business really brought the level of service up and allowed me to focus on promotions and entertainment. It soon became apparent we made a pretty good team. In 2009, the owner of Captain Nick’s approached me with an offer to assume the proprietorship of the business. We decided to take the plunge and spent that spring fixing the bathrooms, painting, cleaning and renovating. We turned the second floor into a lounge area that now hosts our Piano Bar on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Katie officially turned our Sunday afternoons on the deck into a family day where moms and dads could bring the kids, have a couple of drinks and enjoy sushi and live music. I popped the question to Katie in July of 2012 and thankfully she said yes. We planned our wedding for September of 2014. In the fall of 2013 we were presented with another offer to take over two more mainstay restaurants on the island. Surely it would be insane for us to take over two more businesses AND plan a wedding. But since running Captain Nick’s had made us

My Block Island

well versed in insanity, we figured we were up for the challenge. So in the Spring of 2014, just six months before we were to marry, we became proprietors of the Mohegan Café and the Harbor Grill. If it weren’t for our amazing staff we wouldn’t have made it through that summer. Thank goodness for people like Sarah Thayer, Dave Sniffen, Justin Dunlop and Andrew Brushett (to name only a few) who helped us keep the ship afloat throughout that season. Somehow we all pulled through and our reward for all that hard work was a beautifully sunny wedding day, where we were surrounded by many of those same staff members, who at this point had become family. Now in our fourth season at the helm of all three establishments, we still credit our amazing crew for any success we may enjoy. It’s truly a team effort in the truest sense of the word. Even more rewarding has been the greater sense of family we’ve encountered as a more integral part of the Block Island community. It’s truly a special place and we take great pride in serving those who live here and those who come to visit this magical island.

Close To Home, A World Away


28 Close To Home, A World Away

Espresso Martini at Aldo’s

Mahogany Shoals at Payne’s Dock

Add your hometown sign at Captain Nick’s

Yellow Kittens Tavern

Poor People’s Pub

Cocktails at The Atlantic Inn

Block Island ConserFest

Nightlife AFTER A DAY OF SWIMMING, fishing, sailing or hiking, you need to relax — just not too much! A different island adventure awaits you after dark. Block Island bars and nightclubs are among the best in New England. You’ll find local brews, mudslides, and margarita madness to go Blues on the Block at Fred Benson Beach Pavilion

with the live music that will keep you dancing well into the night. Close To Home, A World Away


Coast To Coast In 12 Minutes

Daily Flights Free Parking at Westerly Airport

The Fastest Way to Block Island

Information & Reservations 800.243.2460 Block Island 401.466.5881 Westerly 401.596.2460

Block Island’s Resident Airline Since 1970


#BIC1972 #Blockisland Join us on Instagram for details!

30 Close To Home, A World Away

Fourth of July fireworks. Photo by DTAMBELLINI PHOTOGRAPHY

Block Island Farmers’ Market

Holiday Shopping Stroll

BINGO at the Fire Barn

Favorite Times and Happenings Block Island’s best kept secret may be the pleasure of its

popular Blues on the Block concerts; and fall classics like

shoulder seasons. Spring and fall are quieter and perhaps

the Arts and Crafts Guild /Farmers’ Market Fair, as well as

even more gorgeous than summer!

new favorites, such as the Glass Float Treasure Hunt, in

Sample island food during Restaurant Week June 11 to

which visitors and islanders alike comb beaches and trails

17 this year. A Taste of Block Island weekend, September 15

for hand-blown fishing-float-style glass balls stamped with

to 17, gives guests a chance to sample the island’s inns, res-

an island image.

taurants, and activities at a deep discount. Popular annual

Winter happenings include the Holiday Shopping Stroll

celebrations include the Fourth of July, of course, but also

over Thanksgiving weekend, the Polar Plunge on New Year’s

races such as the Shad Bloom Run in early May, the August

Day, and the Groundhog Day census. Find a full listing of

triathlon, and September’s 15K Run Around the Block; art

events in 2017 at

and music festivals throughout the summer including the

Close To Home, A World Away


The Ideal Spot For The Times Of Your Life

J. Fuller

Overlooking New Harbor Suites with jacuzzis Private decks

Satellite TV Breathtaking views Antique furnishings

Large rooms with whirlpool tubs

Corner of Ocean and Beach Avenues 401.466.5758 •

Est. 2000

401-466-5392 & 401-742-3992

32 Close To Home, A World Away

The Block Island School Class of 2016

New Year’s Day Polar Plunge

Island March for Women

Our Island Community “Do you like living out here?” This is a question I get asked almost daily in the summer. The answer is always, and unequivocally, yes. The things I don’t like I can count

Hometown soccer champions

Block Island School Holiday Concert

on one hand.; no movie theater in the winter, weather delaying boats and planes, high electric rates, and I really

opinions about all sorts of things out here. These are a

miss being able to go to Target on a whim. But that’s it.

passionate people. What we all agree on, however, is our

The things I love about living on Block Island are far too

love for this island. We all want what’s best for our home.

numerous to mention. Nature tops my list; the beaches

I love talking about Block Island and I love showing

are beautiful, the cliffs are dramatic and the ocean is

people Block Island, like a mom showing off her child’s

spectacular in every season. What you can’t see as easily

accomplishments. If you visit, for an hour or a week, I’m

is the sense of community. With only about 1007 year-

confident you’ll understand why we love where we live.

round residents we pretty much all know one another.

Come on out and let us show you our home.

What makes the island special to me might be different for another resident. In fact, there are many differing

Jessica K. Willi Executive Director, Block Island Tourism Council Close To Home, A World Away


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Catherine and Michael Wedding by Trevor Holden Photography

Winifred and Brian Wedding by Hilary B Photography

Dana and Chip Wedding by Trevor Holden Photography

Angela and Brooks Wedding by BellaFoto Studio

The Perfect Place for a Wedding

Katie and Tom Wedding by Tiffany Medrano Photography

It’s no secret anymore how much fun it is to have your wedding on Block Island. Every year more and more couples choose the island for a close-to-home, but worlds-away destination celebration. Whether it’s just the two of you on a dock or at a lighthouse, or hundreds of friends and family members renting houses together for a week of parties, you’ll have a picture-perfect time.

Cameron and Oliver Wedding by Michael Benson

Nikki and Kyle Wedding by Michael Benson

Close To Home, A World Away


A stop at the scenic North Light

Group Tours Sometimes the logistics of booking a Block Island

Lunch at The National

A complete bus tour with guide

lighthouse aficionados come out,” says Megan Moran, sales

vacation are overwhelming. That’s why group tours are so

manager for the Block Island Ferry. What appeals to folks

great! Everything is taken care of for you, customized to

is the inclusive nature of a tour, she says. You get round-

your needs. Whether overnight or just for the day, spring

trip ferry tickets, an island tour, lunch, and of course free

or fall, mid-week or weekend; Block Island has something

time for exploration. “Group tours bring a whole different

for you. There’s a ‘Lobsters & Lighthouses’ overnight group

dynamic to Block Island,” says Jessica Willi, Executive

tour, a ‘Ferry, Lunch & Tour’ day trip, and even a ‘Choose

Director of the Tourism Council. “This market is wonderful

Your Own Adventure’ group tour. Or, create your own —

for first-time visitors to the island. Everything is included

for a family wishing to reunite, a cyclist group, a private

in their day. And, as we know on Block Island, one visit will

or charter school, or a company looking for a fun place to

turn into a lifetime of visits.”

retreat, we have a Block Island experience just right for you. “We’ve had classic car associations, military reunions, and

For more information, go to or

Make your first stop the

NEWPORT VISITOR CENTER Open 7 days a week 23 America’s Cup Avenue Newport, RI One block from the ferry dock Share a review on

Seasonal Daily Departures to Downtown Newport | 800.326.6030 36 Close To Home, A World Away

Stay with us and enjoy our home. (401) 466-2421 (800) 626-4773

Many Newly Renovated Rooms

Take in Our Expansive Ocean Views

Tour Our Farm & Gardens

Block Island Reservations Block Island Reservations Block Island Reservations Located in the lobby of the Harborside Inn, directly across from the Old Harbor Ferry Located in the lobby of the Harborside Inn, directly across from the Old Harbor Ferry

Located in the lobby of the Harborside Inn, directly across from the Old Harbor Ferry

One stop shopping for lodging on Block Island! One stop shopping for lodging on Block Island! • (800) 825-6254 • (800) 825-6254 One stop shopping for lodging on Block Island!

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Enjoy unparalleled unparalleledbeauty beauty Enjoy and endless endless activities activitiesfor for and your Island getaway. your Island getaway.

Enjoy unparalleled beauty and endless activities for your Island getaway. Visit for all your accommodation needs including hotel rooms in historic Old Harbor, suites, cottages & apartments. We offer packages with 2 nights lodging, bikes or mopeds, dining & ferry starting at $359 for Visit for all all your your accommodation needs including Visit for accommodation needs including hotel rooms in historic Old Harbor, suites, cottages & apartments. We offer hotelguests rooms midweek. Browse Harbor, suites, cottages &for apartments. We offer two our website details and packages with nights lodging, bikes bikes or or mopeds, mopeds,dining dining&&ferry ferrystarting startingatat$369 $369 packages with 2deals! other great for our website website for fordetails detailsand andother othergreat greatdeals! deals! for two two guests guests midweek. Browse our

Photographyby byK. K.Curtis Curtis Photography


2017 Block Island Tourism Magazine  

Close to home, a world away.

2017 Block Island Tourism Magazine  

Close to home, a world away.