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The B&P Block Island Guide

Fashion blog, preppy, classic style, fashion, pearls, j crew, kiel james patrick, Emma Van Zandt

If you've been keeping up with my Instagram, you'll see that I've been on Block Island, Rhode Island for the past few days. I spend time here every summer and it's a tradition I'd never miss. The island is so familiar that each year I return it feels like I never left.

I might be a little biased, but I feel like I can say with confidence that a trip to BI belongs on everyone's bucket list! If you're planning on visiting or just wondering about the island, I thought I might put together some things that you would want to know or do while you're here.

There's a ton of different restaurants on the Block. Most of them are amazing, but I decided for the sake of not being overwhelming I would limit it to one recommendation for each meal of the day.

  • Breakfast -- The Old Post Office Bagel Shop is hands-down my favorite breakfast place. They make bagels and amazing baked goods fresh every morning and open at 6:30 am. You'll want to get there fairly early as they sell out quickly. My recommendation (aside from their bagels, of course) is their muffins. They're HUGE and are a meal in and of themselves. The banana bran is my personal favorite, but if you happen to be there when they bring out a batch of blackberry muffins (it's a rare but delicious occurrence) go for one of those!

  • Lunch -- Three Sisters is a delicious sandwich place in a tiny shack on Water Street. Go there if you're looking for classic New England sandwiches and giant chocolate chip cookies! 

  • Dinner -- My aunts used to work at the Surf Hotel when they spent their summers on the island, and after being closed for a few years it finally found new owners and is now open for business again. Their restaurant serves incredible New England fare; ask to sit on the deck for a gorgeous view of the ocean. Seafood is, of course, a specialty but they also make great pasta and salads. 

  • Dessert -- There may be three different ice cream shops on the island, but when we say "the ice cream place" we're talking about only one. The Ice Cream Place is located right behind Star Department Store and serves the best ice cream on the island. (Ask for their chocolate whipped cream!) Plus, they have a collection of fascinating historical photos from the island hanging on the walls. Someone even had wedding photos taken there - if that isn't enough of a recommendation I don't know what is. 

If you want Block Island gear, I can assure you, you'll get it. Beyond the classic t-shirts and sweatshirts (for which I would recommend the equally classic Star Department Store), there are a lot of other interesting items you can find customized for BI:

  • Alex and Ani -- There are at least two Alex and Ani bracelets designed exclusively for BI, and each is available in gold or silver. They're really beautiful and as far as I know, you can only buy them in the Peppered Cat (on Water Street, next to the Salty Dog).

  • Kiel James Patrick -- KJP (one of my favorite brands) makes custom Block Island pearl bracelets and necklaces! You can buy them at Block Island Trading Co on the corner of Water Street, across from the Surf Hotel. 

  • Vineyard Vines -- Vineyard Vines makes adorable Block Island printed headbands which I highly recommend (I have the navy and green one and I really, really want the navy and pink option!). You can buy them and other VV clothing, including block island belts and ties for the gents, in Mahoney's Clothier. They also carry Charles River Apparel rain jackets with a custom Block Island design. 

  • Smathers & Branson -- I love a good needlepoint, and Smathers & Branson make gorgeous BI needlepoint hats and key fobs. Find them at True North Outfitters; the entrance is on the back balcony of the National Hotel. If you're looking for Daniel Wellington watches, you can find them there as well. 

Aside from custom BI apparel and accessories, I also love finding some of my favorite brands (read: Lilly Pulitzer and Southern Tide) in The Tipsy Mermaid. This is an adorable boutique that opened one or two years ago, and I'm so glad it did. They also carry a line of their own accessories and they have stickers that are perfect for your laptop or bumper. I would definitely recommend paying them a visit!

Another favorite of mine is The Glass Onion, which is right across from The Tipsy Mermaid. They have a really eclectic but interesting array of items from clothing to accessories to home, and they also carry Saint James dresses and tops (I love some New England stripes!). I make a point to visit at least once every year to see what's new.

There's really nothing like a day spent on the beach. Block Island has several "different" beaches (really they're all along one giant stretch of beach that's divided into separate areas), but my personal favorite is by far Mansion Beach. It's the furthest north and closest to Clayhead, but it has incredible white sand and the best waves (also the least rocks).

It's called Mansion Beach because it used to belong to the Searles Mansion. Legend has it that the man who owned the mansion was fabulously rich and built it back in the 1890's as an opulent gift for his wife, whom he was madly in love with. Sadly, she died in a tragic accident just after the mansion's completion, and the man couldn't bear to visit. So, it stood vacant for many years until it suddenly burned to the ground under mysterious circumstances. What's left today are the ruins, which you park in if you're going to visit the beach. Parking can be a bit dicey though - so try and get there early (before 1:00 pm) to get a good spot!

For beach entertainment, I always recommend a good book, but if you're someone who can get bored of swimming, tanning, and napping (the holy trinity), pick up a classic game of paddle ball at Star Department Store. This game requires limited coordination, is totally waterproof, and absolutely the most fun for people of all ages to play at the beach!

Not a beach person? Don't worry - there's a lot of things to do on the island that don't require you to step onto the beach. Aside from walking through town, here are a few ideas:

  • Biking -- BI is a great place to bike (so long as you don't mind hills!). Bring your own bike or rent from any of the many places in town. There's a Block Island Bike tour if you're interested in seeing different sites or just explore on your own; the island isn't too big so it's difficult to get lost!
  • Water Sports -- If you like fishing, paddle boarding (my fave), or kayaking the Great Salt Pond is for you. There are several outlets to rent gear for almost any water sport, and the pond (which is a lot bigger than the average pond, don't worry) has calm water which makes it great for beginners.
  • Hiking -- The BI Nature Conservancy maintains many different trails throughout the island, many of which take you through a combination of hills, meadows, and forests that are so gorgeous. Definitely bring bug spray especially if it's particularly humid, as the mosquitos are no joke! Over the years I think we've hiked them all, but my personal favorite is the Hodge Family Preserve, located right across from the state airport. 
  • Lighthouses -- There are two lighthouses on Block Island, the North Light and the Southeast Light. Aside from being great photo ops, both are beautiful buildings and have a lot of historical significance. I'm partial to the Southeast Light, as it's closest to our house and is home to a really interesting museum. The lighthouse actually had to be moved several decades ago, which was as amazing as it sounds! You can read about the move and take a tour inside. 
  • The Farm -- Abram's Animal Farm is a rescue farm owned by an island family. They take in a whole host of interesting animals from all over the world, many of which are happy to see you and will come up to be pet. My personal favorite is Justice the Yak; he's a real sweetheart. They also have a garden where they grow food for their hotels and restaurants (they own a lot of things on the island, including the famous Manasses Hotel), and they often sell excess fresh produce at great prices. 
  • Farmer's Market / Craft Fair -- This is a must-see! Each Wednesday morning the Spring House Hotel hosts the farmers market in their back lot. There are farmers selling produce and flowers, baked goods, craftsmen, and artists. I look forward to going every year. 

The climate on Block Island - albeit unpredictable - is pretty classic New England weather. If you've packed for an NE vacation before, you'll probably be an expert. But just in case you haven't, here's a few things I'd recommend you'd bring:

  • A Sweater -- Even at the height of the summer Block Island can still get cold, especially in the evenings and when it rains. If you're especially sensitive to chilly weather, bring jeans or other pants as well.
  • A Rainjacket -- Hopefully it doesn't rain during your visit, but it is New England! You should bring a rain jacket just in case. 
  • A Beach Chair and/or Umbrella -- Unless you go to State Beach (which gets crowded easily) you won't have access to chairs or umbrellas for rent. It's a better plan to bring them along yourself and be able to visit the beach of your choice.
  • A Camera -- The island is so picturesque! You'll want to be able to capture everything. 
  • Cash -- Many places are cash only. There are definitely ATMs on the island, but it's always easier to avoid them altogether and bring plenty of cash for your visit.
  • A Backpack -- Whenever I think "island" I usually envision tote bags as my main method of carrying my things. However, more often than not when you're on the island it's more convenient to have a backpack that you can carry behind you, especially if you're planning on doing any biking.  

All-in-all, Block Island is truly an incredible place. No matter what your interests are, there is something for absolutely everyone. I hope you visit one day soon, and if you do, hopefully this guide gave you some ideas for how to enjoy your stay!



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