So Block Island

See the Sights

Experience and explore the island’s open spaces

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Perhaps the island’s best outdoorsy attraction is that it boasts plenty of great areas for hikes, none particularly strenuous, plus more than 25 miles of protected Greenway Trails and related conservation areas. Maps are available at the Visitors Center or the Nature Conservancy (High St. 401-466-2129). History lovers might start with the Island Cemetery (West Rd.) or the Historical Society’s annual House Tour (call 401-864- 4357 for dates). The Labyrinth is a small, low maze mowed into a field on the North End of the island (look for a small marker) that is perfect for a contemplative stroll. Nearby, the Hodge Property offers a short hike through open meadows and stunning views to the west. Slightly more ambitious, the Clay Head Nature Trail (look for the post on Corn Neck Road just past Mansion Beach Road), aka The Maze, features winding paths through inland shrubs and past bluff-side vistas, and is big enough to actually get lost in, at least for a minute. Rodman’s Hollow, a sheltered basin off Cooneymus Road, offers crisscrossing trails, rare wildlife, and rolling vistas that end at the southern bluffs. It serves as an enduring testament to the island’s tradition of land conservation, first born when neighbors came together to save the hollow from development.

Other options for young, old and everyone in between: Visit Town Hall (Old Town Rd. 401-466-3200) for a clamming license, then hit the clam flats at Andy’s Way. Get a cocktail and tapas on the Adirondackchair- strewn lawn of the gorgeous Atlantic Inn (High St. 401-466-5883), then enquire at the front desk about borrowing the croquet set. Hook up with the Audubon Society of RI (401-949-5454) for tips on bird watching. Come to the fall BI Motoring Event (date TBA) for an eyeful of vintage automobiles. Hike a quarter mile up the beach from Corn Neck to see the North Light, or drive right up to the Southeast Lighthouse Museum, which lies inside the red-brick landmark that islanders moved 360 feet back from eroding cliffs in1993. Watch the airplanes come in at Block Island State Airport (Center Rd.), where single-prop two-seaters tie up on the green, thrilling amateur aviationists, and Bethany’s Airport Diner (401-466-3100) offers ample, home-style breakfast and lunch dishes.

Kids will love the Abrams Animal Farm (Spring St. 401-466-2421), tucked behind the Hotel Manisses, with its camels, lemurs, emus, ducks, kangaroos and fainting goats (they fall over when startled), plus free pellets to tempt the animals closer and a rare zeedonk (that’s a cross between a zebra and a donkey). Next door, see spinners at work at North Light Fibers textile mill (Spring St. 401-466-2050), transforming fibers from the alpacas that roam nearby into lovely blankets, shawls and sweaters.

Kids will also love morning nature hikes with The Nature Conservancy (mucking around in the pond), bird banding at Ocean View Pavilion (Water St.), rainy day matinees at Empire Theatre (Water St. 401-466-2555), and the annual June Glass Float Project, in which 550 hand-blown glass fishing floats are hidden around the beaches and Greenway Trails starting in May. If you find one, you get to keep it, but please, keep only one (honor system). Parents might hire a babysitter (check the message boards of Block Island Grocery on Ocean Ave. to find one) to see live music, go night-sky viewing with Ocean View, or take a sunset wine-and cheese sail aboard the trimaran Ruling Passion (401-741-1926).

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