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Block Island is Nature's Playground.
With miles and miles of sandy beaches and rocky coastline there is a never ending supply of beachcombing to be had. Collecting rocks, shells, beach glass and driftwood, building sand castles or stacking rocks in various formations can joyously fill hours and hours with children of all ages. However, Block Island has more than that to offer and depending on the ages of your children, you could be busy for days on end.
Here are a few ideas of what to do on the island with children:
Island Bound Bookstore carries books for kids of all ages and reading abilities. They sell, games, craft kits and puzzles as well as a wide range of art supplies. On occasion, they offer art classes for kids (call for the schedule 401-466-8878). Pick up some paints and brushes and paint some of the great rocks you found on the beach.
Star Department Store has an endless supply of beach toys, boogie boards, whiffle ball bats, rubber bouncy balls, Frisbees and other summer necessities. They also have a great selection of T-shirts, hats, flip flops and sweatshirts in kids sizes.
Building Blocks Toy Store has the largest selection of toys, games, puzzles and beach toys on the island. Located on the main street, next to Star Department store, they also have children's T-shirts, sweatshirts and hats.
Block Island Fishing Academy (fishingacademy@Gmail.com) is a fishing school open to children ages 6-15. The four hour fishing session will provide great Block Island memories not to mention fishing skills.
If the Fishing Academy is outside of your budget, try taking your kids crabbing. Crab lines and bait can be purchased at The Boat Basin, Twin Maples or Fishworks. Place a little bait on the clip, drop the line off a dock and into the water and soon you and your kids will be catching spider crabs. (Note: spider crabs are not good eating and they like the cool water at the bottom of the Great Salt Pond, so please practice "catch and release" and drop them back in the water).
Ball-O'Brien Park has a large playground, basketball courts, tennis courts and a skateboard park. It is located on West Side Road, across from the Island Cemetery.
There is another playground on the grounds of Champlin's Marina. This playground is nice because there is a bakery and a pizza take out also located at the marina. The third playground is located at the Block Island School; this playground is not open to the public when school or camp are in session though.
Island Free Library:
The Island Free Library is a wonderful place! Be sure to stop in at the beginning of your stay to see what they have to offer that week. You are likely to find story hour, LEGO time, puzzles and chess set up, a movie playing, a book signing among the other activities offered. They have books and magazines, puzzles, games and movies to rent (with a valid RI library card). It is a busy place on a rainy day, but a good place to visit when the kids are hot and tired as well because it is air conditioned! (no place on BI has AC!). They have snacks and juice boxes for sale, a fish tank and parakeets; it is a wonderful place to visit with your kids.
The Abrams Animal Farm is located on Spring Street, just past the Manissess Hotel. This farm is home to many unusual animals including camels, emus, llamas, alpacas, a Scottish yak, fainting goats and even a Zedonk who is half donkey and half zebra. There are feed dispensers on site (please do not bring outside food for the animals). This is a great place to stop with younger kids. Right next door to the farm is North Light Fibers, a local yarn manufacturer; this process is interesting to kids in the 8+ age bracket.
There are two movie theatres on the island. In Old Harbor there is the Empire Theatre and in New Harbor the Oceanwest Theatre. Oceanwest Theatre is located at Champlin's Marina.
Block Island is home to over 30 geocache locations. Look up geocaching.com and you will find the coordinates for all of the different locations. This is a fantastic activity for children old enough to enjoy a hunt.
Glass Float Project:
If your kids do enjoy a hunt, try looking for one of the hundreds of limited edition glass floats hidden around the island. Visit the Block Island Tourism Council website to find more information on the glass float project. The glass floats are hidden on Greenway Trails island wide as well as on the beaches (Note: the floats are NEVER hidden in the dunes or below the high water mark on the beaches). This can be done in conjunction with geocaching and will make your afternoon fly by.
The Block Island Maritime Institute, or BIMI, has a large touch tank full of great creatures for children to view. BIMI is located on Ocean Avenue, behind Payne's "Killer Donuts". Their touch tank is home to all kinds of marine life that can be found in the adjacent Great Salt Pond; lobsters, hermit crabs, blue crabs, skates, oysters, minnows, etc. It is a great way for kids, and adults, to see what lives here without ever getting your feet wet.
Diamond Blue Surf Shop offers private and group surf lessons for both children and adults. The lesson price includes use of the board.
For older kids, Diamond Blue Surf Shop and Ocean Adventures both offer paddleboard lessons and rentals.
Kayaking is a great family adventure, and the Great Salt Pond is a terrific location for kayaking. Pond and Beyond Kayaks are located just behind BIMI on Ocean Avenue. Fort Island Kayaks is by the bridge on Ocean Ave. and either is a great place to start your children on this lifelong love.
Block Island has some terrific camps for kids. For children 5 and under the Block Island Early Learning Center offers week long camp sessions. For children ages 5 to 10, the town of New Shoreham runs Camp Mohegan as well as various sports camps all summer long. Diamond Blue Surf Shop runs a surf camp twice a summer. All of the camps must be signed up for in advance.
The Block Island Club:
The Block Island Club offers sailing, swimming and tennis lessons as well as craft classes. Weekly, monthly and seasonal memberships are available.
Of course, Block Island offers lots of opportunities for those who like to hike and bike, swim and enjoy the beach, fish, clam, beachcomb, fly kites, play ball, read a book or just eat ice cream and homemade fudge.