How to Get Your Weekend’s Worth at the Block Island Holiday Stroll

Minimal crowds and a laid-back island vibe make the annual Block Island stroll, happening Nov. 25–27, Rhode Island's best-kept holiday secret.
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The lobster pot Christmas tree greets visitors to Block Island for the holiday stroll, Nov. 25–27. (Photos by Lauren Clem)

I’ll let you in on a little Rhode Island secret: November is the best time of year to visit Block Island.

Sure, the ferry traffic is nonexistent, and except for the crisp autumn breeze and the sound of waves crashing against the shore, you’ll have the beaches all to yourself. But the best reason to visit Block Island in the fall happens the weekend after Thanksgiving, when typically seasonal businesses reopen their doors to tourists for the annual Block Island Holiday Stroll. This year’s stroll takes place Nov. 25–27, with nearly forty businesses helping you get ahead on your holiday shopping.

According to the Block Island Chamber of Commerce, visitors can browse offerings ranging from handmade artisan yarns to local pottery, jewelry and sustainable island wear. Fitness buffs will enjoy the turkey trot along Corn Neck Road, while those looking for a day of island relaxation can head to Koru Eco Spa and get a special discount for donating to the kids’ toy drive. It’s enough to make you want to return every Thanksgiving weekend. (This writer can attest ­— I’ve been three times in the past six years.)

While your friends are fighting over parking at the big box stores, you could be sailing away on the Block Island Ferry, cocktail in hand. Just don’t forget to grab a photo with the charming lobster pot Christmas tree before you catch your return ferry. Better yet, make a weekend of it and kick off your holiday season on island time.

A full list of participating businesses is available online from the Block Island Chamber of Commerce. We’ve pulled out some of the highlights and must-have info here.

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Wide-open roads and coastal views are two of the perks of visiting Block Island in November.

 

Getting there

The Block Island Ferry runs on an enhanced schedule during stroll weekend, with ferries departing Point Judith at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 5:45 p.m. on Friday and 8 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 3:45 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Return ferries on Saturday and Sunday are at 9:45 a.m., 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. The high-speed ferry departs Point Judith at 10:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, returning from Block Island at 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

 

Fuel Up

Whether you’re staying the night or need a quick caffeine boost on your shopping run, Block Island has plenty of restaurants to choose from. Odd Fellows Cafe and the Block Island Coffee Cart are both solid options for breakfast and coffee gifts. Eli’s, Kimberly’s, McAloon’s and Old Island Pub are open for dinner all weekend, with Kimberly’s open for lunch on Saturday and McAloon’s and Old Island Pub open for lunch both days. For a more elegant option, the Barn at Spring House is open for dinner Wednesday–Sunday, including Thanksgiving. Reservations are recommended for the Barn at Spring House.

 

Turkey Trot

After lunch, work off the calories at the 16th annual Block Island Turkey Trot. The 5K run/walk, which winds along Corn Neck Road by Fred Benson Town Beach, might just have the best view of any holiday race in the state. Even better, you can sleep in for this one: The race starts at 1:30 p.m. to allow time for participants to get there on the ferry. Register online here.

 

Shop and Stroll

The Holiday Stroll Brochure has a full list of participating shops complete with a map. Here are a few favorites:

  • Block Island Trading Company – This island standby in the basement of the National Hotel offers a fun selection of Block Island brands and nautical gifts including scarves, jewelry, maps, candles and cutting boards.
  • Winter Market at Island Free Library – Don’t miss the Winter Market from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday at the Island Free Library, where you can support small artists and vendors and grab baked goods to go.
  • North Light Fibers – North Light Fibers is a must-visit for any trip to Block Island. Not only can you tour the micro yarn mill, but the company is located next to Abrams Animal Farm, where you can say hello to Cindy the zedonk and a giant tortoise named Tank.
  • Island Bound Bookstore – Another one off the beaten path, the Island Bound Bookstore, located next to the post office on Water Street, stocks a selection of new books along with a children’s section featuring puzzles, games and more.

 

Staying Over

Who says weekend getaways are only for the summer months? Several local hotels are offering weekend accommodations over Thanksgiving, including the 1661 Inn, Avonlea, Barrington Inn, Blue Dory Inn and the Inn at Spring House. Visit the websites for rates and availability.

 

Ghost Tours

If you thought staying overnight on an island in the off-season would be spooky, you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tagged along with Block Island Ghost Tours. The company is offering a Thanksgiving weekend edition of its Old Harbor Walking Tour on Friday and Saturday evening at 6 p.m. Meet on the second floor of Odd Fellows Hall and get all the juicy stories of ghost ships, FBI manhunts and curses that have haunted the island over the years. Register online here.

 

Transportation

If you’re like me, no visit to Block Island is complete without a climb down the bluffs or a jaunt up to the North Lighthouse, even if it means hopping on two wheels. Bicycle and moped rental options are limited on the island this time of year, but no worries: Stedman’s Bike Shop in Wakefield offers an easy alternative within a fifteen-minute drive of the ferry terminal. The full-service bike shop offers daily rentals and opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday, in plenty of time to grab a bike and make the 11:30 ferry. Just be sure to discuss your return plans with the staff before you head out.

 

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The North Lighthouse is a must-visit for anyone seeking Instagram-worthy shots.

 

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