Those attracted to Block Island for its miles of unspoiled natural beauty will be pleasantly surprised to find that its manmade sights are just as impressive. In particular, its two historic lighthouses – the Southeast Lighthouse and North Lighthouse – attract legions of visitors every year. The Southeast Lighthouse is situated on the Mohegan Bluffs. Designated a U.S. national landmark in 1997, the red-bricked beacon contains a first floor museum that showcases its original Fresnel Lens. Visitors are welcome on weekends from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, and every day from late June to Labor Day. The North Lighthouse was built in 1868 and stands as the counterpart to the Southeast Lighthouse. It is a fourth generation lighthouse, perched on Block Island’s Sandy Point after three others were swallowed by the sea. Currently closed to the public, the giant building stands awe-inspiring watch over the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Those with an eye for sculpture and a love for meaningful history would be well suited to visit the statue of Rebecca. The cupbearer stands on Water Street as a figure once thought to be the biblical Rebekah-at-the-Well. The Women’s Christian Temperance movement erected her in the late 19th century as a means to rid the island of alcoholism. Ironically, 20th century art historians discovered that the piece actually represented the Greek Hebe: cupbearer to the gods. Abstinence from alcohol failed to take hold on the island, so contemporary blame is (jokingly) placed on the statue.
Manisses Farm, located on the property of the Manisses Hotel, is home to alpacas, camels, llamas, kangaroos, emus, bulls, ducks and more exotic animals. It’s also home to a very special mill. North Light Fibers is a small mini-mill producing yarn made of alpaca, buffalo, camel, silk and merino.
Excitement is looming regarding an event that is brand new to the island this year – The Block Island Glass Floats Project. Beginning on June 2, residents and visitors alike will scour the sandy beaches and Greenway trails for handblown glass balls. The balls were stamped by artist Eben Horton with a number and an island shape so that they are easily distinguishable from other fishing glass floats. Eben will be hiding 200 grapefruit-sized balls, split evenly between beach and trail. Go to www.blockislandinfo.com to register your found float by number. There are no rules except to keep just one per person, and that they are limited to first found, first serve. The floats will not be collected, so the hunt can continue on indefinitely. Organizers hope to make this a yearly event.
Check out the Block Island Tourism Council to get a full listing on where to stay, what to do, and lots of other happenings to plan your Block Island adventure.