Lobster Rolls and Bicycles and Other Fancy Stuff: A Summer Day on Block Island, RI

On July 1, 2010 I was sitting at home in Connecticut and wishing I had made plans to travel to someplace new for the fourth of July holiday, when I thought ‘well, why not?’ With that I started planning to visit Block Island, a quaint island off the coast of Rhode Island that was only a $40 round trip ferry ride away.

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The Itinerary

Day 1Mainland

  • Drive up to Groton, CT for lunch at Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough.
  • Continue on to New London, CT and check into the Holiday Inn
  • Spend the evening at the Mohegan Sun Casino

Day 2 – Block Island

  • Catch the Jessica W. to Block Island, rent bikes and eat breakfast.
  • Tour the island on bike and enjoy the beach.
  • Ride the bike back into town for lunch.
  • Spend the afternoon touring the island before stopping back into town to drop off the bikes and have dinner.
  • Take the Jessica W. back to New London and drive home.

The Details

Day 1: Eastern Connecticut

One of my favorite things to do during the summer in Connecticut was drive up to Noank in order to enjoy a lobster roll and lobster bisque from Abbott’s Lobster in the Rough. The tiny place is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This is perfect timing because part of their charm is ordering from the window and then waiting for your order while sitting outside on picnic tables over looking the beautiful waterfront.

While you can order a clam bake, hot dog or even a pb&j sandwich (off the kids menu) I suggest you stay with all things lobster… especially the lobster roll, which is the best I’ve tasted anywhere. My ‘go to’ order hasn’t changed much over the years.  A lobster bisque (no matter how hot it is outside), a lobster roll, and a root beer.  What a great way to enjoy the summer.

Once we finished stuffing ourselves we headed on to the Holiday Inn in New London, where we spent the night before catching our early morning ferry to Block Island the next day.

Being up in eastern Connecticut also meant that a stop at one (if not two) of the Native American run casinos (Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods) was obligatory. We picked Mohegan Sun and spent the evening hoping that Lady Luck was on our side (she wasn’t), checking out the thematic decor of the casino and enjoying dinner at Big Bubba’s BBQ (since closed).

Day 2 – Block Island, Rhode Island

Block island: the morning report

We caught the first ferry of the day from the New London Pier to Block Island. This involved about an hour and a half ride on the Jessica W.  Once we got there, we rented bikes (the recommended transportation for the island) and set out to find breakfast.  I was leading and went the wrong way (story of my life) when we ended up in front of Ernie’s Old Harbor Restaurant.  The hostess explained that there was a long wait to be seated outside although inside seating was still open. Since we were going to be biking in 95+ degree weather all day anyway, inside sounded like the better option.  The food was well priced. It was nothing fancy but a decent mom-and-pop meal that seemed to arrive at our table within minutes of being ordered.

Ernie's Old Harbour Restaurant on Block Island

We toured Block Island on foot and bike for half the morning. For the second half we parking our bikes at the beach for some R&R and tanning.  It was beautiful and tranquil, though it was HOT!  Hot as in, I could barely stand walking over the sand in flip flops it was so hot.  I got out my iPad and within a minute I got an error sign. The iPad had overheated and needed to cool down before being used again.

Worried we were going to burn in that weather, we rode our bikes back to the ferry dock for lunch. Once back at the docks we quickly stumbled upon Harbor Grill, a quaint open-air porch-dining restaurant. The prices were a little steep for sandwich fair but it was one of the more delicious lobster rolls I’ve had (after Abbott’s of course).

Harbor Grill on Block Island

After lunch it was time for a couple more hours of sightseeing on the bikes before returning them and heading to dinner.

Block Island: the evening report

Unfortunately, dinner at Ballard’s was the one damper in our otherwise wonderful day. A surly man greeted us at the hostess desk. He demanded we show him our bags to prove we were not bringing in outside alcohol.  A little weird, but I guess if they’ve had problems with this in the past they’d want to do a double-check.  Still, TSA agents have treated me better. And that includes both my flight out of Boston only a couple months after 09/11/01 as well as when I was flying back into the U.S. from abroad right after the water-bomb scare. So we received a pat-down by security and then followed a very unhappy hostess to our table. Once we placed our order and started eating our delicious peel-and-eat shrimp, it looked like things were looking up. Sadly, they weren’t.

After a full day of bike riding and fun in the sun we were famished. As a cause of that, we may have ordered a couple more appetizers and an entree each. The appetizers came out less than one minute before the entrees. That meant that by the time we got around to eating our main meals they were pretty cold. Although I don’t thing my lobster roll at any temperature would have been edible. I took one bite and spit the meat into my napkin, unable to swallow it.

On the plus side, the location couldn’t be beat.  Steps from the ferry dock and bordering the beach it would be a great place to relax and enjoy an afternoon with a cold beer. And for the young kids (and the young-at-heart) there was also an arcade inside.  I got completely addicted to this one machine where you just spin the wheel.

Once dinner was over we headed over to the dock in order to catch the Jessica W. back to the mainland / Connecticut.

In Summary

Dinner issue aside, our trip out to Block Island was an amazing experience. It had everything you could want: a quaint New England town, the beach, and lobster rolls galore.

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