The Sullivan House, Block Island, Rhode Island
Nat Rae

Rhode Island's best-kept secret is the perfect low-key getaway.

By Tracey Minkin

Sitting prettily but often overlooked between Nantucket and Montauk, this teardrop-shaped island 13 miles offshore has picturesque goods in spades: soaring bluffs, a pair of historic lighthouses, and 17 miles of tawny beaches. The island's jetty-guarded Old Harbor is a gateway to nostalgic vacationland, with Victorian waterfront hotels, quirky shops, and ice-cream and fudge parlors. In New Harbor, on the island's Great Salt Pond, sailboats and fishing charters anchor a maritime scene that remains mega-yacht free. And at the island's heart: a scrubby, undulating landscape—45 percent of which is protected in conservancy—punctuated by shingled cottages. The sum effect is a mesmerizing postcard from New England summers past.

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Courtesy of North Light Fibers

Worth A Visit: North Light Fibers

Block Island's heritage as a farming community comes full circle in the beautiful yarns, clothing, throws, and blankets from North Light Fibers. Founded in 2009 to spin yarns from local animals (and create a sustainable, year-round island business), the micro yarn mill works with designers, knitters, and weavers both on and off the island. Tour the farm and mill, hit the retail shop, and learn more about North Light's knitting classes and retreats (including one in May).

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Stay Here

The Sullivan House inn sits alongside Great Salt Pond (above). Rates start at $170. In Old Harbor, Spring House Hotel is a historic jewel. Rates start at $250.