Tyler’s Two Cents: Thoughts from Behind the Bar is a weekly lifestyle column, written by Tyler Bernadyn, that will appear every Tuesday on What’sUpNewp this summer.
I am very fortunate to live in an environment that is seemingly a constant vacation. Summertime in Newport is full of beach days, late nights and plenty of memories. However, from time to time it’s nice to break away from the hustle and bustle and get away for a while. When that time comes, Block Island is where I go. This small New England island is no more than 10 square miles but offers so much to everyone that visits. Named ‘one of the last great places’ in the Western Hemisphere by The Nature Conservancy, Block Island is a popular summertime destination for many Rhode Islanders.
Like Newport, Block Island holds a reputation for being a party town. And like Newport, Block Island is that and so much more. I know that when I’m out there on the island, inhibitions are thrown to the wind and the cocktails seem to go down that much easier. For years, the restaurant volleyball league (may it rest in peace…) hosted the end of the year tournament at Ballard’s, an event that many attended and very few actually remember. The atmosphere of Block Island invites you to unwind, kick back and enjoy yourself. A few Bloody Mary’s on the ferry ride over, a few mudslides upon arrival and a few hours in the sun will certainly help you get to where you want to be, trust me.
Catering to the dining and drinking clientele are so many great spots on this tiny little rock. The Oar, a staple of Block Island for two decades, is located in New Harbor and features casual fare, amazing sushi and an outdoor patio and lawn area overlooking the water. Trader’s at Champlain’s Marina is a quintessential dock bar, complete with a pool table, a roof deck and in my opinion, the best mudslides on the island. Dead Eye Dicks is a great spot for a casual dinner with friends, serving good food for a fair price. If you’re feeling fancy, throw on your pastels and head over to the Spring House Hotel for a martini on the lawn. Their famous Thursday night ‘martini night’ is an accident waiting to happen but a great time nonetheless. Poor People’s Pub and The Beachhead are also two of my favorites for a quick bite or a cold beer. And I wouldn’t feel complete without mentioning Yellow Kittens, the oldest and most famous tavern on the island, which is the place to be on Weekends and Wednesday nights all summer long. ‘White Girl Wednesday’ at Yellow Kittens lives up to it’s reputation as hundreds of patrons passionately dance their ass off to Spice Girls, Backstreet Boys and other nostalgic tracks without a care in the world and most likely no recollection of their night come Thursday morning.
If you’re into hiking, fishing and wildlife, Block Island offers twenty-eight miles of walking trails, pristine conditions for fishing and is a haven for hundreds of species of birds and aquatic animals. More than 43 percent of the island is preserved which contributes to the sustainability of Block Island’s natural beauty. Block Island’s commitment to preservation is something that is admirable and inspiring. Each year, Block Island celebrates this effort and hosts an event called Conserfest. Intended to educate people on the continuing conservation efforts, this annual event features free live music and great vibes. Between two iconic lighthouses (one on the North-most point of the island and another on the Southeast side), the Mohegan Bluffs and plenty of beautiful beaches, your Instagram account is bound to blow up. Sunsets on Block Island are also unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
As you’re reading this article, I’m actually on my way over to Block Island for a two day getaway with some of my Midtown Oyster Bar friends and I’m most likely three drinks deep. As busy as it gets in Newport during the summer, be sure to take time for yourself and spend time with your friends. I know that 20 years from now, it’ll be these memories that I’ll look back on and smile rather than the memory of how much money I made on a given night in the summer of 2016. Often times, we get lost in the day to day rush of responsibility that life shoves our way. It’s nice to have a place that is easily accessible and allows you to escape from these worries, even if it’s just to clear your head and relax for a few days. Leave today, Block Island awaits you! Just leave your troubles behind…
Tyler Bernadyn is a local hospitality professional, bartending at Midtown Oyster Bar Wednesday through Sunday nights on the Burgee Bar and at Caleb&Broad on Monday nights for their award winning $10 entree dinner special.
Tyler is a graduate of Providence College and a true Rhode Islander, born and bred.
Email him at TylerBernadyn@gmail.com and follow him on Instagram at @tylerbernadyn.