Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean on all sides, Block Island is the source of happy memories for tons of vacationers. There are many things to do on Block Island, but the annual Fourth of July Parade should be on everyone’s bucket list. What makes this event special is that anyone can enter a float in the parade, as long as it comports with the theme of the year.

Other things to see on Block Island are the Southeast Lighthouse, which is still in use, the nearby Mohegan Bluffs and the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge. The island has 17 miles of beaches on a 9.7 square mile piece of land, making it the perfect spot for a finding the perfect Block Island vacation rental.

1. Newport, Rhode Island

Newport is a gorgeous town by the ocean that’s famous for its “cottages,” those palatial summer homes built by such folks as the Vanderbilts who wanted to flee the heat and crowds in New York. But there’s more to do in Newport than gawk at the Gold Room at Marble House. In the summer, enjoy the many public concerts, music festivals, and exciting yacht club races. Wander down Cliff Walk, a 3-mile path that offers a glimpse of the “cottages,” as well as the rocky Atlantic coast. Best of all, there’s a ferry that goes straight to Block Island, and you can even bring your car on the ferry. Just be sure to book a reservation a few months in advance.

2. Port Judith/Galilee

Galilee is a little fishing village inside the bigger fishing village of Port Judith, which is found in the town of Narragansett. Galilee is another launch point for the ferry to Block Island and contains Rhode Island’s largest fishing fleet.

This area offers the freshest seafood you can imagine, so be sure to indulge. When you’re not eating, let the kids splash around at one of the state beaches, or board a charter boat for deep sea fishing or to watch the whales. Climb the lighthouse at Port Judith, gawk at the 100-foot tall wind turbine, and enjoy the raucous volleyball tournaments on the beach.

3. New London, Connecticut

In the summer, the Block Island ferry also travels to and from New London, which is a seaport city with a long and rich history. Among the nearly endless things to do in this lovely burg is attend concerts or visit historic places, such as the Connecticut College Arboretum, the Coast Guard Station, or the Lyman Allyn Art Museum. Eugene O’Neill fans can visit his family home and take in a performance at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center.

4. Fishers Island, New York

Fishers Island, with its tiny population, offers a ferry to New London, which offers a ferry to Block Island. Though geologists believe Fishers Island is part of a terminal moraine that separated itself from southern Connecticut, it currently belongs to New York. Its delights are modest but no less delightful for that. There’s Toppers ice cream store, a bowling alley, a cinema, and a well-respected Golf Club that’s owned and operated by the Fishers Island Club. The little island’s beauty also makes it a lure for movie directors.

5. Montauk, Long Island

Famous for its Lighthouse, Montauk is another town that provides ferry service to Block Island. Find it at the very tip of Long Island. While there, your family can go out on a charter boat for fishing or whale watching. Montauk’s little fishing fleet also means that any seafood in any restaurant in town is as fresh as fresh can be.

6. Quonochontaug, Rhode Island

A really tiny place, this beach town punches above its weight when it comes to summer vacation rentals. It was the place to go for many from the 19th century up until the 1938 New England hurricane. It still draws visitors with historical sites such as Babcock House and the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge. Even Thomas Edison tried to mine iron out of the black beach sand.

7. Matunuck, Rhode Island

This little village, whose name means “lookout,” in the Narragansett language, is known for its lovely beaches, including the East Matunuck State Beach, the evocatively named Moonstone Beach, and South Kingstown Town Beach at Matunuck. This village is also the home of the Theatre-by-the-Sea Playhouse, a modest little building that has seen performances by such superstars as Marlon Brando, Judy Holiday, and Groucho Marx.

8. Charlestown, Rhode Island

This town in Washington County is famous for its Seafood Festival, which occurs over the first week in August. Be sure to visit the 3000-plus-acre Burlingame State Park and Campground, which wraps around Watchaug Pond and offers swimming, hiking, picnicking, and fishing. Other things to do include visiting the Indian Burial Ground and the Foster Cove Archaeological Site.

9. Westerly, Rhode Island

This town comes by its name honestly, for it is in the extreme west of the state, very close to the border of Connecticut. It’s bordered by the Pawcatuck River, once known for its salmon fishing. The town is full of fascinating salt and fresh water ponds and lakes, including Chapman’s Pond and Winnapaug Pond. While here, you can take the kids to Westerly’s beautiful beaches, including Watch Hill Beach and Weekapaug Beach.