Best Things to Do in Rhode Island: 12 Essential RI Attractions

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Are you fascinated by visiting New England this yr? Here are a few of the most enjoyable, scenic, and distinctive issues to do in Rhode Island. These sights, occasions, and sights are positive to make for an unforgettable trip expertise.

Known for its beautiful seafood, Rhode Island is among the many unique 13 colonies, and subsequently, boasts a vibrant historic legacy. However, what actually makes The Oceans State an important addition to any New England highway journey itinerary is its affinity for journey. There are numerous actions for thrill-seeking guests to take part in.

From Providence to Narragansett Bay, from Newport cliff walks to the breathtaking Marble House, there isn’t any scarcity of issues to do and locations to go to in Rhode Island. There actually is one thing for everybody. That, after all, makes it all of the extra vital so that you can know which locations are greatest suited on your explicit pursuits. To assist, I’ve compiled an inventory of a few of my private favourite Rhode Island sights. Check it out!

With a wealth of lovely colonial structure, there are numerous Rhode Island sights that may attraction to historical past buffs.

Best Places to Visit in Rhode Island: Fun Ocean State Adventures

Hopefully, one can find the checklist under helpful in deciding which issues to do in Rhode Island are your highest priorities. As famous above, there’s one thing for everybody at this excellent trip spot, so consider carefully, and take into consideration the sort of journey you wish to have.

Are you on the lookout for some raucous enjoyable and journey? Or would you favor a peaceful, peaceable and secluded getaway? Whatever you’re planning, Rhode Island can accommodate your wants.

1. The Breakers, Newport

Newport has earned the moniker of the ‘Sailing Capital of the World’ due to its quite a few attractive shores. Indeed, for many who take pleasure in enjoyable within the solar and the nice outside, Newport is a real stunner. That mentioned, there’s nonetheless rather a lot to discover for those who’re not an avid sailor, together with numerous historic and grandiose mansions to tour

Exterior of The Breakers, a 19th-century mansion acting as a tourist attraction in Rhode Island
One of probably the most luxurious locations to go to in Rhode Island is The Breakers, an ornate Nineteenth-century mansion.

Among the various, many opulent 19th and 20th century mansions positioned in Newport, The Breakers is by far the most well-liked. As a Rhode Island vacationer attraction, it attracts an estimated 300,000 guests yearly.

The Renaissance-style structure of this mansion takes its inspiration from the royal palaces of Northern Italy. Its Italian marble surfaces, elaborate golden ceilings, and antiquated French furnishings, plus gildings of diamonds, rubies, and different priceless stones, add to the splendor of this summer time property.

Interior staircase of The Breakers decorated with Renaissance-style artwork
The Renaissance-style artwork on show in The Breakers ensures makes it simply as lovely inside as it’s exterior.

The Breakers was commissioned in 1893 by the railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt II. The mansion has a complete of 70 rooms, throughout 5 flooring. Facing the ocean, this grand, fireproof mansion is among the many most visited home museums in all the United States. Whether you’re a historical past buff or simply one thing with a style of luxurious, The Breakers is certainly worthy of a go to.

2. Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence

Providence is the capital of Rhode Island and in addition its single largest metropolis. Founded in 1636, it’s one of many oldest cities within the entirety of the U.S. Some of one of the best sightseeing sights in Rhode Island may be discovered right here, together with the Providence River, the First Baptist Church of America, and the ‘Big Blue Bug‘ which is essentially the world’s largest termite turned vacationer attraction. 

The front gates to Roger Williams Park in Providence, RI
Roger Williams Park boasts 427 acres filled with enjoyable sights and actions/ | Credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel

If you’ll be able to solely go to one Providence hotspot, nonetheless, I like to recommend testing Roger Williams Park, because it’s one thing of a one-stop store. In this large, 427-acre park, you’ll discover a lush Botanical Center, an enchanting Museum of Natural History, a Planetarium, and, better of all, the world-famous Roger Williams Park Zoo.

Spread throughout a 40-acre space, the zoo is likely one of the oldest of its sort within the U.S. Its in depth assortment of animals options pink pandas, snow leopards, kangaroos, zebras, elephants, alligators, giraffes, wildebeest, and plenty of different native and unique creatures. Both youngsters and adults will certainly delight at glimpsing these uncommon species.

A pair of camels at Roger Williams Park Zoo, one of the most popular places to visit in Rhode Island
If you’re an animal lover, Roger Williams Parks Zoo is likely one of the greatest locations to go to in Rhode Island. | Credit: Jeff Nickerson

It’s price noting that Roger Williams Park Zoo units fairly an instance in moral enclosure design. Predominantly cage-free, the zoo makes an ardent effort in direction of offering the animals with environments that carefully mimic their pure habitats. The zoo is designed in a manner that retains the tangible boundaries between guests and the animals at a minimal.

3. Bristol

Bristol has rather a lot to supply for each lovers of scenic landscapes in addition to water adventurers. Widely thought-about to be probably the greatest locations to go to in Rhode Island for foodies, Bristol is a deep-water seaport that contains loads of splendid waterfront eating places. Besides tantalizing your style buds, there are a number of different issues you are able to do in Bristol.

The exterior of Linden Place Museum in Bristol, RI
Linden Place Museum is likely one of the most cherished historic sights in Rhode Island. | Credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel

Try windsurfing or kayaking within the well-secured harbor. You can even attempt biking, strolling, or rollerblading on the spectacularly pretty 14.5-mile pathway alongside the coast. Check out certainly one of a number of sightseeing sights, together with fascinating museums that boast historic structure, such because the Linden Place Museum. It is taken into account the premier museum on this lovely district.

Another spotlight is Mount Hope Farm. It contains 1745 Governor Bradford House, a farmer market that’s open all yr lengthy, and 127 acres of protected open space that consists of a number of scenic mountaineering trails.

Reenactors marching in the Bristol Independence Day Parade, a famous Rhode Island attraction
The metropolis of Bristol is known for its enormous and elaborate Fourth of July celebrations. | Credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel

Bristol can be liable for holding probably the most prestigious of the Independence Day parades within the nation, and town hosts the Bristol Oyster Festival, which has been a practice that goes all the best way again to 1885.

4. Cliff Walk, Newport

Are you on the lookout for a option to take pleasure in Rhode Island’s pure magnificence and historic structure on the similar time, whereas additionally staying energetic? The public-access Cliff Walk alongside Newport’s jap shores gives all this alongside a 3.5-mile-long looping path that’s nice for jogging, biking, vigorous mountaineering, and even only a leisurely stroll.

A view of the ocean from the Rhode Island attraction known as the Newport Cliff Walk
Newport’s Cliff Walk gives 3.5 miles of gorgeous beachfront surroundings. | Credit: Doug Kerr

Take a step again in Newport’s “Gilded Age” as you stroll the rocky shore, having fun with a wide ranging view of The Breakers. You will even have the chance to look out over the exceptional gardens of the realm’s centuries-old mansions. Keep a watch out for the dazzling wildflowers and a number of species of birds that decision the realm residence.

The Cliff Walk extends all the best way as much as the tip of Bellevue Avenue. The northern a part of the pathway is less complicated to navigate, however the southern half is sort of rocky and could be a problem for inexperienced hikers.

A path near the shore marking the Newport Cliff Walk
Taking the Cliff Walk isn’t simply in style with vacationers; locals think about it one of many quintessential Rhode Island sights.

Whether you’re trying to work up a sweat or simply wish to calm down and benefit from the views, there’s no query about it. The Newport Cliff Walk is likely one of the quintessential issues to do in Rhode Island.

5. The Elms

Another Newport attraction, the grandiose property often called The Elms is among the many many opulent and delightful summer time cottages scattered throughout Rhode Island. A testomony to the grandeur of a bygone age, the Elms has a chic however quiet attraction that makes it stand other than different manor properties within the space.

The front entrance to The Elms, one of the most extravagant tourist attractions in Rhode Island
A tour of The Elms is a should for any checklist of can’t-miss issues to do in Rhode Island. | Credit: Wally Gobetz

Commissioned by the Berwind household, The Elms was constructed in 1898. It will not be the extravagant interiors of this $1.4 million mansion that lures guests in most, nonetheless. Rather, what catches the attention are the Classical Revival gardens, full with marble and bronze sculptures positioned on terraces, marble pavilions, and marvelous backyard fountains.

An ornate stone fountain in the garden of The Elms
Built on the flip of the century, The Elms is a marvel of structure, historical past, and luxurious. | Credit: Wally Gobetz

Considering that it took nearly seven years to design and construct them, it’s little marvel that the gardens have turned out to be such a marvel. And whereas “common folk” within the 1800s may need solely been in a position to take pleasure in these sights from afar, in the present day The Elms is open for public entry and ranks as one of the vital in style issues to do in Rhode Island.

6. Block Island

Even vacationers as spoiled for alternative as these visiting New England should admit that Block Island is one thing actually particular. Offering guests 17 miles of gorgeous shoreline, there are limitless decisions as to easy methods to spend your time. This tiny island gives huge thrills, in addition to an idyllic setting and a bunch of scenic mountaineering trails.

Southeast Lighthouse, one of several Rhode Island tourist attractions on Block Island
The Southeast Light House is only one of a number of memorable landmarks that make Block Island so distinctive.

Take a protracted stroll among the many scenic mountaineering trails. Hop on a sightseeing cruise or check out kayaking. You can even go online, skimboarding, diving, snorkeling, and far, rather more. If you favor using, you’ll be able to hire a moped or bicycle.

View the works of native artists by visiting one of many many native galleries. If you’re there on a Wednesday or Saturday, don’t overlook to hit up the Block Island Farmers Market to peruse the various wares, which embody recent vegetables and fruit, home made baked items, and charming arts and crafts.

View of the ocean from a Block Island cliffside
Don’t overlook Block Island when looking for issues to do in Rhode Island; it packs plenty of enjoyable right into a small bundle.

From the surface, Block Island might sound “too small” to supply a lot pleasure, but it surely’s really one of many richest and most numerous Rhode Island sights of all of them. If you’re actually feeling adventurous, think about exploring on foot. You by no means know, you may find yourself encountering one of many a whole bunch of hidden coves and inlets that make Block Island so distinctive.

7. RISD Museum of Art, Providence

Looking for some Rhode Island issues to do of a extra cerebral or culturally enriching nature? The Ocean State is much more than simply sunny seashores and opulent previous mansions. It’s additionally residence to the Rhode Island School of Design, one of many nation’s most prestigious and progressive artwork faculties.

A flag bearing the logo for the Rhode Island School of Island
Not only a prestigious faculty, RISD can be one of the vital in style vacationer sights in Rhode Island.

Don’t really feel like enrolling? That’s okay, you’ll be able to expertise the subsequent neatest thing with a day on the RISD Museum of Art in Providence. One of the premier vacationer sights in Rhode Island, the museum consists of displays themed on American artwork from the 18th and 19th centuries.

In addition, you can even gaze upon lovingly preserved artistic endeavors from Ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt, and Europe. The museums regularly change their featured displays, so even for those who’ve been there earlier than, you continue to have one thing new to stay up for.

A room full of paintings in the RISD Museum of Art, a popular Rhode Island tourist attraction
The RISD Museum of Art holds one of many largest collections of classical work within the state. | Credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel

The RISD Museum of Art is price visiting regardless of how educated of the humanities you might be (or aren’t). Not solely is its assortment nearly overwhelmingly spectacular, however so too is its scope and variety.

8. The Beaches of Narragansett Bay

They don’t name Rhode Island the Ocean State for nothing! With over 400 miles of tidal Atlantic Ocean shoreline, the whole space is a paradise for seafaring vacationers, with greater than 100 seashores in whole.

Narragansett Bay, one of the most well-known places to visit in Rhode Island
Narragansett Bay options greater than 30 small islands and numerous scenic seashores. | Credit: Charlie Kellogg

For these on the lookout for issues to do in Rhode Island associated to the water, resembling swimming or boating, there isn’t any higher vacation spot than Narragansett Bay. The bay contains over 147 sq. miles, forming the biggest estuary in all of New England. What’s extra, Narragansett Bay is residence to greater than 30 small islands and three distinct our bodies of water: the Sakonnet River, Mount Hope Bay, and the Taunton River.

At Salty Brine Beach, you’ll be able to watch fishing boats pull out and in all through the day, whereas the Scarborough State Park seashore gives guests an opportunity to take a dip in crisp, cool waters in view of a surprising Victorian-era leisure complicated.

A beach near Narragansett Bay busy with tourists
In the summer time, Narragansett’s seashores are a few of the hottest locations to go to in Rhode Island. | Credit: Tim Pierce.

Despite being thinly populated for a lot of the yr, summer time sees an enormous inflow of individuals to the seashores of Narragansett Bay. Once you see them for your self, it’s not onerous to grasp why.

9. Marble House

Walking via the famed Marble House in Newport, it’s onerous to not really feel like a king or queen. From the pillars of the White House-esque portico to the pink and pink marble of the gold-accented eating room, the whole lot concerning the mansion appears torn from a storybook. It’s not a fairy story, although; it’s actual.

Exterior view of the Marble House, a 19th-century mansion built by Kenneth Vanderbilt
The Marble House is the closest factor to a royal palace you’re more likely to discover within the Ocean State. | Credit: Beyond My Ken

The Marble House price $11 million to construct within the 1800s (greater than $330 million in the present day). It was given as a present by legendary American businessman Kenneth Vanderbilt to his spouse on her thirtieth birthday. Taking architectural inspiration from the Petit Trianon at Versailles, the development of the Marble House took a full 5 years. Today, it’s labeled as a National Historic Landmark.

Dining room of The Marble House, with stark red and gold furnishings making it one of the more striking attractions in Rhode Island
With its pink and pink decor and golden accents, that is one Rhode Island attraction positive to make an impression.

The ambition and audacity of the Marble House are alone greater than sufficient to make it a must-see Rhode Island attraction. It’s true when folks say “they don’t make them like this anymore.” In actuality, they barely ever made them like this again then. The Marble House is certainly one of a sort.

10. Beavertail Lighthouse

With so many miles of Atlantic Ocean shoreline alongside Narragansett Bay, it shouldn’t come as a shock that the Rhode Island panorama is suffering from charming previous lighthouses. Among the oldest and most beloved of those is the 64-foot-tall Beavertail Lighthouse on the tip of Conanicut Island.

The 150-year-old Beavertail Lighthouse, surrounded by tourists visiting the popular Rhode Island attraction
One of the oldest Rhode Island sights, Beavertail Lighthouse is over 150 years previous. | Credit: Kenneth C. Zirkel

More than only a easy lighthouse, this stately, 150-year-old construction is an awe-inspiring relic of a time passed by. Though not formally constructed till 1856, the Beavertail Lighthouse’s roots may be traced all the best way again to the 1700s. In reality, it was one the primary of its sort within the founding American colonies.

An aerial view of Conanicut Island, with Beavertail Lighthouse visible at its tip
Beavertail Lighthouse is positioned on the very tip of lovely Conanicut Island, flanked by miles of shoreline.

Illumination from Beavertail Lighthouse has helped sailors navigate Narragansett Bay’s Eastern Passage for hundreds of years. Today, it continues to do the identical, with the lighthouse itself now totally automated. Meanwhile, its inside has been transformed into an eye-opening museum. This gives vacationers one of the vital distinctive issues to do in Rhode Island.

11. Westerly

Like Block Island, the small seashore city of Westerly could also be unassuming at a look. However, it’s secretly probably the greatest, most enjoyable, and most lovely locations to go to in Rhode Island. I’d even go as far as to name it the crown jewel of New England seashore communities.

Downtown Westerly, a hidden gem for those looking for things to do in Rhode Island
Unassuming at a look, Westerly, RI is a paradise for vacationers within the summertime. | Credit: Daniel Case

Located on the southwest shoreline of Rhode Island, this tiny little beachfront city neighbors the Pawcatuck River and the state of Connecticut. During the summer time, vacationers flock to Westerly. This as a consequence of its heat climate and wealth of sandy seashores, resembling Misquamicut State Beach and Atlantic Beach Park.

A sandy beach on the coast of Westerly, Rhode Island
Boating, fishing, crusing, and browsing are simply a few of the issues to do in Rhode Island. | Credit: Waffries

Visitors can busy themselves boating, fishing, crusing, and browsing, in addition to tenting, mountaineering, and even {golfing}. What actually units Westerly aside, although, is its cozy small-town persona. The locals listed here are extremely pleasant. They’re greater than prepared to share a pint of beer at one of many acclaimed craft breweries. These embody The Malted Barley and Gray Sail Brewing. Just be certain to carry a whopping nice thirst.

12. WaterFire Providence

Far and away probably the most talked-about vacationer attraction in Rhode Island is the yearly WaterFire Providence pageant. WaterFire takes place alongside (and on!) the three rivers that snake via the center of downtown Providence (the Woonasquatucket, Moshassuck, and Providence Rivers). It actually should be seen to be believed.

Guests attending one of the most famous Rhode Island tourist attractions, the annual WaterFire Providence event
A singular expertise, Waterfire Providence attracts often 40,000 guests at a time.

Originally meant as a one-time artwork set up in 1994, WaterFire has since change into a hotly anticipated annual custom. An common of 40,000 guests collect within the downtown space. Meanwhile, early 100 roaring fires are lit in floating braziers on the floor of the water itself. Black-clad performers are likely to the blaze all through the night time, and romantic boat rides weave between the flickering flames.

Close-up of bonfires burning during WaterFire Providence
No itinerary of Rhode Island issues to do is really full with out experiencing WaterFire. | Credit: Adnan Islam

Live music, efficiency artwork, craft distributors, and meals stands are frequent sights among the many riverside pathways and stone footbridges. Best of all, the occasion runs on alternating Saturdays all the best way from May via to November. Thus, you’ve gotten loads of alternatives to expertise the enjoyment and marvel of WaterFire Providence firsthand.

New England is a Vacation Hotspot Unlike Anyplace Else

The lovely, thrilling, attention-grabbing, and distinctive Rhode Island vacationer sights listed above are solely a small style of the myriad pleasures the New England area has to supply. There are numerous adventures ready for you, not solely within the Ocean State, but in addition in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, and extra.

Check out extra of my favourite journey locations within the weblog posts under!

18 Unique Airbnbs in Rhode Island: Beach Houses + Vacation Rentals

The Ultimate Guide to Newport, Rhode Island in a Weekend

The Ultimate New England Road Trip Itinerary in 2022

Fall in New England: 15 Best Towns, Farms, Foliage + Festivals

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37 Unique Airbnbs in New England: Cabins + Treehouse Vacation Rentals

Best Times to Visit New England in 2021

13 Best Hidden Gems in New England to Visit in 2021

23 Best Hidden Vacation Spots within the US You Should Visit in 2022

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