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Things to do in Rhode Island

A US State in New England, Rhode Island is widely known for its sandy shores, shimmering coastline, and seaside colonial towns. Also known as Little Rhody, this small state is packed with tons of tourist attractions and fun activities to entice travelers from all around the world. From Beaches to Hiking and from Arts, History to Dining, this beautiful US state has it all.

Things to do in Rhode Island

Wondering about the fun things to do in Rhode Island for adults? Keep scrolling and walk through the exciting activities and must-visit tourist attractions that you should not give a miss while visiting this beautiful state.

Is there anything fun to do in RI?

Yes, absolutely. Rhode Island features plenty of fun activities to fascinate tourists worldwide. From exploring the parks and trails to birdwatching to shopping, exquisite dining, and much more, this state has everything to make your vacation memorable.

RI has astounding 400 miles of Atlantic coastline. It also boasts the sailing capital of the world, Newport. Additionally, tourists here can get the chance to explore age-old mansions and grand estates to dig deep into the history and culture of this US state.

What is Rhode Island best known for?

Rhode Island is widely famous for several things. A few of them are mentioned here.

  • It is known for making silverware and the finest jewelry.
  • RI is the smallest US state.
  • It is home to Newport, the sailing capital of the world.
  • This state boasts 400 miles of coastline, despite its diminutive size.
  • Rhode Island is one of the original US colonies.
  • Until 2020, RI has the longest state name.
  • This US state is a gateway to Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York.
  •  Rhode Island is also famous for its mouthwatering cuisines, including Clam Cakes, RI-style Calamari, and Stuffies.
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11 Best Things To Do In Rhode Island

Are you looking for the best things to do in Rhode Island but have no idea where to start? Here is a quick rundown of the 11 exciting things that you should add to your itinerary while heading to this little US state.

1. Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence

Roger Williams Park Zoo is an idyllic choice for animal lovers around the world. It is home to over 150 animals residing in its natural settings. This zoo has earned accrediation from the Association of Zoos and Aquarium in 1986 and became the first zoo in New Engand to hold such a reputed accreditation.

Roger Williams Park Zoo

Founded in 1872, Roger Williams Park Zoo is the third-oldest zoo in the country. It is the true example of contemporary zoo design and ethics, despite being the nation’s oldest zoos. It believes in keeping the animals cage-free so they can live in environment close to their native habitat.

Moreover, it is the place where visitors can see different animals with a minimum number of visible barriers. This zoo is spread over 40-acres land and gives the chance to see snow leopards, zebras, giraffes, kangaroos, elephants, red pandas, alligators, and other exotic creatures.

2. WaterFire Providence

Witnessing the signature event of WaterFire in Providence is one of the unique things to do in Rhode Island. It is an award-winning fire sculpture installation on the three rivers in downtown Providence. This four-acre Waterplace park and Riverwalk border the very beautiful Woonasquatucket River that winds through Downcity.

WaterFire Providence

The spectacular view of lightening up more than 100 bonfires in large iron pans in the river’s center is no less than a visual treat for the visitors. These bonfires are kept blazing throughout the evening.

This event was first hosted by local artist Barnaby Evans and later become a must-see for travelers. The string of fires illuminates nearly two-thirds of a mile and is accompanied by music, dance performances, and other family-friendly celebrations.

 WaterFire Providence is an experience that surrounds viewers on all sides while impacting all five senses. It is typically held in May through November on Saturday evenings about twice a month. The event is free to watch and tourists are encouraged to attend the same.

3. Cliff Walk, Newport

Newport’s enticing 3.5-mile cliff walk is an idyllic place to enjoy tranquility and peace. It is a National Recreation Trail in a National Historic District. Stunning ocean views, crashing ripples, and the perfect amount of sea make this trail worth adding to your itinerary.

Cliff Walk, Newport

Located along the eastern shore of Aquidneck Island, the Cliff Walk is renowned as a public access walk that combines the natural beauty architectural history of Newport’s Gilded age with the natural beauty of the city. Geology, birds, and wildflowers add to this delightful walk.

The visitors get the chance to view the beautiful mansion gardens, sea-facing facades, and picturesque ocean view. The best thing about Cliff Walk is that visitors can behold these beautiful sights without spending a single penny. The walk begins well before the first major mansion, The Breakers, and passes by Rough Point, located at the end of Bellevue Avenue, after 3.5 miles. Find the best affordable places to live in Rhode Island and enjoy a memorable trip without costing a dime.

4. RISD Museum of Art, Providence

Founded in 1877, the RISD Museum of Art is integrated with the RI School of Design and shares multiple buildings and facilities. It is an ideal place for art lovers and attracts tourists from around the world. This place houses approximately 100,000 works of fine and decorative art pieces, ranging from ancient times to the present.

RISD Museum of Art, Providence

This museum has carefully preserved a rich collection of fine art across the globe, including paintings from French Impressionists, ancient Chinese sculptures, and contemporary art in every medium.

It features seven curatorial departments that offer a varied program of lectures, tours, exhibitions, publications, and workshops. This comprehensive museum is dedicated to diverse cultures while educating designers, researchers, students, and artists of all ages.

While adults have to pay $17 as an entry fee, young visitors (18 & under) can visit the museum for free. Admission is free on Sundays (10 am – 5 pm) and Thursdays and Fridays (5 – 7 pm).

5. Ocean Drive, Newport

Counted amongst the best things to do in Rhode Island, Ocean Drive is a famous historic district spreads over the long street of the same name along the southern shore of Newport, RI. It is about a third of the Ten Mile Drive and offers spectacular coastal views to visitors.

Ocean Drive, Newport

This scenic drive borders the southern coastline of Aquidneck Island and is also known as Ten Mile Drive. Once used to be farmland, it has now become one of the popular Newport tourist attractions.

There are plenty of things that keep you occupied while visiting the Ocean Drive Historic District. Including bike riding, running, kite-flying, fishing, scuba diving, picnicking, and more.

Additionally, you will pass by a number of attractions, such as Gooseberry Beach, King Park. New York Yacht Club, Fort Adams State Park, and more.

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6. Block Island and Mohegan Bluffs

Visiting Block Island and Mohegan Bluffs is counted amongst the things to do in RI during Covid. Block Island is situated south of mainland Rhode Island. Its 1800s red-bricked Southeast Lighthouse sits atop the stunning clay cliffs of Mohegan Bluffs.

6. Block Island and Mohegan Bluffs

This island is surrounded by sandy beaches including the popular Crescent Beach on the east. The northern tip of Block Island features North Lighthouse and Sachem Pond. While exploring this tourist attraction in RI, do not forget to visit the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge to witness the beautiful migratory songbirds.

It is worth considering for those travelers looking for a different beach getaway. Despite being a small island, it is packed with a number of secluded spots to relax and plenty of activities that will keep visitors busy for hours.

The Mohegan Bluffs are massive clay cliffs, located on the southern shore of Block Island. These are positioned 150 feet above sea level, offering picturesque nature vistas. They are named after the battle of Niantic that took place in the mid 16th century.

7. Narragansett Bay Beaches

Counted amongst the best beaches in Rhode Island, Narragansett Bay Beaches are worth visiting. It is mainly a collection of five beautiful beaches, including Narragansett Beach, Scarborough State Beaches (North and South), Roger W. Wheeler State Beach, Salty Brine State Beach, and Kelly Beach.

7. Narragansett Bay Beaches

Each of these beaches looks stunning while offering great ocean views. All these finest beaches in the Northeast make Narragansett an idyllic place for a fun-filled Southern Rhode Island vacation. 

In addition to the coastal views, these beaches offer plenty of water sports to keep the visitors occupied. The best thing about these beaches is that they are incredibly clean and less crowded as compared to others.

8. Colt State Park, Bristol

Spread across 464-acres of land, Colt State Park is a public open space on Poppasquash Neck in Bristol. Located at the tip of Narragansett Bay, this park is an ideal place to spend some quality time with your loved ones while witnessing spectacular sunset views.

Colt State Park, Bristol

Colt State Park is often referred to as the “Gem” of the State Park Systems in Rhode Island. It provides a visually appealing panorama onto Narragansett Bay and is packed with plenty of hiking trails, paved bike paths, and historic stone walls.

This beautiful and lush green park is widely applauded by locals and tourists alike. It lies minutes away from the historic center of Bristol and is located adjacent to Coggeshall Farm Museum, Bristol Town Beach, and Sports Complex.

It is open year-round and features open fields for kite flying and other outdoor games. It is home to various bike trails that intersect with the East Bay Bike Path.

9. Blithewold, Bristol

The famous historical landmark of Blithewold Bristol is one of the best things to do in Rhode Island for history buffs. This estate is nationally significant in American history as one of the most fully-developed and intact landmarks. It is a 33-acre summer estate offering grand vistas of Narragansett Bay.

Blithewold, Bristol

Blithowold is an authentic example of the Country Place Era. It features 45 rooms filled with family heirlooms and is flanked by a series of lovely gardens, ranging from mysterious to exotic. The property also boasts an accessible greenhouse and whimsical stonework project, making it unique from other historical landmarks.

Blithewold gardens overlook Bristol Harbor and Narragansett Bay and were designed by a landscape architect John DeWolf. These boast herbaceous borders, shrubs, and trees. This mansion hosts several events, including Tasty Treats, Fashion History Sketching Workshop, Nature Mandala Series, and many more.

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10. The Elms, Newport

Thinking about Should I move to Rhode Island or not? RI is an ideal destination for both beach lovers and history buffs. While making an RI itinerary, one place that you cannot give a miss is The Elms, Newport. It is a large mansion located at 367, Bellevue Avenue in Newport.

The Elms, Newport

Once used to be a summer residence of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Julius Berwind, this beautiful mansion now become a must-see tourist attraction in Newport. Tours of this mansion are self-guided using the free Newport mansions audio tour app.

The plush interiors and furnishings of The Elms were designed by Allard and the Sons of Paris. This property was completed in 1901 at a whopping cost of $1.4 million.

It also includes terraces showcasing marble and bronze sculptures, a park with fine specimen trees, an opulent lower garden having fountains and marble pavilions, and a garage. 

11. The Breakers, Newport

If you find luxurious mansions fascinating, then you must add The Breakers, Newport to your RI itinerary. This Gilded age landmark is located at the Ochre Point Avenue in Newport. The Breakers is the grandest of Newport’s summer cottages and was built in between 1893 – 1895.

The Breakers, Newport

This mansion offers true glimpses of luxury and opulence. It is constructed in neo-Renaissance style and looks no less than a masterpiece flanked by lush green nature. The 70-room mansion spread across a gross area of 125,339 square feet. It was designed by Richard Morris Hunt in Renaissance Revival Style.

The entrance of this mansion is marked by sculpted iron gates and 30-foot high walkway gates. It was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1994. The mansion opens daily year -round, except for Christmas and Thanksgiving day.

Things to do by Season

Wondering about the best things to do in Rhode Island by season? Scroll down the page to learn about the fun things to enjoy in this US state season-wise.

1.  Summer

Few things compare to the glory of summertime in Rhode Island. It’s no wonder that summer is an ideal time to visit Rhode Island. This destination is packed with beautiful beaches and dozens of warm-weather activities.

The fun things to enjoy in RI in summers are:

  • Visit your favorite beach.
  • Attend an amazing event at WaterFire.
  • Take a stroll at Roger Williams Park & Zoo.
  • Enjoy walking tours to luxury mansions.

2. Winter

There are plenty of fun things to do in Rhode Island in winter, such as:

  • Sledding at Diamond Hill State Park and Mercymount Country Day School.
  •  Skiing and Tubing.
  • Ice Skating at Smithfield and New England Sports Village.
  • Take a winter hike.

3. Autumn

Autumn is yet another perfect month to enjoy the scenic beauty of Rhode Island. Some of the things you can enjoy during the autumn months are:

  • Go on a ghost tour.
  • Check out all the amazing foliage in the area.
  • Discover the beauty of Block Island.
  • Attend the Autumn Leaves music series

4. Fall

Although this ocean state is a hot summer tourism spot, it takes an entirely new image once the trees’ leaves start to shift from earthy green to vibrant orange. The best things to do in Rhode Island during the fall season are listed below.

  • Take a river cruise.
  • Enjoy a drive through Newport.
  • Go apple picking.
  • Attend a wine tasting in Newport.

Things to Do in Rhode Islan FAQs

What is the prettiest place in Rhode Island?

The Breakers in Newport is the prettiest place to visit in Rhode Island. This lavish mansion reflects the luxury life in America’s gilded age. It is the former summer home for the Vanderbilt family and is now declared a National Historic Landmark. The Breakers offers glimpses of true luxury from the moment you step inside this beautiful property.

What is the best month to visit Rhode Island?

The ideal time to explore the stunning beauty of Rhode Island is from June through October. The weather is warm and pleasant during these months with less or no rainfall. You can also make plans to RI during winters if you want to enjoy exciting deals on rentals and less crowd.

Conclusion

So, that’s all about the fun things you can enjoy in Rhode Island. We hope our in-depth and unbiased guide will help you create the best itinerary.

Since this Ocean State is packed with loads of activities, it is an ideal destination not just for a trip but also for a permanent stay. Although the cost of living in Rhode Island is a bit higher than the national average, the quality of life and plenty of attractions make this place worth living.

The best time to discover the scenic beauty of RI is the summer season when the weather is warm with no or least possibility of rain showers. So, what keeps you waiting for now? Plan your trip to the Ocean State and gather some beautiful memories to cherish for a lifetime.

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