Things To Do in Rhode Island
Rhode Island’s tourism motto is “Cooler and Warmer,” and it’s an apt description for the Ocean State.
Blessed with sandy beaches, yacht-filled harbors, dynamic cities, and charming small towns, the nation’s smallest state offers tons of adventure. Hit a heritage trail, a nature trail, or a bike trail to see what the state has to offer.
There are endless ways to explore the state’s rich cultural and architectural heritage. Choose from one of 16 heritage trails to discover each corner of the state. The Block Island Heritage Trail explores this 10-square-mile gem off the state’s south coast. With rolling green hills and dramatic bluffs offering a breathtaking view of the ocean, Block Island also boasts Old Harbor, the rambling Manisses Animal Farm, and the beautiful Southeast Lighthouse. The Newport County Gilded Age Trail winds along a spectacular stretch of the Atlantic and visits some of the nation’s most splendid homes, such as the Louis XIII-style Belcourt castle, the palatial Breakers home, which housed the Vanderbilts, and Chateau-sur-Mer, which is considered one of the nation’s finest examples of Victorian architecture. If you’re in the capital, check out the Providence Heritage Trail to see the Governor Stephen Hopkins House, the Old State House, the State Capitol, and striking Providence City Hall, which was modeled after the Tuileries Palace in Paris.
Prefer to explore the state while wearing hiking boots? The Bird Watchers Nature Trail journeys to the best spots to see this state’s astounding avian life. Sprawling Arcadia Management Area protects fresh water wetlands and marshes which are home to wild turkey, ring-necked pheasants, and plenty of songbirds. The 640-acre Trustom Pond Refuge sees some 300 bird species annually, including songbirds, osprey, hawks, and bobolinks. The state’s Coastal Natural Trail ventures through pristine and beautiful environments and past barrier beaches, freshwater wetlands, and coastal ponds. Visit the Napatree Point Conservation Area to see its long sandy spit, or Settler’s Rock on Rhode Island Sound, where European settlers landed in 1661.
Hop on a bike to see the state at a slower pace. Rhode Island boasts more than 100 miles of bike paths which visit natural areas, historic villages, and state parks. Coventry Greenway winds past woodlands and streams and offers spots to cast a line or launch a canoe. The Blackstone River Bikeway follows the Blackstone River past Slater Mill, the Museum of Work and Culture, and the Wilbur Kelly House Museum. The flat William C. O’Neill Bike Path visits farms, woods, and streams as well as the Great Swamp and the historic villages of Wakefield and Peacedale.
Rhode Island is perfect for families, who fill find historic carousels, boat tours, kid-centric parks, petting zoos, guided boat tours, interesting wharfs, and children’s museums like the one in Providence, which has hands-on exhibits and offers a traveling adventure through the state’s multi-cultural history.
Hopefully you brought your appetite, because eating in Rhode Island combines farm-fresh ingredients with the best the ocean has to offer and an inventive, fresh take on dining. Restaurants in Newport spill onto sidewalks and along harbors. You can find fresh seafood and fascinating farmers markets and even take cooking classes and go on a “burger bender” that takes in the area’s best bun-based meals. Block Island offers casual eateries and haute cuisine – and almost everything in between. Providence is the state’s culinary capital and is home to some of New England’s best chefs. Providence is also the spot to seek out cultural dining experiences – you can search for Andean specialties, Cambodian treats, family-friendly Mexican feasts, Middle Eastern falafel, and Mediterranean snacks served with side of belly dancing.
Rhode Island is the nation’s sailing center, home to the Americas Cup and world-class boatworks. Charter a yacht for a day or a week, sign up for a classic cruise around Newport, or visit one of state’s great maritime museums. The state is also one of the best places in the world to learn to sail, and ports in Newport, Little Compton, Block Island, and elsewhere offer instructional sailing packages ranging from a morning to a week and longer.
Rhode Island’s arts and culture are on full display, with almost every town in the state home to galleries, museums, and performing arts centers. You’ll find galleries on Block Island and up and down the Blackstone Valley, where attention is given to watercolors, fine arts, and modern art. Both Newport and Providence have dozens of galleries ranging from the austere halls of the University of Rhode Island to galleries which both showcase art and facilitate lessons. The state’s performing arts centers dole out dance, film, theater, comedy, and community events. And the Rhode Island’s fascinating history is showcased in centers such as the Woonsocket Historical Society, the Charles Whipple Greene Museum, the Herreshoff Marine Museum, and the Audrain Automobile Museum.
Rhode Island’s hidden corners and dynamic downtowns offer adventure for every taste.