Small and totally mighty, Rhode Island is one of the gorgeous spots on the east coast that’s totally amazing to explore! From picturesque bays, historic towns and museums galore, there’s a heap of the best things to do in Rhode Island dotted all across the state.
We totally loved our trip to Rhode Island, especially Providence that is so lovely to visit. That being said, there’s no need to just confine yourself to one state whilst in the region. Whilst here, we tagged on a trip around Massachusetts best places and had the most amazing time in Boston, too.
So, to help you get the most out of your trip around Rhode Island, I wanted to share our top spots that we fell in love with. Some are nature-based, others involve the quaint little towns; but whatever the case, I’m sure you’ll find a shed load to fall head over heels with!
Take a look, below, at the best things to do in Rhode Island. Enjoy your time exploring the east coast.
Nestled on the shores of Aquidneck Island, Newport is a thriving little city that’s beautiful to visit. Easily reached by a number of bridges connecting the island, it’s the kind of place that’s well worth visiting for a day (or two) when road tripping the east coast.
Once you arrive, be sure to check out Ochre Point Avenue and The Breakers, a vast Vanderbilt mansion that’s too amazing to miss. Built back in the 1800s, it was symbolic of the Vanderbilt’s wealth. And it even shows to this day.
With around 70 rooms and a colossal three-story dining room that’s a total masterpiece. The whole mansion is a work of art!
Afterwards, step out of The Breakers and follow the iconic Cliff Walk that heads around the shoreline and bays here. The views from here are totally stunning and it’s such a gorgeous spot to visit later in the afternoon when the sun dips a little lower.
Love your mansions and ornate architecture? Then make sure to stick around the Bellevue Avenue Mansions. This area of Newport is famed for its stunning buildings and you can find them all spread between the ocean and Bellevue. It’s lovely.
Be sure to visit the iconic Rosecliff Mansion, Marble House and don’t forget about The Elms, too.
The latter is another gem of a mansion and one of the best things to do in Rhode Island to explore the regions iconic houses.
Commissioned by Edward J. Berwind in the middle of the 18th century, it’s the kind of place that’s filled with French influences. Plus, the classical revival gardens are just too good to miss.
After that opulence, pop over to Fort Adams State Park and find out more about this fort that dates all the way back to the 1800s.
Finally, make sure to visit the White Horse Tavern which is the oldest (still operating) tavern in all the United States. Dating back from 1673, it’s a spot that’s incredible to spot for dinner. Their seasonal menu is so tasty; and so is their New England clam chowder for that matter!
2.) Block island
Easily reached by boat (from this spot) at Point Judith, Dock Island is a totally fun island adventure for a day trip whilst in Rhode Island. Taking the Block Island Ferry, you’ll arrive on Block Island in no time at all.
Your first port of call will naturally be New Shoreham. From here, you’ll be able to grab a tasty bite at Kimberly’s (for their lobster, mac and cheese) before heading the gorgeous coastline around Mohegan Bluffs.
If it’s a beach you’re after, head over to Mansion Beach before finishing your day off with a hike around North Lighthouse. It’s just blissful.
3.) Sachuest Bay
Another gem on Aquidneck Island, visiting Sachuest Bay is one of the best things to do in Rhode Island for any beach bum.
You see, Second Beach is a sandy paradise that you really can’t miss in summer. Within easy reach of Newport, it’s well worth a gander for a more relaxing day. Plus, you’ll get one of the best sunsets in Rhode Island from here.
If you’ve got time (and extra energy to burn) pop on the gorgeous trails around the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge.
They’re so peaceful and incredible on a blustery day when the waves are crashing against the shore. I love that sound so much!
Our first real port-of-call in the state, visiting Providence is one of the best things to do in Rhode Island for a lovely city break. With a young vibe, it’s the kind of capital city that’s got a little something for every taste.
Once here, be sure to check out the RISD Museum of Art that’s too good to miss! Part of the Islands School of Design is known for its vast collections that are just incredible. From collections of contemporary textiles, ancient Egyptian clothing to 20th-century designers, it’s the kind of place that you can easily spend a few hours exploring.
Afterwards, head across to WaterFire, an iconic Rhode Island sculpture created by Barnaby Evans. With four acres of Riverwalk and Water Place to explore, it’s a perfect place for a stroll on a warm evening. Plus, there are heaps of street vendors that operate seasonally, too.
For a yummy treat, head into Bolt Coffee Co. for one of their fluffy doughnuts (and great coffee). I tell you, you’ll want more than one!
5.) Beavertail State Park
Just beyond Jamestown, Beavertail State Park is a gem to visit along Rhode Island’s impressive shoreline. The whole area is totally stunning though my favourite point has to be Beavertail Lighthouse Museum.
The hikes here are just amazing and the lighthouse is just iconic. In fact, I think it might be my favourite in all of Rhode Island.
6.) Narragansett Bay
Ah, okay, so Narragansett Bay is a total gem to explore whilst in Rhode Island and kinda hard to miss! You see, it takes in some big spots like Newport, Providence and Warwick which all line its shore.
In the summer, make sure to head for Narragansett Town Beach. It’s a stunner of shoreline and there’s a heap of little foodie stalls and ice cream stops all along the coast.
Plus, nearby, it’s The Towers that stand iconically overlooking the town from the 1800s.
Oh, and don’t forget to visit Point Judith Lighthouse which’s totally nearby, too. It’s a stunner of a place for a stroll and to take in the views of the wider Narragansett Bay.
Not too far from the border with Massachusetts, Bristol is a gorgeous little town that’s well worth a gander whilst exploring Rhode Island. Although relatively small, it’s the kind of place that’s great for a day trip (or a chilled out weekend).
After parking up be sure to visit some of the town’s most famous spots. Of course, you’ve got to explore Colt State Park which stretches over one of the most beautiful shorelines in New England.
Not only is a great for a ramble, but there’s also Coggeshall Farm Museum to visit, too.
Feeling like exploring more? Head over to Blithewold Mansion which’s located at 101 Ferry Road. Long ago, well 1908 to be exact, Blithewold was constructed for Augustus Van Wickle. It has a similar design to a 17th-century English country manor and is totally gorgeous to see.
With a whopping 45 rooms which were furnished with the family’s art collections, it’s the kind of spot that’s lovely to visit. Plus, the grounds are just stunning.
For some tasty local grub, head to Bristol Oyster Bar. Their oysters and grilled Atlantic salmon are so tasty.
Right on the fringes of New York state and Connecticut, Napatree is a great place to visit if you’re craving the great outdoors. With an unspoilt and protected spit of land, Napatree has a beach line walk that’s too good to miss.
The whole dunes area and the beach are just totally unspoilt and well worth visiting for a few hours stroll.
Plus, you can easily stop off at the nearby Olympia Tea Room that’s been around for over 100 years. They do a mean clam roast that you can’t miss.
9.) Pomham Rocks Lighthouse
Right on the shoreline, overlooking Providence River, Pomham Rocks Lighthouse has stood in Rhode Island for over 150 years!
To make your viewing easier, head over to this point that’ll give you some stunning vistas of the bay area.
Best of all, you can take tours of the lighthouse (around 2-hours in length) and learn much more about its history. Plus, the lantern room is pretty cool!
10.) Ocean Drive
Technically still part of Newport, Ocean Drive is a cosy little route that runs the rugged shore of the island itself. Although the drive won’t take you long at all, it’s one of the best things to do in Rhode Island if you haven’t had your fill of mansions yet.
If you are interested in moseying around some more, simply follow through Bellevue Avenue up to the end at Coggeshall Avenue. You can then continue on the left to go along the shore past Bailey’s Beach (that’s equally lovely). If you continue the next ten miles should take you to Gilded Age cottages. Though, they’re anything but traditional cottages!
As you continue, you will come to Brenton Point State Park which is a perfect scenic spot on a calm sunny day.