15 places to visit in Rhode Island
There may be affiliate links in this post. Read my disclosure policy to learn more.
In Rhode Island, you can find a variety of things to do. From museums and parks to beaches and historic sites – this is one state that offers something for everyone! It may be the smallest state in the United States but there are tons of things to do here and some of the coolest things in all of New England.
Are you ready to explore Rhode Island?
Here are 15 amazing places to visit in Rhode Island.
Block Island is a beautiful island just off the coast of Rhode Island. It is characterized by its white sand beaches and temperate weather. New Englanders love the island because it is rustic and beautiful with miles of beach! This 7 mile long island is only accessible by ferry, so be sure to take the time to enjoy the ferry ride over.
The ferry ride takes about an hour each way, but you can buy a round-trip ticket that lasts up to 48 hours.
Buy your tickets for Block Island here!
Once you arrive on Block Island, head out to explore! You can walk along the beach or go for a hike through the natural areas of the island. Enjoy a bike ride around the island (there are rentals everywhere) or just chill at the beach. Be sure to stop in at one of our many restaurants for some delicious seafood!
Westerly is a small town about an hour minutes from Providence with a population around 17,000 people. The town is full of historic sites, shops, restaurants, and beautiful parks, making this a great destination for anyone looking for a step back in time. Two of the best beaches in Rhode Island are in Westerly (Misquamicut and Watch Hill) and the seaside town has tons of other smaller beaches you can visit.
Be sure to visit Watch Hill Lighthouse to get a terrific view of the coastline and to learn about Westerly in its earliest days.
Roger Williams Park
This park in Providence is full of features that will all you and your family to enjoy an afternoon outdoors. Called “The People’s Park” there are tons of things to do here for free or low cost. The park is especially known for its extensive nature trails, awesome playground, bike park and boating.
In 1637, Roger Williams purchased land for a cattle farm here — now it’s one of Rhode Island’s most popular tourist attractions! The park features over 200 acres of land which includes trails through woods, meadows and swamps, along with the Wolfman exhibit and a wildlife center.
If you’re looking for something a bit less active, take in one of the many exhibits or performances happening on any given day. From art museums to interactive children’s play areas, there is always tons going on here! Be sure to come back at night if you want to experience Roger Williams Park during its most lively – it hosts an outdoor movie series every Friday throughout summer with activities beginning around sunset.
For information on park activities click here.
Roger Williams Park Zoo
Roger Williams Park Zoo is a great place to add to your exploration of Roger Williams Park. There are over 100 acres of parkland to explore as well as animals at the Roger Williams Park Zoo, which is home to more than 400 animals from all over the world. You’ll be able to see some rare and endangered species here.
The zoo is consitently ranked as one of the best zoos in New England.
With a vibrant arts scene, world-class restaurants and more history than your average city, downtown doesn’t just have something for adults – kids will find plenty to do as well!
With numerous shops and boutiques lining the cobblestone streets, it’s easy to spend an entire day wandering around here. Be sure to check out places like Brown University, Roger Williams National Memorial and the Providence Athenaeum while downtown.
If you want to get a great meal head to Waterman’s Grille to get a delicious dinner on the river!
Providence is easy to reach from NYC by bus or Boston by car, so there’s no excuse to put off the trip!
WaterFire Providence is a spectacular event that feature hundreds of bonfires lit near the surface of the rivers near downtown Providence. There are also torches scattered throughout the walkways – these burn with fire for about 20 minutes before they go out on their own, leaving behind smoldering embers and giving off pleasing scents.
There is also live entertainment (dancers and musicians) throughout the entire event!
WaterFire events take place every year in Providence in the fall months and is something you must see at least once.
Get dates and information about WaterFire here.
See Providence in style on a gondola in downtown Providence. The gondolier will take you under bridges and through the historic city streets for a quarter-mile ride. You will feel like you have been transported to Venice Italy while you enjoy Italian music and munchies.
Newport Cliff Walk
The Newport Cliff Walk is a must-do for visitors to Newport. The walkway spans four miles and offers scenic vistas of the coastline, historic homes, scenic mansions, gardens and many other points of interest. Along the way, you will also come across mansions from the Gilded Age as well as some of the most beautiful coastline in Rhode Island.
The walk is an 45-60 minutes long and can be enjoyed at your own pace. There are some parts of the Cliff Walk that are hard for strollers or little ones so check out my post on Newport before you plan to go.
The Breakers in Newport
The Breakers is one of America’s most famous Gilded Age mansions – it was built by Henry W. and Elisabeth M. Vanderbilt in 1895! The mansion was modeled after the Grand Trianon at Versailles and it’s located at 680 Bellevue Avenue in Newport. It took 3 years and more than 250 craftsmen and artisans to complete this gorgeous home (the most expensive house ever built in its day!). Be sure to take a look inside…it is truly stunning. Tours are available daily and they have a great audio tour for kids.
Get more information about the Breakers and Newport in my dedicated post on Newport, Rhode Island.
Great Beaches in Rhode Island
There are so many great beaches in Rhodes Island that it is hard to pick a best, but these are some of the most popular beaches. For a little state, Rhode Island has tons of beaches and everyone will have their opinion on which is best and why. So I will focus on the big 4! Make sure to pack your best beach essentials before you head out!
The big beaches are:
Misquamicut, Naragansett , Watch Hill, and East Matunuck.
Misquamicut State Beach features clean beaches with safe swimming and surfing, playgrounds for kids and some beautiful sandy shoreline. The waves aren’t crazy, but they are big enough to boogie board and enjoy some water play.
There are public restrooms and you can generally find decent parking. Lifeguards are on duty in the summer months.
Watch Hill Beach
Watch Hill Beach is another fabulous beach in Rhode Island – it’s just down the road from Misquamicut. It is situated in the charming town of Watch Hill and a great family beach.
Lifeguards are on duty but this is a much smaller beach than Misquamicut and doesn’t have all the amenities. However they do have a charming carousel (with public restrooms) and a quaint town to explore.
You will need to be here EARLY to park!
Naragansett Town Beach
Naragansett Beach is the real deal when it comes to beaches in Rhode Island. Surfers can be found enjoying the waves, families tend to stay where the water doesn’t break so much and there is plenty of room for both.
Lifeguards are on duty and there are amenities like public restrooms. Parking is expensive so plan on staying for the day.
East Matunuck Beach
East Matunuck Beach is a smaller beach that holds my heart! I love this beach because it is close to parking so you don’t have to haul everything your kids say they need at the beach very far. The waves are gentle and they even offer showers so you can take your kids home sand and salt free! Lifeguards are on duty.
If you go to the beach see if you can get in to the Matunuck Oyster bar just up the road. It is one of the best meals I have ever had!
Rhode Island is a great state to visit in New England. I hope you have some great ideas of some fun places to visit in Rhode Island with your family.
I endorse products I’ve personally used or come highly recommended by my trusted peers. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Leave a Reply