Rhode Island

Want to discover the best things to do in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island, the smallest state in the United States, offers a surprising diversity of attractions that beckon travelers from near and far.

Known affectionately as the Ocean State, it boasts over 400 miles of coastline, providing a stunning backdrop to its rich historical tapestry and vibrant cultural scene.

From the majestic mansions of Newport to the bustling streets of Providence, Rhode Island merges its colonial past with a modern flair.

The state’s unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty makes it a compelling destination for all types of explorers.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast eager to tread the cobbled streets once walked by America’s founding fathers, a nature lover looking to bask in scenic landscapes, or a culinary aficionado craving seafood fresh from the Atlantic, Rhode Island offers an array of activities that enrich any visit.

With each town and city offering its own charm, the things to do in Rhode Island are as diverse as the state itself.

Join us as we explore the top 15 must-do activities that showcase the best Rhode Island has to offer, ensuring a memorable experience for every visitor.

1. Explore the Cliff Walk in Newport

Cliff Walk in Newport

One of the most iconic things to do in Rhode Island is to take a stroll along the Newport Cliff Walk.

This 3.5-mile public walkway borders the edge of the shoreline and offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the grandeur of Newport’s historic mansions on the other.

As you traverse this National Recreation Trail, you’ll be treated to a visual feast of rugged cliffs, sweeping vistas, and architectural history.

The Cliff Walk starts from Easton’s Beach at Memorial Boulevard and ends at the western end of Bailey’s Beach.

Along the way, it passes by some of the most opulent gilded-age mansions, including The Breakers, The Elms, and Marble House.

These homes are remnants of the lavish lifestyles of America’s wealthiest families from the late 19th century, such as the Vanderbilts and the Astors.

Tips for Visiting the Cliff Walk

  • Wear Comfortable Shoes: The path can be rocky and uneven in places, so sturdy footwear is a must.
  • Check the Weather: Newport can be quite windy, especially by the coast, so check the weather beforehand and dress appropriately.
  • Start Early: To avoid the crowds and enjoy a more tranquil experience, start your walk early in the morning.
  • Photography Opportunities: Don’t forget your camera! The combination of historic architecture and stunning ocean views provides perfect photo opportunities.
  • Safety First: Stay on the marked trail, as some areas can be slippery or close to the cliff edge.

Visiting the Cliff Walk not only offers a chance to immerse yourself in natural beauty but also provides a unique window into Rhode Island’s opulent past.

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely walk, an educational journey through history, or just a picturesque place to unwind, the Cliff Walk in Newport is a must-visit destination on your list of things to do in Rhode Island.

2. Visit the Rhode Island School of Design Museum

School of Design Museum

Another highlight among the things to do in Rhode Island is a visit to the Rhode Island School of Design Museum (RISD Museum), located in the heart of Providence.

As one of the leading art museums in the country, the RISD Museum is renowned for its diverse and dynamic collection of art, ranging from ancient objects to contemporary works, showcasing over 100,000 pieces that span various cultures and time periods.

The museum’s collections include impressive arrays of European paintings and sculptures, contemporary art, decorative arts, textiles, and Asian art.

Notable highlights include works by prominent artists such as Picasso, Monet, and Warhol, as well as periodic exhibitions that focus on both historical and modern themes.

These exhibitions are thoughtfully curated to provide insights into different cultures, artistic movements, and societal issues.

Importance to Art and Culture in Providence

The RISD Museum is not just a place to view art but a vibrant cultural hub in Providence.

It plays a crucial role in the educational landscape of the city, serving as a resource for students from the Rhode Island School of Design and other institutions.

The museum also offers a wide range of public programs, including lectures, workshops, and family days, which are designed to enhance the community’s engagement with art.

The presence of the museum elevates Providence’s status as a cultural center in New England, attracting artists, designers, and scholars from around the world.

It fosters an environment where creativity and innovation are celebrated and accessible to everyone.

Whether you are an art aficionado or a casual visitor, the RISD Museum provides a profound exploration into the world of art and design, making it a must-visit for anyone looking for enriching things to do in Rhode Island.

3. Enjoy a Day at Narragansett Beaches

Narragansett Beaches

For those who love the sun and sea, one of the best things to do in Rhode Island is to spend a day at the Narragansett beaches.

Narragansett is home to several beautiful beaches, each offering a unique experience with stunning coastal views, soft sand, and plenty of activities for all ages.

Overview of the Beaches and Activities Available

Narragansett Town Beach is particularly popular for its excellent surf conditions and vibrant beachfront atmosphere. Here, visitors can enjoy surfing, swimming, and sunbathing.

For families, the gentle waves and lifeguard presence make it a safe and enjoyable spot for children to play.

Other beaches like Scarborough State Beaches North and South offer ample parking, picnic areas, and boardwalks, perfect for a leisurely stroll or a beachside picnic.

For those interested in more tranquil settings, Roger Wheeler State Beach and Salty Brine State Beach provide calmer waters and are well-suited for younger swimmers.

These beaches are also great for kayaking and paddleboarding, with equipment rentals available nearby.

Best Times to Visit and Facilities Provided

The best time to visit Narragansett beaches is during the summer months, from late May to early September, when the weather is warm and the water temperatures are comfortable for swimming.

Early mornings or late afternoons are ideal to avoid the midday sun and crowds, especially on weekends.

Narragansett beaches are well-equipped with facilities to ensure a comfortable day out. Most beaches offer restrooms, showers, and changing areas, as well as concessions for snacks and drinks.

Parking is available, though it can fill up quickly during peak times, so arriving early is recommended.

Additionally, many beaches provide accessibility features, such as beach wheelchairs, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the beauty of Rhode Island’s coastlines.

Whether you’re looking to catch some waves, relax in the sun, or enjoy a family day out, the beaches of Narragansett offer a perfect escape.

With their beautiful settings and range of activities, they are essential stops on your list of things to do in Rhode Island.

4. Tour The Breakers Mansion

Among the grand things to do in Rhode Island, touring The Breakers Mansion in Newport stands out as a journey into the opulence and grandeur of America’s Gilded Age.

This famous mansion, built during the late 19th century, is the largest and most extravagant of the historic Newport mansions.

History and Architectural Significance

The Breakers was built as the summer home for Cornelius Vanderbilt II, a member of the wealthy Vanderbilt family.

Designed by the renowned architect Richard Morris Hunt, the mansion was completed in 1895 and exemplifies the lavish lifestyles of the era’s elite.

The architectural style is Italian Renaissance, inspired by the palaces of Genoa and Turin.

The mansion’s 70 rooms are adorned with rare marble, ornate gilding, and handcrafted wood carvings, showcasing the exquisite craftsmanship and artistic mastery of the time.

The mansion is set on a 13-acre estate with a spectacular oceanfront view, adding to its allure and making it a symbol of the social and financial prowess of the Vanderbilt family.

Visitor Information and Special Events

The Breakers is open to the public throughout the year, offering self-guided audio tours that provide insights into the history of the mansion, the Vanderbilt family, and the era they lived in.

These tours are available in multiple languages and offer a detailed look at the mansion’s interior, from its vast halls to the private family quarters.

During the summer months, the mansion also hosts a variety of special events, including music concerts and themed parties that recreate the lavish entertainments of the Gilded Age.

These events provide a unique opportunity to experience the mansion as it might have been during its heyday.

For those interested in a more in-depth exploration, specialty tours are available, including the Servant’s Life Tour, which gives visitors a glimpse into the daily lives of the staff who maintained the mansion.

During the winter holiday season, The Breakers and several other Newport mansions are decorated for Christmas, offering a festive and picturesque experience.

Touring The Breakers Mansion is not just a historical excursion; it’s a peek into an era of extraordinary wealth and opulence, making it a must-visit for anyone compiling a list of things to do in Rhode Island.

5. Discover Providence’s WaterFire Event

Providence’s WaterFire Event

When exploring things to do in Rhode Island, the WaterFire event in Providence offers a truly unique and enchanting experience.

This award-winning art installation transforms the city’s downtown rivers into a vibrant theater of music, art, and fire, captivating visitors from around the globe.

Description of the Event, Its Origin, and What Makes It Unique

WaterFire was created by artist Barnaby Evans in 1994 as a way to revitalize downtown Providence and bring people together through art.

The event consists of over eighty bonfires that burn just above the surface of the three rivers that pass through the center of Providence— the Woonasquatucket, Moshassuck, and Providence Rivers.

The fires are set in large iron pans and are tended from sunset to past midnight by volunteers in boats.

The installation is accompanied by a curated soundtrack that blends classical and world music, creating a mesmerizing ambiance as the flames reflect off the calm waters.

The combination of firelight, music, and the aroma of aromatic wood smoke creates a magical and communal atmosphere, making WaterFire a distinctive cultural phenomenon that goes beyond a traditional art event.

Schedule and Tips for the Best Experience

WaterFire lights up the city on select evenings from May through November, with the full schedule available on the official WaterFire Providence website.

The event is free and open to the public, making it a popular attraction for both locals and tourists.

Here are some tips to ensure the best WaterFire experience:

  • Arrive Early: Getting there early allows you to explore the various art installations and performances that occur around the city before the lighting ceremony begins.
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes: Be prepared for walking, as the event spans through much of downtown Providence.
  • Check the Weather: Since the event is outdoors, it’s wise to dress appropriately for the evening weather, which can be chilly especially near the water.
  • Explore Nearby Restaurants: Many local restaurants and food vendors offer special menus and performances on WaterFire nights, making it a great opportunity to indulge in Providence’s culinary scene.
  • Consider a WaterFire Boat Ride: For a donation, you can enjoy a closer view of the installation from a boat. This offers a unique perspective of the fires and the city.

Attending WaterFire is not only one of the most mesmerizing things to do in Rhode Island, but it also provides insight into the creative spirit that drives the state’s capital.

Whether you’re a first-time visitor or a longtime fan, each WaterFire lighting offers a new opportunity to connect with art and community in a profound way.

6. Take a Boat Tour of Newport Harbor

Boat Tour of Newport Harbor

Embarking on a boat tour of Newport Harbor is an essential activity on any list of things to do in Rhode Island.

Newport’s rich maritime history and breathtaking coastal scenery are best experienced from the water, making these tours a favorite for visitors and locals alike.

Options for Tours and What Sights You’ll See

Newport Harbor offers a variety of boat tours, ranging from leisurely sightseeing cruises to exhilarating sailing adventures.

Whether you prefer a classic motor yacht, a luxurious schooner, or a high-speed rib, there’s a boat tour to match every taste and interest.

Most tours will take you around the famous Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay, where you can see iconic landmarks such as the Newport Bridge, historic Fort Adams, and the opulent seaside mansions that line Bellevue Avenue.

Some tours offer a closer look at the lighthouses that dot the coastline, including the charming Castle Hill Lighthouse and the Beavertail Lighthouse on Jamestown Island.

Recommendations for Family-Friendly or Romantic Options

  • Family-Friendly Tours: For families, consider a tour that offers interactive experiences like lobster hauling or marine wildlife spotting. These tours are not only entertaining but also educational, providing children with a hands-on understanding of marine ecology and the local fishing industry.
  • Romantic Options: For a romantic experience, opt for a sunset sailing cruise. These tours are perfect for couples looking to enjoy a serene and picturesque evening. The tranquil waters, combined with the stunning sunset over the Atlantic, create a magical atmosphere that’s ideal for a special occasion.

Additionally, many operators offer themed cruises, such as jazz evenings, wine-tasting events, and historical narrations, adding an extra element of enjoyment to your maritime adventure.

Taking a boat tour of Newport Harbor allows you to soak in the natural beauty and historical richness of Rhode Island from a unique vantage point.

Whether you’re seeking a family outing or a romantic escape, a boat tour in Newport is a must-do activity that promises memorable views and fascinating insights into the seafaring heritage of this picturesque state.

7. Stroll Through Brown University’s Campus

Brown University’s Campus

Exploring the historic and picturesque campus of Brown University is a quintessential addition to any list of things to do in Rhode Island.

Nestled in the heart of Providence, this Ivy League university is not only a hub of academic excellence but also a showcase of architectural beauty and history.

The History and Architectural Beauty of the Campus

Founded in 1764, Brown University is one of the oldest universities in the United States and is renowned for its vibrant academic community and beautiful campus.

The architecture at Brown ranges from the colonial era to contemporary designs, offering a visual timeline of American architectural styles.

Iconic buildings such as University Hall, built in 1770, and the modern Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, exemplify this blend of old and new.

The campus is laid out over 150 acres on College Hill, distinguished by its serene green spaces and tree-lined walkways that contrast with the urban environment of Providence.

A stroll through the campus reveals well-preserved historical buildings, state-of-the-art facilities, and public art installations, making it a living museum of educational history and architectural innovation.

Notable Attractions and Visiting Guidelines

  • The Van Wickle Gates: These beautiful gates are one of the most photographed locations on campus. They are opened only twice a year: once to admit incoming students, and again to let out graduating seniors.
  • The John Hay Library: Home to rare books and manuscripts, including the famed collection of H. P. Lovecraft’s works and the Anne S. K. Brown Military Collection.
  • The Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center: This center provides a glimpse into student life at Brown and houses various student artworks and cafes.
  • The Brown University Walking Tour: Available to visitors, this guided tour provides insights into the history and achievements associated with the university.

Visiting Guidelines:

While Brown University’s campus is open to the public, visitors are encouraged to respect the academic environment.

Guided tours are available, which provide a more comprehensive understanding of the campus and its history.

Check the university’s website for tour schedules and any visitor restrictions or special events.

A visit to Brown University offers more than just a walk through a typical college campus; it’s a journey through centuries of educational traditions enriched with architectural treasures.

Whether you’re an alum, a prospective student, or simply a lover of history and architecture, Brown’s campus provides a memorable and enlightening experience among the many things to do in Rhode Island.

8. Visit the Roger Williams Park Zoo

Roger Williams Park Zoo

A visit to the Roger Williams Park Zoo ranks as a top activity among the things to do in Rhode Island for families and wildlife enthusiasts alike.

Located within the beautiful 435-acre Roger Williams Park in Providence, the zoo is one of the oldest in the United States, having opened its doors in 1872.

Today, it continues to delight visitors with its wide array of species and commitment to conservation and education.

Key Exhibits and Attractions within the Zoo

The Roger Williams Park Zoo is home to over 160 species of animals from around the world, showcased in thoughtfully designed exhibits that mimic natural habitats. Some of the key exhibits include:

  • Fabric of Africa: This exhibit features a variety of animals native to Africa, such as elephants, cheetahs, and zebras, offering insights into the rich biodiversity of the continent.
  • North America: Explore the wildlife of North America with species like the bald eagle, bison, and prairie dogs. This exhibit highlights the diverse ecosystems found across the continent.
  • Amazon Rainforest: Step into the lush, vibrant world of the Amazon Rainforest with this immersive exhibit that houses anacondas, giant river otters, and capybaras.

Each exhibit is designed not only to entertain but also to educate visitors about the animals’ natural behaviors, diets, and conservation status.

Conservation Efforts and Educational Programs

The Roger Williams Park Zoo is deeply committed to conservation and plays an active role in various global wildlife conservation projects.

The zoo participates in breeding programs for endangered species, helping to ensure their survival for future generations.

Additionally, it supports field conservation projects around the world, including efforts to protect snow leopards, elephants, and cheetahs.

Education is a central mission of the zoo, with numerous programs designed to inspire visitors of all ages about wildlife and conservation. These include:

  • Zoo School: Educational sessions that provide children and adults with a deeper understanding of wildlife conservation.
  • Keeper Talks: Daily talks by zookeepers, offering insights into the care and conservation of animals at the zoo.
  • Wild Connection Programs: Interactive experiences that allow visitors to get up close with certain animals under the guidance of experienced zoo staff.

Visiting the Roger Williams Park Zoo provides a fun, educational outing that not only highlights the beauty of wildlife but also emphasizes the importance of preserving our natural world.

Whether you are a family looking for a day of adventure or a nature enthusiast keen to learn about conservation, the zoo offers an enriching experience that is essential to your list of things to do in Rhode Island.

9. Experience the Newport Folk Festival

Newport Folk Festival

Attending the Newport Folk Festival is a must-do for music lovers and is one of the quintessential things to do in Rhode Island.

Held annually at Fort Adams State Park, this iconic event has a storied history and a profound impact on American music culture.

Brief History of the Festival and Its Impact on Music Culture

The Newport Folk Festival was first held in 1959 and quickly became a cornerstone of American music.

It is renowned for being a platform where many legendary artists, including Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and Johnny Cash, rose to prominence.

The festival is perhaps best known for Dylan’s controversial 1965 performance where he “went electric,” a moment that is often cited as a turning point in rock and folk music.

Today, the festival continues to honor its roots by showcasing a blend of folk, blues, country, and bluegrass artists, while also embracing new musicians that reflect the evolving landscape of American music.

It remains committed to the spirit of community and innovation that has defined it from the beginning, making it a pivotal gathering for artists and audiences alike.

Tips for Attending and Highlights of the Festival

  • Plan Ahead: Tickets to the Newport Folk Festival often sell out quickly, so it’s advisable to purchase them well in advance. Additionally, consider your lodging options early as local accommodations fill up fast.
  • What to Bring: Prepare for all types of weather by packing sunscreen, a hat, and a rain jacket. Remember to bring a blanket or chair for seating, and refillable water bottles to stay hydrated.
  • Getting There: Parking at Fort Adams is limited, so taking advantage of the festival’s shuttle services from downtown Newport is a smart choice. Biking or taking a water taxi are also popular options.
  • Explore the Grounds: The festival is spread across several stages with simultaneous performances. Plan your schedule but be flexible enough to explore and discover new artists.
  • Festival Highlights: In addition to music performances, the festival features food and crafts from local artisans, providing a full cultural experience. The festival’s atmosphere is famously inclusive and friendly, with a strong community vibe that encourages interaction between artists and fans.

The Newport Folk Festival not only offers a weekend of outstanding music but also a vibrant celebration of folk culture and its ongoing influence on American society.

Whether you’re a longtime folk fan or new to the genre, the festival promises an unforgettable experience among the top things to do in Rhode Island.

10. Discover Block Island’s Mohegan Bluffs

Block Island’s Mohegan Bluffs

Visiting the Mohegan Bluffs on Block Island is a breathtaking experience, making it an essential entry on any list of things to do in Rhode Island.

These dramatic cliffs offer some of the most stunning views in the Northeast, showcasing the natural beauty and geological significance of the island.

Geological and Scenic Significance

The Mohegan Bluffs are towering clay cliffs about 150 feet high, offering sweeping vistas of the Atlantic Ocean.

According to local legend, the cliffs are named after a historic event where the Mohegan tribe was driven off the cliffs by the island’s original Native American inhabitants in the 16th century.

Geologically, the bluffs are a testament to the power of erosion and the natural forces that shape coastal landscapes.

The constant wave action continuously shapes the base of the cliffs, while weathering processes affect the upper layers, creating a dynamically changing scenery.

Activities and Access Information

The Mohegan Bluffs are not only a place for contemplation and photography but also offer a series of activities for the adventurous:

  • Hiking: There are several trails along the top of the bluffs that offer varying views of the coastline and the ocean. The paths can be somewhat rugged, so appropriate footwear is recommended.
  • Beach Access: Visitors can descend a set of wooden stairs (over 140 steps) to reach the beach below the cliffs. The secluded beach is perfect for sunbathing, beachcombing, and sometimes surf fishing.
  • Photography: The panoramic views make this a prime spot for photography, capturing the dramatic interface between land and sea.

Getting There: Block Island is accessible by ferry from mainland Rhode Island, and once on the island, Mohegan Bluffs is reachable by bike, moped, or car.

There is a small parking area near the top of the bluffs, and the area is well-signposted.

Visiting Mohegan Bluffs allows you to immerse yourself in the rugged natural beauty of Block Island and offers a serene yet striking escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Whether you’re looking to hike, enjoy a peaceful beach day, or simply soak in spectacular coastal views, the Mohegan Bluffs are a must-visit destination among the many incredible things to do in Rhode Island.

11. Explore Culinary Delights in Federal Hill

Federal Hill in Providence

For food enthusiasts, exploring the culinary delights of Federal Hill in Providence is a deliciously essential activity among the things to do in Rhode Island.

Known as the “Little Italy” of Providence, Federal Hill boasts a rich history and a vibrant culinary scene that reflects the deep Italian heritage of the area.

Overview of the Culinary Scene and Must-Try Dishes

Federal Hill is renowned for its array of Italian bakeries, markets, restaurants, and cafes that line Atwells Avenue and the surrounding streets.

The area serves as a gastronomic hub offering everything from traditional Italian dishes to innovative culinary creations. Must-try dishes include:

  • Classic Italian: Savor authentic Italian pastas like homemade gnocchi and tagliatelle, or indulge in hand-tossed pizzas cooked in traditional wood-fired ovens.
  • Seafood: Being in Rhode Island, Federal Hill’s restaurants often feature fresh, local seafood. Try dishes like calamari, prepared Rhode Island-style, sautéed with garlic and hot peppers.
  • Desserts: No visit to Federal Hill is complete without sampling classic Italian desserts. Be sure to try a cannoli or gelato from one of the local bakeries.

Recommendations for Restaurants and Eateries

  • Caserta Pizzeria: A staple on Federal Hill, known for its traditional and hearty pizzas. The Wimpy Skippy, a spinach pie stuffed with cheese and pepperoni, is a local favorite.
  • Enoteca Umberto: A small but highly acclaimed eatery offering a genuine taste of Italian cuisine, with a focus on Sicilian dishes. The menu changes daily based on what is fresh and available.
  • Joe’s on Federal: A perfect spot for those who love Italian deli sandwiches and classic American-Italian fare. Their Italian grinders and meatball subs are particularly popular.
  • Pastiche Fine Desserts: An intimate café where you can enjoy a cup of coffee paired with exquisite handmade desserts. Their fruit tart and chocolate cake are must-haves.

Federal Hill not only offers a taste of Italy in the heart of Providence but also represents the culinary diversity that Rhode Island has to offer.

Whether you are looking for a casual meal or a fine dining experience, Federal Hill’s culinary scene provides an array of choices that cater to all tastes and preferences, making it a top pick for food lovers exploring the things to do in Rhode Island.

12. Visit the Green Animals Topiary Garden

A visit to the Green Animals Topiary Garden is a delightful addition to your list of things to do in Rhode Island.

Located in Portsmouth, this charming garden is one of the oldest topiary gardens in the United States and offers a whimsical escape into a world of living sculptures.

Description of the Garden and Types of Topiaries

The Green Animals Topiary Garden is nestled within the historic estate of Green Animals, which dates back to the late 19th century.

The garden features over 80 intricate topiaries meticulously sculpted from various shrubs and trees, showcasing a wide array of shapes and forms.

Visitors can marvel at animals, geometric shapes, and even a whimsical topiary circus, all expertly crafted by skilled horticulturists.

Some of the notable topiaries include elephants, giraffes, peacocks, and even a massive dragon that winds its way through the garden.

The attention to detail and the artistry of the topiaries make this garden a truly enchanting and unique destination.

Best Time to Visit and Photo Opportunities

The Green Animals Topiary Garden is open seasonally from late spring through early fall, typically from May to October.

The best time to visit is during the warmer months when the garden is in full bloom, and the topiaries are at their most vibrant.

Photography enthusiasts will find endless opportunities to capture stunning images amidst the lush greenery and whimsical topiaries.

Early mornings or late afternoons offer the best lighting conditions for photography, casting a soft glow over the sculptures and adding to their magical appeal.

Be sure to explore the various pathways that wind through the garden, allowing you to view the topiaries from different angles and perspectives.

Don’t forget to bring your camera or smartphone to capture these living works of art and create lasting memories of your visit.

Visiting the Green Animals Topiary Garden is not only a feast for the eyes but also a chance to appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship that goes into creating these living sculptures.

Whether you’re a nature lover, a gardening enthusiast, or simply seeking a whimsical escape, the topiary garden offers a serene and enchanting experience among the many wonderful things to do in Rhode Island.

13. Adventure in Colt State Park

Colt State Park

Colt State Park offers an abundance of outdoor activities and natural beauty, making it a perfect destination for adventure among the many things to do in Rhode Island.

Located in Bristol, this coastal park spans over 400 acres and features stunning views of Narragansett Bay, lush green lawns, and scenic walking trails.

Activities Available from Hiking to Picnicking

Colt State Park offers something for everyone, whether you’re an avid hiker, a nature enthusiast, or simply looking for a peaceful spot to relax. Some of the activities available include:

  • Hiking: The park boasts several miles of hiking trails that wind through woodlands, open fields, and along the coastline. The trails offer varying levels of difficulty, making them suitable for hikers of all ages and abilities.
  • Picnicking: With numerous picnic areas scattered throughout the park, Colt State Park is an ideal spot for a family picnic or a gathering with friends. Pack a lunch and enjoy breathtaking views of the bay while dining al fresco.
  • Fishing: Anglers can try their luck fishing from the park’s shoreline or cast a line from the fishing pier. Common catches include striped bass, flounder, and bluefish.
  • Birdwatching: Colt State Park is home to a diverse range of bird species, making it a haven for birdwatchers. Keep an eye out for osprey, herons, and various migratory birds that frequent the area.

Special Features and Seasonal Events

In addition to its natural beauty, Colt State Park offers several special features and seasonal events that enhance the visitor experience:

  • Biking: The park features a paved bike path that runs alongside the bay, providing a scenic route for cyclists to explore.
  • Playgrounds: Families with children will appreciate the playgrounds located within the park, offering a fun and safe place for kids to play.
  • Summer Concert Series: During the summer months, Colt State Park hosts a series of outdoor concerts featuring local musicians and bands. These events provide a festive atmosphere and are popular among residents and visitors alike.

Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventure, relaxation, or simply a scenic spot to enjoy nature, Colt State Park offers a wealth of opportunities to connect with the great outdoors.

With its diverse range of activities and stunning vistas, it’s no wonder that Colt State Park is a favorite destination among those exploring the many things to do in Rhode Island.

14. Attend the Rhode Island International Film Festival

Rhode Island International Film Festival

For film enthusiasts and cinephiles, attending the Rhode Island International Film Festival (RIIFF) is a captivating experience and an essential addition to your list of things to do in Rhode Island.

Established in 1997, RIIFF has grown to become one of the leading independent film festivals in the United States, showcasing a diverse array of films from around the world.

Overview of the Festival and Types of Films Featured

RIIFF is a multi-day event that typically takes place in August and attracts filmmakers, industry professionals, and movie buffs from across the globe.

The festival celebrates independent cinema and serves as a platform for emerging filmmakers to showcase their work alongside established directors.

The types of films featured at RIIFF encompass a wide range of genres, styles, and themes, including:

  • Narrative Features: Full-length fictional films that tell compelling stories and explore complex characters.
  • Documentaries: Non-fiction films that delve into real-world issues, cultures, and experiences, offering insights into diverse perspectives.
  • Short Films: Bite-sized cinematic gems that showcase creativity and innovation, often with powerful storytelling in a condensed format.
  • Animated Films: Imaginative and visually stunning animated works that appeal to audiences of all ages.
  • Experimental Films: Avant-garde works that push the boundaries of traditional filmmaking, experimenting with form, structure, and storytelling.

How to Participate and What to Look Forward To

Participating in RIIFF is a rewarding experience that offers opportunities to discover new voices in cinema, engage with filmmakers, and immerse yourself in the magic of storytelling.

Here’s how you can get involved:

  • Attend Screenings: Purchase tickets to screenings of your favorite films or explore new titles that pique your interest. Check the festival schedule for screening times and locations.
  • Participate in Q&A Sessions: Many screenings are followed by Q&A sessions with filmmakers, providing a chance to gain insights into the creative process and discuss the themes of the film.
  • Explore Special Events: RIIFF often hosts special events such as panel discussions, workshops, and networking receptions, offering opportunities to connect with fellow film enthusiasts and industry professionals.
  • Vote for Your Favorites: Audience members can vote for their favorite films in various categories, including Best Feature, Best Documentary, and Best Short Film, influencing the festival’s awards.

What to look forward to at RIIFF:

  • Premieres: Be among the first to see world premieres, international premieres, and U.S. premieres of films that may go on to receive critical acclaim and awards recognition.
  • Diverse Voices: Experience the richness of global cinema with films from a wide range of countries and cultures, offering unique perspectives and stories.
  • Celebrity Sightings: Keep an eye out for special guests and celebrity appearances at select screenings and events, adding to the excitement of the festival.

Attending the Rhode Island International Film Festival is not only a celebration of cinema but also an opportunity to connect with fellow film lovers, support independent filmmakers, and be inspired by the power of storytelling.

Whether you’re a seasoned cinephile or a casual moviegoer, RIIFF promises an unforgettable experience among the many remarkable things to do in Rhode Island.

15. Explore the International Tennis Hall of Fame

Exploring the International Tennis Hall of Fame is a captivating journey through the history of tennis and its significance in Newport, Rhode Island.

Located in the heart of Newport, this prestigious institution celebrates the sport’s greatest players and chronicles its evolution over the years.

The History of the Hall and Its Significance in Newport

The International Tennis Hall of Fame was established in 1954 to honor the achievements of the sport’s most legendary players and contributors.

The Hall of Fame is housed in the historic Newport Casino, a stunning example of Victorian architecture and a National Historic Landmark.

The casino, built in 1880, was one of the first lawn tennis clubs in the United States and played a pivotal role in popularizing the sport in America.

Newport’s association with tennis dates back to the late 19th century when the sport gained popularity among the elite vacationing in Newport during the summer months.

Today, the International Tennis Hall of Fame serves as a fitting tribute to Newport’s rich tennis heritage and its enduring impact on the sport.

Exhibits and Interactive Experiences Available

Visitors to the International Tennis Hall of Fame can explore a variety of exhibits and interactive experiences that offer insights into the history and culture of tennis:

  • Hall of Fame Gallery: Discover the stories of tennis legends enshrined in the Hall of Fame, from early pioneers to modern-day champions. Memorabilia, artifacts, and interactive displays bring their achievements to life.
  • Court Tennis Exhibit: Learn about the origins of tennis and the evolution of the sport through the centuries. Explore the unique characteristics of court tennis, a precursor to the modern game, and test your skills on a virtual court.
  • Museum Collection: Delve into the museum’s extensive collection of tennis memorabilia, including vintage equipment, championship trophies, and rare photographs. Highlights include items belonging to tennis icons such as Billie Jean King, Rod Laver, and Arthur Ashe.

In addition to its permanent exhibits, the International Tennis Hall of Fame hosts special events, tournaments, and educational programs throughout the year, providing opportunities for visitors to engage with the sport in meaningful ways.

Exploring the International Tennis Hall of Fame offers a fascinating glimpse into the history, culture, and impact of tennis on Newport and the world.

Whether you’re a tennis enthusiast, a history buff, or simply curious about the sport, a visit to the Hall of Fame is a rewarding experience among the many memorable things to do in Rhode Island.


Rhode Island offers a rich tapestry of experiences for visitors to explore, from its historic landmarks to its natural beauty and vibrant cultural scene.

As we conclude our journey through the 15 best things to do in Rhode Island, let’s recap some of the top attractions that make this state so special:

  1. Explore the Cliff Walk in Newport: Wander along the stunning coastline and marvel at the historic mansions that line the path.
  2. Visit the Rhode Island School of Design Museum: Immerse yourself in art and culture at one of the nation’s leading art museums.
  3. Enjoy a Day at Narragansett Beaches: Soak up the sun and surf at the picturesque beaches of Narragansett.
  4. Tour The Breakers Mansion: Step back in time and experience the opulence of the Gilded Age at this iconic Newport mansion.
  5. Discover Providence’s WaterFire Event: Witness the magic of fire, music, and art come together in downtown Providence.
  6. Take a Boat Tour of Newport Harbor: Explore the scenic beauty of Newport from the water and discover hidden gems along the coastline.
  7. Stroll Through Brown University’s Campus: Experience the history and architectural beauty of one of the country’s oldest universities.
  8. Visit the Roger Williams Park Zoo: Get up close and personal with exotic animals from around the world and learn about conservation efforts.
  9. Experience the Newport Folk Festival: Immerse yourself in the vibrant music scene and celebrate the rich tradition of folk music.
  10. Discover Block Island’s Mohegan Bluffs: Marvel at the breathtaking views and natural beauty of this coastal paradise.
  11. Explore Culinary Delights in Federal Hill: Indulge in authentic Italian cuisine and savor the flavors of Little Italy in Providence.
  12. Visit the Green Animals Topiary Garden: Wander through a whimsical wonderland of living sculptures and lush gardens.
  13. Adventure in Colt State Park: Embark on outdoor adventures and enjoy the scenic beauty of Narragansett Bay.
  14. Attend the Rhode Island International Film Festival: Celebrate independent cinema and discover new voices in filmmaking.
  15. Explore the International Tennis Hall of Fame: Dive into the history and culture of tennis and Newport’s rich sporting heritage.
rhode island usa

FAQ’s About Rhode Island:

Why is Rhode Island so famous?

Rhode Island is famous for several reasons. Firstly, it’s the smallest state in the United States by land area, earning it the nickname “The Ocean State” due to its extensive coastline and maritime heritage.

Secondly, Rhode Island played a crucial role in the American Revolution, being the first colony to declare independence from British rule and also hosting the first armed conflict of the war.

Additionally, Rhode Island is known for its vibrant cultural scene, including renowned universities like Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), as well as its historic landmarks, beautiful beaches, and thriving culinary scene.

What language do they speak in Rhode Island?

English is the primary language spoken in Rhode Island, as it is in the rest of the United States.

What are 5 facts about Rhode Island?

  1. Rhode Island is the smallest state in the United States by land area, covering just over 1,200 square miles.
  2. Despite its small size, Rhode Island has over 400 miles of coastline, earning it the nickname “The Ocean State.”
  3. Rhode Island was the first colony to declare independence from British rule on May 4, 1776, two months before the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
  4. The state capital of Rhode Island is Providence, which is also the largest city in the state.
  5. Rhode Island is home to the Tennis Hall of Fame, located in Newport, which honors the greatest players and contributors to the sport of tennis.

Is Rhode Island a good place to live?

Rhode Island offers a high quality of life with its picturesque coastal scenery, vibrant cultural scene, and excellent educational institutions.

It has a diverse economy with opportunities in sectors such as healthcare, education, tourism, and technology.

However, like any state, the decision of whether Rhode Island is a good place to live depends on individual preferences and priorities.

Why do tourists visit Rhode Island?

Tourists visit Rhode Island for its beautiful beaches, historic landmarks, vibrant cultural scene, and delicious cuisine.

The state offers a diverse range of attractions, from exploring the historic mansions of Newport to enjoying water sports along the scenic coastline.

Rhode Island also hosts events like the Newport Folk Festival and the Rhode Island International Film Festival, which attract visitors from around the world.

Who is the most famous person from Rhode Island?

There are several famous individuals who hail from Rhode Island, including actress Viola Davis, author H.P. Lovecraft, and tennis player James Blake.

However, determining the “most famous” person is subjective and can vary depending on personal interests and criteria.

Does it snow a lot in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island experiences four distinct seasons, including snowy winters. The amount of snowfall varies depending on the year and location within the state.

Coastal areas tend to receive less snow compared to inland areas. On average, Rhode Island receives around 30 to 40 inches of snow annually.

Is it expensive to live in Rhode Island?

The cost of living in Rhode Island is generally higher than the national average, particularly in urban areas like Providence.

Housing costs, including rent and home prices, can be relatively high, while other expenses such as groceries and healthcare are also above average.

However, the cost of living can vary depending on factors such as location, lifestyle, and income level.

Are homes expensive in Rhode Island?

Homes in Rhode Island can be relatively expensive compared to other states, particularly in desirable areas such as coastal communities and urban centers like Providence and Newport.

However, there is a range of housing options available across the state, including apartments, single-family homes, and condominiums, to suit different budgets and preferences.

What food is Rhode Island known for?

Rhode Island is known for several unique culinary delights, including:

  • Quahogs: Large clams that are used to make clam chowder, clam cakes, and stuffies (stuffed clams).
  • Rhode Island-style clam chowder: Unlike New England clam chowder, Rhode Island clam chowder is clear and broth-based, with a focus on the flavor of the clams.
  • Coffee milk: A sweetened milk flavored with coffee syrup, similar to chocolate milk but with a coffee flavor.
  • Johnnycakes: Cornmeal flatbreads that are a traditional Rhode Island dish, often served with maple syrup or honey.

What food did Rhode Island eat?

In addition to the unique dishes mentioned above, Rhode Islanders enjoy a diverse range of cuisine influenced by its coastal location and immigrant communities.

Seafood plays a significant role in Rhode Island cuisine, with dishes like lobster rolls, clam boils, and fish and chips being popular choices.

Italian and Portuguese influences are also prominent, with dishes like pasta, pizza, and linguica sausage commonly found on menus throughout the state.

What culture is Rhode Island?

Rhode Island boasts a rich cultural heritage shaped by its history, geography, and diverse population. The state is known for its maritime traditions, vibrant arts scene, and strong sense of community.

Rhode Island’s cultural landscape is influenced by various ethnic groups, including Italian, Portuguese, Irish, and French, contributing to its diverse cuisine, festivals, and traditions.

Additionally, the state’s historic landmarks, such as the Newport Mansions and colonial-era architecture, reflect its colonial past and architectural heritage.

things to do in rhode island

(Island Expert)

Christian is a dynamic serial entrepreneur and a licensed real estate agent with a relentless passion for unlocking the potential of island real estate. Christian's expertise extends beyond entrepreneurship and property transactions. He possesses a profound expertise in crafting captivating content and persuasive copywriting tailored exclusively to the enchanting realm of island real estate.

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