Rhode Island is a New England gem. The state has more than 400 miles of coastline to its credit and is one of the original 13 U.S. colonies. There is so much history, beauty, and delicious seafood packed into this tiny state. From the art scene in Warren, to the gorgeous beaches in Watch Hill, Rhode Islandés small seaside towns, are bursting with adventure. Take in the refreshing coastal air and explore Rhode Island the way it was meant to be seen: one small town at a time!
The cultural hub of Woonsocket is ringed by forests and set with a rich history. Many of the buildings date back to the 1800s and the historic district is the best way to get a taste of this former mining town’s past. There is gorgeous architecture in Woonsocket such as the Stadium Theatre Performing Arts Centre & Conservatory and the St. Ann Arts and Cultural Center, a European-style cathedral in the heart of New England.
For those who want some outdoor exploration, Cold Spring Park is scenic with plenty of greenery and well-maintained trails. Inside the park is an amphitheater where live performances can be seen. The park is also close to the Blackstone River and visitors with watercraft can launch into it from the park. The river is 44 miles of meandering waterway which passes by mills, farmland, and urban cities.
The lovely seaside town of New Shoreham is a beloved Rhode Island getaway. New Shoreham is home to historic lighthouses, white sand beaches, and plenty of bike paths. The Block Island Southeast Lighthouse and the North Lighthouse overlook the ocean at opposite ends of the island and are certainly worth visiting. Visitors to New Shoreham are encouraged to relax, soak up the sun, and explore. Although the sea is the main attraction in New Shoreham, the town itself is not so shabby either! New Shoreham was incorporated in the mid-17th century and many wonderfully preserved buildings can still be spotted today.
The Bristol County arts hub of Warren has plenty of soul and plenty to do. With nearly 10 art galleries, events that include talks with authors at bookstores, and local music, Warren is a burgeoning artists’ haven where creative juices are constantly flowing. The local auteurs and artists may draw inspiration from the natural beauty surrounding the town. The Touisset Marsh Wildlife Refuge offers picturesque views of the Kickemuit River and is teeming with butterflies and waterfowl each summer. Having a drink at The Wharf while overlooking the Palmer River is the perfect way to end your day.
The town of Bristol may have the best Fourth of July celebration in the country. This tradition goes back to 1785 and is the oldest of its kind, featuring fireworks and a colorful parade complete with period dress. There is more to Bristol than its national pride, however. The Blithewold Mansion is a 33-acre estate featuring a 45-room mansion complete with heirlooms and several exotic gardens just waiting to be explored.
If you are extending your stay in Bristol, you may want to venture for a walk along the Colt State Park. The park is a sizable 464 acres, while the shore offers amazing views of the water as boats bob atop the whitecap surf in the distance. Have you ever tried honey pot espresso? If not, the Beehive Cafe in downtown Bristol may be for you. Try a refreshing honey-infused beverage before setting out to see the rest of the town.
Described as low-ley and casual, Hopkinton is a relaxed Rhode Island town perfect for nature lovers and anyone looking to take a break from the big city bustle. The entire town is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the town’s Main Street is full of Romanesque, Federal, and Greek Revival buildings. Exploring the town is pleasant, but the real attractions lay beyond the brickwork found throughout.
The Arcadia Management Area has over 14,000 acres of forest to enjoy. Tourists can fish the Wood River or Frosty Hollow Pond for trout or ride the many trails on horseback. Not into horses? The Narragansett Trail is another one of many great places to hike near Hopkinton.
The village of Harrisville is known for being a peaceful place to recharge one’s batteries. In this historic mill village, traffic jams are about as likely as lightning striking twice. The town has seen its fair share of excitement, however. Harrisville was the inspiration for the supernatural horror movie, The Conjuring. The village is quite beautiful though and has several wonderful features like the rock formations at Purgatory Chasm State Reservation and the woodland trails in Douglas State Forest. Walking throughout the town is pleasant thanks to the gorgeous cascade waterfall right in town.
One of the best things about Rhode Island is how plentiful the beaches are. Westerly has all the benefits one imagines when thinking of a seaside town: The laid-back atmosphere, friendly people, and plenty of places to lay a towel. Head to Junk n Java for an iced caramel latte and you are ready to explore Westerly Town Beach for some surf, sand, and fun in the sun. Or, maybe visitors feel like strolling down Main Street. If so, Perks & Corks has great martinis, and Wilcox Park is a prime locale for a picnic. After sundown, the Misquamicut Drive-In is the place to kick back and relax with your favorite classic films!
If wine tastings and lazing by the seaside are your idea of a good time, then Little Compton is the ideal Rhode Island town. South Shore Beach faces the Rhode Island Sound and is popular all year thanks to its stunning sunsets and seashells. Intrepid explorers will follow the beach east to the Goosewing Beach Preserve where birds flock in droves. Sakonnet Garden is an intimate yet gorgeous garden that is a feast for the senses. Nearby, the award-winning Carolyn's Sakonnet Vineyards is a great place for a glass of wine next to the Watson Reservoir.
The affluent getaway of Watch Hill is Rhode Island’s answer to Martha’s Vineyard. Pop music megastar Taylor Swift calls the town home and it is easy to see why, especially passing the mansions on your way to the beaches. East Beach is excellent and Watch Hill Beach offers wonderful views at sunset and features the famous flying horse carousel. Speaking of beaches, seeing the Watch Hill Lighthouse is one of the best things you can do in town. This stunning structure was built in 1745 and is eminently photogenic.
You may be hungry after a day of romping around Watch Hill’s beaches and its opulent shopping districts. If you need to refuel, consider visiting one of Watch Hill’s many delicious restaurants. The Cooked Goose is a must-visit eatery and one of the most popular in town. The Cooked Goose is almost always busy but finding a table is easy as customers are usually looking to eat and go about their day.
Called Gansett by locals and those in the know, Narragansett has a lot of neat historic landmarks to explore. The Towers of the Narragansett Pier Casino represent an interesting time in the town’s history when the casino was one of the most prestigious resorts in the country. Today, life in Gansett is all about the beach.
There are three in town and each is as beautiful as the last. Hiking is both permitted and encouraged at Black Point Trail and Whale Rock Trail while biking across the South County Bike Path is a scenic way to explore the area. The seafood here is absolutely to die for. The lobster ravioli at the Coast Guard House Restaurant is fabulous.
This New England gem has been home to many family farms since Colonial times. Tiverton has this wonderful unspoiled feel to it. Breathtaking terrain extends in every direction while locally-owned stores give the town a distinct down-home feel. Fogland Beach is a favorite of kayakers and windsurfers, but picnic areas and a wildlife preserve mean the beach has something for everyone. Four Corners is the town’s historic district where wonderfully preserved homes are the norm. The Four Corners Gallery features local art for sale while Gray’s Ice Cream is perfect on a warm day.
One of Rhode Island’s richest communities, East Greenwich is never lacking in amenities and creature comforts. Dine on the waterfront, drink specially-made cocktails, and peruse art galleries in this upscale New England town. Still, there are plenty of opportunities for comfort food like at Dante’s Kitchen which serves its famous chicken and waffles.
History buffs will want to visit the Varnum Armory Museum and the Varnum House Museum to learn more about the area’s military history. Frenchtown Park and Frye Nature Preserve are visually stunning and perfect places to detox, especially after the first snowfall.
Taking in the sights in Jamestown is no easy feat. For a small town, Jamestown has a surprising amount of things to keep you occupied. Even the town’s layout is fascinating: Jamestown is nine miles long and one mile wide, striking a resemblance to the Clairborne Pell Newport Bridge which connects it to Newport. The town features eight lighthouses to explore and is home to the Conanicut Sailing Around The World Competition, a yacht race that has run for nearly 100 years. The town is populated with cute galleries and cafes, while nature lovers will want to visit Beavertail State Park for stellar views of the coast.
For such a small state, Rhode Island is jam-packed with more than enough historical sites and natural beauty to keep any traveler satisfied. Experience the miles and miles of coastline of its many seaside towns and try some of the best seafood on the East Coast. A number of the Colonial-era homes built in the 1700s are standing strong today as a testament to the state’s heritage. There is so much in Rhode Island to see, taste, and discover. The only question is where to start!