Great Things to Do in Rhode Island -- find fun activities year-round
Art and children's and cooking museums; historic houses; nature trails; boat cruises; historic Newport tours; unusual shopping, and more fun activities on land and water, year-round. Be sure to phone ahead or look at the website of places you want to visit to check hours and other details, especially for activities affected by weather.
686 Cushing Road
Newport, RI, 02841
Discover the naval history of Narragansett Bay and much more
The United States Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island is the oldest institution of its kind in the world. The Museum, located in historic Founders Hall and built in 1820, offers magnificently preserved and displayed exhibits, artifacts and documents that trace the fascinating naval history of Narragansett Bay, the Naval War College itself, and the broader history of global naval strategy from the 1500’s to the present day. Open to the public year-round at no charge, the museum tour is self-guided though guided group tours are available by reservation seven business days in advance except for those with base access.
Year round hours: Monday -Friday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The museum is also open on Saturdays from noon to 4:30 p.m. from June through September.
909 East Main Road (Route 138)
Middletown, RI, 02842
Raise a glass, have a laugh, enjoy the view
More than a place about wine, for more than 20 years Newport Vineyards continues its traditions of outstanding wines with daily tours and tastings, and adds the Brix Restaurant, The Marketplace, Vineyard Cafe, a new Tasting Room and Tank Room, new and expanded venue facilities for public and private event, and a unique wine shop. The vineyard is the largest grower of wine grapes in New England producing and bottling over 20,000 cases of estate-grown wine each year through sustainable farming methods on nearly 60 acres of historically preserved farmland. The region’s leading agritourism destination, the vineyards are alive with seasonal activities including music, comedy, annual clambakes and celebrations of every kind.
Tour the Tasty Treasures of Rhode Island
Rhode Island has a deep cultural history going back to the days of the Colonies, and that culture is reflected in the culinary diversity found in Providence and Newport. Today Rhode Island’s food scene is eclectic and creative, having fused that history with the influence of JWU Culinary School. Rhode Island Red Food Tours takes guests on a food- and beverage-tasting adventure into these two beautiful and walkable small cities. As you stroll, nibble and sip at bakeries, eateries, and food purveyors, you also explore architectural gems and hear stories about Providence and Newport's historic neighborhoods.
It is recommended to take this tour at the beginning of your visit so you will know where you want to eat while visiting.
1000 Elmwood Avenue
Providence, RI, 02907
An Historic Zoo with Fun for the Everyone
The Roger Williams Park Zoo was founded in 1872, and is one of the oldest zoos in the United States. This beloved Rhode Island institution is home to more than 100 species of rare, endangered and fascinating animals from around the world. Open year round, the many family-friendly special events, naturalistic animal exhibits, close-up animal encounters as well as tasty treats and gift shops make this Zoo one of Rhode Island’s top tourist attractions. The Zoo participates in collaborative conservation and breeding programs to help ensure the survival of many species, and is known for its conservation work around-the-world. Additionally, the Zoo is a valuable center for science and environmental education, providing experiential learning to thousands of students yearly. For more information and hours please visit rwpzoo.org.
Multiple Centers & Dock Locations
Providence, Newport, Westerly, RI and Fall River, MA
Hands-on fun on beautiful Narragansett Bay
Narragansett Bay is 400 miles of unparalleled beauty and home to one of the most diverse and biologically productive ecosystems on earth. Save The Bay connects the community and the Bay through hands-on and on-the-water experiences for families, groups, students, and schools. Take in the beauty and history of Narragansett Bay on Summer and Fall Lighthouse Cruises. Get up close with hundreds of critters that call Narragansett Bay home, at the Exploration Center & Aquarium in Newport, open year-round. Our week-long Summer BayCamps give youngsters the perfect mix of fun and marine science education along the Bay’s shoreline, and on and in the water. And enjoy 360º views of Rhode Island State Marine Mammal – harbor seals - on Winter Seal Watch Cruises. Join Save The Bay in protecting and improving Narragansett Bay, keeping it swimmable, fishable and accessible to everyone.
Boat tours depart from Newport, Westerly, Providence RI and Fall River, MA.
1098 Fall River Avenue
Seekonk, MA, 02771
Seekonk Grand Prix's got Go Karts and games
Experience the wildest Go Kart action at this state of the art facility offering competitive fun at an affordable price. Challenge family and friends on more than 60 arcade games including Guitar Hero, Ski Ball, Air Hockey and Dance Dance Revolution. The Family Track, the longest in New England, features tunnels, hairpin curves and straight-aways and new two-seater go-karts. Little guys and gals get in on the action with the new Rookie Track, with the Kiddy Track and Beginner Track just ahead. Bump and bounce your buddies in bumper cars and boats and finish the day off with a friendly game on the adventure mini golf course.
211 Airport Access Road
Middletown, RI, 02842
See Newport from above – and beyond.
Get a bird’s eye view of Newport’s treasures from above, inside and on the sea. Enjoy breathtaking views of the Mansions from a front row seat in the sky. Various tours and packages abound. View, tour and taste the wines at Newport Vineyards. Propose to your beloved on a romantic ride above Aquidneck Island and Newport Harbor. Step inside The Breakers or Rough Point. Enjoy a 90 minute cruise of Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay’s East Passage. Set sail on a 12 meter America’s Cup yacht to see Fort Adams and the Newport Bridge, lighthouses and aircraft carriers. The Ultimate Newport Package includes all tours, admission to the Breakers or Rough Point, and a delicious wine tasting.
159 Atlantic Avenue
Misquamicut, RI, 02891
A summer place for everything your summer self desires
A summer of sun, fun, and surf is upon you and Paddy’s Beach Club on Misquamicut Beach. Join the crew as the sand and waves come alive and let the prime beachfront location and expansive tented deck overlooking the ocean keep you smiling, tanned and dry. There’s seating for 350 for your next party or event and a top-notch staff and casual, fun atmosphere. Paddy’s is kid friendly and there’s always lots of parking and great events including Monday Night Trivia, Wednesday night Kids Nights, Thursday Non-profit nights July 4th Fireworks and the always popular DJ Dance Parties. Enjoy great food, drinks, and entertainment in the Tikki Beach VIP area or Ocean Lounge. Book a cabana, daybed, or chaise Lounge and just chill.
680 Bellevue Avenue
Newport, RI, 02840
An Heiress’s mansion is her gift to the public
The oceanfront estate of heiress Doris Duke was built by Frederick Vanderbilt in 1887 with the grounds landscaped by Frederick Law Olmstead’s’ firm in 1890. It was then the largest summer house in Newport. In 1922, James B. Duke purchased the house then left it to his 12 year-old daughter upon his death. Upon her death in 1993, Doris bequeathed the estate to the Newport Restoration Foundation, which opened the estate as a museum in 2000. The house is decorated with French furniture, European art, Chinese porcelains, and Flemish tapestries. Opening April 2017, you’ll see the exhibition "Nature Tamed in the Landscape, Gardens, and Collections", an exploration of the history of the grounds, plus fashion and objects inspired by the natural world.
Sophisticated Jazz Sounds
Since 1965, Chan’s Fine Oriental Dining
on Main Street in Woonsocket
has been a legendary place to take in a Chinese dinner followed by a close-up, live performance by masters of jazz, blues, folk, cabaret, and comedy in a sophisticated nightclub setting. Your host is John Chan, son of the founder, who greets and seats guests in family-style tables close to the best music to be found anywhere on the East Coast. Music is live and vibrant every weekend and some weeknights, including open mic nights once a month. Some upcoming performers include Duke Robillard Band, Commander Cody, Bellevue Cadillac, Ana Popvic Band, Lil’ Ed and the Blue Imperials, and more great jazz and blues. Silk ties and high heeled shoes are right in style at this place of glitter, fun, and excellent music. Phone: 401-765-1900.
Primitive Country Furnishings and a Warm Welcome
Brown & Hopkins Country Store
on Putnam Pike in Chepachet
defines itself as “purveyors of fine primitive country wares, period lighting & reproduction furniture [with] everything from penny candy to primitive cupboards.” The store, in business since 1809, sells primitive country home accessories, curtains, furniture, lighting, quilts, framed prints, fabric by the yard, candles, florals, garlands, primitive dolls gourmet specialties and, of course, penny candy. The shopkeeper, Liz McIntyre, promises: “Stop in soon... old fashioned hospitality awaits you!” Open daily. Phone: 401-568-4830
Like many of New England’s hip zones, Providence cultivates its share of places to drink excellent and unique beer. Among them, the Malted Barley
(craft beer and
gourmet pretzels) at 334 Westminster Street in the arts-rich DownCity neighborhood; Nick-A-Nees
(live music and no cover) at 75 South Street, also in the DownCity section; and E & O Tap
(expert bartenders and classic pinball machine), at 289 Knight Street in the Federal Hill area, which is the city’s truly authentic Little Italy.
Food Trucks of Providence – Downcity, That Is
Food trucks are rolling with delicious, creative chow in the streets of Providence
. Find these in Downcity, which is the area bounded by Weybosset, Exchange, Washington, and Empire streets.
are not like any French fry you’ve met before. Try Buck Naked with a sauce or the Cluck U fries topped with crispy chicken, buffalo sauce, and blue cheese. Find Friskie Fries at Snow and Washington streets Friday and Saturday nights. Email: email@example.com
Tricycle Ice Cream
is on a three-wheeled journey to perfect the ice cream sandwich, using ice cream and cookie combinations that are delicious and unique. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Find the Tricycle.
And for pure sophistication, there is O’Crepe
, a little bit of Paris on the street of Providence. Find it.
Audrain Automobile Museum Shows 160 Choice Cars
You’ve heard plenty about Newport’s sailboats and mansions, but, hold onto your steering wheel: Since late 2014, the city also has been home to the Audrain Automobile Museum
, at 222 Bellevue Avenue, where exhibits of racy and classic cars could blow the socks off the car enthusiast in your family. With more than 160 of the rarest vehicles in history, the collection shows vehicles from 1900 to today. Recent exhibitions were titled “American Muscle,” “Supercar Evolution,” and “Customs and Hot Rods.” You can arrange a private, guided tour for one to 50 people. Cool event for a car club or just a group of like-minded friends. Open year-round, daily. 401-856-4420
You Have One Hour
Who says Rhode Islanders can’t escape? Escape Rhode Island
invites you and your friends to a challenging game in which you have 60 minutes to escape from a locked room. The only way out is to work together to solve the many puzzles, riddles, mysteries and games confined within the room. This location offers four themes: Ex Machina, The Study, The Gallery and The Mausoleum. Challenge your mind, work as a team, confound your senses and think creatively. Once you are in, there’s only one way out, so team up! Ages 10 and up. Players under 15 must be with an adult, and 15-17 must sign a waiver. Phone: 401-572-3889
Learn to Sail in Newport Harbor
If you’ve had your fill of being mired on dry land while admiring sailboats skimming across Narragansett Bay, take the plunge and enroll in sailing classes in Newport Harbor. You are never too old to start, or old enough to stop; sailing is a life-long joy. Sailing schools offer a variety of levels of instruction. Sail Newport
at 60 Fort Adams Drive in Newport
offers sailing lessons for adults at all levels. 401-846-1983.
Walk the Majestic Streets of the East Side of Providence
Providence has many distinctive neighborhoods, and one of them – The East Side – is particularly endowed with natural and architectural beauty, along with connections to the state’s founding principles of religious freedom. The self-guided East Side walking tour
created by the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitor’s Bureau
starts at the magnificent State House and then ambles across the Providence River, past a national memorial named for Roger Williams, the city’s founder, and other places along North Main and Benefit streets that are equally stirring for their roles and their architecture: First Baptist Church, Rhode Island School of Design, the Providence Athenaeum and Brown University. Follow the tour on your phone and feel the pull of lofty minds from our past.
Duck, Dive, and Soar. Indoors!
Launch Trampoline Park
at 105 Pace Blvd. on Warwick
is place to work off pent-up energy for adults and kids. The indoor park is four dozen adjoined trampolines that span the floor and walls to create one giant bouncing surface. Come of open jump hours and bounce off the walls. Play dodge ball, Make a day of it for housebound kids with more activity at the arcade room and the café, serving kid-licious finger food from burgers to chicken fingers. For adults, the park offers structured workout classes that promise to help you burn 1,000 calories an hour. Open daily except Tuesdays; hours vary. Phone: 401-828-5867.
Visit the Turk’s Head While You’re in Providence
is a joy to walk in and through. Highlights are the WaterPlace Park – paths, stairways, and ornate foot bridges along the city’s rivers – along with Kennedy Plaza and many quaint streets. The city is rich in interesting statues : honoring people and historic events like Abraham Lincoln, General Ambrose Burnside, John Kennedy, the Irish Famine, and more. The Turk’s Head building alone is a camera-grabbing bit of sculptural delight. You can find an online tour
of Providence provided by the Downtown Providence Parks Conservancy. Follow the guide to gems of sculpture and history in this delightfully walkable New England city.
Visit the Arcade for Classic and Classy Urban Shopping
In basic terms, the Arcade
, at 130 Westminster Street in the Financial District of downtown Providence
, is a place for shopping and dining. But it so much more than that. Built in 1828, it is the country’s oldest indoor shopping mall, and it is surrounded by ornate 19th-century city architecture that is the essence of classic urban beauty. The two-story Arcade, with its arched glass ceiling and fancy ironwork, is typical of the lavish public spaces of 200 years ago. Stores offer interesting and creative clothing, jewelry, artwork, gifts, and vintage household decorative items. Lots of places to find coffee and lunch. 401-454-4568
The Most Authentic Diner of All
The original diner -- a horse-drawn wagon that served food in the middle of the night in the 1890s to workers at the Providence Journal -- was born in Providence. The Haven Bros. Diner
, a four-stool operation, is honored as the most basic diner of all in the diner’s hometown. Haven Bros. Diner is towed to a curbside location next to Providence City Hall every evening and towed away at 5 a.m. the following morning. This legendary eatery has been serving minimalist food to late-night downtown denizens since 1893 (seriously). It is considered perfectly acceptable to take your burger and coffee and sit on the front steps of City Hall while dining.
On a Peninsula in Narragansett Bay
Beavertail State Park
, at the southern tip of Jamestown Island, is a refreshingly beautiful place starting with the fact that the commercial footprint is very light. The tip of the park has the neat Beavertail Lighthouse. Every side of this peninsula tip has great views of life on Narragansett Bay: sailboats, rocky coasts, distant shorelines with beautiful houses and harbors. It’s easy to clamber around on the rocks and visit the sea life in the tide pools near the water or to stay up on the higher ground and fly a kite. Provided you’re dressed for it, a trip to this park is fine in all seasons; people sometimes go here to watch big weather coming up the Bay. Phone: 401-884-2010.
Natural History Lessons on Block Island
Got kids? Got a rainy day on your hands? The Block Island Conservancy Education Center
at 234 Weldon’s Way on Block island
is a place for all family members to learn about the island’s natural features in a place of active fun. Scavenger hunt (earn a badge), craft and learning stations let kids learn about constellations, and the land and waters of Block Island. Usually open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the high season; call ahead at 401-466-3111.
Vintage Never Gets Old
We know that browsing a consignment shop is a bit of a treasure hunt, allowing shoppers to burrow into layers of time and taste. Providence
is an old and many-layered town, and a tour of its best consignment shops also gives you a chance to visit the city’s wonderful, neighborhoods, some off the beaten path, like Federal Hill, Fox Point, and College Hill. Three consignment shops that introduce you to indoor treasures and discoveries of place are Hall’s On Broadway
at 145 Broadway; Nostalgia Providence
at 236 Wickenden Street; and Lola Fashion Boutique
at 120 North Main Street. Explore indoors and out!
Explore Rhode Island’s Greenways
offers great, easy maps and guides to walks and hikes all over this beautiful state, from the leafy woods of western Hopkinton to Narragansett By-side walks north of Newport. Find a trail scaled to your fitness and interests on an excellent interactive trail mapper
or a list
identified by town names. The icons on the map mark trailheads, meaning places to access a trail system. Note that some trail systems may be accessed via more than one trailhead.
Historic Blackstone Valley
The Blackstone River Valley, extending from Providence, RI
, to Worcester, MA
, is a crucible of American industrial history. The town of Pawtucket
is where the Englishman Samuel Slater built our country’s first cotton spinning mill in 1790, based on plans stolen from England. Over the next centuries, the river became an industrial zone for early mills and a magnet for immigrant workers from French Canada and elsewhere. Today, visitors can enjoy tours of historic sites -- principally the Slater Mill -- along with biking and water sports along the river. The boat Blackstone Valley Explorer offers cruises from its base in Pawtucket. The Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor
is eager to tell the story of this region that so much exemplifies the American story.
Six visitor centers
, in Pawtucket, Lincoln, Woonsocket, RI
help you plan your tour. Choose a self guided tour
and follow this map of the corridor.
American Whiskey Reborn, Says the Sons
Pumpkin spice whiskey? Hop flavored whiskey? Seasonal whiskies? If you’re curious, here’s a way to taste these ideas. Sons of Liberty Spirits Co.
at 1426 Kingstown Road in South Kingstown
was born because of a few unanswered questions: “Why is no one distilling single malt whiskies from the beers we love?” and “Why are there so many seasonal beers, but no seasonal whiskies?” The distillery is the owners’ answer to this gap in whiskey tasting. Come for tours and tastings on Saturdays, noon to 3:30 p.m. or Friday Night Flights on Fridays from 4:30 to7:30 p.m. and create your own spirits sample flight. Phone: 401-284-4006.
Easton’s Beach Is Primo for Families
There is plenty to do on the streets and wharves of Newport
, but when you are ready for a full-on beach day, join the Newport people at their favorite place, Easton’s Beach
, also known a First Beach, on 175 Memorial Blvd. This three-quarter-mile-long sand beach, with plenty of good surf, starts at Cliff Walk. Besides sun, sand, and surf, visitors to Easton’s Beach can enjoy 1950's-era carousel, a nature center
run by Save the Bay, and Rosie's Beach Store, which rents out beach chairs, boogie boards and umbrellas in summer. Facilities include restrooms, showers, a shade pavilion, playground, skate park, picnic and grill area, bike racks, first aid, beach wheel chairs for persons with disabilities, a snack bar and two parking lots.
Bookstore on the Square Is Actually Pretty Groovy
Books On the Square
at 471 Angell Street I Providence
is a privately owned independent bookstore in the charming Wayland Square neighborhood of Providence’s East Side, tucked behind the picturesque Brown University neighborhood. The store feels neighborly – it is not large; parking is easy; and there are many nearby cafes to enjoy a coffee or smoothie with your bookish boodle. Fans note that the store is clean, organized, and easy to navigate. And it’s not packed to rafters, so you don’t feel so overwhelmed. The store hosts author talks and other social gatherings, and it is very welcoming to children. Read on! 401-331-9097
Dance and Listen at This Grand Casino
is a visual symbol of the lively and historic seaside town of Narragansett
, dating from a grand casino and resort that thrived in the town from the 1880s into the 20th century. After a modern refurbishing, the Towers continues as a hub of culture and fun. Ballroom dancing and dance lessons happen ever Wednesday evening at the Towers. Lots of live music is performed at this iconic place, which also happen to be across the street from the Coast Guard House, where all of the state goes to drink and dine in the beach seasons.
Make Yourself at Home at Yellow Kittens Tavern
When people go on vacation and say they really want to mix with the local folk, the Yellow Kittens Tavern
– in this case on Block Island – is the very place they are talking about. Yellow Kittens has been a watering hole on Corn Neck Road since 1876. Obviously, it is doing something right. Clme for the drinks, dancing, chat, people-watching and general, all-around feel-good summer vibe. From 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Yellow Kittens serves tasty Mexican food and legendary frozen margaritas! on the outside deck. Later in the evenings, the live music kicks in and the dance floor gets crowded. Don’t miss it!
Gourmet Kitchenware; Humble Prices
Old-time Rhode Islanders remember the tasty joys of Wickford Gourmet, a kitschy food emporium in the seaside village of Wickford
. The retail shop is no more, but it is remember by Wickford Gourmet Factory Outlet
at 21 West Main Street. Cookware, tableware, linens, barware and good-quality decorations for 30 to 70 percent off retail prices. Williams Sonoma? Fuggeddaboudit, as we Ocean State people would say. This outlet will do you more and better and much lower prices. And the people and profits stay local. Great for gifts! Call for hours. 401-294-8430
Feed Your Inner Explorer at Biomes
The marine biologists at Biomes Marine Biology Center
at 6640 Post Road in North Kingstown
really want to teach you what they know about sea life, particularly the plants and creatures who live in Narragansett Bay. The Biomes Center is New England's only private marine education facility and the most hands-on aquarium zaround. The scientists here host demonstrations throughout Saturdays, Sundays, school vacation days, and every day during the summer, noon to 5 p.m. Daily events include pufferfish and octopus demonstrations, and feedings of tortoises, shark, horseshoe crabs, skates, stingrays, and sea horses. Discover the marine biologists in yourself or your family! 401-885-4690
Light Atop the Bluffs
Please don't miss this Block Island icon. That is, Southeast Lighthouse
, perched atop the Mohegan Bluffs, which rise abruptly to a height of about 200 feet above the sea and stretch for nearly three miles along the southern shore. The lighthouse was moved from the edge of the bluffs in 1993 as natural forces eroded the bluffs closer to the structure. You can go into the lighthouse in July and August. A short distance west of the lighthouse along the Mohegan Trail is the top of a chain of stairs built into the side of the bluff, leading to the beach far below. If you are fit to climb lots of stairs and are looking for a fun thing to do outdoors, the hike to the beach is fantastic. Phone: 401-466-5009
Hit the Trails at Stepping Stone Ranch
Arcadia Management State Park in the wooded depths of West Greenwich is the nearby neighbor and trail host for visitors to Stepping Stone Ranch
at 201 Escoheag Hill Road in West Greenwich
. The ranch offers very individualized horseback riding lessons for everyone from beginners to advanced riders. Bring your horse or use one of the ranch’s horses. Rates are reasonable. If you love the atmosphere, stay! Guests are welcome to do horse camping, and trails of the 14,000-acre state park are perfect for woods rides. A four-day Cowboy Rendezvous is held every fall. Phone: 401-397-3725
Dine on the Deck With Your Dog
Rhode Island allows your canine buddy to accompany you when you dine in outdoor seating areas of restaurants, for restaurants that allow it. Cool! Bring your mutt, on leash, and let him or her relax under the table as you and your human friends enjoy RI delicacies, from calamari to Campari or whatever leisure foods and drinks make you smile. Among the Ocean State restaurants that welcome dog companions are Wildflour Vegan Baker and Juice Bar in Pawtucket (dog treats on the menu); Garden Terrace at Vanderbilt Grace in Newport (Yappy Hour daily at noon); Luxe Burger Bar in Providence; and Portsmouth Publick House in Portsmouth.
Paint the Town
Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but it sure packs a punch when it comes to art and relaxed fun with a group of friends.
Paint and Vino
at 150 Main Street, Pawtucket
offers a unique ladies' night out at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. nearly every day of the week and weekends. Practice the art of painting in a relaxed, social atmosphere. Even if you've never picked up a paintbrush before, Paint and Vino can provide you with a full evening of creative fun and wine tastings in Pawtucket’s buzzing art scene and night life. Local artists teach these group painting classes step-by-step, and New England wine will be served during the party. Reservations are required. Phone
Polo and Picnic Baskets in Portsmouth
Believe it or not, polo and tailgating parties do, indeed, go together. The Newport International Polo Series
is conducted at Glen Farms on East Main Road in Portsmouth
every Saturday evening from June to September. Play starts at about 5 p.m. (4 p.m. in September). Guests should arrive early, park along the field, and have sandwiches and Thermoses at hand when the action begins. As part of the ritual, spectators even get to walk out on the field and stomp down the divots during time-outs. It is really a lot of fun, whether or not you know the first thing about the sport. Phone: 401-846-0200
Purple Cat Winery Welcomes Adventurous Explorers
Lots of people don’t know how much inland beauty is found in Rhode Island’s western regions. A drive out to the wonderfully named village of Chepachet
will get you to the famous Ancients and Horribles Parade on July and also
to the new Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery
at 11 Money Hill Road. The Purple Cat offers small batch handcrafted wines, available for tasting and purchasing in the tasting room daily, year-round, from noon to 8 p.m. The Cat also has a delightful bistro featuring a healthy menu with teas, javas, and smoothies; and a theater company presenting performances by local people. Come to the pretty inland places of Rhode Island. 401-566-9463
Play With Nature at Providence Children’s Museum
If your family includes young folks under the age of about 12, you owe them a tip to the Providence Children’s Museum
at 100 South Street in Providence
’s quickly reviving “Knowledge District” (a second home to Brown University’s medical college). There’s a ton of stuff for kids to enjoy every day at the museum, along with special events and celebrations linked to holidays and seasons. Children may play with water and magnetic; explore plant life; climb a two-story-tall maze or into a tree house; burrow into a world of subterranean creatures; learn how to build a bridge; play with marionettes, and much more. The museums’ website tells you the special events coming up on the calendar. 401-273-5437
Five Diamonds for One Magnificent Hotel
on Bluff Avenue in Watch Hill
(Westerly) has been named a Five Diamond Lodging by AAA. This is among the most prestigious awards any lodging can receive, and the first received by a Rhode Island establishment, according to AAA. "Five Diamond lodgings feature extraordinary physical attributes and meticulous personalized attention,” said an AAA spokesman. The Ocean House is the last of the grand Victorian hotels, where life is still lived much as it was a century ago, a tranquil timetable of tides and sun, teatime and cocktails, sailing regattas and strolls on the beach. The hotel first opened in 1868 and was closed in 2003 in a state of disrepair. Later that decade it was restored to its original state and reopened. Phone: 401-584-7000
Coastal Beauty and History Too
Like so many places in Rhode Island, Fort Wetherill State Park
offers stunning ocean views and coastal walking trails. Situated upon 100-foot-high granite cliffs overlooking Narragansett Bay, the site was first used as by the colonists during the Revolutionary War. Now visitors can explore the labyrinth of empty concrete gun emplacements set into the side of the hill. It’s a military ghost town, but it’s fun to climb all over the abandoned forts and take in some breathtaking views of Newport Harbor. And don’t forget your scuba gear; this spot is a favorite amongst divers.
Know Your Ecosystem
People who are fascinated by Rhode Island’s complex coastal ecology should high-tail it to the Kettle Pond Visitor Center
on Bend Road in Charlestown
, the local habitat of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Located on the north side of U.S. 1 between Burlingame State Park and Ninigret Park, the center offers an interactive gallery of dioramas, murals, and giant photos of sandy beaches, rocky shores, and other Ocean State ecosystems. Hiking trails and gift shop. Phone: 401-364-9124.
It's a Nice Place to be Alive, Too
The paths and gardens of Swan Point Cemetery
off Blackstone Blvd. in Providence
make for one of the most peaceful and interesting walks in all of Providence. Within the gates of this 200-acre garden cemetery are manicured lawns that flank the Seekonk River, replete with laurel, rhododendrons, azaleas and other flowering shrubs. A walk through Swan Point is always educational; the grounds are home to an abundance of rare and beautiful trees with plaques for easy identification, and the gravestones are pieces of artwork by themselves. Here you’ll find the final resting places of everyone from Civil War officers and early state politicians, to the writer H.P. Lovecraft.
Colonial Village in Warwick Charms Visitors
is a small, historic neighborhood at Post Road and Narragansett Parkway on the border of Warwick
, famous for the annual Gaspee Day parade in June, when dozens of fife and drum corps commemorate the burning of the British revenue schooner HMS Gaspee in 1772. Other times of the year, it is a cozy section of historic buildings on a tiny cove of the Upper Narragansett Bay filled with interesting shops and eateries. Small Pawtuxet Park, facing the cove, is a lovely place to rest with a book or enjoy your purchases.
Distinctive Wines in an Island Setting
at 909 E Main Road in Middletown
Is a showcase of the excellent wines and hospitable vineyard operators in New England. Since its founding in 1978 this family-owned orperation has grown to 50 acres of varietal and hybrid grapes. Visitors are offered public tours every day. These include a tour in the vineyards, a behind the scenes look at the winemaking process and a tasting of five wines. The winery features an art gallery and retail shop, occasional Paint Nites, yoga sessions, clambakes, farmers market on Saturdays in season. Open year around. Phone: 401-848-5161.
Canter on the Beach
Sunset horseback rides on the beach? Are we in Hollywood? On your Block Island vacation, check out Rustic Rides Farm
at 1173 West Side Road, which offers guided trail rides through this more-rural and less-inhabited side of the island. Trail rides pass through Rodman's Hollow Nature Preserve. Beach rides, including a glorious sunset ride every evening, take you to alongside the surf of Dory's Cove, a lovely westward-facing beach. An unusual getaway on this water-loving island. 401-466-5060.
Lots of Fantastic; Umbrellas on the Side
Fantastic Umbrella Factory
at 4820 Old Post Road in Charlestown
is a very personalized collection of shops and gardens. The place was established in 1968 by Robert Palmer Bankel, who had a mission to provide South County with good Karma, a fun atmosphere, eclectic shops, and an interesting staff of artisans and locals. The property offers great things to do, extensive gardens, shops, and resident animals. Bring a sense of exploration and adventure. The shops include Umbrella Factory Main Store, Small Axe Productions, Umbrella Factory Gardens, Cheap Frills, and Vintage Eyewear. Open year-round but hours vary seasonally. Phone: 401-364-9199.
Love That Sport -- Tennis, That Is
After a major renovation, the Museum at the International Tennis Hall of Fame
in the Newport Casino, 194 Bellevue Avenue, Newport
re-opened in May 2015 with a fully engaging immersion in the art and history and heroes of tennis.
The renovation showcases the Newport Casino, a National Historic Landmark, with exposure of three magnificent fireplaces and use of original furnishings from 1880.
A highlight of the new museum will be a holographic theater in which visitors feel as though they are in the room tennis great Roger Federer. Tennis aficionados also can test their knowledge of the sport; learn about tennis history and tennis in other parts of the world; and view 25,000 artifacts. Open daily, year-round. Phone: 401-849-3990.
Sacred Labyrinth on Block Island
Off Corn Neck Road on Block Island is a labyrinth of paths lined by stones, with a beautiful view of the North Light and Sachem Pond. The labyrinth, unlike a maze, is a single winding path that leads to the center point and back out. Walking the labyrinth is a universal ritual that has survived unchanged for thousands of years. People report that labyrinths can heal body and soul. It's on the west side of the road, just a little bit south of Sachem Pond. Look for wooden steps over the stone wall.
Real Paintings and Frivolous Fakes on Display at Cliffside
On a getaway to Cliffside Inn
on Seaview Avenue in Newport
, you expect deluxe guestrooms, wonderful furnishings, and beautiful gardens. At the Cliffside, a member of the Distinctive Inns of New England, you also find yourself in a singular art museum. Built as a home in 1876, the Inn was bought in 1907 by the Turner family of Philadelphia. Beatrice Turner, who was 18 in 1907, later would become an artist and a Newport legend. Many of her works of art are on display at the Cliffside Inn. The Inn also is home to a collection of fakes and forgeries -- original works painted by Newport artists that are either serious copies or tongue-in-cheek humorous interpretations of known works of art. Fun browsing for art lovers.
A Quiet and Beautiful Walk on Block Island
Maze and Clayhead Preserve
off Corn Neck Road in Block Island
is secluded spot to take in the peace and quiet of nature on the island. The preserve is 190 acres of walks and rambles where you can see some of the most spectacular scenery on the island. Within the preserve is a sandy beach that’s off the beaten path enough to be almost deserted. You can walk along picturesque bluffs or wander a series of interconnected, unmarked paths. During the fall, the maze is one of the best spots on the continent to see migratory songbirds. To reach the trail, look for a post marker on the right side of Corn Neck Road, about 3 miles from town and across from a big yellow farm house. Turn right down the dirt road and go straight for one-third of a mile until you reach a parking area.