Rhode Island offers plenty of outdoor places to enjoy sciene and nature
Rhode Island has many places and opportunities to get outdoors and enjoy nature (maybe learn a little, too) at wildlife preserves, bird santuaries, nature trails,and state parks.
1000 Elmwood Avenue
Providence, RI, 02907
Kids and Adults Will Learn and be Fascinated
Conservation and environmental stewardship are at the core of the mission at Roger Williams Park Zoo. The Zoo is the recipient of numerous awards for conservation work done both locally and around the globe. In addition to visits with our fascinating animals, guests may experience the joy of being outside in Hasbro’s Our Big Backyard including Our House, an indoor activity space, The Nature Swap, a special place to trade items collected when out exploring nature, the Drip Drop Water Garden, The Sticks & Stones Building Zone, and Creativity Corner. Patrons may also explore the nature trail Beyond the Fence, and the CVS Caremark All Kids Can Treehouse packed with things to touch, hear, smell, and see.
Black Hut Wildlife Management Area
Spring Lake Road
This preserve covers 1,548 acres of forest, wetlands, and farmland. The area contains many observation points.
1000 Elmwood Avenue
Cranston, RI, 02907
Botanic garden is housed in a glass-and-steel-edged conservatory. Seasonal plants, delightful getaway. See
of Roger Williams Park Botanical Center.
Newport Butterfly Zoo
409 Bulgarmarsh Road
Tiverton, RI, 02878
During the warm-weather months, visitors are free to explore the zoo independently or with a guide, who will point out the species of butterflies that are in the greenhouse that day. The zoo has up to 30 species, including many from Africa, Malaysia, South America, Thailand, New Guinea, Costa Rica, and the Philippines. Butterflies are most active on warm and sunny days with little wind. Bring a camera and wear brightly colored clothing. Call ahead for hours.
455 North Road
Started in 1796, this working farm is set on 265 acres and features cattle, sheep, horses, chickens, and a garden. Trails and self-guided tours take visitors on a trip through the history and seasonal cycles of the farm. School programs and demonstrations are available. Open seasonally.
Another area bird-watching site, ideal for winter spotting of gulls and widgeons.
Sapowet Marsh Wildlife Management Area
This typical coastline habitat is home to several species of game birds and is stocked with ring-necked pheasant. The area also supports a wide variety of songbirds, shore birds, and wading birds. Great spots for bird watching.
Museum of Natural History and Cormack Planetarium
Roger Williams Park, 1000 Elmwood Avenue
Providence, RI, 02907
Rhode Island's only natural history museum and home to the state's only planetarium make this a great place to visit and thing to do, especially on your next family vacation with children. The museum offers regular exhibits, events, and attractions. The Planetarium features a state-of-the-art Zeiss star projector and an enlarged domed ceiling on which the stars are projected. Children under age 4 are not permitted into the planetarium.
Hours: Museum open daily, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., with last admission at 3:30 p.m. The planetarium is open every weekend and daily during July and August, with shows beginning at 2 p.m.
Admission: Museum admission is $2; planetarium admission is $3.
A geological phenomenon caused by a thin crack in the ledges on the east side of Easton Point. The fissure has formed over the centuries due to erosion from the sea.
Buck Hill Road
This wildlife management area offers observation of birds, fox, coyote, and others. Parts of the area are designed specifically for wildlife farming fields and food growth regions.
of Buck Hill Management Area.
Black Rock Road
Block Island (New Shoreham), RI, 02807
This 230-acre glacial outwash basin, located in the southwest part of the island, is considered the birthplace of conservation on Block Island. Walk down Black Rock Road off of Cooneymus Road. About 0.25 miles down on your left, you will see a wooden gate and turnstile marking the trail entrance. Bear left, where the trail splits to traverse the bottom of the Hollow (where you can also access a trail leading to Fresh Pond); bear right to ascend a knoll with a wonderful panoramic vista. The trails intersect again to return to Black Rock Road. If you turn left and continue down the road, you can access the beach via a trail down the bluff.
Directions: Turn onto Walk down off of Cooneymus Road. About 0.25 miles down on the left there is a turnstile at the head of the trail. The trail soon splits. Bear left to traverse the bottom of the Hollow; walk right to ascend a hill with a giant vista.
Norman Bird Sanctuary
583 Third Beach Road
This 450-acre refuge includes several wildlife habitats and seven miles of trails. The site also houses an on-site museum, educational area, and small gift shop. Spring and fall bird walks are held. Lots of activities for kids and families in the outdoors and in nature.
Hours: Open Memorial Day-Labor Day, daily, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Sanctuary
National environmental preserve with a self-guided hiking trail and guided nature walks. The park has a picnic area, swimming, and boating areas. Accessible through a ferry from Bristol, RI.
Hours: Memorial Day-Labor Day, dawn to dusk.
Sakonnet Point is an ideal location for bird watching. The Sakonnet Point Lighthouse can be seen from the beach at the point, but is not open to the public.
Abrams Animal Farm
1 Spring Street
Block Island, RI, 02807
This outdoor facility, operated by the owners of 1661 Inn and Hotel Manisses, is a menagerie of exotic animals -- llamas, emus, sheep, goats, and ducks – that live next to the inn. Cost: Free. Open: Daily, dawn-dark.
Prudence and Patience Islands Wildlife Management Area
While smaller areas are part of both parks listed above, Prudence and Patience Islands are a refuge for a wide variety of bird and mammal species. Prudence Island is known for its popularity for migrating birds and presents excellent opportunities for bird watching. Ticks are plentiful on these islands so use insect repellant and dress accordingly. Accessible only by boat.
Block Island Nature Conservancy
Formed by glaciers nearly 10,000 years ago, Block Island features a diverse array of habitats. Maritime shrubland, beaches and open morainal grasslands support more than 40 state and federal rare or endangered species, including the globally endangered American burying beetle. Birds stop here while migrating in the spring and fall along the Atlantic Flyway. There are approximately 25 miles of walking trails on Block Island open to the public, free of charge. Places of interest on Block Island include Clay Head Preserve off Corn Neck Road, the Fresh Swamp Preserve, off Lakeside Drive, Hodge Family Wildlife Preserve, off Corn Neck Road, Nathan Mott Park off Center Road and Turnip Farm off Old Mill Road, and Rodman's Hollow, Black Rock Road off of Cooneymus Road.
Another good bird watching spot, particularly for the wide variety of duck species that collect there.
Jamestown, RI, 02835
Park with rocky shores, tide pools, salt water fishing, walking, picnicking, lighthouse
This beautiful park on a high promontory overlooking Narragansett Bay is hemmed by a rocky coastline and lots of opportunities to study life of the tide pools. The Park operates a naturalist program for adults and kids to learn about tide pools and local geology, intertidal ecology, fish life and marine mammals.
See full description
Beavertail State Park.
Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge
Sachuest Point Road
Very near to Newport, this national site is a haven for many types of shore birds, and very popular with Southern New England bird watchers.
Durfee Hill Wildlife Management Area
This wildlife area is home to both game and non-game wildlife, including deer, rabbits, muskrat, and coyote. Hunters will find wild turkey, pheasant, and more in season.
Rocks, Minerals, Fossils Collection
University of Rhode Island
South Kingstown, RI
The University's Department of Geology maintains this small collection, featuring samples collected in Rhode Island and nearby parts of Southern New England. Open Mon-Fri 8:30 am-4:30 pm.
Dutch Island Wildlife Management Avenue
This island's 94 acres of scrub and forest provide an opportunity to observe the coastal ecosystem. Several species of waterbirds, shorebirds, and wading birds can be found there. Access to the island by boat only.