Rhode Island Travel Guide
There are few better beach destinations than Rhode Island. With 400 miles of gorgeous Atlantic shoreline, Rhode Island is a dream for any traveler looking for a classic New England experience — especially if they want that experience to almost always be within walking distance of a beach. If you've never been to Rhode Island, you might think that the main point of interest is Providence — and while this city is wonderful and well worth your time, you'd be missing out on some of the most wonderful parts of the state if you only stayed there. From beaches and museums to the Newport Mansions and award-winning Roger Williams Park Zoo, Rhode Island is full of hidden and not-so-hidden gems that are worth visiting.
Eastern Standard Time
Best Time to Go
Many of Rhode Island's fun activities are outdoors, so while you can really go any time of year, the spring and summer are best, when the weather is mild to warm and nature is at her best. Winter and fall visits are enjoyable as well, but be prepared to spend less time outdoors.
Things to Know
If you're planning to explore Rhode Island beyond Providence, you'll want to rent a car, as many of the best things to do here are easiest and most enjoyable when you have your own ride. Locals know to get to most of those things early — the Ocean Drive, for instance, is gridlocked by noon, but pleasant at 8 a.m. You can have a cheaper vacation if you spend part of it outside of Providence; there are a ton of smaller inns and bed-and-breakfasts throughout the state that are just as lovely for a fraction of the cost of a metropolitan hotel. Rhode Islanders are friendly, and some of the state shares an accent with Boston (it's different, but to the untrained ear, it'll sound fairly similar). Definitely try Rhode Island institutions: Del's frozen lemonade, a coffee cabinet (like a milkshake, if milkshakes were thicker and somehow more delicious), coffee milk (sweet coffee concentrate plus milk plus the need to have more than one glass), fries with vinegar, and hot dogs with celery salt.
How to Get Around
Trains: The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) runs regular service from Boston through Rhode Island, if you're looking for local stops. Otherwise, Amtrak services Providence, Kingston, and Westerly.
Buses: If you don't have your own car, the main way to get around Rhode Island is with RIPTA, Rhode Island Public Transit Authority's bus systems. Daily unlimited passes are $6; otherwise, it's $2 per trip.
Taxis: Taxis are available throughout the state, though a call in advance is required in non-metropolitan areas. Rachel's Big City Transportation is a favorite around Providence.
Car Service: Lyft and Uber are available as usual throughout Rhode Island.
Things to Do
Cities and Towns to Know
Providence: Rhode Island's capital city is also its largest, and the main destination for many visitors. With no dearth of things to do, it's a bustling small city with a youthful energy, thanks to Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Visit for the 18th- and 19th-century homes on College Hill, the RISD Museum, and of course, WaterFire.
Newport: Located on Aquidneck Island, Newport is surrounded by beaches. Made famous most recently by Taylor Swift's Folklore album, Newport's mansions have a storied and fascinating history. Some are now museums, if you're interested in checking out how those during the Gilded Age lived. Stroll along Bellevue Avenue to take in the ocean view and architecture, then stop at The Dining Room at Castle Hill Inn for coffee and dessert.
Narragansett: Known to locals and summerers as Gansett, this sleepy, beautiful town is just across the Long Island Sound from Newport. Its population doubles in the summer months, as it is a prime destination for beachgoers from Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. Be sure to visit Point Judith and the Point Judith Lighthouse, or head over to the Point Judith Country Club for a round of golf on a beautiful course, built in 1895.
Block Island: Take the ferry out to picturesque Block Island for a day of sun, sand, and idyllic relaxation. Home to the stunning Mohegan Bluffs, Block Island is a hiker's paradise as much as it is a home for beach loungers — there are several beautiful trails and walking routes, including Rodman's Hollow, a 230-acre conservation area with a stunning trail suitable for casual hikers.
Westerly: The highlight of this beachfront community is Misquamicut State Beach, a favorite for ocean lovers in Rhode Island, Connecticut, and beyond. Visit Watch Hill for the Flying Horse Carousel and Watch Hill Lighthouse, or take a relaxing walk through the gorgeous Napatree Point Conservation Area.
Spring in Rhode Island can be quite rainy, with about half of the season's days seeing some clouds. Average temperatures in the spring range from 30°F at the beginning of the season to around 72°F at the end.
Summer is balmy and humid — appropriately, perfect beach weather. June enjoys temperatures starting at 55°F, and it rarely gets hotter than 90°F; usually, at the height of summer, the average high temperature is round 83°F. Summer is not quite as rainy as spring, though you may see some thunderstorms.
Fall is cool and comfortable in Rhode Island, with average temperatures ranging from 33°F to 78°F. Fall is also very dry, with little rain, especially compared to spring. If you're not a beach person, many of Rhode Island's other outdoor activities can be best enjoyed in the beautiful New England autumn.
Winter can get very cold, and Rhode Island does see occasional snow. Bring layers if you choose to visit in the winter — temperatures can range from 21°F to 46°F, and rarely fall much lower than 15°F.