Road trip buffs understand pretty well that despite a place being very small, it might have a lot more to explore than one may anticipate. And that’s absolutely correct with Rhode Island. Being the smallest state in the US, it has more to discover than unversed road trippers may suspect. So check out our sampling of most scenic Rhode Island road trip destinations now!
With 14 percent of its total area covered by saltwater, the “Ocean State” has got beautiful sceneries that are worth seeing. Think of quaint small towns, rivers, lakes, woodlands, scenic drives, and any other feature ripe with recreational adventure – it’s all in Rhode Island.
- 1 Top Rhode Island Road Trip Destinations
- 1.1 Providence– Doughnuts, Coffee, Big Blue Bug & More!
- 1.2 Old Harbor – Largest Tourist Attraction In Rhode Island
- 1.3 Newport’s The Breakers – Lavish Mansions
- 1.4 Cliff Walk – Shoreline & More!
- 1.5 The Elms – Stunning Summer Home
- 1.6 Ocean Drive – Jazz, Folk Festival, Cruises & More!
- 1.7 Conanicut Island – Rocky Shores, Lighthouse, Awesome Views
- 1.8 Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor
- 1.9 Blithewold, Bristol – Replica of English Country Manor
- 2 Wrapping Up Rhode Island Road Trip Destinations
Top Rhode Island Road Trip Destinations
If you haven’t visited any New England State yet, you might want to get started with Rhode Island. It has the attractions that can steer the adventurous mood and get you set to explore the other states. And we’ve compiled a list of the top destinations for your upcoming Rhode Island road trip.
To quickly find out everything you need to know about the best places in Rhode Island, check out the slides below:
Providence– Doughnuts, Coffee, Big Blue Bug & More!
During any US state road trip, it’s often a good idea to visit the capital city. It’s a good tradition as it gets you acclimatized with the mood and people of a state. For Rhode Island, you should have Providence on your itinerary, not just for the sake of it, but because it has a lot more to offer than you might anticipate.
Apart from being the capital city, Providence is the largest and among the oldest urban setups in the United States. The city was founded by Roger Williams in 1636, who was a religious exile, and retrieved the city’s name from “God’s merciful Providence”.
It is a scenic city located at Narragansett Bay upper side. Providence River cruising through the town gives it beauty like no other, and on your trip be sure to visit Riverwalk or Waterfront Park. One thing you wouldn’t want to miss is the tasty doughnuts and coffee which are like the city’s notable stamp. Actually, Providence stands out as the city with the highest per capita of doughnuts-coffee shops in the US.
Also, you can visit America’s oldest Baptist church established by Roger Williams. The city is also the home to a roadside attraction, “Big Blue Bug”, which is the largest termite in the world.
Rated among the oldest zoos in the United States, Roger Williams Park Zoo showcases contemporary zoo designs and ethics. The zoo, located in the city of Providence, rests on a 40-acre landmass. During your road trip in Providence, you’d want to give it a couple of days to explore the fun here to the fullest.
Old Harbor – Largest Tourist Attraction In Rhode Island
This is among the largest tourist attractions in Rhode Island. It is situated on the eastern side of the Block Islands and a short ocean distance from the Rhode Island mainland. Old Harbor can be accessed on a ferry ride, which also presents magnificent views even for those that are least fascinated by the ocean.
The scenic harbor together with the Victorian waterfront is full of boats and yachts, which isn’t a surprising thing as Old Harbor is among the top premier boasting locations in New England. It’s protected by breakwater hence a safe harbor.
Once you get to the shoreside, you’ll encounter some amazing shops, seafood restaurants, and old-fashioned inns you can stay at while exploring the resort communities of New Shoreham in this
notable district of Block Island. New Shoreham is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities located in New England, so be ready to enjoy the splendor and fun!
Newport’s The Breakers – Lavish Mansions
The Breakers is the most celebrated and liveliest mansion in Newport. Gilded Age Mansion was established in 1895 by Cornelius Vanderbilt and showcases the unfathomable wealth that the Vanderbilt family enjoyed. This Italian Renaissance boasts of 70 rooms and includes a grand 3 story dining room. The mansion is famous for its Italian and French alabaster and marble construction and serves as one of the top attractions in Rhode Island.
The rooms are decorated using ceiling paintings, marble columns, mosaics, carved stucco, and fine wood paneling making it lavish and ostentatious. All these fancy decorations were particularly aimed at by the Vanderbilt’s family to compete against other wealthy families in the region.
The mansion is particularly breathtaking, and anyone who fancies home décor beauty will certainly find this trip one of its kind.
Cliff Walk – Shoreline & More!
This is where the meaning of the phrase “killing two birds with one stone” becomes even more clearer as you trek the Cliff Walk found on Newport’s eastern shore. One side lies the stunning beauty of Newport shoreline; the other side rests the lavish summer homes of Newport’s affluent.
Cliff Walk is the first National Recreation Trail in the entire New England region, spanning a length of 3 miles along Newport shoreline. The northern section of this trail is regarded as easy kids friendly hikes. The southern bit comprises a rough trail over a rocky surface, so it requires more caution when trekking here.
Cliff Walk is among the top attraction destinations that you shouldn’t miss out when visiting Newport and your trip to The Breakers.
The Elms – Stunning Summer Home
This is yet another stunning summer home you wouldn’t want to miss out during your trip in Newport. Constructed in 1898 by Edward Julius Berwind, the pioneer of Berwind-White Coal Mining Company, The Elms wasn’t as opulent as the other wealthy summer homes in Newport as it took only $1.4 million to construct.
Yet still, The Elms is highly lavish in today’s setting. The Classical Revival Gardens form the building’s focal point. The garden features bronze and marble sculptures positioned on terraces, fountains, sunken gardens, and marble pavilion. The garden’s construction lasted for 7 years starting from 1907, 6 years after the completion of the mansion.
Today, the house is open to the public for tours. Taking a guided tour through the mansion will get you to know the details about the employees responsible for the maintenance of the mansion as well as the technical systems of the building.
Ocean Drive – Jazz, Folk Festival, Cruises & More!
If you still haven’t had enough of viewing mansions, then follow Bellevue Avenue to the end till you reach Coggeshall Avenue. Proceed left, following the shore beyond Bailey’s Beach. Driving the next 10 miles will take you past many other mansions both from the olden days and contemporary ones. The most attractive ones will be located on the left as the route makes a curve around Aquidneck Island southern shore.
Make a stop at Brenton Point State Park to enjoy a picnic or just relax while watching the sea. The steady breeze that’s common here makes it a perfect ground for flying kites, be sure to bring the kids along.
On reaching Brenton Point, the road makes a right turn. Here you’ll come across U.S Coast Guard Station and view the Hammersmith Farm, the host grounds for the reception of President Kennedy’s wedding in 1953.
Visit Fort Adams State Park where you’ll get to see several things, including the Museum of Yachting and the Summer White House of President Eisenhower. You’ll also get to take part and enjoy the Jazz and Newport Folk Festivals normally hosted in this park.
Conanicut Island – Rocky Shores, Lighthouse, Awesome Views
Situated in Narragansett Bay, between Aquidneck Island and the southern portion of Rhode Island, Conanicut Island has several attraction spots including Beavertail Park and Jamestown. It is a long and narrow strip of land running from north to south, presenting beautiful towns, fields, salt marshes, and gardens once you drive past.
Also, it offers distant views of the mainland, arching bridges, and the bay. Two parallel roads are spanning the length of Conanicut Island, running from north to south. These are the North Main Road and East Shore Road. On reaching the southern section of this island, take the Beavertail Road heading to the stunning Beavertail Park where you get to enjoy the expansive views of rocky shores, lighthouse, and the distant bay.
Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor
Blackstone River, spanning the length from northern Rhode Island to the south-central section of Massachusetts, is the foundation of the industrial history of America. It is home to the Slater Mill, the first-ever textile mile in the US, built with technology secretly imported from Britain.
The most convenient way of traveling this route is moving from one Visitor Center in the region to the next one. They include the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center found at 175 Main Street, Pawtucket, and River Bend Farm Visitor Center located at 287 Oak Street, and Uxbridge in Massachusetts.
Other attractive sites worth visiting during this route trip include Lincoln Woods State Park in 2 Manchester Print Works Road, Lincoln and Museum of Work and Culture located in Woonsocket where you’ll get to learn about the stories of the mill workers.
Blithewold, Bristol – Replica of English Country Manor
Blithewold was built for Augustus Van Wickle in 1908 and has exact resemblance with an English country manor of the 17th century. The building has 45 rooms which still maintain the same furnishing as when it was occupied by the family.
This mansion features decorations using Baccarat crystal, over 30 sets of china, Gorham silver, Tiffany lamps, and several other objects collected during their travels.
The design of the building features huge windows overlooking the estate’s garden of 33 acres. This is where you’ll find one of the finest gardens in New England that are open to public access and include an enclosed garden, water garden, rock garden, rose garden, and display garden. These gardens comprise over 500 species of shrubs, trees, and plants which include the giant sequoia, the largest in the East Coast, and bamboo grove.
Wrapping Up Rhode Island Road Trip Destinations
Rhode Island offers amazing beauty and a surplus of fancy opulent mansions owned by some of the richest families in the state. With an abundance of scenic byways, state parks, and beautiful cities, this road trip will definitely be one of the best in New England. Be sure to equip yourself with a camera to capture the breathtaking sceneries you come across. If you want to find out about budget-friendly destinations in Rhode Island, do check out our dedicated sampling.
Hope our sampling of top Rhode Island road trip destinations help you plan a wonderful coastal vacation. Book your vacation rental now from the RentalTrader.com and have a relaxing time exploring the Ocean State. If you need any more information, fill our web form or give us a call, we’ll be happy to help you.