What to See in Rhode Island

A 5-Day Itinerary Featuring Must-See Highlights in RI

Newport Rhode Island
••• Picture-perfect scenes await on this suggested five-day Rhode Island travel itinerary. Newport, the Sailing Capital of the World, is bound to be one of the highlights of your trip. Getty Images / iShootPhotosLLC

Rhode Island may be America's smallest state, but with 400 miles of coastline and more than its fair share of the country's National Historic Landmarks, it packs a wallop. Because Rhode Island is so petite, you can base yourself in one location—consider Newport, Narragansett or capital city Providence—and set out each day to check off must-see highlights. Here are suggestions for seeing the best of the Ocean State in five days.

Suggested Rhode Island Travel Itinerary

Day 1: Begin your Rhode Island vacation with a relaxing day at Misquamicut Beach in Westerly. The family will enjoy the surf and the games and amusements. Drive-in movies at the beach on select evenings May through October are old-fashioned fun and one of the best deals in Rhode Island.

Day 2: Head east to Newport and spend the morning viewing the magnificent mansions from the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk. Venture inside to tour one or two of your favorites. The Breakers is the largest, most opulent of these famous summer "cottages," and the family audio tour option makes it the best choice if you're traveling with children. You may also want to take a short trip to Portsmouth, Rhode Island, to visit whimsical, wonderful Green Animals Topiary Garden.

Day 3: In the morning, take the ferry from Newport to Block Island, and hop in a cab or rent a bicycle or moped to tour the island's spectacular scenery.

Make reservations in advance at a Block Island hotel if you'd like to spend the night.

Day 4: Return to Newport via ferry, then drive toward Providence, stopping along the way to see the historic yachts at the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol or Bristol's Blithewold Mansion and Gardens: home to the tallest Giant Sequoia tree east of the Rockies.

Take an evening gondola ride on the Woonasquatucket River in Providence from the urban park, Waterplace, which is at the hub of Rhode Island's capital city. If you can, time your visit to coincide with a WaterFire evening in Providence.

Day 5: Before you say goodbye to Rhode Island, visit the country's third oldest zoo, Roger Williams Park Zoo, in Providence. In the afternoon, ride one of the country's preeminent antique carousels, the Crescent Park Carousel, in East Providence. Or, for more grown-up throwback fun, head to BreakTime Bowl & Bar in Pawtucket: America's last surviving industrial duckpin bowling alley was built in the 1920s for employees of Hope Webbing.

Tips for Rhode Island Visitors

  1. If you're interested in a quieter beach than Misquamicut, South County's seaside towns provide plenty of other options. There's even a hidden beach in North Kingstown you can have practically to yourselves. The one drawback? Calf Pasture Point Beach is a 1.4-mile bike ride or walk from the nearest parking lot, and there are no restroom facilities.
  2. Request your free Rhode Island Travel Guide online.
  3. Visit one of these Rhode Island Tourist Information Centers to pick up brochures, learn about local points of interest and seek additional guidance for your stay in the Ocean State.

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