Best Places to Visit in Rhode Island (United States)

Are you searching for the Best Places to Visit in Rhode Island? Are you thinking of a trip to the South and wondering what to explore in Rhode Island? We’ve got you covered.

In a state that is so small, “Little Rhody” is full of the most well-known tourist destinations. Newport, America’s most famous playground for the wealthy during the golden age of the 20th century, is the main attraction, thanks to its legendary mansions built to compete with (and often mimic) the palaces of European royals.

However, Providence is also rich in the story of the past that saw its merchants become wealthy through the slave trade and other lucrative trades.

In addition, there are miles of stunning beaches. Rhode Island has an extensive coastline, a rich industrial heritage, and a picturesque Island, and it’s easy to understand why Rhode Island should be on every New England itinerary.

Families and friends can find plenty of places to visit and activities to enjoy in our list of most popular tourist destinations in Rhode Island.

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Beavertail Lighthouse Museum

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Beavertail Lighthouse Museum is one of the best places to visit in Rhode Island. It is located on the stunning tip of the southernmost point in Rhode Island is the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum.

The most notable thing is that this is the ideal place to visit for tourists. You can easily enjoy the location from four viewpoints which can be reached either by car or by cautiously traversing the rugged terrain on foot.

The breathtaking views that are part of the New England coastline are a popular spot to take photos. Furthermore, the region is home to hiking trails and excellent saltwater fishing locations.

Beyond its stunning surroundings, The museum is also home to the famous lighthouse museum. Inside the museum, visitors can experience the past and treasures of the 3rd oldest lighthouse in America.

After exploring the museum, visit the gift shop to purchase lighthouse-related souvenirs and enjoy the beautiful landscape in the park where the museum sits.

One of the most scenic and historical destinations in RI Be sure to visit the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum.

Cliff Walk

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Its 3.5-mile walking trail follows the gorgeous coastline in Newport, Rhode Island. Along the cliff walk, you’ll be surrounded by the tranquility of the natural shoreline.

The cliffs are part of the Atlantic Ocean, so the crashing waves and salty sea spray are rock-walking and walking companions. Alongside your hike are flowers, birds, and unique geology.

Furthermore, The most famous sights to take in along the cliff walk are the stunning Gilded Age architecture of the mansions that line the shore.

The mansions themselves are beautiful on their own. The cliff walk offers the perfect viewpoint to take in the mansions. An actual nature trail The hike along the cliffs is usually simple to walk. However, about 1/3 is rough terrain.

Therefore, walking is best done with proper footwear and precautions. However, walking along the cliffs is a beautiful way to view one of the most stunning spots in Rhode Island.

RISD Museum

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Another place worth visiting within Rhode Island is the RISD Museum, which is home to an active art scene. The museum has an art collection of various civilizations dating from the beginning to the present.

The collection of more than 100,000 pieces includes art materials that include sculptures, paintings, textiles, and more. With constantly evolving exhibits, you’ll inevitably discover something new and exciting with each journey at the RISD Museum.

The museum houses a massive displayed collection, while new exhibits are added throughout the year. An excursion to the RISD Museum is a rewarding experience for kids, and, best of all, kids can visit for free.

When you visit, grab an appetizer in the Museum’s Pearl Cafe. The cafe serves delicious food items, including pastries and sandwiches. It also serves strong Bolt Coffee brews.

Plan an excursion at the RISD Museum while you’re in this state. Ocean State; it’s a must-see!

Mohegan Bluffs

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Suppose you’re lucky enough to see a clear day at Mohegan Bluffs on Block Island and Block Island. In that case, you’ll not only enjoy stunning perspectives from the Atlantic Ocean, but you’ll be able also to see Montauk located on Long Island, New York.

The steps are around 140 that connect Mohegan Bluffs and the highest point of the bluffs. Be sure to take your time walking down them and enjoy the view.

Although you’ll have to be cautious when completing the methods, at a minimum, you won’t have to fret about getting tossed around by mistakes that people from the Mohegan Indians were by another tribe in 1592.

The Elms

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The Elms is one of the best places to visit in Rhode Island. Elms are among many stunning Newport, Rhode Island mansions.

The Elms was originally the summer residence of coal-industry magnate Edward Julius Berwind. The Elms is an extravagant mansion modeled on an 18th-century French chateau. In 1901, the building was completed and cost around $1.5 million. The gold-plated mansion is a work of art.

With top-quality artwork, and the most luxurious materials for construction, verandas, and gardens that are thousands, The Elms offers tourists an insight into the extravagant lifestyle of a bygone time.

The elegant staircases, ceilings, furniture and fixtures, art, landscaping, and subtleties celebrated inside and outside the mansion are among the many reasons The Elms was named a National Historic Landmark.

Self-guided visit to The Elms, but one of the exciting places to visit throughout Rhode Island. The tours include audio clips that offer insight gleaned from diaries, other records, and artifacts that provide insight into people’s lives and times in the mansion’s awe-inspiring abode.


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Providence’s most prominent capital city was once named America’s Most Favorite City in Travel & Leisure. It’s one of the top destinations for travel within Rhode Island thanks to its high-end institutions, quirkiness and its own-fault nature, outstanding food, architecture, and art

It’s also a reputable foodie capital since the city is becoming increasingly sought-after by food lovers, with a variety of top eateries such as Chez Pascal or Nick’s, which serve “boat-to-table” seafood direct from fishermen in the area.

The city is where you can find seven venues for performing arts, eight universities and colleges, The Roger Williams Zoo, the Rhode Island School of Design’s Museum of Art, and much more, making it a perfect location for the discerning culture lover.

The best way to discover the region’s historic architecture is to walk the two-and-a-half-mile trail that begins with the State House and ends at Brown University.

Fort Adams State Park

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With so many exciting activities to enjoy in Rhode Island, you’ll never be in a hurry to find activities to participate in. Not surprisingly, Rhode Island is home to many beautiful and natural outdoor activities.

Fort Adams State Park is a beautiful outdoor destination for those visiting Ocean State. This historical and decommissioned military fort is just one of many exciting places to go, particularly if you’re an avid history enthusiast.

In the park, you’ll be able to take self-guided tours around the 6.5-acre parade field and an observation deck from the highest point of the fort’s walls.

Furthermore, you can get the opportunity to see an original cannon, which was on loan from US Navy, on exhibit in the park.

If you’d prefer an official tour, go for a one-hour guided tour or a customized tour with a golf cart or an all-weather tour.

Additionally, you can take a tour of and tour the Eisenhower House, which initially housed the Fort Adams commanding officer. If you’re looking for a spot to watch stunning sunsets, look for no place other than Fort Adams. Sunset over Fort walls is something you must see!

There are plenty of beautiful places to go to throughout Rhode Island. Fort Adams State Park ranks among the top 10.

National Museum of American Illustration

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The National Museum of American Illustration is one of the best places to visit in Rhode Island. It was established in 1998 to display the work of a family’s Golden Age illustration art.

The National Museum of American Illustration has grown into a museum the home of American illustration art of all periods and styles of artistic expression.

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It is a work of art. Its design was crafted to mimic the early 1800s French chateau. The structure is built with Gilded Age sensibilities.

The museum also sits on 3 acres of beautiful maintained courtyards, pools, and gardens, and visiting the entire property and the museum is a complete experience.

The current museum exhibits include a Norman Rockwell collection, World War I illustrations, Golden Age illustrations, the collection of American women, and many more!

The museum is conveniently located and offers year-round tours open to the public and self-guided audio tours. Group tours as well as private tours for VIPs.

With such a wealth of art and history under one roof, A tour of NMAI is a must while traveling across Rhode Island.

Bowen’s Wharf

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Bowen’s Wharf is a top waterfront dining, shopping, and entertainment venue that draws people from near and far away.

In Rhode Island’s Newport Marina, Bowen’s Wharf is home to tourist destinations, including fishing trips, a few attractions, and museums. Motorized scooter rides, train excursions, ferry rides, and much more.

In addition, Bowen’s Wharf also boasts over a dozen excellent eateries and bars. Numerous specialty shops offer a wide range of merchandise to satisfy every need.

Bowen’s Wharf is a fun day excursion. However, you could also take a couple of days to do it. The Wharf also offers a variety of lodging options, including vacation rentals as well as camping campsites.

Come on in today, or stay through the weekend! In any case, Bowen’s Wharf has lots of tourist attractions and plenty to explore, and great fun to visit during the night.

When you go, it’s impossible to decide what to do since there’s plenty to do and see at Bowen’s Wharf.

Block Island

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Block Island is one of the best places to visit in Rhode Island. Block Island, just 7 miles long and just 12 miles off the Rhode Island coastline, is one of the many RI vacation spots with everything.

Block Island is home to vast white sand beaches, water sports in the hundreds, and plenty of fun for the whole day.

Every travel guide will advise the reader that Block Island is a fantastic summer destination for a vacation.

A quick ferry ride or boat journey to the island will transport visitors to one of the largest and most sought-after resort towns on the beach in Ocean State.

If you’re in the adventure market, you can rent bikes, mopeds, kayaks, and surf rentals, take a horseback ride and go fishing, take a sailboat ride, go boating, go to the beach and play basketball or skating, and much more.

Apart from all the activities during the day, Block Island also has quite the nightlife. With numerous world-class restaurants and nightclubs, the excitement and entertainment begin with the sun rising and continues to sundown.

Additionally, there are shopping, museums, and even a theater, so there’s never a shortage of activities to enjoy in RI, particularly on Block Island.


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10 Best Places to Visit in Rhode Island

Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the United States, but it packs a wallop when it comes to history and scenic beauty. Founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a religious exile from Massachusetts, Rhode Island was the first of the Thirteen Colonies to renounce allegiance to the British Crown. It also was the last of the colonies to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

Rhode Island’s nickname is the Ocean State, which is apt since it has tens of miles of shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean, each foot filled with stunning beauty. The state’s top destination, Newport, is well known for its over-the-top mansions for the rich who summered here but there are many other great places to visit in Rhode Island.

10. Marble House [SEE MAP]

Marble House

We should all be so fortunate to have a husband who gives us a $11 million “cottage” on our 30th birthday. Yet that’s what Kenneth Vanderbilt, grandson of Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt, did. The mansion was modeled after the Petit Trianon at Versailles.

Built between 1888 and 1892, the structure used 500,000 cubic feet of marble at a cost of $7 million. The Marble House set the stage for Newport to transform from a quiet village into a playground filled with grandiose summer homes for the wealthy. The mansion soon became a landmark in Newport society.

9. Beavertail Lighthouse [SEE MAP]

Beavertail Lighthouse

856Simon / Wikipedia

As it’s done for more than 150 years, Beavertail Lighthouse stands ready at the mouth of Narragansett Bay to guide ships and boats traveling through the bay. The lighthouse was built in 1856, though there have been warning lights here there since the early 18th century – the local tribe used fires to light the way.

Beavertail Lighthouse was the third lighthouse in the colonies and is one of Rhode Island’s top lighthouses. The light rotates every six seconds 24/7, with a foghorn that goes off every 30 seconds when it’s foggy out.

8. Narragansett Beaches [SEE MAP]

Narragansett Beaches

Marc Choquette / Flickr

For much of the year, Narragansett has less than 16,000 people, but the population more than doubles in the summer months. The reason: Narragansett has four of the best beaches in Rhode Island. Possibly the most interesting of them is the Sally Brine Beach, named for a local radio personality.

British warships anchored here during the Revolutionary War; today, people enjoy watching fishing boats come and go. Scarborough State Park takes the nod for the most popular, being the best saltwater beach in southern New England. Roger Wheeler State Beach has ramps for handicap access, while Town Beach is located in the town center.

7. Mohegan Bluffs [SEE MAP]

Mohegan Bluffs

Joy / Flickr

On a clear day at Mohegan Bluffs on Block Island, you will not only see dramatic views of the Atlantic Ocean, but you’ll also be able to see Montauk on Long Island, New York. There are 140 steps between the beach and the top of the bluffs; take your time going down them to savor the views.

Though you’ll need to be careful using the steps, at least you won’t have to worry about being tossed over the bluffs like happened to the Mohegan Indians were by another tribe in 1592.

6. Colt State Park [SEE MAP]

Colt State Park

Jim Willis / Flickr

You’ll see some stunningly beautiful views from Colt State Park, which is considered the gem of the state park system. The park fronts on Narragansett Bay, so definitely take a drive along the shoreline. Or, you can bike along the shoreline or through the park on four miles of bike trails where you’ll see carefully tended fruit trees and flowering shrubs.

The park is near Bristol, home to a spectacular 4th of July fireworks display since 1785. Take a moment to reflect on life at the open air Chapel-by-the Sea. The park is named after industrialist Samuel P. Colt and was originally the location of his summer home.

5. The Elms [SEE MAP]

The Elms

The Elms is another one of those over-the-top summer homes in Newport, this one built by the Berwind family in 1898. The Elms, however, possibly wasn’t as opulent as the others, since it only cost $1.4 million to build.

While the interiors were still lavish, the focal point here is the Classical Revival gardens with marble and bronze sculptures on terraces, marble pavilions, a sunken garden and fountains. The gardens took seven years to create; construction started in 1907, six years after the mansion was finished. The Elms is open to the public today.

4. Providence [SEE MAP]


Rhode Island’s capital and largest city, Providence, is one of the oldest cities in the United States. It was founded in 1636 by religious exile Roger Williams who named it after “God’s merciful Providence.” Providence is a scenic city at the head of Narragansett Bay.

The Providence River runs through town, so find time to relax at Waterfront Park or Riverwalk. Take a break over coffee and doughnuts – Providence has the highest per capita of coffee/doughnut shops in the United States. Visit the oldest Baptist church in America that was founded by Roger Williams. Providence also is home to the “Big Blue Bug,” a roadside attraction that is the world’s largest termite.

3. Old Harbor [SEE MAP]

Old Harbor

Lori L. Stalteri / Flickr

Old Harbor, located on the east side of Block Island, is just a scenic ferry ride away from mainland Rhode Island. The picturesque harbor, with its Victorian waterfront, is filled with yachts and boats, which isn’t surprising as Old Harbor is one of New England’s premier boating destinations.

It’s a safe harbor, protected by a breakwater. Once shoreside, you’ll find seafood restaurants, shops and quaint inns to stay in while you explore this historic district of Block Island’s resort community of New Shoreham. New Shoreham is considered one of the prettiest cities in New England.

2. Newport Cliff Walk [SEE MAP]

Newport Cliff Walk

CorpsNewEngland / Flickr

You can kill two birds with one stone when you walk the Cliff Walk on the eastern shore of Newport. On one side, you’ll enjoy the beauty of the Newport shoreline; on the other side, you’ll see the opulent summer homes for the wealthy.

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Cliff Walk is New England’s first National Recreation Trail. It runs for 3-1.2 miles along the shoreline. The northern portion of the trail is considered easy walking, while the southern portion is a rough trail over rocks, so you’ll want to be more careful than usual. Still, Cliff Walk is one of Newport’s main attractions.

1. The Breakers [SEE MAP]

#1 of Best Places To Visit In Rhode Island

The Breakers is another summer home built by the Vanderbilt family, this one by Cornelius Vanderbilt II. While Newport summer homes are commonly referred to as “cottages,” this one is anything but. It has 70 rooms spread over five floors. The Breakers is on the oceanfront, with fences on the other three sides. It is consistently one of the most visited house museums in the United States.

Because a previous mansion, owned by Pierre Lorillard IV, on the site burned, Vanderbilt insisted his mansion be fireproof, so steel trusses were used for structural support. When it was completed in 1895, it was the grandest house in Newport.

Map of Rhode Island

Rhode Island Map

© OpenStreetMap © MapTiler © Touropia

17 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Rhode Island

For such a small state, “Little Rhody” is packed with some of New England’s most popular tourist attractions. Newport, America’s best-known playground for the super-rich in the halcyon days of the early 20th century, is the state’s major draw, with its fabled mansions built to rival (and often imitate) the grand palaces of European royalty.

But Providence, too, is filled with the history of an earlier period, when its merchants grew rich on the slave trade and other lucrative commerce. Add miles of beautiful beaches – Rhode Island has an extensive shoreline – a rich industrial history, and an idyllic island, and you’ll see why Rhode Island should be on any New England itinerary.

You and your family will find lots of places to go and things to do in our list of the top tourist attractions in Rhode Island.

1. The Breakers, Newport

The Breakers, Newport

The Breakers, Newport

Newport’s most celebrated – and showiest – Gilded Age mansion was built by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1895 and reflects the unimaginable wealth of the Vanderbilt family. The Italian Renaissance “summer cottage” has 70 rooms, including a grand three-story dining room, and was built using imported French and Italian marble and alabaster.

Ceiling paintings, mosaics, marble columns, fine wood paneling, and carved stucco decorate its rooms lavishly and ostentatiously, as was intended by the Vanderbilts, who never risked being outdone by their wealthy competitors.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Newport

2. Cliff Walk, Newport


Newport’s Cliff Walk

Despite past efforts of mansion owners on the preferred ocean side of Bellevue Avenue to close off access, Newport’s Cliff Walk has remained a public walking path since the days when the great palaces were at their prime.

The pathway along the rocky shore provides walkers with views of breakers crashing on the rocks below, as well as the mansions’ gardens and sea-facing facades above, and is one of the most popular – and free – things to do in Newport. The Cliff Walk begins well before The Breakers, the first major mansion it skirts, and after 3.5 miles, it passes by Rough Point, at the end of Bellevue Avenue. The exotic Tea House at Marble House stands just above the path.

3. Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence

Otter at the Roger Williams Park Zoo

Otter at the Roger Williams Park Zoo

Despite its history as one of the country’s oldest zoos, Roger Williams Park Zoo is an outstanding example of modern zoo design and ethics. Largely cage-free, the zoo is a place where animals live in environments as close as possible to their native habitat, and where visitors can see them with a minimum of visible barriers.

In the 40-acre zoo, they can watch snow leopards, zebras, alligators, wildebeest, giraffes, elephants, kangaroos, red pandas, and dozens more native and exotic creatures in a setting that encourages kids and adults to learn more about them, their habits, and their habitat.

Because of its kid-friendly atmosphere and the number of things to do here, Rogers Williams Park Zoo is one of Rhode Island’s most popular places to go for families

The 435-acre park also contains a Botanical Center with New England’s largest public indoor display garden, the Museum of Natural History, a planetarium, and a carousel.

Address: 1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, Rhode Island

4. WaterFire Providence

Crowds enjoying WaterFire Providence

Crowds enjoying WaterFire Providence

The four-acre Waterplace Park and Riverwalk border the Woonasquatucket River as it winds through Downcity, Providence. Several times during the spring, summer, and fall, the city celebrates this river, which until late in the 20th century, was completely covered by roadways.

More than 100 bonfires are lit in large iron pans in the river’s center and kept blazing throughout the evening as residents and tourists stroll along the brick riverside walkways and footbridges. Street performers, vendors, and world music highlight these family-friendly celebrations.

5. The Elms, Newport

The Elms, Newport

The Elms, Newport

Philadelphia coal magnate Edward J. Berwind commissioned his mansion to be based on the mid-18th century Château d’Asnière, near Paris. Completed in 1901, the Berwinds’ summer home was embellished with Venetian paintings and furnished in French antiques from the period of the chateau it was modeled after.

Tours reveal details about the staff that was responsible for maintaining the house, and about the building’s technical systems. Be sure to allow time to visit the restored Classical Revival gardens, especially the lower gardens, which feature fountains, a sunken garden, and marble pavilions.

6. RISD Museum of Art, Providence

Oriental Plate at the RISD Museum of Art, Providence

Oriental Plate at the RISD Museum of Art, Providence

The Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence is remarkable not only for the staggering numbers of its collections, but for their breadth of scope. The historical and contemporary textiles and dress collection alone totals more than 26,000 objects, from ancient Egyptian clothing fragments and Elizabethan needlework to 20th-century American designers and Japanese Noh theater robes.

Other collections are equally impressive, including Decorative Arts and Design; Asian Art; Contemporary Art (which includes pioneering video arts); Ancient Art (complete with a mummy and coffin); and a Painting and Sculpture collection featuring works by Copley, Homer, Manet, Monet, Degas, Cézanne, Rodin, Picasso, Matisse, Maxfield Parrish, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

The museum’s shop is always a good source of gifts and household items that are unusual and reflect cutting-edge design.

7. Marble House, Newport

Marble House

Marble House

Built in 1892, Marble House was designed by the same architect as The Breakers, but pre-dates it. Modeled on the Petit Trianon at Versailles (French palaces were the model of the day), the house has an opulent gold-encrusted ballroom, inspired by the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles. The rest of the house is equally lavish in its detail and is widely considered to be the most tasteful of the Belle Epoch mansions in Newport.

The elegant dining room, an almost exact reproduction of a salon at Versailles, is faced in pink Numidian marble. The solid bronze dining chairs were custom-made and, at 75 pounds each, must have been a challenge for the brawniest of footmen.

In 1913, Alva Vanderbilt added a red Chinese teahouse to the grounds, which you can see from Cliff Walk.

Address: 596 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island

8. Rosecliff, Newport

Rosecliff mansion in Newport, RI

Rosecliff mansion in Newport, RI

Designed by Stanford White, after Louis XIV’s Grand Trianon at Versailles, Rosecliff belonged to one of Newport’s most legendary hostesses, the flamboyant Tessie Oelrichs. The mansion is no less flamboyant, but of all the mansions, it’s the most livable.

The ceiling of the 80-foot-long grand ballroom – Newport’s largest – is a cloud-studded blue sky surrounded by plaster swirls and painted medallions. The ballroom was the setting for scenes in the films The Great Gatsby and True Lies. Another highlight of the house is the graceful grand staircase that rises in sweeping Baroque curves, emphasized by a filigreed wrought-iron railing at either side.

The extensive rose gardens, with wood trellises, a pergola, urns, and statuary, have been restored, using the horticulture records of the estate’s original owner, the noted 19 th -century rose grower George Bancroft, who created the gardens.

Address: 548 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, Rhode Island

9. Ocean Drive, Newport

Ocean Drive, Newport

Ocean Drive, Newport

If you’re up for more mansion viewing after Bellevue Avenue, follow it to the end at Coggeshall Avenue and continue left to follow the shore past Bailey’s Beach. The next 10 miles take you past more Gilded Age “cottages,” as well as some of the newer Newport mansions. The most sumptuous will be on the left, the ocean side, as the route curves around the southern shore of Aquidneck Island.

Brenton Point State Park is a good place to stop for a picnic or just to sit and watch the sea. The usually steady breeze on the point makes it a favorite place to fly kites.

The road turns right at Brenton Point, and you’ll pass the U.S. Coast Guard Station, then see Hammersmith Farm on a hillside (this is where President Kennedy’s wedding reception was held in 1953).

At Fort Adams State Park, you’ll find several things to do, including a beach, and President Eisenhower’s summer White House. The Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals are held in the park.

10. Walking Tour of Bellevue Avenue Mansions, Newport

Statue outside a mansion on Bellevue Avenue, Newport

Statue at a Bellevue Avenue mansion, Newport

The grandest and most famous of Newport’s mansions spread majestically in a row between Bellevue Avenue and the ocean, with a few others facing them from the opposite side of the avenue. Cliff Walk gives views of the ocean side, while a stroll down Bellevue reveals their facades and grand entrances. The scene today looks much as it did to the fashionable ladies who rode their carriages in the late afternoon ritual of a promenade along Bellevue Avenue.

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Beginning at Memorial Avenue and walking south along Bellevue Avenue, the first of the mansions, Kingscote, is on the right. More modest than the others, it is also one of the oldest, built in 1841, and a beautiful example of a Gothic Revival-style villa. Also on the right, is The Elms, built in 1901. These and other mansions mentioned here are open to the public, and standing between them, you’ll see many more that can be admired from the street.

Chateau-Sur-Mer, on the left, is another of the earlier mansions, and was later renovated in the Arts & Crafts style, so the interior is a compendium of Victorian through early 20 th -century decoration. Also on the left, the 1901 Vernon Court is now home to the National Museum of American Illustration, displaying works by Maxfield Parrish, Howard Pyle, Norman Rockwell, and others.

Rosecliff, Beechwood (no longer open to the public), and Marble House sit in a row overlooking Cliff Walk, and after several other distinguished mansions, you’ll see the newly restored Belcourt Castle on the right. Built in 1894, it is a combination villa and stable reflecting an eccentric mix of Medieval Revival and stick style.

Where Bellevue Avenue turns at the beginning of Ocean Drive, you’ll see the fanciful Gatehouse of Rough Point, with its witch-hat turrets. Rough Point was lived in as a home until it was bequeathed to Newport Restoration Foundation by its owner, Doris Duke. The reclusive heiress furnished it with her personal collections of art and antiques, and visitors see it as she left it.

11. Narragansett Bay Beaches

Narragansett Bay Beaches

Narragansett Bay Beaches

If long stretches of fine white sand beckon you, head for the towns of Narragansett and South Kingstown, south of Providence, to find a string of public beaches on the protected waters of Narragansett Bay.

Matunuck Beach State Park, East Matunuck State Beach, Roger W. Wheeler State Beach, Scarborough State Beach, and Narragansett Town Beach all have changing facilities and parking. The latter is within walking distance of the old beach resort town of Narragansett Pier, where you’ll find both lodging and restaurants.

Farther south, more beaches face onto Long Island Sound, where the surf can be a bit heavier. Watch Hill is a delightful old-fashioned resort town with an excellent beach, a lighthouse, and a historic carousel.

12. Colt State Park, Bristol

Colt State Park

Colt State Park

Stretching along one of New England’s loveliest shorelines, Colt State Park covers 464 acres overlooking a panorama of Narragansett Bay. Four miles of the East Bay Bike Path border the shore through the park, and inland are lawns, fruit trees, flowering shrubs, stone walls, 10 large play fields, and six picnic groves with tables.

A museum shows the history of the park, which was formerly the country farming estate of the wealthy Samuel Colt and contained a main house, barns, stables, and statuary of mythical Greek gods and goddesses. The barn, one of the only original buildings of the estate still standing, housed prize Jersey cattle.

Address: Route 114, Bristol, Rhode Island

13. Block Island and Mohegan Bluffs

Block Island

Block Island

Ten miles offshore, Block Island is reached by ferry from Point Judith (Galilee), on the south coast. From laid-back little New Harbor, where you’ll find lodging and dining, you can bicycle or walk to several beaches or to the Victorian Southeast Lighthouse. So solidly does this brick building and its light tower sit atop its bluff, you’ll be surprised to hear the story of how it was moved in 1994 to keep it from falling off its eroding bluffs into the sea.

Mohegan Bluffs are a three-mile stretch of coastal cliffs with a 200-foot drop to the ocean. At the foot of these is a beautiful beach, although the prospect of climbing back up the 151 steps might discourage you.

At the northern tip of the island is the 1867 North Lighthouse, where there is an interpretive center. Miles of trails crisscross the island and are popular with birders who come to spot the more than 150 species stopping here in the fall. A weekend on this island with its far-away feeling is one of the most romantic things to do in Rhode Island

14. Providence Performing Arts Center

Providence Performing Arts Center

Providence Performing Arts Center | Phil Marcelino /

You can’t miss the magnificent façade of the former Loew’s Movie Palace on Weybosset Street, especially at night, when it lights up in all its neon glory. Reborn as the Providence Performing Arts Center in 1982, the authentically restored 1928 Beaux Arts theater is resplendent with marble columns, crystal chandeliers, tiers of balconies detailed in plasterwork, and a magnificent ceiling of medallions surrounding a dome with a multi-tiered chandelier.

Beyond its visual charms, the theater is a world class performance center, the second largest theater of its kind in the country. The center regularly presents top-notch national Broadway tours, many of which choose it as the launch stage for their opening performance.

The theater’s 1927 Wurlitzer Organ is one of only three five-manual keyboard consoles built by Wurlitzer, and can reproduce the sounds of an entire orchestra. The 3,100-seat theater is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Address: 220 Weybosset Street, Providence, Rhode Island

15. Blithewold, Bristol

Gardens at Blithewold, Bristol

Gardens at Blithewold, Bristol

Overlooking Narragansett Bay, Blithewold was built in 1908 for Augustus Van Wickle, and resembles a 17th-century English country manor. Its 45 rooms are furnished much as they were when the family lived here and decorated with their collections of Baccarat crystal, Gorham silver, more than 30 sets of fine china, several Tiffany lamps and dolls, along with objects collected in their travels.

The house was designed with large windows facing the water and overlooking the estate’s 33 acres of gardens. Among the finest New England gardens open to the public, those at Blithewold include a water garden, an enclosed garden, display gardens, a rock garden, and a rose garden. The more than 500 different varieties of trees, shrubs, and plants include the East Coast’s largest giant sequoia and a bamboo grove.

Address: 101 Ferry Road, Bristol, Rhode Island

16. Benefit Street and John Brown House, Providence

Benefit Street in Providence, Rhode Island

Benefit Street in Providence, Rhode Island

Known today as “The Mile of History,” Benefit Street was the social, cultural, artistic, civic, and intellectual heart of Providence in the colonial and early Federal periods. You can immerse yourself in these exciting times for the young country just by walking this mile of stone- and brick-paved street.

What makes Benefit Street especially interesting is that it is not a frozen-in-time museum street but a vibrant neighborhood, where later additions of Victorian and a few 20th-century buildings keep it in the here-and-now. Some of Providence’s most interesting architecture is here, and a stroll along it will reveal beautiful gardens, a family burial ground, and churches, as well as period homes.

The most spectacular of these is the John Brown House, built for prosperous colonial merchant, John Brown. He was the first to build outside the crowded waterfront, but from high on this hill he could see his wharves at India Point, from which his ships plied their profitable China trade.

The elegant home is still filled with the original Brown family furnishings, which include some of the finest examples of works by Rhode Island’s famed cabinetmakers, as well as early decorative arts. If you can see only one colonial home here, make it this one.

17. Herreshoff Marine Museum, Bristol

Herreshoff Marine Museum, Bristol

Herreshoff Marine Museum, Bristol | sailn1 / photo modified

Sailing, and most particularly the America’s Cup race, is deeply ingrained into Newport culture and history. To gain a sense of this, and to see models and actual restored boats – including one that’s considered the most beautiful hull form ever created – visit the museum commemorating the Herreshoffs and their boat designs.

Their most legendary feat was designing and building eight consecutive successful defenders of the America’s Cup, from 1893 to 1934. The America’s Cup Hall of Fame is part of the museum, which features more than 60 sailing and power yachts along with displays and videos on boat building and sailing.

Address: One Burnside Street, Box 450, Bristol, Rhode Island

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Where to Go from Rhode Island: When it comes to planning your trip, there are several options from Rhode Island. To the north and east there are abundant places to visit in Massachusetts, including the many attractions of Boston and Cambridge, historic Plymouth, and the beaches of Cape Cod. In planning your travels, refer to our page on the top hotels in Boston.


More nearby Places to Visit: Traveling west, you’ll find the cities of Hartford and New Haven, home of Yale University and its museums. If you’re visiting in summer, you’ll likely want to take advantage of the water. On the shore, along with Connecticut’s beautiful beaches and top beach hotels, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Mystic at its famous maritime museum.




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