Holidays in Rhode Island are colourful, fun and full of surprises. Fondly known as the Ocean State, this gem is best known for its bright beaches, lively culture and eclectic dining scene.
It might be New England’s smallest state but the only thing little about Rhode Island is in its diameter. The storybook-style capital city of Providence bursts with swanky art museums, independent cinemas and authentic Italian American neighbourhoods, pouring out life and culture.
In Rhode Island, you’re in one of the most exciting culinary destinations in the USA. Taste the delicious Italian and Portuguese influenced cuisine here, as well as some of the finest seafood in the country. Try the Rhode Island clam “stuffies”, a local loved delicacy unique to this small state and made with Quahogs.
Holidays in Rhode Island: perfect for solo travellers and families
Visitors who want to explore top notch swimming spots are in luck - Rhode Island is home to some of the best white sandy beaches and ocean swimming in the USA’s Northeast. For a fun and adventurous day out, Block Island, home to just 1,000 residents, is a must. Just south of mainland Rhode Island, stumble upon huge 1800’s red brick lighthouses on top of grand cliffs and spend a day horseback riding and parasailing.
On Block Island, you’ll find seventeen miles of gorgeous white sand and dramatic viewpoints over old lighthouses and beaches. The view from Mohegan Bluffs is one of the best. Take an easy hike to the top of the cliff and admire the ocean views from 200 feet high. Take a slow stroll through the quaint town and find the streets brimming with art galleries and speciality shops.
While in Rhode Island, head to the historic city of Newport and discover the opulent Gilded Age Homes, a collection of around a dozen magnificent buildings once home to the nation’s wealthiest families. Some of the buildings are open to the public, a few have become hotels and restaurants and the others are still private homes. Take a tour and enjoy a peek into the ‘Gilded Age’ of America, where grand ballrooms and lavish dinner parties were the norm.
Discover the yacht filled harbour of the maritime ports in the island’s capital, Newport. Once host to America’s Cup (a world famous sailing regatta), this “City by the Sea” was once the state’s booming seaport. Families should spend some time at Sachuest Town Beach, a lovely beach with golden sands and excellent surf. You’ll find all the supplies and equipment you’ll need for water sports and picnics, as well as surfboard rentals and rock climbing.
Taste local treats at the food trucks that dish out sizzling tacos and burritos and wash it down with a Del’s Lemonade, a Rhode Island must. Then, venture inward and discover nature sanctuaries and cliff walks the whole family can enjoy. Holidays in Rhode Island are filled with colour, life and pretty beaches.
Our favorite hotels
We’ve carefully handpicked each of the Rhode Island hotels we offer, ensuring you get the most from your time away.
Explore Rhode Island
National Museum of American Illustration
Travel east of downtown Providence and you’ll discover the city’s colonial history in the 18th century architecture displayed on Benefit Street. Coincidentally, this is also where you’ll find College Hill, the first permanent colonial settlement in Rhode Island and John Brown House, one of the most elegant and magnificent mansions in Providence. A fitting symbol for the renaissance that took place in Providence, Benefit Street was rescued by local preservationists during the 1960s and holds such treasures as the 1708 Stephen Hopkins House, named after the Declaration of Independence signer, and the Grecian-inspired William Strickland’s 1838 Providence Athenaeum. Holding oil paintings, plaster busts and countless books, this is a beautiful relic where Edgar Allen Poe used to study.
Sachuest Town Beach
Featuring an impressive collection of Maxfield Parrish’s luminous works, Norman Rockwell’s nostalgia, NC Wyeth prints and the illustrations of a number of American graphic artists, the National Museum of American Illustration in Newport is a morning or afternoon well spent. We recommend visiting on a Friday and taking a free guided tour, only held at 3pm year round, which tells the stories behind each image and how they had an impact on American culture over the years. The museum can be found within Vernon Court, a mansion set within grounds designed by Frederick Olmstead.
Waterplace and Prospect Terrace Park
Known to locals as Second Beach, Sachuest Town Beach is cleaner and prettier than Easton’s Beach. Named after a nearby wildlife sanctuary in Middletown, this beach is a hidden gem. Overlooked by St George’s Schools’ decorative neo-gothic tower, it is one of the more scenic beaches in Rhode Island. If you’re looking for a day in the sunshine with kids or with friends, then this beach comes highly recommended as the surf isn’t rough and the sea is perfect for wading. With a large beach house, showers and a quaint snack bar, this beach is better equipped than most in the area. We recommend grabbing a wave board and running down to the water’s edge after you’ve built yourself a fine looking sandcastle.
If you’re visiting Rhode Island in the summer, then be sure to visit Waterplace Park. Take a stroll along the cobblestone paths of Providence’s Riverwalk, along the scenic Woonasquatucket River and you’ll soon be at Waterplace Park. If you’re looking for an afternoon or an evening of entertainment, then head here for its steeped amphitheatre where artists perform during the summer months or the artsy WaterFire summer festival. If you’re looking for a relaxing stroll, then try and spot some of the maps and photos on the walkway walls that show you what the area used to look like, just beneath Memorial Boulevard. Not too far away is Prospect Terrace Park as well, a quieter place to watch the sunset with a loved one in the summer months as the locals play a spot of Frisbee around you.
Misquamicut State Beach
Inspired by 16th century Italian palazzos, The Breakers is a 70 room Renaissance mansion based in Newport. This Genoese-looking mega palace was designed for Cornelius Vanderbilt II by Richard Morris Hunt and was completed, after much painstaking work, in 1895. Sitting on Ochre Point, a grand oceanfront spot, each part of this mansion was designed to be completely unique. We recommend visiting the highly decorative Children’s Cottage within the grounds and The Breakers Stable and Carriage House, now a museum dedicated to the life of the Vanderbilt family, one of America’s richest families in the 19th century.
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WaterFire is Providence’s signature event and a must see for visitors. Watch an award winning fire sculpture dance into life on the three rivers. Experience the scents of burning cedar, the crackling flames and watch the torchlit boats floating through the surrounding areas. Locals and visitors all come together and watch this locally designed installation with music, friends and family.
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