I cannot think of a better place to reside or visit in the summer months, than Rhode Island. It may be the smallest state in America, but what the Ocean State lacks in size, it greatly makes up for in charm, community spirit and an abundance of summertime fun! I’m on my third consecutive summer here in Rhode Island now and as spring comes to an end, you can feel the buzz and excitement as people prepare for a sun soaked, adventure fueled summer!
Here’s a list of my top 10 suggestions for a perfect Rhode Island summer…
If you’ve not visited Newport, you’ve not done Rhode Island properly. This seaside city located on Aquidneck island is often known as the ‘Sailing Capitol of the World’ and draws in visitors from all over the country, eager to explore, and immerse themselves in the rich history and delicious cuisine of this quaint New England gem.
If visiting from the South, you’ll drive over the Newport Bridge, which offers magnificent views of Narragansett Bay below. My favorite time to drive over the bridge is during the sunset, where the colors explode in bright shades of orange and yellow.
In Newport, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to activities. Cruise or ride your bike down the ten mile Ocean Drive road for unbeatable views of Rhode Island’s sunny southern coastline, or if you fancy a walk, watch the ocean waves crashing in and the salty sea spray reaching you on the 3.5 mile long Cliff Walk. Throughout your leisurely stroll you’ll have the glorious Gilded Age mansions behind you too – this walk really has the best views of everything!
I’d be lying if I said the most impressive views of these mansions are from the outside though, you have to make sure you find the time to take one of the fantastic audio tours inside so you can see and experience the magnitude of elegance, wealth and history these Renaissance walls hold. My personal favorites are The Breakers and The Elms.
Look out for special events too! During the Christmas Holidays, these mansions are kitted out spectacularly and transformed into winter wonderlands – another reason to return to Rhode Island during a different season!
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, you cannot schedule a visit to Newport in the summer that doesn’t fall during the ever so famous Newport Folk Festival! This annual event held at Fort Adams State Park brings all the folk lovin’ people together for a weekend of incredible music with an electric atmosphere! Folk lovin’ or not, you cannot miss this popular event! Get your tickets well in advance as it sells out super quick.
Escape to Block Island
Catch an early ferry from Point Judith in Rhode Island and submerge yourself in the delights of this wonderful island. I make sure I visit here every year with my friends during the summer for a fun and adventurous day trip!
Everyone has their preference on how to explore the island but in my opinion, the best way to see everything Block Island has to offer is by bike! You can either bring your own or rent a bike once you arrive. The same applies if you wish to drive round the island.
The more days you have here the better, but if you are limited on time then you can still see so much of this wonderful place in a day! Casually bike round the island and stop off at some of the many beautiful beaches on offer. These include Crescent Beach, Fred Benson Town Beach, Charlestown Beach, Mansion Beach, Ballard Beach and the popular Mohegan Bluffs (that iconic photo of the steps!). You are spoilt for choice.
All that biking means you deserve a drink or ten! Head to the likes of Dead Eye Dicks, Ballards Restaurant, Three Sisters, Harbor Grill, and the Surf Shack for some incredible food and drinks. Make sure you visit The Oar too for a famous ‘Mudslide’ cocktail! They have lawn games here and it’s a super relaxing environment, a perfect way to finish your day of exploring. Catch the last ferry back and watch one of the best sunsets you’ll ever see.
Quench Your Thirst At The Vineyards
Who said you need to be in Napa Valley, California to drink exquisite wine? Rhode Island is home to some fantastic award-winning vineyards. Grab your blanket and your favorite summer attire and head to one (or more!) of these ten fabulous vineyards/wineries open for business this summer that are ready to pour you a glass of Pinot Grigio as you relax in the sun!
- Diamond Hill Vineyards – small family-run winery in Cumberland, you can bring your own picnic too!
- Mulberry Vineyards – enjoy great wine and music here in Chepachet as their summer concerts return!
- Winter Hawk Vineyards – sample a glass in their greenhouse tasting room, located in West Kingston!
- Langworthy Farm Winery – make a farm and winery tour reservation and try a glass or two before heading to nearby Misquamicut Beach to continue the fun!
- Gooseneck Vineyards – their wine tasting kayak tour of Wickford Harbor is a real hit!
- Verde Vineyards – overlooking Moswansicut Lake in Scituate, Verde Vineyards are open until 08:00pm throughout the summer. Make sure you check out their yoga and wine tasting event too!
- Nickle Creek Vineyard – offering wine flights and wine tastings as you stroll through the beautiful 10-acre vineyard!
- Newport Vineyards – best of both worlds here, spend an afternoon wine tasting then enjoy a craft beer or two at Taproot Brewing! This is my favorite vineyard to visit – reservations recommended!
- Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards – relax in the grounds with a bottle of wine at New England’s oldest vineyard, no reservations required!
- Greenvale Vineyards – enjoy a glass of wine at this six-generation farm along the Sakonnet River hosting live music and a new wine garden with breathtaking views!
Soak Up The Rays At The Beach
Nowhere is beating Rhode Island when it comes to their stunning beaches. We have a beautiful coastline of 40 miles and a shoreline of 400 miles – there’s a very good reason why Taylor Swift purchased a holiday home here!
If you’re near the south west of Rhode Island in Washington County, head to Watch Hill Beach & Napatree Point in Westerly for the most breathtaking sunset colors. The lighthouse is close by too and if you fancy a walk, stroll along the beach, following the coastline round to Napatree Point to try and spot some wildlife. Nearby, you’ll also find the ‘Flying Horse Carousel’ which was built in 1867 and is still in operation today!
East Beach is only five minutes away from here too and is a great place to escape the crowds. Not far from here is also Misquamicut Beach offering a livelier scene with beach concerts, fun bars, water slides, and jet ski rentals!
If you’re near Newport, check out Easton Beach for a relaxing day sunbathing and paddling in the sea. There’s a boardwalk you can walk down and a ‘Save The Bay Exploration Center & Aquarium‘ you can explore before you head home.
Town Beach in Narragansett is an extremely popular place for surfers both experienced and beginners – you can even take surfing lessons here! Head to nearby Monahan’s Clam Shack or the Coast Guard House for post beach food and drinks.
East Matunuck State place attracts boogie boarders and wind surfers and is the ideal place to kick back and relax. Head into the water and try out a new water sport or simply relax on the beach with a book! Casual dining close by includes Ocean Mist, or if you’re feeling some high end seafood, check out Matunuck Oyster Bar for delicious food and unbelievable waterfront views on their outdoor patio!
Splash Out At Ocean House
If you’re looking for a touch of elegance and sophistication, look no further than Ocean House. Nestled in Watch Hill, just a few minutes away from East Beach, this establishment oozes in style and offers visitors the chance to escape and unwind on any type of vacation. They have signature room’s available as well as beautiful secluded cottages on their grounds if you wish to stay overnight.
Their Sunday morning jazz brunch is extremely popular and you’re never more than a stone’s throw away from some of the best beaches in New England. Their summer events schedule is always full with new activities as well as bringing back some of their popular ones like ‘Movie & Pizza On The Beach!’
Their Forbes Five-Star spa offers a personalized spa journey for each individual with a collection of treatments and products available for reservation. The luxurious spa is peaceful and serene and you’ll leave feeling the most relaxed you have ever been! Afterwards, settle down for a heavenly meal at one of their many summer dining options which includes: The Verandah Raw Bar, Dune Cottage, Below Deck, The Sipping Terrace or Secret Garden Creperie!
Get Wet & Go Wild At Yawgoo Valley
Rhode Island has its very own water park! In fact, Yawgoo Valley is also a ski resort in the winter months too so depending which season you visit, there’s always activities to do here. The water park features a full size swimming pool to relax in, a one foot pool for younger children to paddle in and two fun waterslides that are nearly 400ft long!
The water park tends to open early summer through to Labor Day Weekend as is a great place to visit on a hot Rhode Island summer day. You can’t bring food in, but head to Shredder’s Snack Shack when you’re hungry and Ryder’s Tiki Bar for a beverage or two! If you don’t fancy getting wet but still want to watch with your family or friends, you can also purchase a $5 spectator ticket so you don’t miss out on the fun!
Visit The Capitol
No visit to Rhode Island is complete, without stopping by the capitol, Providence. Even if it’s just for the afternoon, you can explore so much of this wonderful city and its unique neighborhoods. Every summer for two weeks, Providence holds its famous ‘Restaurant Week’, where participating restaurants will have special deals on drinks, brunch, lunch and dinner – not to be missed! A full list of all Providence restaurants taking part in this can be found online.
Make sure you head to the historic Federal Hill neighborhood too which is best known for its welcoming and friendly Italian American community. There are more than 100 restaurants, as well as boutique shops and quaint cafes. For 2021, Federal Hill’s ‘Al Fresco On The Hill’ returns with restaurant seating moved onto the streets on Friday and Saturday evenings – enjoy the weather and your food from outside!
For a fun family activity, take a walk through the beautiful Roger Williams Park. Check out the park’s historic carousel and try and head here for ‘Food Truck Friday’ which runs all though the summer until September 24th. It’s free admission with a variety of vendors so bring your blanket or chair and tuck into some delicious food and listen to live music as the sun starts to set!
Don’t forget to pay a visit to the Roger Williams Zoo too also located within the park! It’s open daily 9am-4pm and is home to over 160 rare and incredible species. There are various exhibits as well allowing in person animal encounters! Also, if you can find yourself a babysitter, make sure you reserve tickets for Rhode Island’s largest beer festival, ‘Brew At The Zoo’ on August 28th, which is an adult’s only event with 80+ local, regional and national brewers providing over 170 different beers – spoilt for choice!
If you’re a Gossip Girl fan, grab a takeout coffee and get lost as you wander the charming campus of Brown University where Serena van der Woodsen wanted to go! The grounds and the surrounding neighborhoods are beautiful; it’s a really fun way to spend an afternoon in Providence.
For some of the best views at sunset, book a table at the Rooftop at the Providence G, the views are incredible and they have live music scheduled throughout the summer months.
If you head downtown, you’ll be able to catch the fantastic ‘Waterfire’, an independent nonprofit organization who showcase a powerful work of art that illuminates the three rivers of downtown Providence, lighting over 80 bonfires. They are lit just after sunset and remain lit until midnight!
Go Fruit Picking
Dig out your favorite cheesecake recipe and make sure you go fruit picking this summer! Salisbury Farm in Johnston is one of the most popular places to visit. The farm has been run by five generations since the 1800s and summer activities include pick your own strawberries, raspberries and sweetcorn! Make sure you head back to Rhode Island in fall as Salisbury Farm also run hayrides and pick you own pumpkins!
Other great spots to check out include Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown, Pippin Orchard in Cranston, Rocky Point Blueberry Farm in Warwick and Old Stone Orchard in Little Compton. We recently visited a couple of these and made a delicious strawberry cheesecake!
Cruise The Ocean State
Summer in Rhode Island is beautiful on land, but you’re in for a treat if you can spend some time on the water! Gansett Cruises located in Newport, offer relaxing, informative and fun 90 minute narrated harbor tours that let you leave behind the hustle and bustle of Bowens Wharf and cruise through the scenic Newport Harbor and Narraganset Bay. Spend your morning or afternoon gawping at the incredible waterfront houses and breathtaking mega-yachts and American Cup yachts.
There are so many cruise options depending on how long you have and what you would like to see. They offer morning harbor tours, afternoon harbor tours, private charters, sunset cruises and a morning mimosa sail! Each cruise offers certain complimentary refreshments and there is a cash-only bar onboard serving a selection of wines, beers, cocktails and soft drinks!
I’ve also heard fantastic reviews about Sailing Excursions Inc, also located in Newport and Rhode Island Bay Cruises which is a 30 mile narrated boat ride taking you past ten of the Ocean State’s famous lighthouses, plus incredible view of the Jamestown and Newport bridges.
Wine & Dine in Newport
Exploring Newport can get tiring so make sure you find ample time to sit down and relax during your busy schedule. The White Horse Tavern is USA’s oldest operating restaurant and rumor has it, it was owned by a pirate in 1702! Escape the heat for a hearty pub lunch and a beer or three! Downtown’s Bowen Wharf is a busy and bustling area lined with boutique ships, cute cafes and excellent eateries all at your fingertips.
My favorite places to stop by are Coffee Grinder which is a lovely waterfront café overlooking the harbor, Diego’s which specializes in delicious Mexican food and 22 Bowen’s Wine Bar & Grille with a menu that boasts the finest sea food and steak – try and bag a table outside so you can people watch!
If you’re looking for something more casual, the Newport Lobster Shack is a real hit with locals. Located on the dockside with outdoor picnic benches available, you’ll be full of regret if you don’t get a lobster roll from here!
For something a little snazzier, check out the Roof Deck at The Vanderbilt Hotel. Sit back and relax with a cocktail as the sun sets in the distance over the harbor. This is my favorite place to watch the sunset after a busy day exploring Newport. The food is delicious and the views are magical. If I were you, I’d also stay the night and book yourself into one of their luxurious rooms so you can enjoy the outdoor swimming pool too!
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Hello! I’m Hannah and I currently live in the smallest state in the US – Rhode Island! I moved here in June 2019 with work from the North West of England near the Lake District and I’ve absolutely loved exploring this beautiful country so far, especially New England! I hope you enjoy my articles and they help inspire you to #travelmoore! Please check out my travel blog, Travel Moore, and Instagram to follow my adventures!