18 Essential Rhode Island Bucket List Activities

Updated

Rhode Island is not a large state, but it nevertheless has plenty of activities and destinations to offer to both visitors and residents. To fully savor the experience of living in or visiting Rhode Island, you may want to create a bucket list of essential Rhode Island tourist spots, foods, and seasonal attractions.

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This guide will help. Whether you live in the state or you’re planning a trip there, to make the most of your time in Rhode Island, be sure to include these items on your bucket list.

Rhode Island Bucket List Trip Destinations

The types of destinations you decide to include on your Rhode Island bucket list will depend on your specific interests and tastes. That said, many locals and travel experts recommend the following ideas to those visiting the state for the first time:

1. The beaches at Narragansett Bay

Narragansett Bay is the largest estuary in New England. The area is also home to many of Rhode Island’s most attractive beaches, making it one of the top destinations visitors of the state flock to year after year.

2. The Herreshoff Marine Museum

Boating and sailing have long played a significant role in Rhode Island’s history. To learn more about this fundamental aspect of the state, visit the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol. It’s an essential destination for anyone who appreciates the unique blend of creative artistry and technical skill that designing a boat requires.

3. Benefit Street

Benefit Street in Providence is a street like almost no other in the US. On the one hand, because it served as the unofficial cultural hub of Providence in the state's early colonial years, local governments and organizations have made a point of preserving it as a sort of outdoor museum that offers guests the chance to revisit the area’s history in an engaging and interactive manner.

However, this desire to save the historic qualities of the street has not gotten in the way of progress. Benefit Street is also home to plenty of modern buildings and establishments, offering the conveniences of today while also giving visitors a look into the past. Be sure to visit the impressive John Brown House during your time here.

Outdoor Activity, Hike, and Adventure Bucket List Ideas for Rhode Island

Lovers of the great outdoors will have no problem finding items to add to their Rhode Island bucket lists. These are just some ideas worth keeping in mind:

4. Colt State Park

Occupying approximately 464 acres on Poppasquash Neck, Colt State Park is an ideal destination for anyone who loves the outdoors and is visiting Rhode Island. The spot offers hiking trails, picnic areas, shoreline walks, and even a museum which elaborates on the park’s history. 

5. Block Island

You have to take a ferry to reach Block Island, but the short jaunt may be well worth your time. You can enjoy the outdoors here simply by walking along the beach, but many recommend also taking the opportunity to explore the island’s town on a bicycle. Its laid-back atmosphere is ideal for anyone looking for an escape from the stresses of a busy modern life.

6. Fish

Anyone who enjoys fishing will be happy to know that many of Rhode Island’s coastal areas are prime fishing spots. Just be certain you’re not violating any local laws or regulations before you choose a spot in which to fish. You’ll also need to obtain a saltwater fishing license if you don’t already have one.

Spring and Summer Rhode Island Bucket List Ideas

If you’re traveling to Rhode Island for a vacation, like many people, you may be doing so during the spring or summer. Consider adding some of these items to your Rhode Island bucket list if so:

7. Lighthouse cruises

As a coastal state, Rhode Island has its fair share of lighthouses. Numerous companies offer cruises that provide impressive views of them.

As long as you’re staying near the coast, odds are good you can find a company in the area you’ll be visiting that offers such a cruise. As always, just be sure to research the company first to ensure you’re spending money on a tour that will genuinely deliver on your expectations.

8. Roger Williams Park Zoo

The Roger Williams Park Zoo has earned a reputation for being one of the more ethical and humane zoos in the country. Most of the animals in the zoo live cage-free, in environments that have been designed to mimic their natural habitats as closely as possible. Strongly consider visiting this spot during the warmer months of the year if you’re traveling to Rhode Island with young children.

9. Brenton Point State Park

Although you can find plenty of reasons to enjoy a visit to Brenton Point State Park in Newport at just about any time of year, the spring and summer months may be the best time to pay this spot a visit. Along with providing remarkable views of the ocean, this park is also quite popular among those who appreciate the childlike joy that comes from flying a kite.

Fall and Winter Rhode Island Bucket List Ideas

While spring and summer may be the more traditional vacation seasons, many agree that the best time to explore New England is during the fall and winter. If you’re heading to Rhode Island during this time of year, consider making time for these experiences and activities:

10. Cider tasting

Apple orchards are abundant throughout New England. Because of this, many locals spend their autumn weekends visiting local cideries and orchards to sample and purchase some of their exemplary apple cider.

There’s no single Rhode Island orchard or cidery you need to visit. All across the state, you’ll find plenty of spots worth stopping by. 

11. The Conjuring house

The Conjuring is among the most well-regarded American horror films of recent years. An alleged true story served as the inspiration for the film, and those brave enough can now visit the home where the events of the movie supposedly took place in Burrillville, Rhode Island. During the Halloween season, this is an activity that might appeal to many visitors. Other supposedly haunted spots in Rhode Island include:

  • Mercy Brown’s grave
  • The Redwood Library
  • The Biltmore hotel
  • Various Rhode Island lighthouses

12. The Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular

The Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo has long been one of Rhode Island's most popular autumn events. As you might have guessed, it’s essentially an outdoor exhibit featuring numerous jack-o-lanterns, displaying their creators’ artistic skill and love for the Halloween season.

Bucket List Foods and Restaurants in Rhode Island

For many, making a travel bucket list involves making a list of foods and restaurants that are unique to that region. If you’re not sure which culinary experiences you should add to your Rhode Island bucket list, consider the following examples:

13. Clam cakes

Like most New England states, Rhode Island boasts a cuisine that’s often quite seafood-centric. One of the state’s signature dishes is clam cakes, which tend to be fried dough fritters with (as the name implies) minced clams in the center. 

14. Clam chowder

Rhode Island’s take on clam chowder is somewhat unique when compared to that of other neighboring states. While New England clam chowder and Manhattan clam chowder have fairly opaque broths, Rhode Island clam chowder’s broth is much more transparent, and the soup tends to have more actual clams than other varieties may feature.

15. Johnnycakes

The johnnycake is an essential item to include on your food bucket list if you’re visiting Rhode Island. Although no one has ever been able to officially confirm this claim, many insist that Rhode Island is the home of the current johnnycake recipe. 

A johnnycake is basically a cornmeal pancake. Like traditional pancakes, you can add extra flavor to a serving of johnnycakes with butter, syrup, or virtually any other common pancake topping you might enjoy.

It’s also worth noting that many believe the Native Americans of the area were actually the ones to thank for the johnnycake recipe. The dish, therefore, serves as a reminder that Rhode Island has a rich history that didn’t begin merely when European settlers arrived.

Newport, Rhode Island Bucket List Ideas

Newport is a fairly small city on Rhode Island’s Aquidneck Island. It’s home to a beautiful shoreline, as well as such attractions as the following:

16. The Breakers

The Breakers is perhaps the most iconic Newport, Rhode Island destination. This Gilded Age mansion formerly served as the home of a member of the wealthy Vanderbilt family. Now, guests can tour the mansion and get a sense of what life was like for the 19th-century elite, all while enjoying gorgeous views of the ocean.

17. Rosecliff

The Breakers isn’t the only impressive Gilded Age mansion worth visiting during a trip to Newport. While in the area, you might also want to stop by Rosecliff, a similar mansion that has appeared in such films as The Great Gatsby, Amistad, and True Lies.

18. The Cliff Walk

Close to the mansions that attract many to Newport is the famed Newport Cliff Walk, a public walking path that provides visitors with terrific ocean views. Perhaps best of all, there’s no fee to explore this beloved area of the city.

Rhode Island Bucket List Ideas: How to Enjoy the Ocean State

Again, the fact that Rhode Island isn’t a large state doesn’t mean the state has little to offer in terms of dynamic and memorable experiences. On the contrary, as this list has demonstrated, Rhode Island can be one of the most appealing destinations in the US. For more general information on this topic, check out our guide on how to make a travel bucket list.

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