There are multitudes of tourist attractions packed into tiny Rhode Island, including picturesque beaches, the renowned Roger Williams Park, and Providence’s famous WaterFire art installation. When you want to bypass the crowds, stay at a Rhode Island vacation rental that puts you close to fascinating points of interest nestled off the beaten path. Whether you long to conquer the state’s highest peak or look forward to visiting the Fantastic Umbrella Factory that doesn’t really make umbrellas, Rhode Island has something exciting for everyone. Head off to this quaint state to experience low-key adventures at these hidden gems.
1. Pulaski Memorial Recreation Area, Chepachet
Take advantage of year-round activities at Pulaski Memorial Recreation Area, which is part of the 4,000-acre George Washington Management Area. Amenities in this 100-acre day-use site include picnic facilities, hiking trails, and a 13-acre pond for fishing and swimming in warm months. During ski season, hit the 10 miles of groomed cross-country skiing trails that lead into the greater George Washington Management Area.
2. The Fantastic Umbrella Factory, Charlestown
When settlers claimed the land in 1760, they started a farm that evolved about 200 years later into a plant nursery, petting zoo, and hippy bazaar called The Fantastic Umbrella Factory. Incorporating a group of old barns, the bazaar vends funky and natural goods, including organic foods, blown glass, pottery, and crafts created by farmers and artists on the property. While shopping there, grab a meal at the Small Axe Cafe. Locals love the place, but it’s definitely one of Rhode Island’s best hidden gems.
3. Neutaconkanut Park, Providence
Hidden almost in plain sight, Neutaconkanut Park is an 88-acre wilderness on the hill in Providence. This particular hill initially formed the northwest boundary of a land agreement between the founder of the state and the Narrangansett Indians. The summit reaches 296 feet above sea level, making it the highest point in town, but it gives you a delectable view of the Providence skyline and Narrangansett Bay. Protected by the Neutaconkanut Hill Conservancy and the parks department, this wooded land features glacial boulders, fresh springs, and walking trails.
4. Prudence Island
Narrangansett Bay includes over 30 islands off the coast of Rhode Island, and Prudence Island waves pretty fronds as one of the most beautiful–and remote–of them all. As the third-largest island in the bay, it’s actually part of Portsmouth. Prudence sits out in the bay, apart from the town, giving off much quieter, laid back vibes. You must cross water to get there, and the ferry provides the main mode of transportation. Once on the island, get in some kayaking, explore the lighthouse, drink in the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean, and hike the beautiful nature trails.
5. Block Island National Wildlife Refuge
Take the Block Island Ferry from the Point Judith Terminal in Narragansett. Take your car, bikes, or mopeds for the 1.5-hour trek through Narragansett Bay. While on the island, be sure to visit the Mohegan Bluffs, enjoy walking along the beaches, and take some of your best vacation photos ever. Island activities include horseback riding, snorkeling, parasailing, and self-guided bike tours. You can find everything from five-star restaurants to walk-ups that serve local seafood at picnic tables.
6. Navy Beach, Middletown
Navy Beach–also called Third Beach–is a nice, calm beach that’s great for families with young children. You find a more calm atmosphere than on the more popular, busier beaches. It’s away from the high surf, with calm waters that are good for paddling and kids learning to swim. Bring your picnic basket from your Middletown vacation rental for an evening cookout in one of the in-the-sand grills.
7. Kingscote House, Newport
The Preservation Society of Newport County maintains Newport’s nine exquisite mansions that once served as holiday homes for wealthy families. Among these, locals feel that the 1839 Kingscote House fails to receive the recognition it deserves. As one of the first summer cottages built in Newport, Kingscote lacks the size and opulence of the later, more palatial mansions that followed. The last owner bequeathed Kingscote and its 1880 furnishings to the Preservation Society in 1980.
8. Jerimoth Hill, Foster
Jerimoth Hill’s 812 feet elevation hardly challenges big mountains in height, but for decades, it was almost impossible to climb. In the 1980s, a rather cranky fellow bought the land, and put up motion detectors and signs around the perimeter to keep people out. Eventually, the land passed to friendlier hands, and then to the state. High-pointers–people who like to scale the highest peak in each state–find Jerimoth Hill a pleasant stroll. Once you conquer the summit, saunter back down and ease over to Nickle Creek Vineyard to pick up a bottle of wine to celebrate your day.
9. Beavertail Lighthouse Museum, Jamestown
The Beavertail Lighthouse Museum in Jamestown features exhibits that present the history of the lighthouse. Interpretive signs around the property share background information about the lighthouse, the bay, and the surrounding area. After you see the lighthouse and museum, check out the lovely paths in Beavertail Park. Seafood lovers, grab a net and hit the beach when the tide goes out. Look in the rock pools for crabs and more to make a great seafood dinner at your Jamestown vacation rental.
10. St. Ann Arts and Cultural Center, Woonsocket
St. Ann Arts and Cultural Center, a church acquired for public use, is a work of art in its own right. It’s used for church services, symphonies, weddings, holiday concerts, and guided tours. The artwork features cherub faces based on likenesses of local children from many years ago. Brilliantly colored frescoes and stained-glass windows stand out against the backdrop of the marble and stone interior. While in town, check out the Museum of Work and Culture, which focuses on some of the key industries of the 19th and 20th centuries, especially textiles. Exhibits give a glimpse of the culture in the area through artifacts from schools, churches, and manufacturers.
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