Rhode Island is a quaint state with huge New England personality. Whether you want to explore historic sites that date back to the 17th century or drift through a river valley in a boat, Rhode Island has it all. Before booking your Rhode Island vacation rental, browse through this list of top summer vacation destinations.
1. Block Island
Block Island is located off the coast of Rhode Island, not far from the eastern tip of New York’s Long Island. This destination not only has plenty of summer homes, but buildings and communities that date back to the mid 1600s. Head to Mohegan Bluffs Beach for fun in the sun and swimming. There’s even a hiking trail that gives you a great view of the area. Head north to the Great Salt Pond, a harbor almost completely protected by land where you can boat, sail, and water ski. Mid-June boasts both the Block Island Walking Festival — great for getting a close view of the natural beauty — and and the week-long music festival featuring live acts, performers, craft and food vendors, and plenty of family fun.
If your idea of summer is ball games and hot dogs, Pawtucket is the place to vacation. It’s home of the Pawtucket Red Sox, the farm team of the Boston Red Sox. When not catching a game, enjoy the annual Pawtucket Arts Festival where you can pick up local goods, watch artisans in action, and enroll your kids in a class or two. Located north of Providence, Pawtucket’s on the Seekonk River; get a vacation rental by the water for some kayaking during the day, or find a place a little further north by the Lincoln Woods State Park for plenty of hiking and swimming. Don’t neglect Slater Mill, one of the local favorites when it comes to historical sites.
For a beach vacation, try Narragansett, a coastal town that lies in the southwestern part of the state just off the bay. Join the locals with the annual Blessing of the Fleet Festival in late July. The event starts with a boat parade, something kids are sure to love, and then continues with live music and entertainment, fresh seafood, a road race, a carnival, and kid’s activities. Afterwards, lounge on the Roger W. Wheeler State Beach or Narragansett Town Beach, visit the Rose Nulman Park with its Point Judith Lighthouse, and hike the John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge.
Avoid the summer beach crowds, and head to northeast Rhode Island where the town of Woonsocket lies. The town has a thriving historic district, made up of 65 properties, that carry the stamp of its early 19th-century heritage. After getting a taste of the local history at the St. Ann Arts and Culture Center, take a kayaking trip down the winding Blackstone River, starting at the Blackstone River Gorge to the north. Relax with the family on a Explorer River Tour which offers a variety of packages. For instance, the nature and heritage tours points out the abundance of wildlife the Blackstone River Valley from deer to great blue herons. There are also fishing tours, birding and breakfast, and more.
If you want even more privacy, Burrillville, located in the northwestern corner of the state is a small town that stretches over a wide area covering lakes, rivers, and forests. Get a rental on the Pascoag Reservoir, and spend your time fishing and boating, or take a trip over to the Pulaski State Forest or Sprague Farm Town Forest for some hiking. Or head up to the Buck Hill Management Area and Wallum Lake, which Rhode Island shares with Massachusetts, for some real time with nature. Despite its rural feel, Burrillville has all luxuries from golf courses and country clubs to wineries.
While Coventry’s a quiet, country town in central Rhode Island, its proximity to Providence and Warwick means that you can have urban fun without surrounding yourself completely by the city. The Big River Management Area, Maxwell Mays Wildlife Preserve, and Nicholas Farm Management Area Nature Preserve are all within minutes from town. You can hike, fish, and swim to your heart’s content. Get a vacation rental along the Flat River Reservoir, and putter along the lake in your own boat which you can dock at your place. Hop on the Washington Secondary Rail Trail for a bike ride northeast to Providence (if you need a faster change of pace).
Cumberland lies in the northeastern corner of the state, north of Pawtucket and east of Woonsocket. Another rural town, Cumberland provides a combination of history and nature. For instance, the Metcalf Franklin Farm, established in the 1800s, is a great place to explore Greek revival architecture, see the animals, and discover how a farm works. Adam’s Farm might not be historical, but it does cater to families with fresh produce picking, cute farm animals, hay mazes, and caramel apples for dessert. If farms aren’t enough, Cumberland also offers access to both Arnold Mills Reservoir and Diamond Hill Reservoir for swimming and Diamond Hill Park. The 373-acre park boasts hiking trails, a pond, picnic areas, and playgrounds.
8. North Kingstown
North Kingstown, which lies in central Rhode Island on the west side of Narragansett Bay, is full of that New England, small town charm. Start with a stroll through Historic Wickford Village with buildings dating back to the early 1700s. While most house boutiques, art galleries, and stores — great for picking up some souvenirs — they haven’t lost their historic beauty. In fact, the Wickford Art Festival is held here during July where you can get in touch with your inner artist (or just appreciate the artistry in others). Opt for a vacation rental around Ryan Park where there’s a lake to explore and plenty of green space in which to play.
Newport is located in south Rhode Island between the bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Once there, get your bearings by strolling along the Cliff Walk, a scenic 3.5-mile trail that starts at the northern point of Easton Bay, and meanders south to Bailey’s Beach. Along this walk are plenty of historic sites such as the Breakers, Rosecliff, and Marble House which are Vanderbilt mansions from America’s Gilded Age in the late 1800s. Spend time at Fort Adams State Park and Brenton Point State Park which offer water access and walking trails.
Providence, the capital of Rhode Island, is a port city on Providence River going back to the 17th century. There isn’t much that you can’t do here from visiting the Williams Park Zoo and Planetarium and Botanical Center to exploring the Museum of Natural History or Children’s Museum. During the summer is the WaterFire exhibit, an event where braziers are little along the river, creating a festive atmosphere for downtown shopping and festivals. Stop at India Point Park or Bold Point Park for a walk along the water. In fact, India Point in the site of the annual BBQ and Blues Festival in June where you get good music and food at one place.
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