Beat the Heat: Cool Things to Do in Rhode Island This Summer

Narragansett Beach at golden hour

There’s lots of reasons you should come visit the smallest state in the country, and plenty more fun things to do in Rhode Island while you’re here. Whether you’re coming to catch some waves, take in the thriving art scene, or check out an assortment of rustic to boutique wineries, this little state has something for everyone. 

Best Things to Do in Rhode Island

If you’re looking for some fun activities and can’t miss destinations to explore while you’re in Ocean State, look no further! 

>> This is a guest post by Allie Lewis, a lifelong Rhode Islander who loves all things wine and travel! Check her out on Instagram @aelewis_13 <<

Catch Some Waves at Narragansett Beach

There’s no shortage of great beaches to explore in southern Rhode Island, but Narragansett Beach remains a favorite among visitors and locals alike. It has some of the softest sand you’ll ever feel beneath your toes, and waves that are perfect if you’re brand new to surfing.

Whether you feel like surfing or just soaking up some sun while you lay out on your beach towel, be sure to take a walk into town afterwards for a bite to eat. 

If you want to check out a beach that’s a little less popular, though, Rhode Island has plenty of public beaches to explore. 

Ariel view of the Elms in Newport
Image via The Preservation Society of Newport County

See How the Other Half Lives at the Newport Mansions

During the Gilded Age, Newport became the playground of the rich and famous. While they were often referred to as “summer cottages” at the time, these massive mansions constructed by families such as the Vanderbilts, the Morgans, and the Astors began popping up all along the coastline. When you visit, you can see many of them along the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk, or better yet, come take a tour. 

One of the most popular homes to visit is The Breakers, built by Cornelis Vanderbuilt II, but my personal favorite is The Marble House. If you come to Newport, take a drive down Ocean Avenue and see which opulent home speaks to you. 

Plan a visit to the Newport Mansions

Sail Away on the Block Island Ferry

Because Rhode Island is so small, there’s a joke that anything further than 20 minutes away requires you to pack a lunch. We’re a very small state, so I wish I was joking when I say that I know plenty of people who’ve never even been to Block Island. It’s a gorgeous getaway that’s only an hour’s ferry ride from Galilee.

There’s great beaches, restaurants, and little shops that pepper the port, but if you want to explore off the beaten path, I recommend renting a bicycle for the day. There’s amazing lookouts, lighthouses, and hiking trails that a lot of people miss out on because they never leave downtown. 

Learn more about Block Island

WaterFire in Providence, Rhode Island
Image via WaterFire Providence

Experience WaterFire

If you’re lucky enough to be staying in downtown Providence during a WaterFire lighting, it’s a unique experience you won’t want to miss. There are a handful of nights throughout the year when bonfires are lit – quite literally – in the middle of a river that cuts through the city. The metal braziers that contain the flames give the illusion of water being on fire. 

Watching the flames dance while strolling along the river, or finding a quiet spot to talk with friends is relaxing, but the event has a lot more to offer. There’s plenty of food stalls and shop vendors, live art installations, and live entertainment. 

Learn more about WaterFire

The RISD Museum
Image via RISD Museum

Visit the RISD Museum 

The Rhode Island School of Design is one of the top art schools in the entire country, so it’s no surprise that they have a spectacular art museum. You’ll find the museum in the middle of downtown, only a few steps from where the city hosts WaterFire. If your travel itinerary lines up with a WaterFire lighting, WaterFire and the RISD Museum are an elite pairing.

Learn more about the RISD Museum

Check Out the Downtown College Scene on Thayer Street

One of my favorite city spots in Providence is Thayer Street – found in the middle of Brown University. You don’t need any Ivy League acceptance letter to appreciate the array of incredible restaurants that line both sides of the street, though.

I’ve had amazing Indian and sushi on Thayer Street, just a few doors down from one another. I’ve had ramen and Korean fried chicken, late night enchiladas and falafel wraps, and crepes at 1 o’clock in the morning. Heck, I’ve even had South African food. 

I’m biased, of course, but if you’re a foodie, Providence is a down right delicious destination. 

Woman posing for a photo at Beavertail State Park
Beavertail Lighthouse at Sunset
A quiet beach cove at sunset

Watch the Sunset at Beavertail State Park

One of my favorite places in the entire state is Beavertail State Park. This jagged stretch of coastline in Jamestown feels like you’re a million miles away from the rest of the world as you watch giant waves crash into the rocks. There’s lots of trails to wander down while you take in the stunning views, and remote little beaches if you’re brave enough to scurry down steep cliffs. 

I could easily spend an entire day here, but the best time to come is for sunset. Tragically, Rhode Island doesn’t enjoy the same stunning sunsets as the West Coast, but the views are still pretty spectacular. 

Learn more about Beavertail State Park

Get a Peak of Taylor Swift’s House

For those of you who are HUGE Taylor Swift fans, like myself, I recommend taking a drive down to Watch Hill. The cute downtown shops and marina is only a stone’s throw away from Taylor Swift’s Holiday House. The view from the road isn’t bad, but you can really appreciate the size of this stunning home from the nearby beach. 

When you come to explore this cute seaside town, it’ll be easy to see why she fell in love with the Ocean State. 

Fun Things to Do in Rhode Island for Adults

If your upcoming trip to Rhode Island is less family-oriented and more party orientated, I have a whole guide to the best wineries in Rhode Island, and a few bar recommendations! No matter what kind of night out on the town you’re looking to have, these local favorites serve up the best drinks and the best vibes.

Ogie’s Trailer Park

I have spent countless nights here with my friends, and it’s always a good time! I know what you’re thinking. Is this an actual trailer park? No, it just looks like one. From the decor, to the literal exterior cut outs of actual trailers that pepper the back patio, this fun, albeit bizarre watering hole, is a fun spot for anyone in their late 20s to early 30s. 

The BoomBox

Found in the basement of the Dean Hotel, the BoomBox is, unsurprisingly, a karaoke bar. It’s a great destination for a night out with friends. If you’re feeling brave, you can sing to the whole bar, but if you’re like me and are a little shy to belt out Adele in public, they also have private rooms for rent. 

Free Play Bar & Arcade

Normally, I’m totally against bars with a cover charge, but I make a special exception for Free Play. It has all the arcade games and pinball machines you could possibly want! 

About the Guest Author

A lady smiling

Allie Lewis

Allie Lewis is a life long Rhode Islander, and an enthusiast of all things wine and travel. She first discovered her passion for wine during a happenstance tasting in Santorini, and it’s been love from first sip.

When she’s not traveling or going to wine tastings, you can usually find her writing, spending time with friends and family, or enjoying Rhode Island’s stunning coastline.

For more Ocean State recommendations, find her on Instagram @aelewis_13


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