Rhode Island gets a lot of visitors every summer. Or rather Newport, Block Island, and South County become traffic nightmares as weekenders drive down from Mass, New York, or Quebec for a beach weekend. While everyone knows to go to the Breakers or sit on the beach in Narragansett, the Ocean State has much more to offer its visitors and locals alike in the summer. Here are ten things to start with.
1.) Have a picnic at Blithewold–Bristol’s Blithewold is more subdued than its Newport counterparts, but the staff here are knowledgeable and some of the friendliest I’ve met: they’re always willing to answer your questions and then some. They welcome and encourage people to have a picnic on their sweeping lawn. I had planned on doing so earlier this week while Bailey was visiting me in Rhode Island, but the weather dictated otherwise.
2.) Go to a Newport Polo match–Newport has a legacy of mansions and tennis for the wealthy, but Newport Polo lives on, and tickets to matches throughout the summer at Glen Farm in Portsmouth are reasonably priced.
3.) Explore Rough Point on a guided tour–The Breakers, Elms, Marble House, and Rosecliff hog the mansion limelight in Newport, but Rough Point is, in my opinion, the most eclectic house Bellevue has to offer. The docents I’ve had on tour can answer every question, are charismatic, and demonstrate a love for Doris Duke’s odd house.
4.) Bike Block Island–One highlight of last summer was visiting Block Island with Cara and Kevin. The island and its acres of nature preserves are best experienced and viewed by bike.
5.) See WaterFire–A Rhody classic, WaterFire packs visitors into Providence without fail. Make a night out of it: get dinner in the city, see the show, and finish off your night with a visit to one of Providence’s bars or food trucks.
6.) Go on a winery tour–Rhode Island has a surprising number of wineries, and a good number of them are right in Newport County. Though I’ve yet to visit any, I plan on touring Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard at some point this summer. If wine isn’t your thing, there’s also a concert series here throughout the summer.
7.) Visit the new Audrain Automobile Museum–I haven’t yet made it to this new museum on Newport’s Bellevue Avenue, but it boasts a collection of antique cars and was written up in Rhode Island Monthly’s state travel guide, so it definitely seems promising.
8.) Do a brewery tour of Providence–The greater Providence area also has its own share of breweries and brewpubs. At some point this summer, I’m planning on visiting Foolproof, Brutopia, and Bucket breweries.
9.) Have a mudslide on the porch of the National in B.I.–Though I wasn’t 21 last year, I sat with Cara and Kevin after a day of biking while they sipped mudslides at the National before we caught the ferry back to the mainland. From what I understand, mudslides are a thing on Block Island, so why not mix alcohol and a chocolate milkshake? When in Rome…
10.) Haggle at Providence Flea–The Providence Flea Market is a fantastic Brooklyn Flea-style market not too far from College Hill. Stop by on Sunday morning, check out some antiques or pens made out of skateboards.
Now, this isn’t to say that these are the only things to do in Rhode Island this summer. Catch a movie at Jane Pickens Theater. Go for a stroll along Cliff Walk or the Bristol Bike Path. Go berry picking at Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown. Do a ghost tour in Newport or Providence.
Do you have any favorite summer traditions in Rhode Island?