Planning a staycation or a vacation to the littlest state? Before moving here 10 years ago I never thought twice about what there was to do in RI, except maybe a girl’s trip to Newport. However, over time our family has come up with a list of 12 of our favorite things to do in RI in summer. Here is our list, what about yours?
Things to do in RI in Summer
1. Go to the beach — after all, we are the Ocean State after all. We tend to usually head down to Roger Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett (also known as Sand Hill Cove to RI natives.) The waves here are calm, there are picnic tables scattered throughout, there is a small playground, and the pavilion offered concessions, rest rooms, and showers. The only downside is the ever-present seaweed, but we’ll take that compared to the commonly found red tide in Newport.
2. Eat at Aunt Carrie’s — whether it is a special trip down to Narragansett just for dinner or a quick bite after the beach, Aunt Carrie’s is another family tradition. They offer their famous clamcakes, as well as traditional New England lobster dinners and other seafood fare in a casual setting.
3. Get clamcakes and doughboys at Iggy’s — yes, food is a common theme in this family and when it comes to doughboys and clamcakes, I haven’t found any better. For non-Rhode Islander’s, doughboys are fried dough topped with powdered sugar or cinnamon sugar. Think funnel cake without the holes or what at the Jersey shore we called zeppoles, just with a slightly different shape. Although here in RI, zeppoles are an entirely different kind of pastry.
4. Fly kites at Beavertail State Park in Jamestown or Bretton Point State Park in Newport. Visit at the right time and both locations are ideal for kite flying, plus offer beautiful views. See more about what we like to do at Beavertail here.
5. See an outdoor concert — RI offers so many cultural activities that you don’t have to search hard to find a movie on the block, theater by the sea, or outdoor concert like the the RI Philharmonic Summer Pops series, Friday Night concert series in Waterplace park, the Newport Jazz Festival, the Newport Folk Festival and many others.
6. Get on the water — whether it is a whale watching cruise off the Cape, a harbor cruise around Newport, the ferry to Block Island, Nantucket, or Martha’s Vineyard or an invitation from boat-owning friends, we try to get out on the water at least once a season.
7. Connect with nature — it is nice to take advantage of the good weather to get outside and explore nature. The Audubon Society offers great options. Today we went on a hike at the Powder Mill Ledges Wildlife Refuge, but a family favorite is the Environmental Education Center in Bristol. In Bristol, in addition to visiting a very fun visitor center/museum, you can walk all the way out to the shoreline, with plenty of wildlife sightings along the way.
8. Get moving — we tend to stick to the Blackstone Valley Bikeway because it is so close to home but I also love to visit Colt State Park in Bristol, so this year our to-do list includes the East Bay bike bath with a side trip into Colt State Park.
9. Go to at least one Waterfire — if you aren’t from Rhode Island, Waterfire is one of the most amazing and charming things about this great little city. We were lucky that when we were considering moving to RI, our first visit here was a Waterfire weekend. Bonfires are lit up and down the river that runs through the center of the city. It isn’t just about the fires. Waterfire features hauntingly beautiful music, street performers, food carts, and special events like ballroom dancing or jazz stages flanking either side of the river. If the candlelit fixtures lighting your path under arched bridges, ambient light from the fires, and the smell of smoke and fire, isn’t enough to make you feel like you have escaped to another place, the gondolas might convince you that you have transported to Venice.
10. Visit a Vineyard — RI may not be known for its wine, but that is not to say that you can’t have a great time visiting a RI vineyard. We enjoy having a family picnic at Sakonnet Vineyards. They offer a nice cafe, or your can bring your own gourmet lunch, purchase a bottle or two and have some fun on the lawns of the vineyard after exploring nearby Little Compton.
11. Eat outside –summer just has to mean eating outside, preferably with a view at someplace like George’s or Champlins in Galilee, Constantino’s or Caffe Dolce Vita in DePasquale Square in Providence, Chelo’s in Warwick, Harbourside Lobstermania in East Greenwich or countless other sidewalk cafes.
12. Go to a drive-in movie — growing up in the 70s as part of a family of six, drive in movies were often our sole source of summer entertainment. We would pack some snacks, make a giant bowl of popcorn, load up the sleeping bags and blankets and head out to the drive in. It was a thrill to introduce my family to this classic pastime last summer at the Rustic Drive in.
So there you have it. We are always looking for new things to try to pack into this (too short) summer season so please leave your tips, suggestions, and favorites in the comments below. See also our favorite things to do in RI in spring and winter, as well as a sample itinerary for a weekend in Providence.