A Fun Rhode Island Day Trip Itinerary (Perfect for Fall!)
August 2, 2023
Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the US, but it has no shortage of fun activities and beautiful views! Rhode Island is known for its beautiful coastline, yachting, delicious coffee milk, Gilded Age mansions, famous art and more.
If you only have one day in Rhode Island, this guide will give you some great ideas for the best things to do in Newport, RI and nearby. Not only are there great coastal views, but Rhode Island offers unique activities (have you ever biked on a railroad track?). And if you’re visiting in the fall, I’m sharing a gem known for apple cider that is only available during the autumn season.
Keep reading for a fantastic Rhode Island day trip itinerary for a visit in the fall. This blog is based on my experience visiting Rhode Island in November, 2022.
Rhode Island offers something special year round. Personally, I recommend avoiding late-November to March if you’re not interested in frigid weather. (Although the Newport Mansions offer some beautiful Christmas events!)
Anytime in the spring, summer or fall makes for a great visit.
The spring is a great time to enjoy time outside in Rhode Island and temperatures tend to be in the 60’s and 70’s °F.
The summer offers a great chance to spend time out on the water. Summer adventures could include a sailing excursion from Newport or spending time on Rhode Island beaches. Summer temperatures are typically in the 70’s and 80’s °F.
In the fall, you’ll have the opportunity to take in fall foliage and take part in fall activities such as enjoying apple cider donuts. Fall temperatures tend to be in the 50’s and 60’s °F.
For this itinerary, I’m focusing on the fall. I’ve included a special pop up location that is only open in the fall! However, everything else is also great for spring and summer.
For this itinerary, I recommend staying in Newport or nearby. This will be your best location for seeing the various hikes and activities that the coastal part of Rhode Island has to offer.
There are some stunning properties and bed and breakfasts in Newport, Rhode Island, but they tend to be quite luxurious and expensive.
Here are 3 places to consider in the Newport area:
If you’re looking for a unique experience, check out the Rose Island Lighthouse! You can stay inside a lighthouse on an island and they’ll even provide boat transportation to reach it!
For a trendy boutique hotel, check out The Wayfinder. This hotel has well designed rooms and features a cozy lobby, outdoor pool and restaurant.
For a more affordable stay a bit outside of Newport, the Sea Whale Motel is a great option. While it’s outside of downtown Newport, you can still walk over to Easton Beach.
One of the most unique things to do in Rhode Island is to ride a bike on railroad tracks! The Rail Explorers concept began in the New York Adirondacks and has been expanding across the country. They typically take railroad tracks that are no longer in use and add railroad bikes that seat 2 or 4 people. The result lets you pedal out and back on a mostly-flat section of track with scenic views along the way.
There are a couple of different tour options at the Rhode Island Rail Explorer’s location. The Southern Circuit offers views of Narragansett Bay and includes a waterfront picnic halfway through in a private area. The Northern Circuit includes views of private waterfront estates, golf courses, coastal woodlands and more.
There are also some fun options for special tours such as an evening lantern tour and a brunch tour with mimosas.
No matter which route you choose, this makes for a unique activity in Rhode Island! Even though it rained during my tour, I still had a wonderful time and loved all of the waterfront views.
If you’re visiting Rhode Island in the fall, it’s worth a stop at the Hard Pressed Cider Company for warm apple cider and fresh apple cider donuts!
They are a seasonal business open between Labor Day and Christmas and are known for treats such as mulled cider and apple cider donuts. Their location from Labor Day to Thanksgiving is at Windmist Farm. The farm is on Conanicut Island and you’ll need to cross the Claiborne Pell/ Newport Bridge (and pay a toll) to reach it.
The picturesque farm also has a shop with fresh produce, eggs and more. I really enjoyed the warm cider and donuts, it was the perfect fall treat!
The Sachuest Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful place for a short and easy trail. You’ll have the chance to observe wildlife, take in views of the ocean and admire mind-blowing textures on the various types of rocks.
During my visit, we saw several different birds and deer. Along with the trails, there is a nature center on site where you can learn more about the surrounding area.
The highlight for me was the rocks along the shoreline. Many of them resemble marble countertops with stripes and swirls of greens, reds and whites. Whether you hike all of the trails or make a quick stop, it’s a beautiful area to spend an afternoon.
Right next to the Wildlife Refuge, you may see surfers in the ocean at Second Beach! There were tons of people out on the water when I was there, even though it was cold and rainy. You could also pack some snacks and a towel and enjoy a beach day yourself.
The small, nautical city of Newport, Rhode Island is known for sailing competitions, mansions from the Gilded Age and activities on the water. The downtown area of Newport is full of cute boutiques and restaurants to explore.
Just keep in mind that the parking in Newport is quite expensive, so I found it hard to find a place to park and walk around. Things to do in downtown include having tea at Empire Tea and Coffee, taking a stroll around the Newport Art Museum and exploring the various boutiques along Bowen's Wharf.
In addition to downtown, you may want to see some of the famous mansions that Newport is known for. The most famous home in the area is The Breakers mansion. The home was built in 1895 and was a summer home for the Vanderbilt family. If you have time, you can take a tour of the elaborate home. The standard tour is a self-guided audio tour where you can learn about the grounds at your own pace.
There are several more mansions in Newport in addition to The Breakers, and special tours and events are offered at various times throughout the year. Check out the Newport Mansions website for more details.
My favorite area to explore in Newport was the Newport Cliff Walk! The Cliff Walk is a 3.5 mile path that offers epic ocean views in one direction and a look at the historic mansions on the other side.
One area that I recommend you visit is the Forty steps, where you can walk down towards the water and get a closer look at the ocean. Also be sure to walk next to The Breakers to get a nice view of the famous home.
You can’t park just anywhere for the Cliff Walk and the parking rules are confusing. The best places to park are next to the Forty Steps or at Easton Beach. However, you can also park on the street near The Breakers and Salve Regina University and walk over from there.
You should also note that there is damage to the Cliff Walk and a detour is set up between Narragansett Avenue and Webster Street for the foreseeable future.
Despite the difficult parking, the Cliff Walk is a really neat way to see this side of Rhode Island and makes for a nice walk for anyone.
This one day Rhode Island itinerary barely scratches the surface! Here are some other activities and destinations to consider on your trip to Rhode Island.
- Explore the town of Providence (Rhode Island’s capital city). A few of the best things to do in Providence include seeing art at the RISD Museum, exploring Roger Williams Park (home to a botanical garden, zoo and more) and eating and drinking in Federal Hill.
- Attend a WaterFire event in Providence. This unique event features 80 bonfires set up along the Woonasquatucket River. The event occurs every few weeks from April to December, so check out their calendar to see if the dates will align for your visit.
- Take a sunset cruise or a harbor cruise from Newport to see the area from the water.
Rhode Island is a unique state that makes for the perfect New England day trip! Whether you take a day trip from Boston or have more time to spend, I hope this guide gives you some great ideas for fun activities. Check out the list below for more travel guides in New England.
For more New England Travel Guides, check out these blogs:
- The Perfect Day Trip to Connecticut
- How to Spend One Day in Boston
- 7 Day Fall Road Trip Itinerary for New Hampshire and Vermont
- The Perfect 5 Day New England Road Trip
- The Ultimate Fall Guide to Acadia National Park
- The Best Hiking Trails in Acadia National Park
- How to Spend 3 Days in Acadia National Park
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