You can drive Rhode Island end-to-end in roughly one hour, yet it is by no means a drive-through state. Located just a three-hour train ride from Penn Station in Midtown, Manhattan, the smallest state is an often overlooked option as the perfect summer weekend away. (Take it from the Kennedys, who famously summered in Rhode Island; JFK and Jackie were even married here).
Instead of heading to the Hamptons or Hudson Valley, give Rhode Island a chance—it’s entirely worthy of a long, romantic weekend, and because you can hop around the state so easily, you don’t have to choose just one town to stick to. Let us count the ways we love this tiny but mighty state, with stops in Newport, Providence, and a few places in between.
Where to Stay
1 Bluff Avenue, Westerly
When you think Rhode Island, you think of the seaside resort Ocean House. The phrase ‘iconic destination’ was practically modeled after this historic spot. Everything about this restored Victorian property, which includes a hotel, two restaurants, and spa, is extraordinary. From the classic buttercream yellow exterior, to the extraordinary local cuisine elevated, to the beyond exemplary staff (some even were around when JFK Jr. would come to visit for a drink on summer afternoons)—this is the place to live out all your Kennedy dreams.
The rooms are luxe with giant bathtubs and local beach stone-floor showers, personalized monogrammed bedding (yes, mine had pillowcases with my initials), and epic views of the sea. Head down to the spa for a five-star treatment, too, or even just to see the epic indoor/outdoor pool, with the dreamiest design and views. Or take a walk along the private beach (with a very famous neighbor, Taylor Swift) to watch the tides come in, or take in a polo match.
And don’t miss the five-star restaurant Coast for a prix-fixe dining experience featuring local cuisine prepared in simple and remarkable fashion.
122 Fountain Street, Providence
A smartly designed property that’d look just as at home in the middle of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, as it is in Providence, The Dean is one of the coolest hotels not only in Rhode Island, but in the country. The historical building has been elegantly transformed into a 52-room hotel, with a locally sourced restaurant, a very cool cave-esque lounge bar, and a karaoke room, all in Providence’s Downcity historic district.
Where to Play
909 E Main Road, Middletown
Who knew RI is a wine destination, too? Newport Vineyards has been passionately producing interesting, inventive wines since 1977 and is now the largest New England wine producer. The property, including the delicious on-site restaurant, is gorgeous enough to spur your Rhode Island weekend.
525 South Water Street, Providence
Throw on all white and a silk scarf around your hair and live out your Jackie O. sailing fantasies. The shores and landscape of Rhode Island are vast and glorious, and can’t truly be appreciated without seeing from the water. This lovely sail is cheap, too ($22 for a 50 minute tour).
Rail Explorers Newport
1 Alexander Road, Portsmouth
If the idea of pedaling on a stationary bike-like invention in which you ride down an abandoned train track with your plus one sounds random, then you haven’t tried Rail Explorers yet. You can bring along a glass a wine and pedal into the sunset while seeing some of the most loveliest views of RI landscape.
Where to Snack
364 East Avenue, Pawtucket
This is what every diner wishes it looked like. It’s an iconic, old school eatery that will give you major cool points on an Instagram post. Indulge in their award-winning custard french toast, which is soaked in vanilla pudding.
Donuts are having their elevated moment in Providence. Two of the best options are PVDonuts (79 Ives Street) and Knead (32 Custom House Street), which gets major bonus points for having its storefront in the most gorgeous, restored space. Choose your favorite by testing them both (and you should probably test all flavors out too, right?).
Matunuck Oyster Farm and Restaurant
629 Succotash Road, Wakefield
I’m not kidding you when I say this place made me believe in oysters. Before this encounter, I thought oysters were, pardon me, but slippery boogers. Until I begrudgingly took another chance at Matunuck’s. And now, I get it. Oysters are so tasty and addictive, and damnit, these are some of the best ones you’ll find—anywhere.
590 Ocean Avenue, Newport
Castle Hill Inn’s claim to fame is the fact that Grace Kelly spent an entire summer here while filming High Society. Her beach cottage, and other incredibly idyllic rooms, are available to rent, but it’s also the perfect place to spend a Sunday afternoon, brunching at their restaurant, and then drinking on The Lawn as you watch the rocky landscape and sailboats float by.
What to See
20 N Main Street, Providence
The famous design school also has a museum with an incredible and impressive amount of historic artifacts—from paintings to iconic furniture to vintage costume and textiles.
The Breakers Mansion
44 Ochre Point Avenue, Newport
This historic mansion was once the summer home of the Vanderbilt family. Take a tour to to see what New England opulence really looked like in the early 20th century, and get a glimpse of what it was like to summer in Newport when you were hella rich.
Roger Williams Park & Zoo
1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence
Head to one of the oldest zoos in the country for some good ol’ fashion animal spotting on the 40-acre park.
Also, if you want more tips, the Rhode Island tourism site is actually super helpful and well organized.