Rhode Island

Best Attractions in Rhode Island | 2016 Editors’ Choice Awards

Looking for the best things to do in Rhode Island? You won’t have to look far! Read our picks for the best attractions in Rhode Island for 2016.

By Yankee Magazine

May 31 2016

Best Attractions in Rhode Island

Best Tourist Hot Spot:
Watch Hill

Photo Credit : Alex Gagne
Best Attractions in Rhode Island
Best Tourist Hot Spot | Watch Hill, Westerly
Photo Credit : Alex Gagne
Best Beach: Narragansett Town Beach, Narragansett Beach aficionados cherish this crescent of shoreline. Why? Clear water, vigorous surf, attentive lifeguards, on-beach activities like surfing lessons and yoga, wheelchair accessibility, movie and music nights, free street parking if you’re early (or lucky), and nostalgic views of the 1886 Narragansett Pier Casino Towers. 39 Boston Neck Road. 401-783-6430; narragansettri.gov/323/Narragansett-Town-Beach Best Adventure: Pond and Beyond Kayak, Block Island Kayak guide Corrie Heinz will have you paddling like a pro, even if you’re a nervous first-timer. She’ll make you leave your cell phone behind. And she’ll show you her native island on a two-and-a-half-hour small-group ecotour of the shallow, serene Great Salt Pond. Wildlife, history, oyster cultivation, conservation, island gossip: You’ll see and hear the real scoop and appreciate that “it’s not just by chance that Block Island is the way it is.” 216 Ocean Ave. 401-578-2773; pondandbeyondkayak.com Best Vintage Experience: Suite Tart, Providence You can be a ’30s silver-screen siren, a ’40s pin-up sweetheart, or a ’70s Bond girl. Yes—you! Salon owner LuLu Locks and her team of celebrity-caliber hair, makeup, wardrobe, and photography pros transform women of all ages for a memorable photo shoot and a long-lasting confidence boost. They’re the same artists who style the ’Gansett Girls: the glammed-up everyday gals who promote Rhode Island’s Narragansett Beer. 150R Broadway. 401-272-8278; suitetart.com Best Tourist Hot Spot: Watch Hill, Westerly The population? Fewer than 200 residents. The buzz? Off the charts. And it’s not solely because international country-pop superstar Taylor Swift owns a $17 million waterfront mansion in Watch Hill. As accessible as the Hamptons, but far more vintage classic, this Victorian village (part of the town of Westerly) offers exclusive lodgings and celebrity spotting, true. But simple pleasures like concerts in the park, walks on the beach or to the museum at the lighthouse, and rides for kids on the historic Flying Horse Carousel, with its original wooden steeds, make it popular with daytrippers, too. 401-348-6540; watchhillfiredistrict.org, watchhillbeachandcarousel.com, whmlis.org
Best Attractions in Rhode Island
Best Garden | Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum, Bristol
Photo Credit : Courtesy of Blithewold
Best Garden: Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum, Bristol One of New England’s most intensely planted and lovingly tended landscapes, the 33 acres of gardens, lawns, specimen trees, and rare and unusual plants at this Narragansett Bay estate are equal parts historic treasure and living classroom. True to the early-1900s vision of owner Bessie Van Wickle McKee and landscape architect John De Wolf, Blithewold’s exotic abundance continually inspires those who wrestle with nature and those who simply relish watching it unfold. 101 Ferry Road. 401-253-2707; blithewold.org Best Day Spa: Bodhi Spa, Newport A $55 day pass—half off with any massage, facial, or body therapy—provides unlimited access to the soothing and rejuvenating “Water Journey” at New England’s first Euro-style hydrotherapy spa. Luxuriate in the Dead Sea and Epsom salt pools, eucalyptus steam room, and cedar and infrared saunas. The cold-plunge pool is less heavenly, but brave the 55-degree water for 30 to 60 seconds after each body-warming experience for maximum detoxifying benefits. 654 Thames St. 401-619-4916; thebodhispa.com Best Retro Fun: Breaktime Bowl & Bar, Pawtucket Built for Hope Webbing millworkers’ entertainment circa 1920, the six remarkably preserved lanes of the last surviving industrial duckpin bowling alley echo once again with the clatter of palm-sized balls scattering short, squat pins. Dine, drink: Breaktime is kid-friendly until 8:00 p.m., then morphs into the ultimate throwback, grown-up hangout, with pub food and a full bar. Rolling a strike is pure joy … well, maybe not for the human pinsetters. 999 Main St., Suite 1330. 401-427-7006; breaktimebowlandbar.com Best Winery: Verde Vineyards, Johnston Retired 77-year-old CCRI biology professor Jim Verde admits, “Something went wrong; I kept planting too many grapes.” In 2012, his fervor spawned a commercial enterprise, but this vineyard—down a long dirt road on Moswansicut Lake—seems anything but. Yes, those are photovoltaic cells: “My energy bill is zero,” says Verde, whose last name means “green” in Italian. Take a weekend tour, attend a tasting, bring a picnic lunch, and relax under the oaks. 50 Hopkins Ave. 401-934-2317; verdevineyardsri.com
ocean house entrance
Best Cooking Classes | Ocean House Center for Wine & Culinary Arts, Watch Hill
Photo Credit : Aimee Seavey
Best Cooking Classes: Ocean House Center for Wine & Culinary Arts, Watch Hill Create, taste, take home new skills, and cele­brate New England’s bounty when you enroll in public classes overseen by Ocean House food forager and director of culinary education Paul McComiskey. The grand hotel’s immersive, 3,000-square-foot culinary center, which débuted in May 2015, is outfitted with a state-of-the-art demonstration kitchen and cellars to house an enviable collection of 8,000 bottles of wine. 1 Bluff Ave. 401-584-7000; oceanhouseevents.com Best Sunset Walk: Sachuest Point national Wildlife Refuge, Middletown This 242-acre expanse of former farmland is prime wildlife-watching territory. The 1.5-mile, pedestrians-only Ocean View Loop is smooth and paved; Newport is in view. But when the sky turns wispy cotton-candy shades, then burns golden-orange as the sun dives into the sea, the only sounds are the scamper of bunnies and deer, the whisper of bird and butterfly wings, and perhaps a joyous shout as a surfcaster lands a bluefish. 769 Sachuest Point Road. 401-847-5511; fws.gov/refuge/Sachuest_Point Best Learning Outing: Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park Within the two-state heritage corridor linking landscapes and landmarks pivotal in the birth of American industry, there’s a new experience for visitors who pedal the Blackstone River Bikeway or tour attractions like Slater Mill: bumping into National Park Service rangers. America’s 402nd national park was created in December 2014, and even as long-term plans remain in their infancy, ranger-led adventures are enriching understanding of this storied region during the Park Service’s centennial. 401-762-0250; nps.gov/blac Best Treasure Hunt: Rhode Island Antiques Mall, Pawtucket Scott and Rae Davis went antiquing on their first date. Three decades later, their passion-driven, eight-year-old enterprise is a 20,000-square-foot mega-destination for fans of rare finds and funky old stuff in this river city on the Massa­chusetts border. Block out hours to browse. With 200 dealers and 150 consignors, you won’t find a more diverse assortment of antiques and collectibles under one roof anywhere else in New England. 345 Fountain St. 401-475-3400; riantiquesmall.com