From the best time for peak color to the perfect foliage towns and road trips, our Rhode Island fall foliage guide will help you plan a great adventure this autumn.
By Katherine Keenan
Oct 08 2021
Planning a trip to Rhode Island this year for some autumn color and fun? Our Rhode Island fall foliage guide is here to help. Learn the best time to see the leaves change, discover our favorite foliage towns and scenic routes, and read up on a few fantastic fall attractions.
While the timing is slightly different every year, Rhode Island sees its best fall color, moving from north to south, starting in early October and extending through late October.
Some of our favorite regions in Rhode Island for enjoying fall color are the Providence area during early peak (early October to mid-October) and the Newport area during middle peak (mid-October to late October). That said, you’ll find fantastic pockets of color in every corner of the state throughout the season.
Learn more about finding peak color in New England in the 2018 Yankee feature “Peak Perfection.”
Autumn adventure abounds in coastal Bristol, Rhode Island. Fans of historic New England architecture will love the town’s array of well-preserved buildings, including the Blithewold estate, whose stately grounds are perfect for wandering. For those who prefer to take in the color show on two wheels, the East Bay Bike Path offers a stunning route through coves and marshes, over bridges, and through eight parks, including Bristol’s sprawling Colt State Park. Finally, photographers should be sure not to miss Coggeshall Farm Museum, a 1790s saltwater farm where the marsh grasses and maple trees burst into bright hues come October.
When fall foliage gilds the tree-lined streets of Providence, Rhode Island, the small city’s walkability becomes one of its most valuable assets. Take a leaf-peeping stroll through historic neighborhoods and explore the many dining and shopping spots, or visit the granite statue of city founder Roger Williams and enjoy the beautiful views from Prospect Terrace Park.
Located at the mouth of Narragansett Bay, the small village of Jamestown, Rhode Island, offers large areas of publicly accessible shoreline as well as numerous parks, farms, and trail systems. Here you can escape the bustle of Newport and instead gaze upon its foliage-lined shores from across the water at Fort Wetherill State Park. Don’t miss the chance to watch the sun set over the fiery-hued trees at Beavertail State Park on the southernmost tip of the island.
This Rhode Island foliage drive takes you on a journey through some of the state’s most charming coastal villages, including Little Compton and Tiverton Four Corners. About 40 miles one day, the drive could be completed in a couple of hours, but you’ll likely want to give yourself a whole day to meander through these picture-perfect towns.
Winding west along Route 44, this drive is a favorite of Rhode Island locals. Meander past Waterman Reservoir and the village of Harmony, and then on through Chepachet and West Gloucester. There the drive will transition to smaller roads through Clayville and up to North Scituate, where the colorful leaves and quiet roads seem untouched by the modern world.
Learn more about our favorite fall routes in the 2014 Yankee feature “Slow Drives Through Fall Color” and get more New England foliage trip ideas in our list of 14 Favorite Fall Drives in New England.
Look no further than Clark Farms in Matunuck, Rhode Island, for one-stop-shopping fall fun. It features a corn maze and over two miles of family-friendly trails, plus corn cannons, hayrides, and a petting zoo. The corn maze at Escobar’s Highland Farm in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, is another contender that’s sure to get you in the fall spirit. Don’t miss the pumpkin patch and hayrides, too!
Nothing says autumn like biting into a crisp apple, especially one you’ve just picked yourself. Rhode Island offers a number of excellent apple orchards, but we’re especially fond of Rocky Brook Orchard in Middletown. Among the dozens of cultivars available at this pick-your-own farm (open weekends only) is Rhode Island Greening, Little Rhody’s own namesake apple, which was first discovered near Newport (not far from Rocky Brook) in the mid-1600s. Terrific in pies, it has a tart-sweet, lemony flavor and, true to its name, bright green skin.
No trip to Newport, Rhode Island, is complete without a visit to its historic mansions, and the grandeur of these Gilded Age estates is heightened by the vibrant colors of fall. Take the 3.5-mile stroll along the cliffs and admire the luxury of a bygone era.
What Rhode Island fall foliage picks would you add to the list? Let us know!
This post was first published in 2020 and has been updated.