Good Sam RV Travel Guide & Campground Directory
In most states, taking a short, one-gas-tank tour is like taking one bite of a delicious sandwich and walking away. However, Rhode Island is so small, it’s perfect for one-tank road trips. Whatever the reason you find yourself in Rhode Island, a coastal tour along Route 1 packs plenty of appeal, from Providence to Avondale, to all along the Connecticut border.
Let’s start our Ocean State journey in the capital city of Providence. This city is a delightful blend of historic maritime New England as well as all the amenities of a modern city. Definitely give Benefit Street a good look, with its more than 100 historic buildings representing Colonial, Greek Revival, and Victorian architecture. Then hop on over to the Museum of Art at the world-renown Rhode Island School of Design (RISD: pronounced “Riz-Dee,” by those in the know).
Other city highlights include the Roger Williams Park and Zoo, taking a stroll through the Waterfront Park and Riverwalk, or spending an afternoon exploring the historic campus of Brown University.
From Providence, let’s head south along Rte 1 to the town of East Greenwich. Boaters, mainly of the yachting variety, flock to the city during the summer months and its port along Greenwich Bay. Dip your toes in the water at the Goddard Memorial State Park, a 440-acre retreat complete with a popular beach, a 9-hole public golf course, hiking and biking trails, and much more.
The next town on our southward trek is Warwick. Best known as the childhood home of famed American contemporary novelist John Updike, the town boasts a picturesque harbor and downtown area dotted with historic homes. Further south on Hwy 1 you’d do well to stop near North Kingstown at Smith’s Castle, one of the oldest plantation houses in the nation. Afterwards, enjoy a visit to the Old Narragansett Church, built in 1707.
Heading south, don’t miss a stop in Narragansett, your portal to Rhode Island’s South County beach country. Once a thriving casino town, today this coastal community is popular with surfers and boaters alike. Heading west along Hwy 1 you’ll come across several public beaches and parks, including Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Beach and East Matunuck State Beach, ideal places to spend a quiet afternoon by the surf.
When you get to Charlestown, be sure to stop for a visit to the Kimball Wildlife Refuge run by the Rhode Island Audubon Society.
Our last stop-off in Rhode Island is near the western border, at the town of Watch Hill. This upscale resort community is full of historic homes, where everyone gets especially gussied up during the high summer season. Be sure to take a spin on the Flying Horse Carousel, an authentic 1867 carousel located right on the beach, or snap some family postcard photos at the granite Watch Hill Lighthouse, which celebrated its 200th birthday in 2007.
Step into the town of Avondale for a taste of a true rustic, New England style fishing community. Here in Avondale you will find the famous Watch Hill lighthouse, a pictorial piece of nautical history, which serves as both a monument, and as a symbol of Rhode Island pride. For a real scenic excursion, stop by Wilcox Park and Arboretum, which delights every sense—from lush gardens, to beautiful statues, to charming walkways, Wilcox Park is definitely worth the time. While walking the grounds, you might even stumble onto a Shakespeare performance, which takes place here often.