12 Hidden Gems in Rhode Island: Underrated Destinations in RI

Jon Miksis Jon Miksis clock Updated July 4, 2024 tourism Dream Destinations
by Flora Backup
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Are you looking for the best hidden gems in Rhode Island? Here’s your ultimate guide to the most underrated spots in RI. Get ready to discover Rhode Island off the beaten path.

Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the U.S., but its charm and allure are anything but. Beyond the well-trodden paths of Newport’s mansions and Providence’s bustling streets lies a world brimming with hidden treasures waiting to be discovered. This guide invites you on a journey to explore Rhode Island’s hidden gems.

From the tranquility of secluded beaches to the quaintness of historic villages, Rhode Island’s lesser-known spots beckon travelers seeking experiences beyond the typical tourist attractions. Whether you’re a local looking for new adventures or a visitor eager to explore beyond the surface, these hidden gems promise to enrich your understanding of the Ocean State.

Join us as we unveil the secrets of Rhode Island. So let’s dive into the heart of Rhode Island’s hidden wonders!

Hidden Gems in Rhode Island: 12 Secret Places to Visit

Keen to discover the best hidden gems in Rhode Island? As previously mentioned, this state is filled with spots beyond the common tourist paths, suitable for every kind of visitor.

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Explore further to uncover some of the most underrated places in Rhode Island.

Are you in search of peaceful beaches for relaxation? Or are you inclined towards coastal adventures that elevate your pulse? Regardless of your itinerary, Rhode Island can fulfill your desires. Delve into this guide to find the best hidden gems in Rhode Island.

1. Block Island’s Mohegan Bluffs

Exploring Block Island reveals one of the best hidden gems in Rhode Island: the Mohegan Bluffs. These towering clay cliffs offer breathtaking views of the Atlantic, a must-see for nature lovers and photographers alike. Descend the 141 wooden steps to a secluded beach below, where the waves and tranquility create a perfect escape from the everyday hustle.

Visitors often overlook this spot in favor of the island’s more accessible beaches, but the journey to the Bluffs is an adventure in itself. Located just a short ferry ride from the mainland, Block Island provides a quiet getaway. And the highlight here is the Mohegan Bluffs. Here, the ocean’s power and beauty are on full display, offering a sense of solitude and awe.

Mohegan Bluffs on Block Island

For the best experience, visit during the off-season or on weekdays when the island is less crowded. This allows for a more personal encounter with nature’s grandeur. The Mohegan Bluffs is a destination that offers a moment of reflection and peace, set against a stunning natural backdrop. Mohegan Bluffs certainly stands out as one of the most beautiful destinations in Rhode Island.

Remember to bring your camera, wear sturdy shoes, and prepare for an unforgettable journey!

2. Green Animals Topiary Garden

Step into a world of imagination at the Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth. This enchanting location stands out as one of the coolest places to go in Rhode Island. Here art and horticulture blend to create a living gallery of greenery. Over eighty sculpted trees and shrubs take the form of animals and geometric figures, offering a whimsical journey through a verdant landscape.

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Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth, RI

This hidden gem is perfect for families, garden enthusiasts, and anyone looking for a unique, peaceful day out. The topiary garden, part of a larger estate, provides a glimpse into a bygone era while showcasing the creative possibilities of gardening. Each figure, from elephants to unicorns, tells its own story, making every visit a new discovery.

This destination is best visited during the spring and summer months when the gardens are in full bloom. Admission is affordable, making it an accessible escape into a world of fantasy and nature. Pack a picnic, bring your camera, and spend a day lost in the magic of the Green Animals Topiary Garden.

3. Cumberland’s Hidden Valley

Cumberland’s Hidden Valley is a treasure waiting for outdoor adventurers and hikers seeking solitude and natural beauty. This lesser-known area offers miles of trails winding through diverse landscapes, from dense forests to open meadows. This is one of the most underrated places in Rhode Island to visit if you are a nature lover.

Ideal for a day trip or a weekend getaway. Hidden Valley provides a perfect backdrop for activities like bird watching, photography, and picnicking. The area remains relatively untouched by heavy tourism, allowing visitors to enjoy a quiet communion with nature.

Cumberland's hidden valley near Providence

Located just a 20-minute drive from Providence, this is one of the secret spots in Rhode Island that is accessible yet feels worlds away from city life. The best times to visit are during the fall for the foliage and spring for the wildflowers, though its beauty endures year-round.

Before heading out, check local trail conditions, and remember that the area is best explored during daylight hours for safety. Hidden Valley does not require an entrance fee, making it an affordable adventure for all. Don’t forget to pack water, snacks, and your hiking boots for a day exploring.

4. Sprague Farm

Nestled in the quaint town of Harmony, Sprague Farm offers a unique glimpse into Rhode Island’s rural past. This historic farmstead, preserved in time, is one of the most unique places to visit in Rhode Island. Allowing visitors to experience the serene beauty and simplicity of 18th-century farm life.

Sprague Farm in Harmony, Rhode Island

Sprague Farm is ideal for history buffs, families, and anyone looking to escape the modern world’s hustle and bustle. The farm operates as a living museum, with guided tours that offer insights into the daily routines and agricultural practices of Rhode Island’s early settlers.

Just a 30-minute drive from downtown Providence, Sprague Farm is easily accessible. Admission is free, though donations are appreciated to help maintain the property. Visitors should wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a camera to capture the picturesque landscapes and historic buildings. A visit to Sprague Farm is a journey back in time and a reminder of Rhode Island’s rich agricultural heritage.

5. Jamestown’s Beavertail Lighthouse

Jamestown’s Beavertail Lighthouse showcases the maritime history of Rhode Island. This lighthouse offers some of the most breathtaking ocean views, making it one of the most beautiful destinations in Rhode Island. Perched on the southern tip of Conanicut Island, this historic lighthouse is a beacon for ships and visitors seeking scenic beauty and a touch of history.

The area surrounding Beavertail Lighthouse is a haven for outdoor activities. Trails wind along the rocky coastline, providing perfect spots for picnicking, fishing, and whale watching during migration seasons. The adjacent park is an excellent place for families to explore tide pools and discover local marine life.

The Beavertail Lighthouse in Jamestown is a must-see hidden gem in Rhode Island

A mere 30-minute drive from Newport, Beavertail Lighthouse is accessible yet offers a sense of seclusion and serenity. The lighthouse museum, open seasonally, provides a fascinating look into the life of a lighthouse keeper and the history of maritime navigation.

Entry to the park and lighthouse grounds is free, making it an ideal spot for budget-conscious travelers. Spring and summer offer the best weather for visiting, but the dramatic coastal scenery is stunning in any season. Remember to bring sturdy shoes for exploring the rocky terrain and a jacket, as the ocean breezes can be cool.

6. Little Compton’s Sakonnet Point

Little Compton’s Sakonnet Point offers visitors a peaceful seaside experience away from the crowds. This hidden gem in Rhode Island is perfect for those seeking quiet beaches, stunning sunsets, and a glimpse into the state’s fishing heritage.

Sakonnet Point provides an idyllic setting for leisurely walks, bird watching, and photography. The lighthouse, a historic landmark, adds to the area’s charm. While nearby vineyards offer a taste of local flavors and craftsmanship.

Little Compton's Sakonnet Point in RI

This spot remains one of the underrated destinations in Rhode Island that’s relatively unknown to tourists. The best times to visit are during the late spring through early fall when the weather is warm, and the coastal flora is in full bloom.

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While visiting, respect the private properties surrounding the area and stick to public pathways. There’s no admission fee to explore Sakonnet Point. Remember to bring your binoculars for bird watching and a camera to capture the picturesque views. After exploring, consider stopping by a local vineyard to complete your Little Compton experience with a taste of Rhode Island’s finest wines.

Sakonnet Point is a destination where you can unwind and reconnect with nature’s simple pleasures. It’s a must-see for those looking to explore Rhode Island off the beaten path.

7. Smith’s Castle

Did you know North Kingstown is home to one of Rhode Island’s historical treasures? Smith’s Castle, located away from the usual tourist spots, offers a deep dive into the state’s colonial past. This is one of the best places to visit in Rhode Island for history enthusiasts and families looking for an educational day out.

Smith's Castle in North Kingstown

Visitors to Smith’s Castle are treated to guided tours that reveal the stories and daily lives of its former inhabitants. The house itself, dating back to the 17th century, stands as a witness to Rhode Island’s complex history, from colonial times through the American Revolution.

The best time to visit is during their special events and reenactments, which bring history to life in an engaging way.

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Admission fees are minimal, making this a great option for budget-friendly travel. Remember to check their schedule before visiting, as hours can vary by season. Visiting Smith’s Castle is a journey through history, hidden away in the quiet town of North Kingstown.

8. Tiverton Four Corners

If you are searching for Rhode Islands’ best hidden gems – don’t miss Tiverton Four Corners. This quaint village is perfect for those who love browsing unique boutiques, art galleries, and enjoying homemade ice cream in a laid-back setting.

The village is a hub for local artisans and craftsmen. This village provides a unique shopping experience far removed from typical retail outlets. From handcrafted jewelry to locally sourced foods, Tiverton Four Corners showcases Rhode Island’s vibrant community of creators.

Tiverton Four Corners is a hidden spot in the heart of Rhode Island

Just a 30-minute drive from Newport, this spot is ideal for a leisurely afternoon escape. Spring and summer are the best times to visit when the village is bustling with activity, and the scenic surroundings are at their most beautiful.

Parking is free, and wandering the village’s historic streets doesn’t cost a dime. The perfect option for an affordable day out. Be sure to check the local events calendar before you go; the village often hosts festivals and outdoor concerts that add to the charm.

For those wondering where to go in Rhode Island for an authentic village experience, Tiverton Four Corners is the answer.

9. Norman Bird Sanctuary

For outdoor enthusiasts wondering what to do in Rhode Island, the Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown is a must-visit. This expansive nature reserve offers miles of trails through diverse habitats. Everything from marshlands to ridges, providing a peaceful retreat for hikers, bird watchers, and nature lovers.

The sanctuary’s trails are well-marked and vary in difficulty, making it suitable for all ages and fitness levels. Along the way, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes and spot a variety of bird species. This is undoubtedly one of the best places for bird watching in the state.

Bird sanctuary in Middletown RI

Norman Bird Sanctuary is an ideal stop for those looking to combine a day of nature with the seaside charm of Rhode Island’s coast. The best times to visit are during the spring and fall migrations, but its beauty and tranquility can be enjoyed year-round.

There is a small entrance fee, which goes towards the sanctuary’s conservation efforts. Be sure to bring water, wear comfortable walking shoes, and pack your binoculars for a fulfilling day of exploration and wildlife observation.

The Norman Bird Sanctuary offers a chance to immerse yourself in Rhode Island’s natural beauty while supporting a good cause. It’s a rewarding destination to discover while exploring Rhode Island off the beaten path.

10. Matunuck Oyster Bar

Foodies exploring Rhode Island should not miss the Matunuck Oyster Bar, a true gem located in the picturesque town of South Kingstown. This waterfront restaurant is renowned for its fresh, locally sourced seafood and farm-to-table dining experience. They offer a taste of Rhode Island’s rich culinary traditions.

The Matunuck Oyster Bar is not just a place to eat; it’s an experience. Guests can enjoy a tour of the oyster farm before settling down to a meal overlooking the water. The menu features everything from freshly harvested oysters to inventive seafood dishes, all showcasing the best of New England’s flavors.

Oyster bars are a top attraction in the state

Situated about a 40-minute drive from Providence, this spot is perfect for a scenic lunch or dinner after a day of exploring Rhode Island’s coast. Reservations are recommended, especially during peak season, as this spot is no longer a secret among locals and savvy travelers. Remember to dress in layers, as evenings by the water can get cool, even in summer.

A visit to the Matunuck Oyster Bar provides a culinary journey that highlights the state’s commitment to sustainability and local agriculture.

11. Ninigret Park

Ninigret Park in Charlestown is a natural beauty that stands out among the most beautiful places in Rhode Island. This expansive park caters to a variety of interests, from birdwatching and biking to swimming and stargazing. Making it a versatile destination for all types of travelers.

The park features several well-maintained trails, a freshwater pond for swimming, and the Frosty Drew Nature Center and Observatory, where visitors can explore the night sky. Whether you’re looking to hike, relax by the water, or learn more about the stars, Ninigret Park has it all.

Ninigret Park in Charlestown is a top nature spot in RI

The park is most vibrant in the summer, but its natural beauty is on full display in every season, from the blooming wildflowers of spring to the rich hues of fall foliage. Facilities like picnic areas and restrooms are available, ensuring a comfortable visit. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and insect repellent, especially during the warmer months.

For those seeking where to go in Rhode Island for an all-encompassing natural experience, Ninigret Park is the one! Offering activities and sights that appeal to everyone from the casual visitor to the avid outdoorsman.

12. Goosewing Beach Preserve

Goosewing Beach Preserve, a lesser-known seaside treasure, is one of the most unique places to visit in Rhode Island. This coastal sanctuary combines pristine sandy beaches with rare dune ecosystems. Providing a serene and educational beach day for nature lovers and conservationists.

Unlike the more crowded beaches of Rhode Island, Goosewing Beach offers a quiet alternative. Here visitors can relax, swim, and explore without the hustle and bustle. The preserve is also home to a variety of wildlife, making it an excellent spot for birdwatching and nature photography.

Beautiful Goosewing Beach in the summer

Located in Little Compton, a scenic drive from Newport, Goosewing Beach is accessible yet feels worlds apart from the typical beach experience. Visiting in the early morning or late afternoon rewards guests with spectacular sunrises and sunsets, painting the sky in breathtaking colors.

Parking is available but can be limited, so arriving early is advisable, especially during the summer months. There is a small fee for parking, which contributes to the preservation efforts. Be sure to pack everything you might need for the day, including water, snacks, and beach gear, as amenities are minimal.

For those looking to escape the typical tourist spots and enjoy Rhode Island off the beaten path, Goosewing Beach Preserve offers a peaceful day by the sea.

Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Hidden Gems in Rhode Island

Are you searching for more content about where to go in Rhode Island? Here are some common questions (and answers) I get asked a lot about the most underrated places in Rhode Island.

Are there any hidden gems in Rhode Island suitable for romantic getaways?

Absolutely! Places like Sakonnet Point offer a quiet, picturesque setting ideal for couples. The Matunuck Oyster Bar provides a romantic dining experience with its fresh, local seafood and waterfront views. For a unique overnight stay, consider one of the historic inns in Tiverton Four Corners. These destinations offer couples the chance to unwind and enjoy Rhode Island’s natural beauty and culinary delights.

Epic Rhode Island coastal views

Are there any hidden gems in Rhode Island that require advanced reservations or permits?

While most of Rhode Island’s hidden gems do not require reservations or permits, some places, especially those offering unique experiences or limited access, might. For example, tours at Smith’s Castle or special events at the Green Animals Topiary Garden may require advance booking. Additionally, if you plan to camp at a site near one of these hidden gems, such as near Ninigret Park, you may need to reserve a campsite ahead of time. Always check the official website or contact the location directly for the most up-to-date information before your visit.

How accessible are Rhode Island’s hidden gems for travelers without a car?

While some of Rhode Island’s hidden gems, like those in downtown Providence or Newport, are accessible by public transportation, many are in more remote locations and require a car to visit. Car rentals are available in major cities, and some areas, like Block Island, can be reached by ferry. Planning ahead is crucial to ensure you can reach these off-the-beaten-path destinations.

What should I pack for a day exploring Rhode Island’s hidden gems?

When preparing for a day trip to Rhode Island’s hidden gems, pack according to the activities you plan to enjoy. For beach visits like Goosewing Beach Preserve, bring sunscreen, towels, and swimwear. For hiking areas such as the trails at Norman Bird Sanctuary, wear comfortable walking shoes, and pack water, snacks, and bug spray. Always bring a camera or smartphone to capture the scenic views and consider a portable charger for longer excursions. Check the weather forecast before you leave and dress accordingly, as New England weather can be unpredictable.

Coastal cliff views on Block Island

Are there any fees associated with visiting these hidden gems in Rhode Island?

Many of Rhode Island’s hidden gems are free to visit, including Ninigret Park and Goosewing Beach Preserve. However, some places like the Norman Bird Sanctuary and Green Animals Topiary Garden have small entrance fees, which contribute to their maintenance and conservation efforts. Always check the latest information online before visiting, as fees and opening hours may change.

How safe are the off-the-beaten-path destinations in Rhode Island?

Rhode Island’s hidden gems are generally safe for visitors. However, like all outdoor activities, it’s important to prepare appropriately. This includes checking weather conditions, wearing suitable clothing, and being aware of your surroundings, especially when visiting coastal areas like Sakonnet Point or hiking trails such as those in the Norman Bird Sanctuary. Always let someone know your plans when venturing into less populated areas.

Final Thoughts on Rhode Island’s Hidden Gems

Rhode Island may be small, but its hidden gems reveal a state rich in diversity, beauty, and history. Whether you’re seeking tranquility at Goosewing Beach Preserve or exploring the whimsical Green Animals Topiary Garden, Rhode Island’s lesser-known spots provide memorable experiences for all types of travelers.

These hidden gems invite you to explore Rhode Island beyond the typical tourist paths. They offer peaceful getaways, outdoor adventures, and cultural insights. They prove that the best travel experiences often lie in the unexpected, the overlooked, and the undiscovered.

As you plan your next trip, consider these underrated destinations in Rhode Island. Embrace the opportunity to explore, discover, and fall in love with the state’s unique charm. Remember, the true essence of travel lies in the journey, the discoveries, and the moments that move us.

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