Rhode Island Feature
Rhode Island Fall Foliage Drive
Tiny Rhode Island packs plenty of punch when it comes to vibrant fall colors. For the most dramatic leaf-peeping head to the mostly rural, uncrowded northern and western towns—communities with rolling meadows and dense forests interrupted by the occasional orchard, pumpkin patch, or country store.
This tour through the state's quieter corners begins in Providence, where you can stroll across Brown University's handsome campus of dignified academic buildings and towering shade trees. Drive north from Providence, via Route 112 and then Route 114 north for about 12 mi to Cumberland, a rural community of undulating woodland crowned by a canopy of sugar maple, scarlet oak, and birch trees. Stop at Diamond Hill Vineyards, whose vineyards and apple orchards yield an intriguing selection of wines—the sparkling cider and spiced-apple wine are perfect on a cool October day. Drive west about 12 mi on Route 116 through Greenville, turning west on U.S. 44 for 7 mi to the tiny hamlet of Chepachet.
Best Time to Go
Foliage peaks in most of Rhode Island during the third and fourth weeks of October (800/556-2484 www.visitri.com). Along the coast, however, you can still view plenty of color into the start of November. And in the state's northwest corner, where the elevation is highest, leaves are at their most colorful in mid-October.
The rest of the tour meanders through some of Rhode Island's most pastoral countryside. In quaint Chepachet, Colonial and Victorian buildings contain antiques shops and quirky stores. Don't miss Brown & Hopkins, one of the country's oldest continuously operating general stores (including an old-fashioned candy counter), or the Tavern on Main, a rambling 18th-century restaurant that's perfect for a lunch stop.
Follow U.S. 44 west 5 mi through the burst of changing leaves in Pulaski Memorial State Forest. Turn left onto Route 94 and follow this for about 13 mi to Route 102, and then continue southeast another 20 mi to Exeter. The most undeveloped route from Chepachet to Exeter is lined with pristine hardwood forests, with an abundance of red maple, white oak, beech, elm, and poplar trees.
From Route 102, detour south in Exeter 1½ mi down Route 2 to Schartner Farm for a corn maze or hayride and cider and pumpkin pie. Backtrack to Route 102 and continue east 4 mi to the colonial seaport of Wickford, whose pretty harbor opens to Narragansett Bay. The town's oak- and beech-shaded lanes are perfect for a late-afternoon stroll among the gift shops, galleries, and boutiques.
The drive is a total of about 80 mi and takes from four to eight hours, depending on stops.
Need a Break?
Brown & Hopkins Country Store. Opened in 1809, Brown & Hopkins Country Store carries candles, reproduction antiques, penny candy, and handmade soaps. 1179 Putnam Pike, Chepachet, RI, 02814. 401/568-4830. www.brownandhopkins.com. Mon.-Sat. 10-5, Sun. 11-5.
Diamond Hill Vineyards. This winery produces wine from pinot noir grapes as well as peaches and apples grown here or locally. 3145 Diamond Hill Rd., Cumberland, RI, 02864. 401/333-2751. www.favorlabel.com. Thurs.-Sat. noon-5, Sun. 11-3.
Schartner Farm. This farm store is popular during the fall for cider, pumpkin pie, and hayrides. 1 Arnold Pl., Exeter, RI, 02882. 401/294-2044. www.schartnerfarms.com. Daily 8-sunset; hayrides and corn maze weekends, 11-4:30.
Tavern on Main. For lunch, try the tavern burger topped with bourbon sauce or the lobster roll. 1157 Putnam Pike, Chepachet, RI, 02814. 401/710-9788. www.tavernonmainri.com. Closed Mon.-Tues.
Free Fodor's Newsletter
Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Go List: Fodor's Top 25 Places to Go in 2013
- Hotel Awards 2012: Fodor's 100 Top Hotels
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
- $116* & up -- Last-Minute Las Vegas Flights on American, R/T American Airlines
- $129 & up -- New Orleans 4-Star Hotel on Bourbon Street BookIt.com
- $149 & up -- 5-Diamond Venetian Resort w/Extras, Save 50% BookIt.com
- $675 & up -- Sheraton Kauai: 3-Nt. Vacation w/Car Rental Pleasant Holidays
- $419 & up -- Last Minute: 4-Night Bahamas & Key West Cruise Royal Caribbean