Find out why Rhode Island is home to some of the most exciting fall festivities that New England has to offer.
Rhode Island might not be the mightiest state, but it does pack a punch. From local seafood, year-round festivals, an eclectic artists community, and being the proud owner of a drive-in theater, we know how to condense a bunch of fun into our little state.
The smallest U.S. state is sometimes overlooked when it comes to tourism, but if you’re planning a trip up north this fall, you can’t miss Rhode Island. Corn mazes, pumpkin patches, and superior craft breweries await you, so here are the reasons why you should prioritize the Ocean State for your autumnal getaway.
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Blithewold Mansion Sunset Concert Series
Blithewold is the Old English term for “happy woodland,” and it rings true to the seaside mansion once owned by New England aristocrats. The property has its fame because of the pristine lawn that makes you wonder if you’ve stumbled into a secret garden, however, there’s more to the property than natural beauty. The lawn gets put to good use throughout the spring, summer, and fall with outdoor movies, galas, and the famous concert series. This event marries nature and entertainment with live music and a sunset sea view. This event takes place every Wednesday from July 13 – September 21, 2022. Pricing starts at $25/car.
The Spooky Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular
Roger Williams Park houses this annual celebration in early fall. It gets packed after nightfall, which is the best time to visit. Illuminated by flickering candles are the intricately carved pumpkins displayed in front of the night’s opaque backdrop. The sight is sometimes disorienting, as thousands of pumpkins appear to extend as far back as the eye can see. This year’s theme is famous TV shows, which is sure to make you nostalgic for old-time favorites, including The Flintstones, The Jetsons, and The Brady Bunch. This event takes place nightly from September 29 until October 31, 2022. Make sure to reserve your tickets ahead of time.
Audrain Newport Concours and Motor Week
Set in a mill-style brick building on Newport’s historic Bellevue Avenue, the Audrain Auto Museum houses automobiles through the ages. Neighboring some of Newport’s most popular attractions, including the gilded-age mansions, most car enthusiasts fit this quaint museum into their itinerary. The museum hosts an annual, week-long event that packs a full schedule for any auto lover and history buff. This year, the event includes prix fixe menus throughout Aquidneck Island’s exclusive dining scene; showrooms full of rare, antique cars; and bespoke automobiles; plus seminars hosted by famed car collectors from Jay Leno to Kalila Haddad.
If your idea of a well-spent fall afternoon includes a trip to the local pumpkin patch, Rhode Island gladly delivers on your expectations. You can find farms all over the state that serve up warm apple cider and tractor-pulled hayrides, but locals make a day trip out of The Farmer’s Daughter. This garden center is your fall aesthetics dream, with three different barns set up with color-schemed interior decorations, a pick-your-own flower garden, plus over an acre of all pumpkin varieties. You also can’t miss Frerichs Farm in Warren. They host an annual giant pumpkin weigh-off every October! Be sure to bring your coziest flannel for this one.
It doesn’t get any more New England than gazing at the stunning colors of autumn foliage. Before the leaves start to fall in late October, schedule yourself a cruise with Rhode Island Bay Cruises. Your ferry will take you throughout the bay, from the capital city of Providence down to the windswept coastline of Narragansett. Observe the glorious, fire-painted hillsides of Rhode Island from a unique oceanic vantage point.
Party on Bowen’s Wharf
Bowen’s Wharf is internationally recognized as the restaurant spot in Newport. It’s home to some of the most prolific restaurants, including the Clarke Cooke House, an 18th-century waterfront edifice serving up locally-caught seafood. What’s better is that Bowen’s Wharf is not only a place to leave your top pants button unfastened, it’s also a lively night scene, shopping alley, and outdoor event venue. This fall, they’ll host a number of events from the annual Oyster and Chowder Festival, Seafood Festival, and numerous sidewalk markets.
Rhode Island is only 1,214 square miles, only half the size of Delaware. It’s small. You can drive from the northern tip of the state all the way down south in about 1.5 hours, which means you have a full day of breweries, orchards, hay rides, vineyards, and corn mazes in between. This makes it an ideal road trip state, without all the warren highways and distant gas stations. Finish your day trip along the southern coast for a sunset dinner at Monahans, an unpretentious clam shack overlooking the Atlantic.
A Hop Haven
There are 32 registered breweries in Rhode Island, most of which have signature brews. Keeping in mind that square mileage, you can easily turn a weekend in the Ocean State into an extended brewery hop. Historians can revel in the brought-back-from-the-dead Narragansett Beer, with a fresh brewery open for tours right in the heart of Providence. Don’t miss Narragansett’s Shandy, a collaboration with Rhode Island’s very own Del’s Lemonade.
Eat Your Heart Out (of the Sea)
When you want an authentically Rhode Island dinner, anyone will tell you it’s going to involve seafood. It’s the Ocean State, after all! From the wide selection of local oysters to the lobster traps set just offshore, you’re guaranteed to have some of the best sea fare of your life. The seasonal fish of fall include lobsters, black sea bass, and bay scallops (try them out at Nantucket Oyster Bar, The Black Whale Kitchen + Bar, and Hemenways, respectively).
Rhode Island’s Actual Island
While Rhode Island isn’t technically an island, we do have plenty of off-shore attractions within a short distance. Locals take to the Block Island Ferry for a booze-friendly, 30-minute excursion which docks right in the center of town. Perfect for a day trip, you can easily rent a motorbike and cruise around the island for access to all it has to offer. Check out the shops on Water Street, or walk the 141 steps down the cliffs towards Mohegan’s Bluffs. For some late-night fun, bring your bathing suit for Ballard’s infamous beach parties.