Don’t let the smallest state in the U.S. fool you. Besides 40 miles of pristine coastline, Rhode Island is packed with all kinds of fascinating sites and attractions. It is famous for its luxurious mansions, charming villages, bustling Providence metropolis, scenic drives and trails, artsy and historical districts, and unique year-round celebrations and events. Your RV family may not have enough time during your entire camping stay to experience even a fraction of the wonders and adventures hidden within the fluid borders of the Ocean State.
For the best traveling and weather, go RVing in Rhode Island between late spring and early fall. Summers are prime time for campers. Fewer tourists, better prices, and cooler weather are typical during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. The following are a few exciting and adventurous locations to consider visiting and setting up camp on your next RV road trip. Make memories with your RV traveling crew in these places:
Fishermen’s State Park and Campground is the closest campground to Point Judith. This village and small cape is located on the coast of Narragansett. Not only is it home to the lighthouse of its namesake, but it is also where you will find the year-round ferry service that connects the mainland to Block Island. Cars can be brought aboard but not motorhomes, travel trailers, or fifth wheels. There are no campgrounds on Block Island. Besides a 30-minute ferry ride, folks can travel to Block Island by plane.
Block Island is home to many natural wonders and historic landmarks like the Mohegan Bluffs and Block Island Southeast Lighthouse. The Mohegan Bluffs rise above sea level about 200 feet. Block Island Southeast Lighthouse is located on the bluffs and has been moved several times due to bluff erosion. 141 steps down the bluffs allow access to a secluded beach below.
Other noteworthy points of interest on Block Island include Block Island Historical Island Museum, the 1661 Animal Farm, which houses a zebra/donkey hybrid, and the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Charlestown, located in the southwest portion of the state, is one of Rhode Island’s best-kept secrets with its miles of secluded beaches. Visitors can enjoy hours on the shoreline, explore nearby attractions, and hike around nature centers. Plus, with RV parks and campgrounds like Charlestown Breachway and Burlingame State Park in town and a few more just a few minutes away, RVers will have even more time to take in the beauty and charm of Charlestown.
Charlestown contains several beaches that are mostly untouched, with only some development. Some beaches include Blue Shutters Town Beach, Charlestown Town Beach, East Beach State Beach, and Charlestown Breachway State Beach.
If you get a craving for some seafood after spending time on the beach, go to 401 Oyster Company for some freshly shucked oysters and tour its oyster farm. The 1.5-hour tour includes a boat ride across the pond to view several stages of oyster growth and learn about the business of oyster farming.
For a change in scenery, stop by the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge contains diverse upland and wetland habitats, including grasslands, shrublands, wooded swamps, and freshwater ponds. Visitors can enjoy outdoor activities like fishing, kayaking, hunting, wildlife viewing, and photography.
At night, folks can head on over to the Frosty Drew Nature Center and Observatory for some stargazing. The observatory is located in Ninigret Park, which hosts several annual events. The Seafood Festival is the most popular. Named one of the Top 100 Events in America by the American Tour Bus Association, the Seafood Festival happens every August and includes booth after booth of the finest seafood and lobster from the east coast.
Located on the southwestern shores of Rhode Island, the small coastal town of Westerly offers a slew of nearby popular attractions that range from miles of beaches to miles of hiking trails and nationally recognized historic places to kiddie rides and amusement parks. There are no RV parks or campgrounds located in Westerly, but a few are just outside of town in Bradford and Charlestown, Rhode Island.
Two of the most popular beaches in the state are Misquamicut State Beach and Atlantic Beach Park. Although a mere half-mile long, Misquamicut State Beach is packed to the gills in the summer. Beachgoers sunbathe, build sandcastles, and boogie board, among other activities. Atlantic Beach Park packs beach fun with amusement park thrill rides. The small amusement park has been operating since 1921 and includes rides like a carousel and a dragon roller coaster. Visitors can access the beach directly from the park. Watch Hill Beach has its own carousel as well, the Flying Horse Carousel. It is one of the oldest operating carousels in the nation, starting up in 1883.
Another way to get some Vitamin D is to go on a hike. The top locations for this activity are Napatree Point Conservation Area and Dr. John Champlin Glacier Park. The conservation area is situated on a slender 1.5-mile peninsula that touches the Block Island Sound. The seashore trail offers picturesque views of Little Narragansett Bay, the open waters of the sound, and Fishers Island. Hikers may want to bring their binoculars for some wildlife and bird watching.
For a more varied topography, consider taking the family to Dr. John Champlin Glacier Park. Formed during the Ice Age, the 134-acre park features examples of kettle and kame topography, carved canyons, ridges, and boulders. Information boards explain each natural phenomenon as you travel down the easy trails.
After sampling some of Westerly’s finest entrees and brews, take a trip back in time at some of the most historic landmarks near the town. Westerly Public Library, which opened in 1894 as a tribute to Civil War soldiers, houses two art galleries besides its massive literature and resource center. Westerly Armory, built-in 1901, currently displays a variety of both military and community artifacts. Another museum, the Babcock-Smith House Museum, is a historic house from the 1700s. Among its many highlights, both Benjamin Franklin and General George Washington once visited the home.
Two additional places RV families may enjoy are the Watch Hill Lighthouse and Living Shark Museum. The Watch Hill Lighthouse was constructed in 1855 after the original lighthouse, built in 1807, succumbed to erosion. The square tower of Westerly granite stands at 45 feet. The accompanying museum has a collection of artifacts, including lighthouse keepers’ documents, photographs of area ships and storms, and the lighthouse’s original Fresnel lens. While the lighthouse guides over water, the Living Sharks Museum dives below the surface with its array of exhibits on all things Jaws: shark film memorabilia, shark fossils, and stories of encounters between sharks and humans.
Rhode Island has much to offer RVers, both young and young-at-heart. Whether you decide to explore historical landmarks, get back to nature with sand and surf, or both, RVers can find an itinerary to match their traveling mode. For more information on things to do, statewide events, and camping options, go to visitrhodeisland.com. Plus, don’t forget to pack the best roadside assistance Coach-Net to help get you where you need to go safely.
About The Author: Natalie Henley
Natalie Henley and her husband, Levi, have been full-time RVers for over 5 years. They have also been Coach-Net customers for the same amount of time. They travel and workcamp around the U.S. in their 26-foot Itasca Sunstar motorhome with their two cats. They write for multiple RV-related publications and recently co-wrote “Seasonal Workamping for a Living: How We Did It.” You can follow their adventures on the road at henleyshappytrails.com.
Nick O. ~ “If I could give this team 6 stars, I would. Absolutely incredible service, in the middle of the night, in a very remote region. These guys were unbelievable every step of the way, not only ensuring we got the vehicle out, but that we found a place to stay for the evening.”