Visiting Rhode Island in Winter: Our Favorite Winter Activities

Rhode Island is the perfect summer New England destination; with plentiful shoreline, stunning mansions, and a plethora of outdoor activities, this is an excellent place to spend a July weekend. However, our lovely little state is a perfect place to visit regardless of season. Yes, that also includes winter. While some tourists may hesitate at the thought of visiting New England in the midst of winter, Rhode Island provides a surprisingly good time, even in the dark, cold months of January and February. Below, we’ve included our favorite Rhode Island-centric winter activities—perfect for residents and visitors alike.

 

Providence’s India Point Park, Photo from WPRI, Ted Nesi.

Go sledding. Rhode Island may not have the mountains of nearby New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, but it sure has plenty of hills. Diamond Hill State Park, located in Cumberland, Rhode Island, has an excellent hill and indoor visitor center, perfect for a day outside. This park was once used for skiing, and you might even see some of the abandoned chairlift equipment as you zoom by.

 

 

Providence Athenaeum. Photo from ProvidenceAthenaeum.org

Visit the Providence Athenaeum. The Athenaeum is, without a doubt, Rhode Island’s most beautiful library. Featuring robust children’s, general, and special book collections, this place will make a book-lover out of anyone who steps through its doors. In addition to hosting a seemingly endless collection of books, the Athenaeum also hosts readings and events throughout the year.

 

 

 

Visit a winter farmers’ market. Rhode Island takes its farmers’ markets seriously, even in the winter. Though you may not see as much fresh produce as usual, the Winter Farmers’ Market at the Hope Artiste Village is a great way to stock up on local eggs, cheeses, meats, seafood, herbs, and vegetables. With plenty of ready-made items, you can comfortably snack while chatting with local vendors. Photo from Pawtucket Winter Farmers Market.

 

 

 

Blackstone Valley Train Depot Polar Express.

Take a ride on The Polar Express. Every year, the Blackstone Valley Train Depot in Woonsocket, RI transforms its station and train into a remarkably believable replica of the famous Polar Express. Families will spend three hours around the station and living out the narrative of the beloved holiday book. A ninety-minute train ride complete with hot chocolate and candy is enough to make any visitor enjoy winter in this wonderful state.

 

 

The Duck and Bunny Store Front Sign. Photo from theduckandbunny.com

Drink hot cocoa with a friend. This one might seem a bit obvious, but if you’ve ever visited Duck and Bunny in Providence, you understand out inclination to include this one. A self-proclaimed “Snuggery,” this cozy, comfortable restaurant serves specialty hot chocolate, crepes, and gourmet cupcakes. Stop in for afternoon tea for a truly special winter day.

Our Favorite Rhode Island Museums

Rhode Island has everything—beaches, breweries, islands, an incredible food scene, world-class educational institutions, and incredible, one-of-a-kind museums. From the gardens of the Breakers to the planetarium and natural history museum, you do not want to miss the opportunity to see one of these historic collections.

 

Green Animals Topiary Garden; Portsmouth, RI

This small estate is the oldest and most northern topiary garden in the United States. Open seasonally, the garden is run by the Preservation Society of Newport County. Green Animals remains a rare example of a self-sufficient estate combining formal topiaries, vegetables and herb gardens, orchards, and a Victorian home overlooking Narragansett Bay.

 

Providence Children’s Museum; Providence, RI

The Providence Children’s Museum is one of the largest, most comprehensive in the country. With programming every day, a range of rotating exhibitions, and countless educational programs, this is a staple in the childhoods of many Rhode Island natives. Membership fees are relatively low, making this an excellent and affordable option for both visiting and residing families.

 

National Museum of American Illustration; Newport, RI

Founded in 1998 by Judy Goffman Cutler and Laurence S. Cutler, the National Museum of American Illustration was originally a private collection. Now, it houses and exhibits Golden Age American Illustration art and American illustration from all periods, styles, and talents. The gardens outside the museum were designed by American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, making this a delight for lovers of architecture, art, and landscape.

 

Museum of Natural History and Planetarium; Providence, RI

The Museum of Natural History is Rhode Island’s only natural history museum, and it is home to the state’s only planetarium. For more than a century, the museum has served as a unique educational, scientific, and cultural resource by offering exhibits and programming for children and adults alike. Perfect for lovers of the environment and history, make this a stop on your trip through Rhode Island.

5 Must-Visit Rhode Island Breweries

Rhode Island is a haven for craft beer enthusiasts. Every few months, a new brewery pops up with a new take on small-batch and limited-edition brews just waiting to be tasted. If you’re in Rhode Island, be sure to stop at one of these five Rhode Island staples.

Newport Storm Brewery; Newport, RI

Started in 1994, Newport Storm Beers has released nearly 100 unique craft brews. They were a pioneer in the idea of limited release beers and canned craft beer. They host both seasonal and year-round brews. Beer tastings are around $10 and include 4 Newport Storm samples, a souvenir tasting glass, and a self-guided or guided tour of the facility. They currently operate under the name Newport Craft Brewing and Distilling after having started a concomitant distillery in the mid-2000s.

Ravenous Brewing Company; Woonsocket, RI

One of Rhode Island’s first small-batch craft breweries, Ravenous Brewing Copany opened in 2012. Their beers are made in small batches and require a lot of labor to produce. Tours are available upon request, but tastings occur on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. If you stop by on a Thursday, you’ll have the treat of beer and pizza.

Ragged Island Brewing Co.; Portsmouth, RI

Opened in March of 2017, Ragged Island just celebrated its first year of operation. They specialize in IPAs. The brewery does not currently bottle their beers, so the taproom is the only chance you have to enjoy their brews before they hit the shelves. The taproom is open from Wednesday to Sunday, and their brewers and bartenders are always interested in answering your questions about their brews.

Grey Sail Brewing; Westerly, RI

Grey Sail Brewing, opened in 2010, offers year-round, seasonal, and limited brews. Their Flagship Ale, first brewed on 11/11/11, it now a gold-medal-winning beer. They offer tastings and a growler station, and the taproom is open from Wednesday to Sunday. The brewery also hosts community events, such as music, parties, and fundraisers.

Revival Brewing Company; Cranston, RI

The founder of Revival Brewing, Sean Larkin, has been creating craft beers for two decades. Revival ‘s beers are named for famous Rhode Island attractions, and the brewery does what it can to collaborate with other businesses in the state. The tap room is open seven days a week, and you can taste their beers all over the state.

 

Block Island: Your Beach Vacation Destination

Ten miles offshore sits Block Island—a quaint place with beautiful beaches, friendly residents, and wonderful culture. The island is part of the Outer Lands region, a coastal archipelago, and part of Washington County, Rhode Island. Visitors can reach the island by ferry from Point Judith in Galilee on the south coast.

 

In 1614, Block Island was charted by the Dutch explorer Adrian Block. The Massachusetts Bay Colony claimed the island by conquest and, in 1658, sold it to a John Endicott, the longest-serving governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. After changing hands several times through the 17th century, the Island was incorporated by the Rhode Island general assembly in 1672.

 

Block Island is home to several fun, annual events, the most notable being their Fourth of July parade. Any visitor or resident can enter a gloat into the parade if it coordinates with the year’s theme. Prizes are awarded in several categories, and participants have a chance to with the $500 grand prize. Additionally, the Island hosts Block Island Race Week each summer, which includes a week-long sailboat race.

 

Visitors can marvel at the Mohegan Bluffs, the site of a pre-colonial battle, and long staircases to clay cliffs and beaches. The most notable landmarks, however, are the lighthouses. The Victorian Southeast Lighthouse, which currently sits atop a bluff, was moved in 1994 to prevent it from falling into the eroding beach. Similarly, the North Lighthouse, built in 1867, has an interpretive center for history lovers.

 

Residents and visitors alike spend their days walking along the pristine water, biking through town, and visiting one of the several independently-owned businesses in the area. If you find yourself in New England or Rhode Island during the summer months, be sure to check out this beautiful place.