Top 10 Landmarks in Rhode Island

Last updated on May 27th, 2021 at 03:32 pm. Originally published on May 26th, 2021

What is a Landmark?

Full of opulent Gilded Age mansions, sweeping ocean views, and beautiful state parks, this small state has many historic landmarks for visitors to discover. Historic buildings, lighthouses, and even America’s first indoor mall are all places to explore if you’re taking an RV trip to Rhode Island.

What are Some Famous Landmarks in Rhode Island?

1. Fort Adams State Park

2. International Tennis Hall of Fame

3. The Breakers

4. Ocean Drive Historic District

5. Cliff Walk

6. Arcade Providence

7. Rhode Island State House

8. The Towers

9. Block Island Southeast Lighthouse

10. Goddard Memorial State Park

Rhode Island Landmarks

Ready to explore history and the outdoors? Here are 10 popular landmarks to visit in Rhode Island.

1. Fort Adams State Park

Fort Adams State Park is situated on the harbor mouth of Newport, Rhode Island. The state park is home to Fort Adams, the historic former army post that was established in 1799. Visitors who want to learn more about the fort have the option to take guided or self guided tours to learn about its history. Aside from the fort, the state park also offers swimming, boating, picnicking, and soccer and rugby fields. While the park is open all year, summer boasts the best weather, and is also the most popular time for visitors.

Things to do near Fort Adams State Park: As part of Newport’s Ten Mile Drive, the state park is close to several landmarks on our list, including The Breakers, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, and the Ocean Drive Historic District. We’ve put together a local’s guide to Newport to help you discover what to see, and we’ve got you covered with local RV rentals.

2. International Tennis Hall of Fame

Tennis players and fans will want to stop by the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Located in Newport, the Tennis Hall of Fame includes a museum and multiple tennis facilities. The museum honors both tennis players and contributors and works to celebrate and preserve the sport of tennis. Its collection of tennis memorabilia and artifacts include photos, videos, equipment, trophies and more from some of the most influential and important names in tennis. Wander through the museum to learn about the history of tennis and modern developments of the sport. If you want to play, guests can reserve both the indoor and outdoor tennis courts by the hour and coaching and lessons are available.

Things to do near the International Tennis Hall of Fame: Like our other Newport landmarks there’s plenty to do in this area! You can check out the local’s guide for ideas and visit Fort Adam’s State Park and our next landmark…

3. The Breakers

If you’ve ever wanted to feel like you’re in The Great Gatsby or just love that aesthetic, a visit to The Breakers should be on your list. This Gilded Age mansion in Newport was built in the 1890s as a summer home for members of the Vanderbilt family. Not only was it the largest and most opulent house in Newport when it was built, but it’s also become one of the most-visited attractions in Rhode Island. The mansion is a National Historic Landmark and is owned by the Newport Preservation Society as a museum. It’s open to the public year round for tours of the impressive building and grounds.

Things to do near The Breakers: We’re still in historic Newport for this landmark, so be sure to check out some of the other nearby landmarks. And take a drive down Newport’s Ten Mile Drive to see the next landmark….

4. Ocean Drive Historic District

The Ocean Drive Historic District is an area along Ocean Drive on the southern shore of Newport that was home to the summer “cottages” of wealthy New Englanders during the late 1800s and early 1900s. The historic district is part of Newport’s Ten Mile Drive and combines the history of these historic mansions with public parks and public access to the beaches along the Atlantic shoreline. A drive along this road will take you past the mansions as well and give you a chance to check out Fort Adams State Park and Brenton Point State Park with sweeping views of the ocean all along the way.

Things to do near Ocean Drive historic District: View some of the historic buildings and mansions, or take a trip to the beach at the multiple state parks nearby. We have a list of our favorite state parks in Rhode Island to help you choose which to visit.

5. Cliff Walk

Newport, Rhode Island’s Cliff Walk is a beautiful 3.5-mile walk along the ocean shore. This public access walk winds its way along the coast of Aquidneck Island, providing walkers with views of the ocean, the rocky shoreline, and the occasional Gilded Age mansion.  It’s a National Recreation Trail in the National Historic District, and most of the walk is easy to traverse. Aside from birds, wildflowers, and the impressive crashing waves, there are 16 QR code trail markers located at significant stops along the walk that people can watch for. Scanning the QR codes on a smartphone will give visitors information on the historic mansions as well as local geological features.

Things to do near the Cliff Walk: hike along the shore and stop at many of the nearby beaches such as Bailey’s Beach or Collin’s Beach. Or head to one of the two nearby state parks, Fort Adams or Brenton Point.

6. Arcade Providence

Step back through history and visit the first indoor shopping mall in the United States. The Westminster Arcade, also known as the Arcade Providence or the Providence Arcade, was built in 1828 as the country’s first enclosed shopping center in Providence, Rhode Island. The arcade was built in the commercial Greek Revival architecture style, and has gone through renovations several times over the past almost 200 years. Today it’s a mix of apartments on the top floors, with dining, bars, and retail shopping on the main floors.

Things to do near the Westminster Arcade: We’re heading over to Providence for this landmark, so be sure to explore the dining, shopping, and entertainment in the city. You can also swing by our next landmark, the Rhode Island State House.

7. Rhode Island State House

Located in the state’s capital, Providence, the Rhode Island State House is an impressive capitol building. Designed in the Neoclassical style, the building features the fourth largest structural-stone dome in the world and is one of the most impressive capitol buildings in the country. Aside from housing part of the state’s government, the Rhode Island State House is sometimes open for tours and is home to a Visitor Center and gift shop that sells locally made items.

Things to do near the Rhode Island State House: Explore the rest of the historic city of Providence. You’re also not too far from Snake Den State Park. Here are some local RV rentals to check out.

8. The Towers

Another remnant of the Gilded Age, The Towers are all that is left of the Narragansett Pier Casino. Built in the 1880s, this casino was the centerpiece of Narragansett society until it burned down in 1900 and only the castle-like towers remained. Today, The Towers is an event venue on the ocean, and the building hosts public events throughout the year. They also offer free tours of the historic property by appointment, which you can do by contacting the venue directly.

Things to do near The Towers: Over in the southwestern part of the state, The Towers is just outside the city of Narragansett. It’s also very close to Scarborough State Beach if you want to spend some time in the ocean.

9. Block Island Southeast Lighthouse

If you take a trip to Block Island, off the coast of Rhode Island, be sure to visit Block Island Southeast Lighthouse. Located on the southeastern corner of Block Island atop of Mohegan Bluffs, the Block Island Southeast Lighthouse is one of two lighthouses on the island, and the easiest to visit. Built in 1875, this National Historic Landmark provides visitors with fantastic views of the ocean and the rest of the island. Tours of the lighthouse are offered during summer and the grounds are open year-round.

Things to do near Block Island Southeast Lighthouse: You’ll have to take a ferry to get to Block Island, but once you’re there you’ll have 17 miles of free public beaches, plenty of hiking, fishing, and kayaking activities, and excellent dining and shopping options.

10. Goddard Memorial State Park

One of Rhode Island’s popular metropolitan parks, Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick covers almost 500 acres and includes the forests, fields, a golf course, and the beach. Visitors have all sorts of great ways to enjoy themselves such as hiking, horseback riding on the 18 miles of bridle trails, and canoeing. There’s also sports fields, a 9-hole golf course, and of course the swimming beach.

Things to do near Goddard Memorial State Park: You’re not too far from Providence and you’re north of Narragansett. Here are some great RV rentals to check out nearby.

Planning an RV trip to Rhode Island

An RV trip is an excellent way to tour the popular of landmarks in Rhode Island, and we’ve got all the resources you need to plan a perfect vacation.

Here are guides to some of the best state parks in Rhode Island, as well as all the national parks in the country. And as always, we’re here to help when it comes to finding the best campgrounds and RV rentals.

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