Ocean State Biking Adventure
Bicycle enthusiasts, did you know that Rhode Island offers casual to serious touring cyclists daily rides of 10 to 30 miles along bike paths, bikeways, and along waterways through spring scenery?
Several bikeways are accessible without a car from Newport or Providence, so you can stay in either or both cities and rent bikes for a car-free getaway! Public buses have racks for two bikes on the front, making it easy to travel between these cities to enjoy as many days of cycling as you want, with varied scenery and awesome food along the way. You can fly into PVD airport or take Amtrak to Kingston (for Newport) or Providence and use a ride-sharing app to get to and from your hotel.
Newport: Ocean Drive Loop (map)
Length: 10 miles
Bike Newport has information for cyclists headed to Newport and a map of routes in the area. The Ocean Drive loop takes you by the spectacular Gilded Age Newport Mansions (there are free bike racks at every property), so consider taking a tour of Marble House while you're there. You'll also enjoy views of Newport Harbor, Narragansett Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean. Take a side trip to Castle Hill Inn for a drink in an Adirondack chair on the lawn overlooking the bay to Conanicut Island. Continuing, you’ll pass Hammersmith Farm (site of JFK & Jackie’s wedding reception) and Fort Adams State Park (guided and self-guided tours are available starting April 2nd). Back in town, have lunch at Brick Alley Pub, a longtime local favorite, then explore on foot to soak in the Colonial and waterfront areas of Newport, or book a tour with Experience Rhode Island.
For dinner in Newport, Mission and Jo’s American Bistro offer sophisticated casual food. To splurge, try Michelin-rated Bouchard in a historic inn. Or a short ride-share away, Newport Vineyards offers scratch cooking and local wine and Taproot Brewing Co. offers fresh-made beer and bites.
Jamestown: Jamestown Loop (map)
Length: 24.5 miles for the whole loop (8.4 miles just to the Beavertail Lighthouse and back)
From the Newport Visitor Center, take the #64 RIPTA bus to the Jamestown Ferry Landing (roughly 20 minutes). The quaint harbor town where you arrive is in the middle of the figure-eight-shaped route. Head north along the harbor facing Newport to the tip of the island, then back across, past farms, the historic Jamestown Windmill, and a lovely inland waterway. In the center of town, turn back toward the harbor to lunch at local favorite Slice of Heaven (currently takeout only). Now pedal south past classic Victorian weathered shingle country homes, along Mackerel Cove and charming stone walls edging historic farms. The south tip of the island is the Beavertail Lighthouse, definitely worth a few pics. Complete the loop by riding back north to the town, where you can catch the bus back to Newport.
Bristol: East Bay Bike Path (map)
Length: 14.5 miles each way
If starting from Newport, load your bikes on RIPTA Bus 60 toward Providence and get off in Bristol ($2 fare, about 40 minutes). The bikeway starts along the waterfront in this charming historic harbor town and follows a former freight rail along Narragansett Bay to Providence. A great stop off the path is the Audubon Society of RI Nature Center and Aquarium on the Claire D. McIntosh Wildlife Refuge. About a third of the way, in Warren, stop at Delekta’s Pharmacy (open Wednesday-Saturday, 12-4 PM) for an authentic coffee cabinet, then continue to Providence. Lunch near the bikeway’s end at Plant City, the world’s first vegan food hall. Alternatively, Geoff’s around the corner serves oversized deli sandwiches. Either way, stroll after lunch over the architecturally significant Providence Pedestrian Bridge for a view of the city. Head back to Bristol in time for dinner either at Metacom in Warren for a Brooklyn-y French vibe or Quito's in Bristol for chowder and a lobster roll. You can catch Bus 60 back to Newport from anywhere along the route.
Block Island: Block Island Bicycle Tour (map)
Length: 16-mile full route, with an initial 7.5-mile loop
Grab your bike and take the Block Island Ferry to the island (or rent a bike when you arrive) and embark on the Block Island Bicycle Tour. The 7.5-mile loop includes nine stops, including Painted Rock, Mohegan Bluffs, and Southeast Lighthouse. You can add another 8.5 miles that will take you through some gorgeous landscape that includes the Great Salt Pond and the North Lighthouse. The tour consists of 12 stations at various highlights along the route that are marked with a circular sign and QR code. You can use your cellphone to shoot the code and be treated to a one-minute video featuring island history at each stop. While you're touring the island, keep an eye out for hidden glass floats! If you work up an appetite, check out Finn's Seafood Restaurant for fresh seafood with a view, Eli's Restaurant for Asian-inspired comfort food, and Mohegan Restaurant and Bar for lunch, dinner, or drinks.
For more information about biking in Rhode Island, head to Biking in RI. You'll find a list of Ocean State bike paths with links to maps for each, as well as local bike shops and rental spots.