Super-Cool, Bike Friendly Cities
Three car-free days for foodie, lux-loving cyclers.
Rhode Island offers casual to serious touring cyclists daily rides of 10 to 30 miles along bike paths, bikeways and along waterways through fall 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 four days of cycling with varied scenery and awesome food along the way and at the end of the day.
Newport’s Gurney's and Hotel Viking offer bargains midweek in the fall, so we’ve based our three-day trip there. Or move to Providence the morning of day three and add a fourth day to cycle the 16.5-mile Blackstone River Bikeway (map). Either way, you can fly to PVD or take Amtrak to Kingston (for Newport) or Providence and use a ride sharing app to get to and from your hotel.
Pro trip for budget-conscious road trippers: Take advantage of even lower room rates in Middletown for Newport or Warwick for Providence.
Day One: Ocean Drive Loop, Newport (map)
Length: 10 miles
Bike Newport has information for cyclists headed to Newport and a map of routes in the area. For passes to local attractions, go to the Newport Visitor Center when you arrive in town. The Ocean Drive loop takes you by the spectacular Gilded Age Newport Mansions (there are free bike racks at every property) and affords views of Newport Harbor, Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Take a side trip to The Castle Hill Inn for a warm 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. 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.
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, local wine and fresh-made beer at Brix Restaurant and casual fare and live music at the Taproot Brewing Co.
Day Two: Jamestown Loop, Jamestown (map)
Length: 24.5 miles for the whole loop (8.4 miles just to the Beavertail Lighthouse and back)
From the Newport Harbor, take your bike on the Newport-Jamestown Ferry to Conanicut Island. 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. 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 Museum, definitely worth a few pics. Complete the loop by riding back north to the town, where you can catch the ferry back to Newport.
Day Three: East Bay Bike Path, Bristol to Providence (map)
Length: 14.5 miles each way
From the Newport Visitor Center, 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. About a third of the way, in Warren, stop at Delekta’s Pharmacy 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.