There is no better way to enjoy Rhode Island than on foot. Step into a centuries-old neighborhood where beautifully preserved architecture has withstood the test of time and continues to demonstrate Rhode Island's authentic heritage and legendary ancestry. You'll want to bring your camera.
Wind, sun and surf coupled with cliffside mansions, an ancient lighthouse and remarkable wildflowers make for an unforgettable walking experience.
Below please find suggested walks that will take you through four centuries of authentic Rhode Island, beside the thunderous Atlantic Ocean to an unstressed, unmeasured calm…
Newport Cliff Walk
Newport's world-famous Cliff Walk offers three miles of natural wonder and fascinating history. Walk amid extravagant gilded age mansions perched upon the rocky coast just above the thunderous Atlantic surf. Wildflowers line the path that burrows through tunnels, crosses a footbridge and offers an unobstructed view of the ocean. Don't miss the 40 steps located near the Breakers, Newport's largest estate. The Cliff Walk is accessible during daylight hours from adjacent public streets.
Discover more than three centuries of American cultural and economic success as you walk through Bristol. Tree-lined streets burst into a kaleidoscope of color in the fall where Greek revival, Italianate, Georgian, Federal and Victorian-inspired New England mansions dominate the neighborhood landscape amid a collection of Colonial gems. Antique shops, specialty stores and a variety of dining establishments offering casual to chic experiences are all within footsteps of Bristol's spectacular natural harbor.
The town's rich heritage dates back to the King Philip's War and is told at the Bristol Historic Society, located in the county's original jailhouse (1828). Just around the corner is Linden Place, built in 1810 in the Federal-style for the Dewolf/Colt family, whose members included Col. S. P. Colt, founder of the U.S. Rubber Co. and the Industrial Trust Co. The grounds include rose gardens and 19th-century sculpture. A stop at Herreshoff Marine and America's Cup Museum offers a look at Rhode Island's vast maritime past including a collection of classic sailing and power yachts and the international America's Cup Hall of Fame.
Experience America's “Mile of History.” A stroll along the cobblestone sidewalks of Benefit Street reveals romantic charm that emanates from the neighborhood's centuries-old clapboard houses and fascinating public places. Stop in at the Old State House where Rhode Islanders declared independence two months prior to the rest of the colonies. Providence Athenaeum is America's oldest subscription library and is nestled at a location that inspired Edgar Allen Poe. At the John Brown House, visitors can enjoy the fascinating story about the Brown family, who endowed the Ivy League university that bears their name. Explore the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, where you'll find artwork from across many cultures, time periods and media among the 45 galleries.
Experience refreshing salty sea spray as it's whisked by the wind and released upon the sun-drenched faces that stroll along the famous seawall lining Narragansett's pristine coast. Just a mile in length, this well-known walk passes under the famed Narragansett Towers – an opulent shingle-and-stone structure that is reminiscent of the town's Gilded past. Footsteps away is the South County Living Museum, where exhibits located in the 174-acre park demonstrate early American blacksmithing, woodworking and farm life. Step out onto Narragansett Pier where the coastal view is breathtaking or simply enjoy the sand and watch the surfers at Narragansett's town beach.
Warwick and the West Bay
Pawtuxet Village, New England's oldest village, is where you'll find narrow streets populated by dozens of Colonial structures and historic homes. Walk through the neighborhood where unrest under British rule began to grow in Colonial America. One of the most serious acts of defiance occurred in Pawtuxet Village, when the British revenue schooner, the H.M.S. Gaspee, was burned. News of the event quickly spread through the colonies; the Committees of Correspondence, a forerunner of the Continental Congress, were organized as a result. Later, Pawtuxet Village was a stop on the Underground Railroad during Civil War times. Today, the village is a nationally recognized historic district, with tree-lined streets that lead to a picturesque natural cove.
Just nine miles at its longest point, Block Island is a walker's paradise. The authentic Victorian architecture that lines Old Harbor, the island's commercial center, is spectacular. Head south to Mohegan's Bluff, a beautiful and tranquil area with magnificent views and stunning landscapes. Bluffs rise 200 feet above the sea and stretch for nearly three miles. A staircase leading to the beach below help make the descent and climb easier. The Southeast Lighthouse, perched along the cliff, was visited by President Grant and has one of the most powerful electric beacons on the U.S. East Coast. The lighthouse was moved from the edge of the bluffs in 1993. The walk takes several hours.
Great Road, Lincoln
Great road in Lincoln offers a walk through rural America. The Eleazer Arnold House was the most ambitious in form and scale of the few remaining Rhode Island stone-enders. The dwelling features a huge chimney as part of its southern wall and important timber framing. This type of 17th-century architecture is unique to Rhode Island. Just down the road is the Friends Quaker Meeting House, the oldest meeting house in New England in continuous use. Hearthside is the highlight of Great Road and is considered to be one of the finest examples of Federal architecture in the state; this stately 1810 mansion is unique with its curved roofline and complete stone construction. According to legend, Stephen Hopkins Smith was courting a woman who wanted to marry the man who could build her the most magnificent home in Rhode Island. Smith won $40,000 in the Louisiana lottery and used it to build this home, but the girl refused to marry him, saying she did not want to live so far in the wilderness, although it was just seven miles from Providence.
Ghost Tours of Newport offers a pair of guided tours. "Olde Town Ghost Walk" is a lantern-led evening stroll down historic Newport's shadowy lanes. Discover the ghosts, ghouls and legends of our haunted city by the sea. "Carved in Stone" is a 90-minute walking tour of the Common Burying Ground, Newport Rhode Island's oldest and largest colonial burial ground.Learn more at www.ghostsofnewport.com/.
Native Newporter Tours offers a myriad of tours to fit every interest, including city tours, shutterbug tours, mansion tours and art tours. Learn more at www.nativenewportertours.com.
Newport Historical Society Walking Tours: Stroll through Newport's oldest neighborhood, discover its hidden architecture and learn about the people who labored here to establish a legacy of liberty. May-September. More information available at www.newporthistorical.org or call 401-846-0813.
Newport Restoration Society offers its Newport History Tour. Stroll through exquisitely preserved living neighborhoods; feel transported back to the heyday of this thriving colonial metropolis. Hear stories of revolution and ruin, struggles for religious liberty and remarkable entrepreneurship among Newport’s diverse people. More information at www.newportrestoration.org/visit/newport_history_tours/.
The Rhode Island Historical Society Offers historical walking tours of Providence. More information at www.rihs.org/walking-tours/.
Savoring Rhode Island offers year-round market tours of historic Federal Hill, a fabulous three-hour walking and eating tour of the famed Italian district in Providence. Shops visited may change from week to week. More information at savoringrhodeisland.com.
Lovecraft's College Hill Walking Tour in Providence. www.hplovecraft.com/creation/sites/walktour.aspx