Rhode Island

15 Fantastic Things to Do in the Fall in Rhode Island

by Holly Riddle
Updated October 12, 2022

things to do in rhode island in fall
Blackstone River Bikeway in Cumberland, Rhode Island. Photo: Shutterstock

Rhode Island may be a tiny state, but it packs in a lot of fun — especially in the fall.

Situated in the southern portion of New England, the state is known for its historic towns, Gilded Age mansions, seaside resorts and maritime ties. Pair it all with delicious local seafood and you have a trip that’s stuffed to the gills with activities and entertainment to last your entire itinerary.

But while Rhode Island may be best known as a summer destination (this is New England, after all, where the weather is best during the short summers), it has a lot to offer in the fall, too. Here are 15 of our favorite things to do in Rhode Island in the fall.

1. Go on a hike with historic intrigue.

Yes, you can find lots of hiking in Rhode Island, even though the state might not be all that well known for its outdoor adventure.

You’ll see a few favorite fall hikes on this list, but if you want one with historic intrigue, you have to go with the World War II Memorial Loop in Wolf Hill Forest Preserve. The 4.4-mile loop features the memorial itself, but also a bomber crash site, abandoned 1940s camp, rock quarry, waterfall, and views of Providence.

Don’t expect a lot of quiet time on this hike, though. It’s a popular one, for good reason.

2. Go on a historic ghost tour.

things to do rhode island fall - white horse tavern
Spooky dining room in the White Horse Tavern. Photo: Flickr

You can find several ghost tour providers throughout the state, as Rhode Island is so jam-packed with historic sites.

The Providence Ghost Tour company offers both group and private tours, as well as investigative tours, and all take place in the city’s East Side. Ghost Tours of Newport offers lantern-led experiences in the town’s most historic and haunted locales — such as Jailhouse Inn, the White Horse Tavern, and Washington Square.

3. Go for a birding adventure.

 

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In the fall, Rhode Island welcomes a bevy of migratory birds to its beaches and marshes. The National Audubon Society recommends visiting Block Island especially in the fall months, for rare sightings of the cave swallow and fork-tailed flycatcher.

Other popular birding spots throughout the state include Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge, which boasts the second-highest number of recorded species in Rhode Island.

4. Attend the Roger Williams Park Zoo Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular.

things to do rhode island fall - Roger Williams Park Zoo
Photo: Roger Williams Park Zoo

A can’t-miss Halloween-themed event in Rhode Island, the  Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular kicks off each year in late September and then takes place nightly all the way through Halloween.

Each year, the event features a different theme and thousands of pumpkins are carved to fit that theme and then scattered in an artistic display throughout the zoo. The experience is even set to thematic music!

5. Take a fall foliage cruise.

If you’re not arriving in Rhode Island in time to catch the Halloween fun, you can still make tracks for a November foliage cruise. Coastal Queen Cruises offers fall lighthouse cruises all month long in November, for a narrated sightseeing experience on the water.

The cruise features a variety of lighthouses and foliage along Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay.

6. Stroll the Newport Cliff Walk.

things to do rhode island fall - newport cliff walk
Photo: Paul Brady

For a quick little walk that offers history and gorgeous, moody, autumn ocean views, look no further than the Newport Cliff Walk.

The easy, 3.5-mile jaunt takes you past the town’s Gilded Age mansions and along the cliffs, for dramatic views that you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else. It’s definitely a must if you’re staying in Newport and especially if you can manage to get there for a sunset stroll.

7. Plan a day hike along the ocean.

things to do rhode island fall - sachuest point
Photo: Shutterstock

If you’d rather enjoy your autumn ocean views in a more intimate environment, get away from downtown Newport and the busy historic district and its mansions, and, instead, go to the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge.

There, you can plan a 10.2-mile day hike (or half-day hike, if you’re a frequent hiker and have built up your stamina) that includes a range of views, both from the shoreline and from more elevated vantage points.

8. Climb Neutaconkanut Hill in Providence.

things to do rhode island fall - Neutaconkanut Hill
Photo: Kenneth C. Zirkel

For leaf peeping without leaving the city, head to Neutaconkanut Hill in Providence. This 88-acre green space offers a diverse landscape filled with wildlife. The hill is the city’s highest point and the woodlands at the top of the hill envelop the majority of the park’s walking and hiking trails.

If you can’t catch this particular park during peak fall foliage, consider stopping by in the winter months, too, when you can find lots of winter outdoor recreation opportunities, from sledding and ice skating to cross-country skiing.

9. See the fall colors from a unique perspective, on a rail tour.

 

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Sure, you’ve heard of fall foliage train rides and you’ve done your fair share of cycling through fall foliage, but have you ever seen the leaves by rail bike?

A blend of the two activities, rail biking sets you on abandoned rail tracks on your very own pedal-powered vehicle, so you can see the sights in a bit more comfort than you might on a traditional bike, but with a little more quiet solitude than you might experience with a train tour. Rail Explorers USA operates a rail bike trail along the historic Old Colony Railroad, with views of not just woodlands, but also the waterfront and Hog Island Lighthouse.

10. Conduct the requisite fall farm visit.

 

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Everyone knows that a fall farm visit is a must for a truly complete autumn experience, no matter where you live.

For all of the fall farm fun you expect — a corn maze, pumpkin patch, hayrides, etcetera — visit Escobar’s Highland Farm, near Portsmouth.

11. Experience fall at the farm a different way.

But if you’ve done the fall farm thing a million times already and couldn’t care less about another corn maze, you might want to stop by Simmons Farm instead. There, the historic, 142-year-old farm offers a range of fun activities that you might not expect.

There’s the goat yoga that you’ve probably already seen on social media, even if you’ve not given it a try yourself, but then also goat hikes, during which you literally take a hike with a goat — and that’s not a hiking experience you’re going to find just anywhere.

12. Visit the Apple Cider Bar at The Chanler.

things to do rhode island fall- the chanler
Photo: The Chanler

What’s more fall-ish than a piping hot cup of apple cider? Stop by The Chanler’s outdoor apple cider bar, in Newport, for a drink to keep you warm and toasty.

The bar is open on weekends throughout all of October and into mid-November. Whether you want mulled cider, spiked cider or even CBD-infused cider, this seasonal bar is serving a little bit of it all.

13. Attend one of Rhode Island’s best fall events.

You’ll find tons of favorite fall events occurring throughout Rhode Island through the entire season, September to November.

If you’ve yet to catch a county fair over the summer, you can find Newport’s Cluny Country Fair taking place every last weekend of September. Also in September, you can attend the Rhode Island Seafood Festival in Providence. If you want to chow down on delicious local seafood, but can’t make the September event, head to the Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival in October.

In late September and early October, Oktoberfest events abound throughout the state; just look for the local breweries to find Oktoberfest-style entertainment, eats and brews. On Columbus Day weekend, the Scituate Art Festival draws hundreds of artists to a rural setting.

14. Go apple picking in Blackstone Valley.

 

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Sure, you could go apple picking at a selection of orchards around Rhode Island, but for more apples in one place, you’ve got to go to Blackstone Valley, aka, Apple Valley.

Even if you’re not hankering for some old-fashioned apple picking this fall, this area of the state is still worth a visit, as it’s considered one of the birthplaces of the American Industrial Revolution, offering historic sights at every turn.

15. See what’s pouring at Rhode Island’s wineries.

If you always prefer your scenic views with a side of booze, then see what’s pouring at the many scenic Rhode Island wineries.

Many of these wineries and vineyards boast the added benefit of being situated on historic properties. From reds to whites to ice wines and every variety in between, you’re sure to find something you love to sip on as you winery-hop your way across the state.

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