Things to do in Newport

Beyond the Beach: Ocean State parks for outdoor summer fun, sans sand

This may surprise you, but some Rhode Islanders do not like the beach. They pay a high price for parking, fight over a spot and navigate through an overcrowded beach hoping to find a place. When they leave, sand has infiltrated their clothes in places they didn’t know were even possible. To cap off the experience, they may be left with a nasty sunburn as a souvenir.

There are some that prefer the stillness and serenity of going for a walk in the woods, or just enjoy other summer activities outside of the beach. There are numerous parks and places within the state that are not as known as our beaches. There are many places waiting for you to explore, to take on their challenges or to just kick back and bask in the beauty of nature.

A favorite place of famed writer HP Lovecraft, Lincoln Woods State Park offers many different opportunities to explore. Located in Lincoln, the park offers over six hundred acres of nature trails, bike and equestrian paths, places to picnic and a freshwater lake to either swim or fish in. Due to giant glacial boulders and stony areas within the park, the place is also perfect for rock climbing / bouldering.

For someone who wants to be near the sea but not near the sand, Beavertail State Park is located on the southern tip of Conanicut Island in Jamestown. Overlooking the Narragansett Bay, the park provides walking paths, areas to rock climb, fishing, tide pools and numerous picnic areas. The views there are stunning, including the iconic Beavertail Lighthouse. If you are lucky, the lighthouse’s museum, Fort Burnside (a WWII costal fort) and an aquarium are open to the public. Park naturalists on site can provide walking and exploration tours. Due to a staff shortage for the museums and personnel, call (401) 423-3270 in advance to check their availability prior to your visit.

In Bristol, Colt State Park is also situated on Narragansett Bay. The 464 acres provide huge lawns for games, ten playing fields for various sports and bike and footpaths right along the coastline. The paved path along the shoreline also provides benches to sit back and take in the picturesque views. The park is filled with picnic tables, adequate shade and space which make it a perfect place for family gatherings. Reconstructed in 2014 for better accessibility, the park’s fishing pier is perfect for shoreline fishing. The park also includes an open-air chapel for couples who are interested in tying the knot at such a scenic location. 

Boasting 14,000 acres of mostly wooded area, Arcadia Management Area is RI’s largest recreational area and is located in Richmond, Exeter, Hopkinton and West Greenwich. If you are into hunting, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding and hiking, this place has it all and more. There are miles of gravel roads that provide trails through pristine woodland. Frosty Hollow Pond and Wood River provide scenic places to fish and are stocked with trout annually. Canoeists and kayakers can enjoy rowing down Wood River, with streams for novices or experienced explorers. If you are an equestrian, bring your horse trailer to the Reynold’s Horseman Area.

While a three-mile trek isn’t for everyone, those who complete the endeavor in Arcadia are rewarded with the view of Stepstone Falls, the nicest waterfalls that RI parks have to offer. A beautiful trail following the Wood River leads to a set of waterfalls over a hundred feet wide. You would be hard-pressed to find a more serene place than this wooded vista.

There are many untapped gems in RI for you to explore. The parks mentioned in this article are only a sampling. No matter what you are interested in, you may find a new favorite place practically in your backyard. If you would like more information on RI parks, visit, or