Looking for something fun to do without spending a fortune? The smallest state in the country has plenty of opportunities to experience, learn, eat and shop all year long – and all for $20 and under.
Here are our picks for what to do in Rhode Island for $20 or less.
RISD Museum – $20
With more than 2,000 works of art currently on view, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum in Providence is the perfect place to spend an afternoon surrounded by beauty. Between the ancient Egyptian gallery, ancient Greek and Roman gallery, Asian art gallery and so much more, there’s something to interest everyone. Admission is free on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday evenings from 5 to 8 p.m.
Beavertail State Park – Free
Known for having the best sunsets in Rhode Island, Beavertail State Park in Jamestown is the place to go for a relaxing immersion into coastal nature. Learn about the area’s ecosystem in the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum, traverse the beach’s rocks or watch the sun fall below the horizon from your vehicle.
Bajah’s Cat Cafe – $6-$12
Spend a sweet afternoon drinking tea, coffee or hot cocoa with a treat of your choice among adoptable kitties at Bajah’s in Tiverton, the state’s first and only cat cafe. Book a reservation beforehand or just stop by during business hours.
Your favorite type of seafood is here at the annual Charlestown Seafood Festival, Aug. 2 to 4. Between lobsters, clam cakes, chowder, a raw bar and more, you’ll be spoiled with choice. Also on the menu is great entertainment like live performances, rides and fireworks to cap off a perfect day.
Cliff Walk – Free
Beginning at Memorial Boulevard, Newport’s beloved Cliff Walk is 3½ miles of stunning ocean scenery paired with views of Gilded Age mansions. Open sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year.
Diamond Hill Vineyards – Free
Concealed within a quiet residential neighborhood, Diamond Hill Vineyards in Cumberland truly is a hidden gem. Pack a picnic or buy from their selection of crackers and cheese before tasting a flight from their selection of fruit wines including blueberry, blackberry and spiced apple for $8. Of course, choose a designated driver before imbibing.
Fresh produce from local vendors lines the halls of Farm Fresh in Providence every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., year-round. But fruits and veggies are just the start; vendors also offer baked goods, alpaca yarn, handmade soaps, made-to-order crepes, granola, cheese and so much more.
Ferry to Block Island – $20 round trip
Did you know there is an island off the coast of Rhode Island? A leisurely one-hour sailing on the traditional ferry from the port of Galilee in Narragansett will take you directly to Block Island’s main port where you have access to beaches, restaurants, bars and shops to peruse.
Frosty Drew Observatory – Free
Spend a night under the stars! This campus in Charlestown is situated in one of the darkest sections of Southern New England, making it the perfect place to spot hundreds of millions of stars. Bring your own telescope or use the observatory’s. Open every Friday, pending inclement weather.
Movies at PVD Rink – $7
Discover our natural world and all about local geology, flora and fauna at the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, at Roger Williams Park in Providence. It’s the only natural history museum in the state. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Newport Kite Festival – Free
Experience kite flying like never before. At the Newport Kite Festival, July 8 and 9, the sky is filled with colorful and unique kites of all sizes. Bring your own to fly, enjoy the interactive workshops or just bring a blanket to watch. This event is free every year, but donations are accepted to help defray costs.
See all the newest cars, trucks and SUVs at the Northeast International Auto Show, Feb. 2 to 4. More than 250 new vehicles will fill the Rhode Island Convention Center, including top makers like Jeep, Volvo, Subaru, Ford and Toyota.
Providence Flea – Free
Vintage finds, local artisans, food trucks and more can be found at the Providence Flea, operating outside during the warm months and inside in the winter. Parking and entry are free. Open every Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Roger Williams Park – Free
Known as the jewel of Providence, Roger Williams Park has 435 acres of beautiful landscapes and historic architecture, great for a scenic picnic or just hanging around. While you’re there, be sure to check out the botanical gardens ($5 entry) and the park’s event schedule for food truck events throughout the year.
State Ballet of Rhode Island – Donation-based
The State Ballet of Rhode Island is the best of the best, putting on stellar performances since 1958, including classics like “Coppelia” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” In an effort to make the arts accessible for everyone, the studio puts on a Pay What You Can morning performance where attendees can pay an amount that’s best for them, within their budget.
State Beaches – $6-$20 depending on residency and day of the week
Rhode Island is the Ocean State, after all. Choose from eight state beaches that line the beautiful 400-mile coastline, each offering a carry-in, carry-out policy to ensure the shoreline remains pristine and accessible to the public. As a note, entrance to Misquamicut State Beach exceeds $20 for non-residents on the weekends.
The Blue Garden – $20
Versailles in R.I.? This gorgeous landscape art was developed in the early 1900s on a sprawling Newport estate, and now open to the public, serves as an idyllic panorama of tranquil pools, vibrant blooming flowers and other native species. Guided tours available daily.
The Fantastic Umbrella Factory isn’t what it sounds like. Since 1968, this gem of a property has given life to a 19th century farm with a cafe, gardens, animals, candy and jewelry shops and more dotting the pastural complex. Oh, and a bamboo forest.
WaterFire Providence – Free
Enjoy a summer evening in downtown Providence during WaterFire. This event is actually a live art installation where 100 braziers in the winding Providence River are lit, illuminating the city and creating a magnificent spectacle. Stroll along the river, grab a snack from the numerous food trucks parked along the way and simply enjoy. Check event schedule for dates.
Need a ride? Rent a car.
What are some of your favorite activities to do in Rhode Island on a budget? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments.
Featured image: The Blue Garden