The second most densely populated state in the northeastern part of the US, Rhode Island is a must-see destination spot lined with beautiful seaside colonial towns and scenic shorelines. Providence, the capital and nicknamed the Ocean State has a population of over 1 million people and has an official state name; Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (the longest state name).
Rhode Island, on the 4th of May 1776, declared its independence from the British, the first state to do so.
While there are many places to explore in Rhode Island do not miss the opportunity to explore one or more of the many iconic lighthouses that protect the shoreline from maritime and coastal accidents, there are currently 21 functioning lighthouses that serve as tourist attractions and gift shops.
One, in particular, the Ida Lewis Lighthouse, is the only one to be named after a person for her bravery and heroism in rescuing many people along the bay. Her father had, unfortunately, suffered a stroke and she took over his responsibilities and duties and in doing so has cemented a place in the hearts of people in Rhode Island.
Best Area to Stay in Rhode Island
Planning a trip to this historic place where so many events and celebrations took place is not only a great decision, but based on where you decide to reside is another choice you need to make well, one that could determine the proximity to activities and excursions, but also the enjoyment of the trip.
There is certainly something for everyone and all family dynamics, so whether you are looking for where to stay in Rhode Island with kids, or simply cheap hotels in Rhode Island, we have all the bases covered.
The best hotels in Rhode Island are categorized by the neighborhood or area you choose to stay in, think about whether you are more budget-focused, or prefer to be closer to more popular attractions and places of sightseeing. Once you have narrowed down your priorities and preferences it is easy to see which the best places to stay in Rhode Island are.
There are many unique places to stay in Rhode Island, others are more family orientated, and then just a simple place to rest your head at your home away from the home vacation spot, you will find something best suited to you and your traveling party. Our list of the top areas to stay in will help make that decision that much easier.
The top places, neighborhoods, and areas can be quite diverse so take a look at:
- Westerly – The southernmost town with great beaches and a tourist haven downtown
- Kingston – A beautifully historic village
- Providence – The capital and most populous city
- Newport – Known for its gilded-age mansions
This way you have a little bit of each to discover and explore and you can enjoy both the coastal and city life, and we will work our way from south to further up the coast and land inland.
Westerly, Rhode Island
The furthest point on the state makes Westerly a must-see destination, away from the bustle and hustle of typical tourist destinations, and opting for a more bespoke experience. Because of its location though, tropical storms are always on people’s minds, including hurricanes, and the town of Westerly was once left almost unrecognizable from the impact of Superstorm Sandy.
Since then, however, with redevelopment and infrastructure the town now has some of the best shorelines in Southern New England, perfect for finding where to stay in Rhode Island on the beach, so let’s explore and find a superb vacation spot.
Accommodation: Rated according to proximity to the beach and within all price ranges.
- Pleasant View Inn (3 stars, 7.2 travelers good rating, 9.2 for location) – Located on Misquamicut beach the property is right on the sand, but if the weather is not favorable during your stay you can relax in the on-site heated swimming pool, and end the day with a delicious meal at the hotel restaurant which is also available for lunch. Enjoy a nightcap at the bar and enjoy a great night’s rest ready for the next day with activities and excursions only 10 minutes drive from the hotel.
- The Hotel Maria (5 stars, 9.0 travelers superb rating, 9.2 for location) – Waking up to the crisp sea air breeze, listening to the water lapping onto the shore, and sea birds heading out for their morning feed, this property is only one minutes’ walk from the beach and the hotel has a private beach area for guests too. Fully equipped rooms with all the amenities and balcony rooms with sea views are the best way to start the morning with your cup of tea.
Activities in the area: Rated by uniqueness and experience.
- Watch Hill Lighthouse – The perfect place for a walk, to take the dog for a stroll (be sure to keep them on a leash), and for the family to get some fresh air combined with incredible views of the ocean stretching as far as the horizon. Do take note, that the museum and lighthouse access has specific opening hours so check those before heading out, you will want to make the most of the walk. Tranquil and serene, if you want a spot for some peace then head to this spot.
- Westerly Library & Wilcox Park – Visitors to this location have commented that it is a hidden gem well worth the visit. The library is large and very well maintained, a great way for children to learn and experience something new, and head to the park right next door afterward. Take a picnic and sit on the lawn while the kids run around looking at flowers and fauna of all shapes and sizes, and best of all, all the colors of the rainbow you could want. Spectacular.
Sightseeing: Rated by not-to-be-missed excursions and day trips.
- Heliblock – See Westerly from a bird’s eye view, and what an experience. Enjoy a round trip in a helicopter seeing all of Westerly and Round Block, and include a parasailing add-on or dining reservation to complete the day. Truly a one-of-a-kind day trip.
- Sail Trim Again – The perfect way to spend 2 hours on the water, getting up close and personal with the open sea, this sailing trip is great for celebrations for larger groups or for quality time with a loved one. See Westerly without being in Westerly for a unique moment.
Kingston, Rhode Island
This Washington Country village, originally known as Little Rest, was first settled in the late 17th century. The area is highly rated for its top-quality schooling, and the sparse suburban feel is why many people choose to reside here with the majority of residents owning their homes and properties. Just reading about this you know you will experience a great sense of community, and for this reason alone makes a trip here one to tick off on the bucket list.
Kingston also has some of the top educational institutions with The University of Rhode Island opened in 1951 and has become a household name in the area.
Accommodation: Rated by lowest prices but highest star ratings by visitors.
- Margin Street Inn (4 stars, 9.6 travelers exceptional rating, 9.3 for location) – The perfect way to start the day and get the fuel you need for the daily adventures and excursions is easily done when grabbing a bite to eat at the buffet and continental breakfast the hotel offers. The property has a gorgeous garden to relax in with a cup of tea or early evening drinks or enjoy off-site fishing nearby.
- The Villa Bed and Breakfast (4 stars, 9.4 travelers superb rating, 9.2 for location) – This bed and breakfast property ticks all the boxes for a stress-free holiday stop, with a pool on the property and a spa bath in the accommodation, you could also unwind in the hot tub. What guests love about the Villa is that it is close enough to outside activities, but off the road and in essence a hidden gem for a moment’s peace when you need it the most?
Activities in the area: Rated by traveler recommendations.
- The Garden of Wings Butterfly Pavilion – The ultimate excursion to immerse the family in the indigenous wildlife of butterflies and moths of Rhode Island seeing the large variety of species in all shapes and sizes and colors, and also the stages in their life cycles is particularly interesting for kids to better understand and see. A garden center is also on-site for a stroll around after visiting the beautifully sculpted landscape of the butterfly world.
- Peckham Farm at URI – While this is one of the quicker trips, perhaps 30 minute’s out of your day, it is worth it to take a break from the non-stop touring and just enjoy being around the animals on the farm. Children love being here, seeing the animals, and having the opportunity to feed the animals with the help of the on-hand staff. Who doesn’t love seeing farm life up close and animals in their natural habitats?
Sightseeing: Rated by traveler favorites.
- South County Center for the Arts – This historic landmark dates back more than 100 years. It is now a safe place for locals and the community to express their medium of art and even has educational programs both in art and others for residents to embrace the community spirit.
- Brandon Family Farm – See how organic and truly pesticide-free produce is grown, which is perfect for the kids because they also offer a pick-your-own produce service so you can eat as you walk and take some goodness home with you afterward. The scenery is tranquil and makes for great family photos, and is a change of energy where you can take your time and not be rushed like city excursions.
Providence – Where to stay in Providence Rhode Island
If you are looking for the sophistication and elegance of the city life combined with the community spirit and friendliness of a small town village, the Providence welcomes you with open arms. It has a rich history with tales and stories dating back hundreds of years, but then also has the most coffee and donut shops per capita of any city in the country. This just shows you how you can always expect a surprise in Providence which makes it that much more exciting.
Accommodation: Living in the city can be expensive, so we have chosen properties with lower star ratings and more budget-friendly.
- Residence Inn Providence Downtown (3 stars, 8.8 travelers fabulous rating, 9.3 for location) – If you decide to drive where you can have peace of mind that the hotel has valet parking available which is one less thing to worry about. The hotel offers daily continental breakfast and it has a fitness center, the perfect way to kick start the day. Then you can head off to the many sights within walking distance like the library, the performing arts center, and even the mall for the wife to get a few trinkets to take home.
- Christopher Dodge House (3 stars, 9.1 travelers superb rating, 8.6 for location) – A quaint brick mansion built in 1858 with manicured lawns leading up to it, sprinkled with colorful flowers, this bed and breakfast is the perfect cozy home away from home. Water Place Park is just down the road, and there are plenty of pathways for quiet walks in nature to shake off the day’s activities.
Activities in the area: Rated as a top attraction.
- Roger Williams Park Zoo – A great way to spend the day with the family, a visit to the zoo is eventful, interesting, and best of all for the kids, informative with over 100 species to learn about. Children have a chance to feed the animals, stroke and touch the little ones which is always a great photo opportunity, and then you can finish the visit with a snack at the café on site.
- Providence Children’s Museum – Often when you have kids, and especially little ones, they can get overwhelmed or bored by the big excursions, so keeping them in mind be sure to head to the kid’s museum for a trip just for them. They will be entertained non-stop with so much to see and you can relax with a coffee and let them get on with things.
Sightseeing: Day trips and excursions to see the best of Rhode Island and Providence.
- Rhode Island in a day – Starting in Providence and taking a tour through the Ocean State visiting memorials, parks, and beaches, this full-day tour will give you a taste of all the interesting and unique places Providence has to offer. A professionally guided adventure.
- Babcock Smith House – A museum that shows cases of what was once the thriving granite industry, with the first piece of granite discovered on the mansion grounds in 1845. Bespoke antiques fill the home which was continuously occupied until 1972 but is now open for tourists to see a glimpse of the everyday life and activities of the people who lived there.
A coastal community that welcomes you with open arms, there are experiences for all ages and demographics and adventure excursions to immerse you in the outdoors.
You can check our Where to Stay in Newport RI article to see the detailed neighborhood guide of Newport.
Accommodation: Rated by traveler top picks.
- America’s Cup Inn Newport (4 stars, 8.5 travelers very good rating, 9.7 for location) – Gas lighting and cobblestones only add to this quaint property. Rooms are designed well and the Inn has a rooftop deck for guests to unwind with a chilled drink. Top location with complimentary breakfast.
- Gurney’s Newport Resort and Marina (4 stars, 7.6 travelers good rating, 9.1 for location) – Nestled on Goat Island this waterfront property boasts 2 pools, spa, and fitness facilities, and is centrally located for activities and day trips off-site.
Activities in the area: Rated for luxury.
- Newport Gilded Age Mansions Trolley Tour with Breakers Admission – Historic mansions are a must-see attraction not to be missed and touring inside one of the most famous in the area, you will have a deep appreciation for great architecture and furnishings.
- Sightseeing Cruise from Newport – A relaxing tour of the harbor and the bay with onboard drinks is the perfect way to kick start the day or to unwind for the evening before heading to dinner.
Sightseeing: Rated for historical heritage.
- Private downtown walking tour – Immersed in the scenery that is Newport while walking along the harbor and passing by other top sites, this tour is great for learning about the area while getting in your fitness steps.
- Historic Newport Pedicab tour – You have seen them in the movies, and now you have a chance to see the area while being cycled around, amazing. Chat to your driver or cyclist while seeing the sites up close and personal. It is a great opportunity to take unrushed photos.
Visiting the town of Providence is not only about seeing the wonderful sights and landmarks but has for many people also been somewhat of a spiritual aspect.
Providence, meaning to have divine guidance and care, draws tourists in to learn about how the town got its name, a spiritual search that evolves into falling in love with the area and all there is to enjoy through its history.