Providence is an exciting and amazing city to visit, and is also incredibly accessible to some of the best destinations in all of New England. Whether you’re spending a lot of time in Providence and are looking to take a day trip or two during your visit, or you’re new to this area and are wondering the best places to explore in the surrounding areas, this post is all about the absolute best day trips from Providence, RI you can take.
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Best Day Trips From Providence, RI
In this list, you’ll find some incredible New England towns to explore that are only a short drive from Providence. I’m also including a variety of options including countryside getaways, charming coastal towns and exciting city destinations.
Each destination includes how long it will take you to get there from Providence, the best things to do and suggestions on where to eat to help you pick which will be best for your plans. And with that, let’s jump into the best day trips from Providence, RI!
1. Mystic, CT
Distance From Providence: 1 hour
Mystic is an incredibly charming town that sits along the Mystic River in Connecticut, and while it’s small, it has so much to do that can keep you busy for longer than a day. And with Mystic only being a short 1-hour drive, this is one of the easiest day trips from Providence, RI you can take.
Some of the highlights in Mystic to consider for your day trip itinerary include the Mystic Seaport Museum, walking along picturesque Main Street in downtown to visit the shops, grabbing a slice or two from Mystic Pizza and strolling through the neighboring town of Stonington.
I have an entire post dedicated to all the amazing things to do in Mystic, so be sure to click the link below to read all about my favorite shops, restaurants and sites to see in Mystic.
2. Newport, RI
Distance From Providence: 45 minutes – 1 hour (depending on traffic)
Newport is also only a short drive away, making this another one of the easiest day trips from Providence, RI.
Newport is such a dreamy little coastal town that has lots of charm, and is a great place to spend the day in any season (yes, even winter!). Some of the highlights to definitely consider during your day trip would be the Newport mansions, Cliff Walk (my personal favorite thing to do), Bowen’s Wharf, walking the historic streets, taking a sailboat tour and visiting Goat Island Lighthouse.
To make the most of your time on a day trip, a great option to consider is a combined trolley and mansion tour, which provides awesome insight into the city while cruising around in a cute trolley (and not having to worry about parking!). This tour also includes admission to The Breakers, one of the best mansions to see.
I have an extensive guide on all the best things to do in Newport, RI, including a suggested day trip itinerary. Be sure to to click the link below to read all about my favorite shops, restaurants and things to do in Newport.
3. Block Island, RI
Distance From Providence: 45 minutes – 1 hour to get to the ferry, 30 minutes – 1 hour on the ferry (depending on the type of ferry you take)
Block Island is my favorite coastal getaway in Rhode Island, and while it’s a bit more logistically complicated to get there because you have to take a ferry, it’s more than worth it, and is one of the best day trips from Providence, RI.
My favorite thing about Block Island are the gorgeous beaches, and all of them are free to visit, including parking. For the perfect Block Island day trip, I definitely recommend carving out some time to visit at least one of the beaches.
Some other things to consider doing would be the Mohegan Bluffs, walking out to North Light, exploring the downtown, grabbing lunch at The Oar and seeing South East Light.
Is There A Direct Ferry From Providence To Block Island?
No, there is no ferry that goes directly from Providence to Block Island. You will have to drive to either the Point Judith Ferry in RI or the New London Ferry in CT.
I have a detailed guide on everything you need to know about a day trip to Block Island, including the best ferry options, my opinion on if you need a car, and the best shops, restaurants and beaches. Click the link below for more information on Block Island.
4. New Haven, CT
Distance From Providence: 1 hour and 45 minutes
New Haven is such a cool little city in Connecticut with some really fun things to do, making this one of the best day trips from Providence, RI. I love it because while it’s a city, it has a lot of character and doesn’t feel as overwhelming as some other larger cities.
Some things you should definitely consider doing in New Haven would be walking around the Yale campus, trying an “Apizza,” taking in the views from East Rock Park, seeing the historic homes on Hillhouse Avenue, spending some time at The Green and visiting Lighthouse Point Park.
For the best Apizza experience, I highly recommend you check out Sally’s. Apizza is a special kind of pizza that’s a combination of New Haven and Napoli style, and it’s really delicious. If you’re a fan of seafood, try their white clam Apizza.
5. Boston, MA
Distance From Providence: 1 hour without traffic, but can take up to 2 hours during rush hour traffic
Boston is an awesome day trip option because of its iconic New England history, gorgeous architecture, incredible shops and restaurants and amazing museums. While you can, of course, spend a week in Boston and not run out of things to do, but it’s also one of the best day trips from Providence, RI you can take.
Some of the best things to do in Boston include walking around the historic Beacon Hill neighborhood, exploring Boston Common and the Public Gardens (consider going on a Swan Boat Ride!), hitting up Newbury Street for some shopping, visiting the penguins and sea lions at the New England Aquarium, taking a waterfront stroll along the Charles Esplanade and walking the Freedom Trail.
To take some pressure off your feet during your day trip, a hop-on, hop-off tour is a great option to see as many sites as possible, without having to worry about public transportation or parking.
Boston has endless restaurants to check out, but some of my favorites are 75 Chestnut, Lolita Mexican (a bit of a scene, but a really cool experience), Neptune Oyster and Boston Burger Company. Don’t skip Mike’s to pick up some of their famous pastries!
6. Salem, MA
Distance From Providence: 1 hour and 15 minutes without traffic, up to 1 hour and 45 minutes in rush hour traffic
Everyone loves to visit Salem in October (myself included because it’s quite the experience!), but I always tell people that it makes for a great day trip or weekend getaway all year-round, especially in the summer. While Salem is known for its Halloween celebrations, there’s also a lot of incredible history here that’s fun to explore any time of the year.
Combine that with awesome restaurants, museums, gorgeous New England architecture and really great tour options, it makes for a really wonderful day trip from Providence, RI.
Some of the best things to do in Salem are the Peabody Essex Museum, Winter Island Park and lighthouse, exploring the historic neighborhoods, taking a sailing tour, the Salem Witch Trial Memorial and the House of Seven Gables.
Even if you visit outside of the fall season, it’s still fun to get into the spooky spirit while in Salem. The best way to do that year-round is by taking this awesome walking tour and select a nighttime tour option. The tour guide shares amazing stories of the town’s haunted past, and will be led by lantern light for the ultimate spooky experience.
I have a detailed guide all about taking a day trip to Salem, including all the best shops, restaurants, sites and suggested day trip itineraries. Be sure to click the link below to help you plan your day trip from Providence, RI.
7. Plymouth, MA
Distance From Providence: 1 hour without traffic, up to 1 hour and 30 minutes with traffic
Another one of the best day trips from Providence, RI is Plymouth, MA, which is a cute little town with a variety of things to do. While it’s known for its history, and is also packed with museums, you’ll also find some really beautiful parks to explore, great restaurants and shops, wineries and beaches.
One thing to consider doing in Plymouth if you’re looking for a day of restoration is to head to Mirbeau Inn & Spa. Mirbeau has a few locations throughout the Northeast, and their Plymouth location is a great destination for a day at the spa. You can also pop in for a lovely lunch or dinner.
Some other things to consider doing in Plymouth would be to watch history come to life at the Plimoth Patuxet Museum, visiting the National Monument to the Forefathers, stroll through Brewster Gardens, step aboard the Mayflower II, a replica of the original Mayflower ship, go wine tasting at Plymouth Bay Winery, take a walk on Plymouth Long Beach and explore the shops and restaurants on Main Street in downtown Plymouth.
To save a little money, booking a combination ticket to two historical attractions is a great idea. Be sure to click the link below to look into combination ticket options!
9. Scituate, MA
Distance From Providence: 1 hour without traffic, up to 1 hour and 30 minutes with traffic
The South Shore in Massachusetts often gets overlooked by places like Cape Cod, Gloucester and Rockport (all of which are great destinations, don’t get me wrong!), but definitely look into the South Shore when thinking about day trips from Providence, RI because there are some really lovely towns down this way.
My favorite is Scituate, which is a small town, making it a great day trip destination. It’s usually not that crowded, even in the summer, and still has a lot to do for visitors.
Some of the best things to consider adding to your Scituate itinerary would be visiting Scituate Lighthouse, going on a whale watch with Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, beer tasting at Untold Brewing, visiting the shops and restaurants in Scituate’s town center, going for a walk on Humarock Beach and taking a sail boat tour around the harbor.
As far as what to eat, definitely pop into Mill Wharf for a lobster roll, and also be sure to visit Lucky Finn Cafe, which is equally beautiful as it is delicious. And of course, grab a cone at Nona’s Ice Cream!
10. Old Saybrook, CT
Distance From Providence: 1 hour and 15 minutes
When planning day trips from Providence, RI, a great destination to consider if you’re looking for a quaint coastal town is Old Saybrook in Connecticut. While it’s not super tiny, it has a small-town feel, and is a great place to connect with nature, and have a classic New England experience that likely won’t be packed with people.
Old Saybrook is deeply rooted in history, and also has a lot of connections to the movie industry, specifically with Katharine Hepburn having a long-time family home here.
Some of the highlights of things to do in Old Saybrook would be seeing Lynde Point Lighthouse, going for a sunset walk on Harvey’s Beach, visiting the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, going for a ride on the Essex Steam Train, packing a picnic and hitting the trails at Rocky Neck State Park, exploring Gillette Castle and hitting up the shops and restaurants on Main Street in downtown Old Saybrook.
Old Saybrook is also an incredible town for foodies, as its packed with amazing restaurants. Some of the best places to eat include Liv’s Shack for a lobster roll, Rosemary & Sage and La Marea Ristorante. Be sure to stop by Fenwick for ice cream!
11. Hartford, CT
Distance From Providence: 1 hour and 30 minutes
For another city day trip from Providence, RI, definitely consider Hartford, CT! There are some awesome museums here, which makes this a great destination for a rainy day, but beyond that, there are lots of other things to do that will appeal to all different types of people.
Some of the best things to do in Hartford would be the Mark Twain House & Museum, the Connecticut Science Center, the Riverfront plaza and Riverfront park, hitting up the local breweries and distilleries (I suggest Hartford Flavor Company for an especially cool experience) and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center. If you’re traveling with kids, a fun stop to make is the Bushnell Park Carousel.
Weekend Trips From Providence, RI
Distance From Providence: 1 hour and 45 minutes
While Cape Cod is technically two hours or so from Providence and can definitely be done as a day trip, it makes for an even better weekend getaway. Cape Cod is one of my personal favorite destinations in all of New England, so I always encourage people to go even for a day if that’s all they squeeze in. But with so much to do, why not make it a weekend getaway?
Some of the best things to do on Cape Cod during a weekend trip would be to visit the Cape Cod National Seashore, explore Provincetown, hit up Main Street in Chatham and visit some of the local beaches (depending on where you stay).
If you do only have a day, be sure to click the link below for my detailed guide on taking a Cape Cod day trip, as well as suggested itineraries. I also have a guide all about the perfect itinerary for 3 days on Cape Cod, also linked below to help you out.
New York City
Distance From Providence: 3 hours without traffic, up to 4 hours and 30 minutes in rush hour traffic
Because New York City can be a 4-hour drive or longer because of traffic (and always add extra time for traffic!), this makes for a much better weekend getaway than a day trip.
Of course, NYC is iconic, and there are endless possibilities when it comes to planning a weekend getaway from Providence, RI. But to help you narrow it down, some of my favorite things to suggest for first-time visitors are to explore the sites in Central Park, ride the Staten Island ferry (for free!) to see the Statue of Liberty, grab a slice of pizza (or two!) from Joe’s on E. 14th Street, walk the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn to explore the DUMBO neighborhood in Brooklyn for incredible skyline views, and walk around the Chelsea neighborhood.
A really unique option in NYC is to take a nighttime sailing tour to see some famous landmarks and the skyline lit up at night.
Distance From Providence: About 2 hours, depending on which town you stay in
The Berkshires are the ultimate woodsy experience, and make for a great weekend getaway from Providence, RI. Even though it’s a great place to get out into nature for hiking and such, it’s also comprised of over 30 towns, so you have plenty of options on where to stay, and will have lots of access to an incredible food scene and downtown areas.
Because The Berkshires encompasses so many towns, it’s hard to narrow down exactly what you should do during your visit because it will greatly depend on which town you stay in. What I can say is that you’ll have no shortage of hiking opportunities, as well as lots of parks and nature trails to explore while here.
If you’re curious about the best towns to stay in, I’m partial to Stockbridge, which is famous for its connections to Norman Rockwell. Stockbridge is a picturesque New England town with beautiful homes and great restaurants.
I also really like Lenox, which has a bit more to do, and has a slightly more upscale feel as well.
Distance From Providence: 3 hours
Woodstock, VT is one of my all-time favorite Vermont destinations, and is one of the best weekend getaways from Providence, RI.
Woodstock is an idyllic little New England town that’s packed with charm, and is wonderful to visit in any season. In the winter, it turns into a cozy winter wonderland. In the fall, you’ll feel like you’re inside a Hallmark harvest festival. In the summer, there are lots of hiking and nature trails to tackle. In the spring, you may forget that you’re not in a charming town in the English countryside.
Depending on the season, some of the best things to do in Woodstock, VT are visiting the three covered bridges (Middle, Lincoln and Taftsville), exploring Billings Farm & Museum, hiking to the summit of Mount Tom, visiting the lovely shops and cafes in downtown Woodstock, exploring the Marsh – Billings – Rockefeller National Historical Park and taking a drive to nearby Quechee to visit the Simon Pearce flagship store for a glass-blowing demonstration.
The most amazing dining experience I’ve ever had has been right here in Woodstock. If you’re planning a weekend getaway, or even just a day trip, I highly recommend splurging on dinner at Lincoln Inn & Restaurant. From start to finish, this was a true experience with a cozy New England ambience. Absolutely worth every penny.
You may also enjoy:
- Best New England Day Trips
- New England Bucket List
- Best New England Winter Getaways
- Best Things To Do In Westerly, RI & Watch Hill
That’s A Wrap On The Best Day Trips From Providence, RI
And there you have it! Now you know all the very best day trips from Providence, RI, as well as some awesome weekend getaway options. With its accessibility to so many different place throughout New England, you have so many options for coastal destinations, city escapes and awesome countryside retreats.