13 Things to Do this Fall in Rhode Island
October 7, 2021
Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, through Oct. 31, 2021
A longtime New England tradition, the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo returns to a walk-through event this year throughout the zoo’s pumpkin-peppered grounds. Themed around the greatest music of the past 150 years, this year’s spectacular takes you from Joplin to Jay-Z tunes wafting through the air and cool tributes to musical icons throughout. Families can stroll, sway or boogie their way past the thousands of intricately carved pumpkins displayed while listening to the soundtracks from the 1860s through today. Enjoy thousands of pumpkins beautifully carved in the likeness of music’s brightest superstars in addition to historic gurus, sports luminaries, celebrities and other familiar faces. The spectacular unfolds nightly now through Halloween night!
Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival, Oct. 16-17, 2021
It’s the 30th anniversary of this beloved Newport event that celebrates the savory spoils of the sea. Bowen’s Wharf, the heart of downtown, welcomes dozens of seafood vendors proffering a variety of palate pleasing delectables including award-winning clam chowders, fried clams, fritters, oysters, lobster rolls, scallops and more, plus tons of delights from the wharf’s restaurants to please landlubbers as well — and for those with a sweet tooth, treats like frozen lemonade, made-to-order donuts, and kettle corn. Named one of the “10 Fabulous Fall Festivals on the Coast” by Coastal Living Magazine, this event has grown by leaps and bounds over the past three decades, welcoming robust crowds that may spontaneously dance the afternoon away to the sounds of live music by popular bands. Folk, surf rock, Caribbean and blues music are just a sample of what you’ll hear throughout the two-day event. While there, embark on one of the many cruises of Newport Harbor that depart from Bowen’s Wharf that range from sensational schooners to sleek sailboats. Admission to the festival is free — you only pay for the dishes and beverages you want — and much of the space is tented, so be prepared to party, rain or shine!
Newport Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival, Oct. 16-17, 2021
Hosted by Food Truck Festivals of America, the 2nd annual Newport Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival has expanded to two fabulous days featuring some of the region’s most popular food trucks dishing out fan favorites in addition to local craft brews ranging from double IPAs and stouts to session beers and seasonal specials. Held at historic Fort Adams where you’ll have plenty of room to roam (and social distance!), get ready to sample 50 craft beers from local, regional and national breweries and a spectrum of culinary delights. Think: tacos and gourmet grilled cheese, lobster rolls and down home barbeque, inventive pizzas and vegan ice cream. Enjoy outdoor games including cornhole, giant jenga, giant checkers and more, or get your groove on and dance to the tunes of a local DJ. Bring your friends and family, lawn chairs, blankets, and soak in the sun (though the event is rain or shine). Children 12 and under are free at this family friendly event, plus all first responders and military (active or retired) will receive free admission with valid ID.
Harvest Market at Pardon Gray Preserve, Oct. 17, 2021
There are a lot of things to just adore about Tiverton, but the Pardon Gray Preserve should be in your top three. The 230-acre preserve has three interconnected trails that weave through the stunning natural beauty of the Farm Coast which remains virtually unchanged from the way it looked centuries ago. The Harvest Market, an inaugural pop-up event, will bring together more than 50 food artisans, artists, makers and more along with things to do including guided trail walks through bucolic Weetamoo Woods and historic Pardon Gray Cemetery, a pick-your-own pumpkin patch, lawn games, live alpacas, music and more. The event, a collaboration between the Tiverton Land Trust and the Tiverton Farmers Market, will be a celebration of the fall season.
Harvest Moon Paddle at Weekapaug Inn, Oct. 19, 2021
The Harvest Moon is the full moon closest to the autumnal equinox, so it’s a special time for many, and one that needs to be honored and celebrated. The Weekapaug Inn, a luxurious respite in Westerly overlooking Quonochontaug Pond and the Atlantic Ocean, welcomes both guests and non-guests to share extraordinary experiences like Harvest Moon standup paddleboarding at moonrise. You’ll paddle from the inn’s dock to greet the rising moon from a remote stretch of beach. While taking it all in, enjoy a glass of sparkling wine. Finally, paddle back across the placid waters of Quonochontaug Pond basked in moonlight.
Wine Camp Weekend at the Ocean House, Nov. 5, 2021
Leave your backpacks at home — this is a whole different kind of camp. Winemaker Jonathan Edwards of Jonathan Edwards Winery in North Stonington, Connecticut, will join forces with the Director of Wine Education at the Ocean House (Rhode Island’s only triple Five-Star hotel property) to host a weekend for wine enthusiasts. Guests can learn everything they’ve ever wanted to know about winemaking, taking part in an authentic hands-on winemaking experience in addition to meeting and dining with the winemaker and getting an exclusive tour of the winery. Once you learn how to make wine, it’s time to get to work, in the best way possible. Participants will blend their own wine and receive a case of personally labeled of their very own.
Throughout the Season:
Haunted Boat Tours, recurring weekly Sundays and Wednesdays
The Providence Riverboat Company has joined forces with Providence Ghost Tours to make a haunting introduction to some of The Capital City’s “longest-lingering residents” while exploring its picturesque waterways. Cruise under the bridges, take in the century-old architecture and as they say, learn about “dearly-deceased-but-not-so-departed residents, local literary giants and humble servants alike.” Come Halloween, rake a Haunted Booo-zy Boat Ride for a Day of the Dead celebration (also takes place Nov. 1).
The Guild PVD Beer Garden, evenings, Wednesdays – Sundays through Halloween
Savor seasonal flavor by the pint at this weekly gathering courtesy of The Guild. Located at the Providence Pedestrian Bridge at the PVD Innovation District Park along Dyer St. and the Providence River, this spot is comfy and casual with 20 long-style tables, 20 high tops and plenty of smiles. This weekly tradition wraps up come Halloween, so get your local craft brew in this peaceful park setting before it’s gone (and grab some grub at a visit food truck or at nearby Dune Bros. — one of our favorite food tour stops)!
Behind the Scenes Distillery Tour, every other Sunday at 11:30am
Rise and grind at this awesome experience where The Industrious Spirits Company (known best as ISCO) pulls back the curtain so folks can see the magic happen at Providence’s first distillery to open since prohibition. This tour was introduced early this past summer and has been wowing visitors as they explore the former industrial mill complex where the onsite mashing, fermenting, distilling, bottling and packaging is all done so that ISCO can produce its award-winning vodka, gins and bourbons from scratch. While there, drinks, enjoy snacks and music and food on the Tasting Room patio.
Scary Acres Haunted Corn-maze & Hayride, weekends through Halloween
Positively frightful, this annual fall event brings victims, er, visitors, on tractor-pulled wagons through Confreda’s Greenhouses and Farm in Hope, Rhode Island, for a horrifying hayride into their “dark and sinister cornfield.” Hear absolutely terrifying tales of gore, grotesque ghouls and goblins across four football fields-worth of a menacing corn-maze. “With copious corridors and spine-chilling surprises around every corner, guests are in for a ghastly good time.”
There are almost two dozen pick-your-own-apples orchards throughout the Ocean State, all with an array of apple varieties that make this ubiquitous fall experience plentiful. On Aquidneck Island, Sweet Berry Farm is a favorite of folks from far and wide, with the added bonus of a very Instagram-worthy post-and-beam farm market and café, seemingly endless rows of seasonal produce and a bucolic vibe all around. Mac, Macoun, Empire, Fiji, Honeycrisp and Gingergold are just some of the varieties you can pluck right from the trees here and you’ll soon be on your way to making an amazing apple pie. Nearby Rocky Brook Orchard is also ready for visitors with wagons and apple pickers provided. You do the work and leave with a peck or two. Closer to The Creative Capital, you’ll find Pippin Orchards, a New England landmark that has been providing farm fresh produce for decades. In addition to the apples, here you’ll find hot blueberry and apple pies, candy apples and maple candy …oh, and fresh apple cider donuts! In South County, Clark Farms is one of the best spots for fall splendor! Corn maze? Check. Hay rides? Check. Pumpkin patch? Check. Petting zoo? Oh yeah! This family farm is charming and endlessly entertaining for the young and young at heart!
There is no shortage of pastoral pumpkin patches in the Ocean State but Adams Farm in Cumberland is the largest of them all. The former dairy farm has been in the same family since the turn of the century and while the herd is a bit smaller than yesteryear, they are now joined by horses, sheep, donkeys, pigletst and goats. Enjoy plenty of apples and apple cider donuts for purchase, and with plenty of picnic tables to sit, there is ample space to relax and enjoy. Back to the pumpkins — there are tons of them: large, small, round, oblong, heavy, stubby and just about any shape you could desire.
Clark Farms Corn Maze
Fall in South County means a pilgrimage to Clark Farms in Matunuck, a favorite for families throughout Southern New England. Each year, the farm creates a new corn maze with a funny or frightful theme. This year, the theme is “Escape from Alcatraz” with tons of twists and turns guaranteed to get you discombobulated. If you find yourself to be a pro the first time around, try your luck under the darkness of night. Guided only by the brilliant autumn moon (and a flashlight), challenge yourself to escape the maze! Once you’ve worked up an appetite, warm up around the campfires (on Saturdays) with complimentary s’mores until 9pm.