10 of the Most Romantic Views in Rhode Island
February 9, 2022
With 400 miles of coastline, centuries of history, and more than 1,000 family owned farms, what Rhode Island lacks in square mileage it makes up for in enviable beauty. Whether popping the question this Valentine’s Day, looking for the perfect place to take some pics for the ‘gram, or searching out the idyllic winding road to just unplug and take it all in, we’ve rounded up some of the most romantic views throughout the Ocean State.
Ocean Drive, Newport
Comprised of nearly 10 miles of winding road that traces the rocky, southernmost edge of Aquidneck Island, Ocean Drive delivers some of Rhode Island’s most iconic– and romantic – views. “The Drive,” as it’s dubbed by locals, is crowned Brenton Point State Park, perched on the former grounds of one of Newport’s grandest estates. In the warmer months, the park’s 89-acres are ideal for picnicking, hiking, bird watching and fishing. This time of year, grab some hot chocolate and take the majestic views of where the Atlantic Ocean meets Narragansett Bay.
While there are plenty of stunning milieus along The Drive, there are a few standouts to be sure to explore. The Castle Hill Lighthouse, on the property of the Castle Hill Inn & Resort, is a striking 34-foot tall granite lighthouse first lit in 1890. It marks the mouth of Narragansett Bay and is often a starting or finish line in major regattas. The trail to get to the lighthouse has a few rocky sections so proper footwear is suggested.
Rodman’s Hollow, Block Island
Nearly half of the land on Block Island is conserved as open space in perpetuity, so the little island 13 miles off of the southern coast of Rhode Island is peppered with extraordinarily romantic views. Located on the southwest part of the island, Rodman’s Hollow is a 230-acre glacial outwash plain that looks straight out of an Andrew Wyeth painting. Bursting with native trees and shrubs, you’ll see the land is whimsically dissected by a winding footpath that varies from flat to steep. Follow the path and you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful panoramic view of Black Rock Beach, the Atlantic Ocean, and if it’s a clear day, the shores of Montauk, on the tip of New York’s Long Island, in the distance.
Rodman’s Hollow is one of the best places to hunt for Block Island’s famous glass floats, hand-blown glass orbs that each year, are hidden around the island as part of an interactive art experience known as the Glass Float Project.
The Swamp Meadow Covered Bridge, Foster
Covered bridges are synonymous with New England, and while de rigueur in the northernmost states, including Vermont and New Hampshire, you don’t have to trek quite that far to take in the romance of these simple but striking architectural gems.
Though bearing a decidedly unromantic name, the Swamp Meadow Covered Bridge is Rhode Island’s only covered bridge on a public road. The bridge is 40-feet long from end to end, and though it looks like it could be a century old or more, it was actually built in 1997 in the same fashion as an early nineteenth-century wooden bridge. The bridge was completed in 1994 by an all-volunteer crew and built with donated lumber cut from local forests. Surrounded by a canopy of snow-dusted treetops, this is the perfect time of year to take in this Ocean State gem.
Beavertail Lighthouse, Jamestown
If there’s a listicle of beautiful views and it doesn’t include a lighthouse or two, is it even a list at all? While there are many breathtaking lighthouses throughout the Ocean State, Jamestown’s Beavertail Lighthouse is one of the most interesting. Reaching 64-feet into the sky, the lighthouse towers over the southernmost point of Conanicut Island while offering views of three other are beacons: visible from Castle Hill Lighthouse, Point Judith Light, and Rose Island Light.
The original wooden tower was built on the site in 1749 but burned down. A second version was erected only to be destroyed by the British while retreating from Newport near the end of the Revolutionary War in 1779. Today’s light was built from granite in 1856 and is the pinnacle of Beavertail State Park featuring acres upon acres of coastal nooks and crannies.
Providence Pedestrian Bridge, Providence
Completed in 2019, the Providence Pedestrian Bridge is a modern marvel that stylishly connects Providence’s uber-hip East Side to the burgeoning Innovation District, a reinvented neighborhood just southeast of Downtown with land that was once home to interstate highway. It’s also the historic home of the Jewelry District which, during the 19th century, was considered the jewelry manufacturing capital of the world.
New parks and ample green space flank the bridge which has a curvaceous form made from panels of Wana wood rising on old granite piers, curving across the Providence River. Cable rails offer a contemporary vibe. Don’t be surprised if you’re serenaded by live music when you trapeze the bridge – and don’t be afraid to spontaneously dance!
Frosty Drew Observatory & Sky Theatre, Charlestown
Known at Southern New England’s gateway to the Milky Way, this lovely little observatory is quietly tucked into Charlestown’s delightful Ninigret Park. Open every Friday night year round to the public (and free of charge), the observatory is home to numerous telescopes and accessories much to the delight of stargazers far and wide.
Just last year, the observatory added a new, high tech telescope, making it even easier to take in the celestial magic of the planets, stars, interstellar clouds and if you’re extra lucky, meteor showers. A lovely Valentine’s Day experience, find out for sure if your stars align.
The Hunts Mills Dam, Rumford
A walk on the 0.7 mile Hunt’s Mill Trail, a well-marked pathway of easy terrain, will reward you with a lovely if unexpected vista: The Hunts Mills Dam and waterfall. An unequivocal hidden gem, Hunts Mills was once where some of the earliest mills and factories of the Industrial Age operated along the Ten Mile River. Nearby, you can see the Rumford Baking Powder factory, reinvented from its 1856 origins. History buff couples will want to visit the Hunt House Museum to learn more about the site.
The low, crescent-shaped waterfalls are exceptionally tranquil, with the cascading water constantly humming. For couples who want to bring their four-legged friends on their adventures, leashed dogs are welcome here as well.
Napatree Point, Watch Hill
Rhode Island’s southernmost spit of land is a sight to behold. Extending 1.3 miles west into Little Narragansett Bay from Watch Hill and offers a romantic loop beach walk from which you’ll find endlessly breathtaking saltwater views.
Bird-watching duos will want to bring their binoculars, as the Napatree Point Conservation Area is home to many species of federally and state-listed endangered species of birds. The conservation area’s 86 acres are designated a “Globally Important Bird Area” by the National Audubon Society and a Climate Response Demonstration Site by the nearby University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute. Head back into “downtown” Watch Hill where you may also make an interesting sighting — a celebrity sighting — as songstress Taylor Swift’s mansion, Holiday House, is just steps away. If looking to truly indulge, up the romance at the Ocean House, a historic Rhode Island beach hotel that has been meticulously reconstructed to its turn-of-the-century grandeur. In lieu of a predictable dinner, experience the unique winter Gondola Village, designed to transport you the French Alps “après ski” menus.
South Shore Beach, Little Compton
With azure swells of the Atlantic Ocean as far as the eye can see, South Shore Beach is a small New England beach with come parts rock-covered. In the summer months, visitors clamor to get a spot on this pristine sandy stretch, but this time of year, it offers a serenity that’s difficult to compare.
Couples looking for a romantic place to stroll will find plenty of parking here, and shell collectors will find plenty of treasures to add to their collection, and might find some colorful sea glass along the way. As ice cream always seems like a good idea, cap your visit to the South Shore Beach off with a stop at nearby Gray’s Ice Cream. Nestled in the heart of Tiverton Four Corners, Gray’s has been an institution here since 1923. Just be sure to share a scoop or two.
Colt State Park, Bristol
Even in the winter months, Colt State Park’s 464 acres of rolling lawns, miles of paved pathways, hiking trails, historic stone walls, picnic groves and a striking stone arched bridge never fails to charm. Considered the crown jewel of the Rhode Island State Park System, you know you’re entering somewhere special as the entry is flanked by two majestic, life-sized bronze lion statues, named Conrad and Pomeroy, atop marble columns. While the panorama of Narragansett Bay is arresting, couples will want to check out the Chapel by the Sea, a small and simple al fresco chapel that hosts weddings, vow renewals and other ceremonies in the warmer months. After, warm up with a romantic dinner in downtown Bristol. With more than a dozen oyster farms just a short drive away, you can find the briny aphrodisiac bivalves at Bristol Oyster Bar, Le Central, The Lobster Pot and DeWolf Tavern.