The Epic Things to Do in Rhode Island List: Fall Fairs & Festivals Edition
September 9, 2022
There’s no better place, at least as far as we’re concerned, that has a better fall-themed “things to do” calendar than Rhode Island. What the Ocean State lacks in square mileage it makes up for in events, fairs, festivals and seasonal happenings. So grab that pumpkin spice latte and get ready for an autumn full of fun.
THROUGHOUT THE SEASON:
Rhode Island has a rich history; some may even call it…haunting. With homes and buildings that pre-date the American revolution, Rhode Island is rife with legend and lore celebrated in myriad tours both on foot and by boat!
While cruising along the scenic Providence River, hear stories about The Capital City’s “dearly-deceased-but-not-so-departed” residents, local literary legends, and humble servants who perhaps have made it a habit to linger around a bit. A partnership between the Providence Riverboat Company and Providence Ghost Tours, Haunted Boat Tours will have you cruising under bridges, taking in century-old architecture and learning about the legends of local lost souls on Friday and Saturday nights through fall. Two special cruises include the Haunted Booo-zy Boat Rides on Halloween night and Day of the Dead celebration on November 1st. Or take a haunted gondola ride! The Viaggio di Fantasme, or “Trip of Ghosts,“ is a 50-minute calm gondola ride rowed by skilled oarsmen down the Providence River on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout September and October.
Westerly, Rhode Island’s haunting past has been well documented for centuries and today, these tales of intrigue are sure to send a tingle up your spine. On the Downtown Westerly Ghost Tour, you’ll hear tales of the spectral light formed by one of New England’s worst shipwrecks and learn about paranormal activity at Westerly’s establishments, among other legends. Meanwhile, Ghost Tours of Newport will send you on a lantern-led evening stroll down the historic coastal city’s shadowy lanes to discover the ghosts, ghouls and legends of this decidedly haunted 383-year old city.
For a night of fun and fright, head to the certifiably creepy Scary Acres Corn Maze at Confreda Farms in Hope, Rhode Island. With real people bringing the scare for years and years, the action upfolds under the stars. Equally scary is the haunted hayride on site! For something a little more family friendly, head to Escobar Farms in Portsmouth, where the corn maze welcomes all ages. This year’s theme is Field of Dreams (not screams!). This year, the theme at Clark Farms’ corn maze in South County is Alice in Wonderland. Tickets to the maze also include access to the farm’s hayride, giant mountain slide, corn cannon, pedal powered go-karts, Western town and shooting gallery, zipline and petting zoo.
While it’s not a fall-specific activity, who can resist hiking with goats amid the fall foliage? Simmons Farm in Middletown offers fantastically fun goat hikes throughout the week and on weekends. Stroll through the farm’s rolling green pastures with the company of a super cute Caprine friend led by Farmer Karla and her crew of adventurous, fun loving goats. You’ll get your very own goat to walk on a leash and will enjoy stops along the way to let the goats nibble.
Apple picking in New England is the quintessential autumn activity! There are almost two dozen pick-your-own-apples orchards throughout Rhode Island. Pippin Orchards in Cranston has been providing farm fresh produce for Cranston residents for decades, and in the fall, you’ll find 17 acres of apple trees amongst one of the best kept orchards in New England. Pippen’s offerings also include hot blueberry and apple pies, candy apples and maple candy, fresh apple cider donuts, honey and syrups are all made at the orchard.
On Aquidneck Island, Sweet Berry Farm is a longtime favorite of folks from far and wide. Macoun, Empire, Fiji, Honeycrisp and Gingergold are just some of the varieties you can pluck from the orchard’s trees and you’ll soon be on your way to making an amazing apple pie. Nearby Rocky Brook Orchard in Middletown offers guests wagons and fruit pickers to gather a peck or two.
One of Rhode Island’s greatest seasonal treasures is the Hard Pressed Cider Company. Now through Thanksgiving, you’ll find the cider company at Windmist Farm in Jamestown and from the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas they are at Farmer’s Daughter Christmas Tree Farm in South Kingstown. Hot apple cider, cider slushies and cider doughnuts, all made from locally sourced apples and processed on site.
September 11TH: Harvest Market at Pardon Gray Preserve
A collaboration between the Tiverton Farmers Market and the Tiverton Land Trust, the Harvest Market at Pardon Gray Preserve was so successful last year, they brought it back. More than 50 food artisans, artists, makers will offer foodstuffs and ware while things to do include guided trail walks through bucolic Weetamoo Woods and historic Pardon Gray Cemetery.
Sept. 15TH-18TH: Newport International Boat Show
One of the largest and most prestigious boat shows in the country, the Newport International Boat Show spans over 13 acres of Newport’s downtown waterfront. Exhibitors from near and far offer a full range of new powerboats and sailboats, plus a medley of marine products, services, and accessories to enhance the nautical lifestyle. Special events, seminars, and in-water boating courses for the whole family are offered on all show days..
Sept. 18TH: Newport Oktoberfest
Bavaria meets the Ocean State inside the walls of historic Fort Adams in Newport where attendees will be able to enjoy authentic German beer, wine, food, and live music. Tickets include entry to the afternoon festival and a stein glass to be used for all-samples-included beer throughout the afternoon.
September 29TH – October 2nd Audrain Newport Concours & Motor Week
A celebration of the automobile uniting enthusiasts from around the world, experience plenty of interesting events hosted at some of Newport’s most notable locations: the historic mansions of Bellevue Avenue, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the Audrain Automobile Museum, the Redwood Library and Athenaeum, the National Museum of American Illustration, the Newport Pell Bridge, and more.
September 29TH – October 31st: Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular
A longtime New England tradition, the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo returns this year with a celebration of 75 years of television. At nightfall, visitors will share in the nostalgia of their favorite tv shows, artistically carved on thousands upon thousands of pumpkins. From Mr. Ed to The Walking Dead, this year’s family-friendly Spectacular has something for everyone, so prepare for a “yabba-dabba-do time” while “taking a break from all their troubles,” as the shows’ musical theme songs accompany the experience.
October 1ST and 2ND: Norman Bird Sanctuary’s Harvest Fair
This award-winning event has been a fall favorite on Aquidneck Island for more than 45 years. After a short hiatus, the event returns with its signature sack races, the Home & Garden Competition, the Crafter’s Tent, live music, and so much more. Norman Bird Sanctuary’s Harvest Fair is a weekend of festivities for the whole family!
October 7th & October 22nd: WaterFire
WaterFire and Providence are practically synonymous at this point as this legendary event debuted 28 years ago and has become the Capital City’s signature event. Nearly 100 bonfires blaze just above the surface of the three downtown Providence rivers in dramatic braziers while music plays and thousands come from near and far to peruse the awe-inspiring sight. On 10/7 there’s a partial lighting at Memorial Park at sunset and on 10/22 there will be a full lighting just before 6pm.
October 8TH: Frerichs Farm & Greenhouses annual Giant Pumpkin Growers Weigh-off
Enjoy a day filled with giant (as in, over 1,000 pounds!) pumpkins, food trucks, free corn mazes, family fun and more at Frerichs Farm in Warren. While in charming Warren, take in some of the extraordinary restaurants or beverage stops and soak in the Hallmark-movie worthy Main Street.
October 8TH: Broadway Street Fair
It’s BACK! Newport’s favorite fall street fair returns after a COVID hiatus. Thousands of people descend on this main thoroughfare extending from upper Broadway to Washington Square for food, live music, and frivolity. The Broadway Street Fair has become one of Rhode Island’s most enjoyed events of its kind.
OCTOBER 8TH: Ocean State Oyster Festival
Celebrating locally grown oysters and aquaculture in Rhode Island, the Ocean State Oyster Festival takes place at River Walk Park in Providence. Savor briny bivalves from a bunch of local growers, sip libations including craft beer and wine, listen to live music and enjoy local vendors a while learning more our aquaculture industry and the importance of environmental sustainability of Narragansett Bay and surrounding estuaries.
October 11TH: Dancing Witches of Providence
Wear your best witch costume (hats + brooms are required if you want to dance with the witches) and join the Providence Drum Troupe and the Providence Chapter of the RI Witches Guild as they celebrate the Halloween season with music and dancing. Learn the Witches Dance then parade across the Providence Pedestrian Bridge to the beat. Meet at 5:30pm, band starts at 6pm.
October 15TH: Newport Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival
Savor the flavors of the region’s most popular food trucks dishing out fan favorites plus local craft breweries pouring double IPAs, stouts, session beers and seasonal specials. Held at historic Fort Adams where you’ll have plenty of room to roam, sample tons of 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 lawn games or get your groove on to the tunes of a DJ. Gather friends and family, grab the lawn chairs and get ready for a good time, 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.
October 15TH and 16TH: Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival
Honoring the “Harvest of the Sea,” the Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival offers fresh, local seafood. Fish tacos, lobster rolls, stuffies, chowder, fried calamari, clams, oysters, signature cocktails and cold beer accompany continuous live music, and family fun, all beneath the Wharf’s colorful tents. Neighboring restaurants and fisherman’s associations serve up their most celebrated seafood dishes as well as a few dishes for landlubbers and kids.
October 29TH: Spooky Roam Around Rough Point
Experience Doris Duke’s house-museum after the sun goes down and the lights are low, where you’ll discover strange and eerie objects and hear recordings of ghost stories told by the staff who knew Rough Point at its spookiest. The manicured gardens will also be open for an illuminated jack-o-lantern stroll. Costumes encouraged!
October 29TH: Halloween at the Castle, Barnaby’s Inferno
Come and experience Halloween at its finest while helping to preserve a piece of Providence history: Barnaby Castle, designed by renowned Providence architects Stone, Carpenter & Willson in 1875. Revel on three floors of spooky delights and entertainment on each level, plus immersive decoration, food and libations from the best local spots. Dress to impress for the costume contest and take in the complimentary tarot and palm reading in the top of the turret — and more!
This fall, enjoy all the spoils of this magnificent season in Rhode Island and the things to do that will create warm memories!