Historic Cities & Places in Rhode Island

Historic Cities & Places in Rhode Island

Rhode Island is not only known for its beautiful coastline but also for its rich history. There are several historic cities and places in Rhode Island that offer a glimpse into the state’s colonial past. From Newport’s stunning gilded age mansions to Portsmouth’s preserved colonial era homes, these cities and towns are a haven for culture, architecture, and history. Let’s explore some of the best historic cities and places in Rhode Island.

Key Takeaways:

  • Rhode Island is home to numerous historic landmarks and cultural heritage sites.
  • Newport is renowned for its gilded age mansions and colonial homes.
  • Portsmouth offers a chance to explore preserved colonial architecture.
  • Wickford Village in North Kingstown is a charming coastal village with historic buildings.
  • Pawtucket played a significant role in the Industrial Revolution.


Newport is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts. It is famous for its series of stunning gilded age mansions along Ocean Drive, which showcase the opulence of the past. In addition, Newport is home to Rhode Island’s first state house, centuries-old taverns, and well-preserved colonial homes. Walking through the streets of Newport is like stepping back in time.

When exploring Newport, be sure to visit the famous Breakers mansion, a symbol of the Gilded Age. This opulent mansion was built by the Vanderbilt family and features grand interiors and beautiful gardens. The Marble House and Rosecliff mansion are also architectural marvels that are open to the public for tours.

Aside from the gilded age mansions, Newport offers a wealth of historical places to explore. Visit the Colony House, a historic building that served as the meeting place for the colonial legislature during the 18th century. The Newport Historical Society Museum provides a comprehensive look at the city’s history, while the Redwood Library and Athenaeum is the oldest public library in the United States.

Take a stroll along the historic Thames Street, lined with charming shops, restaurants, and colonial-era buildings. While there, make sure to visit the White Horse Tavern, a 17th-century establishment that is the oldest operating tavern in the country.

Experience the rich history of Newport by touring the Newport Mansions, immersing yourself in the grandeur of the gilded age, and exploring the city’s colonial homes and historical landmarks. Newport truly captures the essence of Rhode Island’s historical charm.


Welcome to Bristol, a picturesque New England port town steeped in history and known for its commitment to preserving its architectural heritage. As you stroll through the charming streets of Bristol, you’ll be transported back in time, surrounded by beautifully preserved buildings that bear witness to its colonial past.

One of the highlights of Bristol is its renowned Fourth of July celebration, which holds the distinction of being the oldest continuous Independence Day celebration in the entire country. Each year, the town comes alive with festivities as locals and visitors gather to commemorate this historic occasion. From parades to fireworks, the spirit of patriotism and community is palpable in Bristol.

Bristol’s dedication to historic architecture preservation is evident in every corner. The town takes great pride in maintaining its colonial-era buildings, ensuring that future generations can appreciate the unique charm and character of this New England gem. Whether it’s the grand mansions along Hope Street or the quaint homes dotted throughout town, Bristol showcases the beauty of historic architecture at every turn.

If you’re a history enthusiast or simply appreciate the allure of a bygone era, Bristol is the perfect destination for your next adventure.

Explore Bristol’s Historic Treasures:

Historic Landmark Description
Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum A magnificent mansion surrounded by lush gardens, offering a glimpse into the elegant lifestyle of the late 19th century.
Coggeshall Farm Museum An immersive experience that transports visitors to the 18th century, showcasing daily life on a working farm.
Herreshoff Marine Museum Dive into the world of shipbuilding and maritime history at this renowned museum, home to the iconic Herreshoff yacht designs.
Mount Hope Farm Set on 127 acres of scenic beauty, this historic site offers charming accommodations, walking trails, and breathtaking views of Mount Hope Bay.

Whether you’re captivated by Bristol’s rich history, eager to join in on the Fourth of July festivities, or simply drawn to its well-preserved architecture, this New England port town is sure to leave a lasting impression. Come and experience the enchantment of Bristol for yourself.

Wickford Village, North Kingstown

Located in North Kingstown, Wickford Village is a captivating coastal village with a fascinating history. Established in 1709, the village has retained its old-world charm with its striking historic architecture and picturesque streets. Wickford Village is a hidden gem that offers a delightful blend of history, local charm, and mouthwatering seafood.

As you stroll through the village, you’ll be greeted by well-preserved buildings that provide a glimpse into the past. From colonial-era homes to charming boutiques, there’s something for everyone to discover. The quaint boutiques are perfect for finding unique treasures and handmade gifts.

One of Wickford Village’s highlights is its delectable local seafood. Be sure to indulge in the freshest catches of the day at the village’s seafood restaurants. From succulent lobster to mouthwatering clam chowder, you won’t be disappointed by the flavors this coastal village has to offer.

Wickford Village is an idyllic destination for history enthusiasts and food lovers alike. Immerse yourself in the historic ambiance, explore the charming streets, and savor the local flavors of fresh seafood. Whether you’re enjoying a leisurely stroll or perusing the boutique shops, Wickford Village is sure to leave a lasting impression.


Pawtucket is an underrated city that played a significant role in shaping American history. As the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, Pawtucket holds a special place in the nation’s development. Today, visitors can still witness remnants of this revolutionary era and explore the historic landmarks that defined Pawtucket’s industrial past.

One iconic site in Pawtucket is Slater Mills, which stands as a testament to the city’s industrial heritage. Built in 1793 by Samuel Slater, this historic mill complex was the first successful cotton-spinning factory in the United States. It paved the way for the nation’s industrial advancement and revolutionized the textile industry. The Slater Mill Museum now stands on the same site, offering visitors a glimpse into the past through exhibits, artifacts, and interactive displays.

Another fascinating aspect of Pawtucket’s history lies in its network of historic dams. These century-old structures were once essential for industrial operations, powering mills and factories along the Blackstone River. Today, they serve as lasting reminders of the city’s industrial past, their structural grandeur reminding visitors of the power of innovation and human ingenuity.

For history enthusiasts, Pawtucket is a hidden gem with a wealth of stories and experiences waiting to be discovered. Whether it’s exploring Slater Mills, marveling at the historic dams, or delving into the captivating narrative of the Industrial Revolution, Pawtucket offers a unique and memorable journey into America’s industrial heritage.

Discover Pawtucket’s Industrial Revolution Legacy

  • Explore the transformative impact of the Industrial Revolution at Slater Mills.
  • Immerse yourself in the rich history of the textile industry at the Slater Mill Museum.
  • Marvel at the engineering prowess of century-old dams that powered Pawtucket’s industrial growth.
  • Learn about the city’s pivotal role in shaping America’s industrial landscape.


While often overlooked due to its proximity to Newport, Portsmouth has its own share of historic sites. The breathtaking Glen Manor House is a highlight, along with various other stunning architectural gems. Visitors will find fun attractions and natural beauty in Portsmouth, making it a worthwhile stop on their historical tour of Rhode Island.

Historic Sites in Portsmouth

If you’re a history enthusiast, Portsmouth won’t disappoint. Here are some of the must-visit historic sites in Portsmouth:

  • 1. Glen Manor House: A magnificent mansion built in the early 20th century, Glen Manor House boasts beautiful architecture and breathtaking views. Take a guided tour to learn about its history and experience the grandeur of this historic landmark.
  • 2. Portsmouth Historical Society: Explore the exhibits at the Portsmouth Historical Society to delve into the town’s past. From artifacts and photographs to interactive displays, the museum provides a comprehensive overview of Portsmouth’s history.
  • 3. Emmanuel Church: Immerse yourself in the captivating history of Emmanuel Church, which dates back to the 19th century. Admire its stunning Gothic Revival architecture and serene atmosphere.
  • 4. Green Animals Topiary Garden: Step into a whimsical wonderland at the Green Animals Topiary Garden. This unique attraction features over 80 topiaries in the shapes of animals and geometric figures, set within beautifully manicured gardens.

Whether you’re exploring historical sites or simply enjoying the natural beauty of Portsmouth, this charming town offers a delightful blend of history and attractions.

Saunderstown, Narragansett, and North Kingstown

When it comes to historic charm, Saunderstown, Narragansett, and North Kingstown are gems nestled in the scenic landscapes of Rhode Island. As you explore these picturesque towns, you’ll find yourself stepping back in time, surrounded by colonial homes and rich historical sites.

In Saunderstown, located within the towns of Narragansett and North Kingstown, a historic village awaits. This hidden treasure boasts its own Rhode Island historic district, where centuries-old homes and house museums bring the past to life. Strolling through the quaint streets of Saunderstown, history buffs will be captivated by the colonial architecture and the stories that unfold with each step.

Immerse yourself in the colonial charm of this picturesque place, where each building holds a piece of history. Visit the house museums to gain insight into the lives and traditions of the past residents. Discover the stories behind the colonial homes, and marvel at their architectural beauty.

House Museums in Saunderstown

Saunderstown is home to several notable house museums, where you can delve deeper into the region’s history and heritage. Here are some of the must-visit museums:

Museum Description
Smith’s Castle A meticulously restored 17th-century plantation house offering guided tours and exhibits on early colonial history.
Brown House An iconic colonial home turned museum, showcasing the lifestyle and traditions of early Rhode Islanders.
Wickford Art Association Not just an art gallery, the Wickford Art Association is housed in a historic building and hosts exhibitions that celebrate local artists.

Visiting these house museums provides a unique opportunity to witness firsthand the daily lives of the people who called Saunderstown home centuries ago. From furnishings and artifacts to interactive exhibits, these museums transport you to a bygone era.

During your visit, take time to explore the streets of Saunderstown. Breathe in the fresh coastal air as you admire the charming colonial homes that line the picturesque lanes. You’ll find that Saunderstown offers an idyllic setting for a leisurely stroll while immersing yourself in the history and beauty of Rhode Island.

If history and colonial architecture are your passions, a visit to Saunderstown, Narragansett, and North Kingstown is a must. Experience the magic of this historic village, soak in the stories of the past, and create cherished memories in a place steeped in Rhode Island’s rich heritage.


Rhode Island is a treasure trove of historic cities and places that showcase the state’s rich history and cultural heritage. From Newport’s gilded age mansions to the colonial homes of Wickford Village, each destination offers a unique glimpse into the past. Whether you’re interested in exploring architectural gems or immersing yourself in the colonial era, Rhode Island’s historic cities and places are sure to captivate and inspire.

As you embark on your journey through time in the Ocean State, you’ll be surrounded by reminders of Rhode Island’s colonial past. The meticulously preserved buildings and landmarks serve as a testament to the state’s commitment to preserving its cultural heritage. You can walk the same streets as those who shaped Rhode Island’s history and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of these architectural and historical treasures.

So plan your visit to Rhode Island’s historic cities and places, and get ready to experience the wonder and charm of the past. Whether you’re strolling through the streets of Newport, savoring local seafood in Wickford Village, or exploring the house museums of Saunderstown, you’ll find yourself transported to a different time. Let Rhode Island’s rich history and colonial past envelop you as you discover the architectural gems and cultural heritage that make this state truly unique.


What are some historic cities and places to visit in Rhode Island?

Some of the best historic cities and places to visit in Rhode Island include Newport, Bristol, Wickford Village, Pawtucket, Portsmouth, and Saunderstown.

What can I expect to see in Newport?

In Newport, you can explore stunning gilded age mansions, Rhode Island’s first state house, centuries-old taverns, and well-preserved colonial homes.

Why is Bristol known for its history?

Bristol is known for its rich history and commitment to preserving historic architecture, as well as for hosting the oldest continuous Fourth of July celebration in the country.

What makes Wickford Village worth visiting?

Wickford Village is a charming coastal village with a rich history and stunning old architecture. It also offers a variety of charming boutiques and delicious local seafood.

What is Pawtucket known for?

Pawtucket was once at the heart of the Industrial Revolution and still has remnants of that era, such as Slater Mills and century-old dams, making it a must-visit for history enthusiasts.

What can I see in Portsmouth?

Portsmouth is known for its breathtaking Glen Manor House and various other stunning architectural gems. It also offers fun attractions and natural beauty.

What makes Saunderstown special?

Saunderstown is a small historic village with its own historic district featuring centuries-old homes and house museums. It offers picturesque streets and colonial charm.

Why should I visit the historic cities and places in Rhode Island?

Visiting the historic cities and places in Rhode Island allows you to experience the state’s rich history, cultural heritage, and architectural gems from different eras.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *