Rhode Island might be a small state, but it has many big-time free and affordable things to do:
1. Cliff Walk, Newport Walk the 3.5 pathway in Newport with its spectacular views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and famous mansions. 117 Memorial Blvd. Tel. (401) 845-5300
2. East Bay Bike Path Bike the free 14-mile East Bay Bike Path, spanning Providence to Bristol, that affords some fabulous Narragansett Bay scenery. Many regard this as one of New England’s best bike paths. Tel. (401) 253-7482
3. Mr. Potato Head, Pawtucket Take a picture of the Mr. Potato Head statue in front of the Hasbro headquarters in Pawtucket. Not a standalone destination as you’ll only be here a few moments, but definitely make this part of your Rhode Island family travel! 1027 Newport Ave. Tel. (401) 431-8697
4. Waterfire on a Budget, Providence Check out Waterfire in Providence from sunset to midnight on summer Saturdays with its free riverfront bonfires, and musical and other cultural performances. Downtown Providence. Tel. 401-272-3111
5. Providence Children’s Museum Family Friday Go to the Providence Children’s Museum MetLife Family Friday every Friday from 5-8 p.m., through Labor Day. This is a terrific hands-on, museum with an accent on “play-filled exhibits and programs that explore the arts, culture, history and science.” 100 South St. Tel. (401) 273-5437
6. Colt State Park, Bristol Colt State Park’s 464 idyllic acres features some wonderful panoramic views of the Narrgansett Bay, walking paths, picnic groves, recreation fields, a public boat ramp and observation tower. Route 114. Tel. (401) 253-7482.
7. Easton’s Beach, Newport Not only can you enjoy the expansive, beautiful, sandy ocean beach at Easton’s Beach in Newport, but also a carousel, water slide and playground as well as Tuesday night summer concerts through mid-August. Free foot access to the beach, otherwise, it’s a $20 parking fee. 175 Memorial Blvd. Tel. (401) 845-5810
8. Free Admission, Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence Admission is free every Sunday (10 a.m.–5 p.m.) and on the third Thursday evening of each month (5–9 pm) This is a tremendous incentive as you can take in art and design collections at one of America’s greatest art schools! 224 Benefit St. Tel. (401) 454-6500
9. Gallery Night, Providence From March through November, Gallery Night in Providence offers a free guided tour of more than 24 cultural institutions on the third Thursday of every month.
10. Flying Horse Carousel, Westerly The Watch Hill section of Westerly is home to the oldest Flying Horse Carousel in the United States. Made in 1876. the 20 horses are suspended from a center frame, swinging out or flying when in motion. It’s beautifully maintained with its wood carved horses and offers affordable summer family fun coming in at just a few dollars a ride. The location is great, too, right by Watch Hill beach! 151 Bay St. Tel. (401) 348-6007
11.Aunt Carrie’s Clam Cakes, Narragansett Four dollars and change will get you a half dozen of the most delicious crab cakes at Aunt Carrie’s in Narragansett. Many locals and visitors typically find this regional favorite to be overcooked and with not enough clam taste, but Aunt Carrie’s deep fried, crispy version with lots of tender clams really sets the standard for best-tasting clam cakes in Rhode Island. Don’t forget all the other great seafood dishes here, too! 1240 Ocean Rd.Tel. (401) 783-7930.
12. Spring Lake Beach, Burrillville This great stretch of sandy beach features nice amenities like a swim dock, food concessions, restrooms with outdoor showers, children’s slides at the water’s edge, and the beach penny arcade with one of the oldest arcade games in the United States! Spring Lake Beach is scheduled to reopen for the 2015 season on May 23. Admission charge: $2.50 per person for Burrillville residents; $5.00 per person for non-residents and children five and under free when accompanied by an adult. 50 Old Hillside Dr. Tel. (401) 568-9474
13. Lincoln Woods State Park, Lincoln A true hidden gem, this 627 acre Blackstone Valley state park features a fresh water beach, and hiking, jogging, mountain biking, kayaking and horseback riding opportunities. The park also features ball fields, ice skating in the winter, and lots of picnic tables. It’s simply a beautiful spot with lots of fun recreational activities. 2 Manchester Print Works Rd. Tel. (401) 723-7892
14. Wright’s Farm, Harrisville Wright’s Farm is a 45,000 sq. ft. restaurant that seats 1,200 people in six dining rooms, employs more than 180 locals and serves approximately 14,000 lbs. of chicken to about 12,000 visitors each week. Wright’s specializes in family-style chicken dinners that include all-you-can eat chicken, rolls, salad with Wright’s Farm salad dressing, perfectly formed crispy fries and tender pasta shells with homemade marinara sauce. No surprise but the highlight here is the moist, fall-off-the-bone chicken — slow-cooked, baked in whole, and then cut up when served. The deal is phenomenal: $12.75 for adults, $7.25 for kids 10 and under, at this writing. As if that’s not enough, there’s a 4,000 sq. ft. gift shop on the premises that features penny candy, homemade fudge, books, toys, jewelry and clothing. 84 Inman Rd. Tel. (401) 769-2856
Editor’s note: do you have a favorite free Rhode Island travel attraction? Share it by commenting in the box below!