Road Trip in Rhode Island

One of several states in New England, Rhode Island is the smallest among its neighbors—but it is the second most densely populated state in the country, just behind New Jersey. It serves as a pass-through state with many important highways including Interstate 95 for travelers driving up and down the East Coast.

Rhode Island, unsurprisingly, is not an island. Its access to beaches helps define it as “the Ocean State," and one of its many attractions is the island network within its borders.

Major RI Roads

Rhode Island's major highways include:

  • I-95
    • Interstate 95 cuts straight through the state creating a significant leg in the northeast corridor. Keep your eyes out for the speed limit when you cross the state line from Massachusetts – Rhode Island's speed limit on Interstate 95 is lower than its northern neighbor.
  • I-295
    • This interstate provides access to drivers who wish to go around Providence.
  • I-195
    • Highway 195 doesn't cover much territory in Rhode Island but feeds drivers in and out of southern Massachusetts toward Cape Cod and is heavily traveled in the summer months.

Secondary roads in the state include:

  • Route 6 headed west out of Providence.
  • Route 146 headed northwest toward central Massachusetts.
  • Route 4, which feeds the many local roads headed to the shore.

Rhode Island Traffic Rules

Rhode Island lists out its traffic rules in its handy Driver's Manual. Since this state is so densely populated, it's good to know what to expect in terms of local driving regulations.

Rhode Island Destinations

Consider hitting these destinations on your Rhode Island road trip.


The city of Providence is one of the oldest in the country, and also one of the main cities in New England despite its relatively small size. This combination creates a plethora of activities, both historical and modern.

Home to Brown University as well as the important art school Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), among others, its student population helps the city remain vibrant. Like all bigger, older cities, it has important museums and other arts offerings, including:

  • Roger Williams Park Zoo
  • Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum
  • Providence Performing Arts Center

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Rhode Island Beaches

The beaches in Rhode Island are famous for their beauty and variety. Some beaches along bays (like Narraganset, Greenwich, or Mt. Hope) are calmer than others located directly on the ocean.

You can expect a typical New England beach experience in Rhode Island. The water is cold and bracing, the landscape is stunning, and there are many beaches to choose from. You'll find charming small towns and villages along the local roads.

Newport & Block Island

Both Newport and Block Island are destinations in and of themselves. Whether you visit as a day trip or book a longer vacation there, they're worth a visit.

Newport is home to some of the most extraordinary mansions in the region, as it served as a getaway town for New York's wealthy elite. Many of these mansions now offer tours. The annual jazz festival and regatta are very well attended every year and are a great excuse for a road trip.

Block Island, like Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, provides a New England beach experience encapsulated in a small area with its own culture and set of activities. It is reachable by ferry and by airplane.

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