The drive from Boston to Warwick, Rhode Island, is only a little over one hour—but where’s the fun in that? After all, this is New England that we’re talking about… There’s so much to do and see that it just wouldn’t be fair to limit yourself to the view out of the car window! Historical sites and museums aren’t exactly few and far between in New England, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t still worth stopping for. From presidents and pilgrims to whaling and artwork, you’ll see that New England’s East Coast is filled with unique, can’t-miss destinations that deserve a road trip from Massachusetts to Rhode Island. Let’s get started!
The birthplace of not one but two American presidents, Quincy is nicknamed the “City of Presidents.” And only about 20 minutes south of Boston, it makes for the perfect first stop on our road trip from Boston to Warwick. Among Quincy’s top attractions are the United States Naval Shipbuilding Museum, the Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center, and the nearby Paul Revere Heritage Site. However, no trip to Quincy is complete without taking the time to visit Adams National Historical Park. a multisite attraction site that includes the John Adams Birthplace, the John Quincy Adams Birthplace, and the Adams Family Home, also known as the Old House at Peace Field.
The park’s “open season” runs from May to November, and during this time, you can book a guided tour of the Adams National Historical Park that will take you through all of the attraction’s top sites. The tours, which start and end at the park’s visitor center, are about three hours long and cost $15 for adults ages 17 and older. During the tour, you’ll take a trolley from site to site and will have 15 minutes to an hour at each of the individual locations.
About an hour southeast of Boston, the city of Plymouth is one of the most significant American heritage sites in the entire country. After all, it all started here, when a little ship called the Mayflower in 1620 reached the rocky shores. Today, Plymouth continues to be a must-see destination in Massachusetts, and some of the city’s biggest attractions include the Plimoth Plantation, the National Monument to Our Forefathers, and Plymouth Long Beach. Of course, once place in Plymouth that you absolutely have to see is Pilgrim Memorial State Park, right on the northernmost edge of the Plymouth Village Historic District.
Pilgrim Memorial State Park attracts more than a million visitors every year, and with several historical sites to explore, it’s a multicomponent attraction that you’ll love exploring. Guided walking tours are available daily at 11 am, 2 pm, and 4 pm. Among the major cs of Pilgrim Memorial State Park, of course, is Plymouth Rock, the famous landmark that represents where the pilgrims first reached America in 1620. You’ll also find Plimoth Plantation’s Waterfront Exhibit, Mayflower II museum, which is a full-scale replica of the legendary ship.
A little more than an hour south of Boston and close to an hour west of Warwick, New Bedford, Massachusetts, a port city that sits on the edge of the Acushnet River. Some of the most popular things to do in New Bedford are the Buttonwood Park Zoo, the New Bedford Art Museum, and the Allen C. Haskell Public Gardens. Basically, New Bedford is a fun place to spend a day (or two!) exploring, especially if you’re looking to spend some time outdoors. In Downtown New Bedford, you’ll come across the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, a niche heritage district whose main attraction is the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
Due to its waterfront location, Bedford, at one point, has strong ties to whaling, and while the practice has (thankfully) fallen out of fashion, whaling continues to be a major part of the local history and, simultaneously, once bore similarly great significance on other communities across the world. With multimedia displays, rotating exhibitions, and a wide range of artifacts, the New Bedford Whaling Museum might seem narrow in focus, but you might be surprised to see just how much it encompasses. (There are also a number of restaurants in the park, as well as ample green space for you to explore!)
Fall River, Massachusetts, is close to 30 minutes east of Warwick, and like all of the other cities on our list, this small but mighty town boasts some heavy history and culture. The most popular places to visit in Fall River are the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum, the Children’s Museum of Greater Fall River, the Lafayette-Durfee House, and Kennedy Park. However, the main draw to Fall River is arguably Battleship Cove on the Taunton River, home to five National Historic Landmarks.
The US Naval ships docked in Battleship Cove are the USS Massachusetts, the USS Joseph P. Kenneddy Jr., the USS Lionfish, Hiddensee, and PT-617 and PT-796. You’ll also find state and national war memorials on the grounds, including those honoring WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War, and 9/11. Battleship Cove’s Maritime Museum features exhibits detailing nautical history, including an exhibit detailing the Titanic, as well as one outlining the changes in maritime technology over the years. Admission, which is valid for two consecutive days at Battleship Cove and the Maritime Museum, is $20 for adults, $18 for seniors, $11 for military personnel, and $10 for children ages 4 to 12.
East Providence, Rhode Island, is about 30 minutes northeast of Warwick, and some of the main attractions in and around the city include the East Bay Bike Path, Pomham Rocks Lighthouse, and Fantasyland & Mini Golf. But because East Providence has such striking scenery and is located right on the edge of the Seekonk and Providence Rivers, one of the best things to do while you’re in town is to spend some time in the great New England outdoors, and Bold Point Park is one of the best places to do just that.
Directly across from Providence’s own India Point Park, Bold Point Park is a waterfront park that also serves as an outdoor concert venue. With boating, fishing, and plenty of open space, Bold Point Park is a lush gathering space for the East Providence community that offers visitors some pretty spectacular views of both the water and the Providence skyline in the distance.
Not only is Providence Rhode Island’s capital, but it’s also the state’s largest city—and at about 20 minutes north of Warwick, Providence is an ideal last stop to make before finally arriving at your destination. One of the oldest cities in the country, Providence has a great deal of history for visitors to immerse themselves in, including 19th-century architecture and a number of museums. Some of Providence’s best-known attractions include the Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence Children’s Museum, the Providence Athenaeum, and the Rhode Island State House. A town that’s brimming with opportunities to learn, Providence serves as the campus for several colleges and universities, including Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, Rhode Island College, Providence College, and the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).
RISD is a private art school that also owns and operates its own museum, the RISD Museum of Art in Downtown Providence. Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm, the RISD Museum is $15 for adults, $12 for seniors, $8 for college students, and free for visitors under the age of 18. (Additionally, the museum offers free admission every Sunday!) The RISD Museum’s permanent collection can be broken down into the following categories: 18th- and 19th-century American, Ancient Egyptian, Ancient Greek and Roman, Asian Art, Decorative Art and Design Galleries, European, and Contemporary. In addition to its permanent collections, the museum also hosts rotating exhibitions that range in style, content, and origin.
The second-largest city in Rhode Island, Warwick is a dynamic waterfront town that you’re sure to fall in love with. And with a history that dates back to 1642, Warwick is brimming with heritage—not to mention, it’s conveniently located a short distance away from Rhode Island’s other major cities, Providence, Narragansett, and Newport. Among Warwick’s main attractions are Buttonwoods Beach, Brush Neck Cove, and the Warwick Center for the Arts. And nearby, you’ll find Goddard Memorial State Park, Conimicut Lighthouse, and the historic Gaspee Point. But while Warwick is relatively close to Boston, the biggest mistake you could make getting there is bypassing all of the exciting points of interest that we just showed you! So, don’t be afraid to take a few detours on your way from Boston to Warwick—you never know what new adventures are waiting for you in New England.