It is often the tourists who seek out the famous landmarks in Rhode Island as it’s easy for local residents to forget such great places exist in their own backyard. How often do we get bogged down by daily life and put off exploring these important sites?
These 7 destinations will appeal to both tourists and Rhode Island natives alike. Many of these places have an interesting history or helped shaped the foundation of RI in an important way. After reading about these places, you’ll be itching to plan a day trip to explore what they have to offer.
Famous Landmarks in Rhode Island that Will Get You Excited
Crescent Park Looff Carousel and Shelter Building
More colloquially known as Crescent Park Carousel, this magnificent piece of expert craftsmanship was built by none other than Charles I.D. Looff, who was a Danish woodcarver that built his first carousel on Coney Island.
Mr. Looff built many carousels that were used at state fairs and amusement parks all over America during the late 1800’s through the early 1900’s. However, the Cresent Park Looff Carousel is one of the few of his works that is still in working condition.
This beautiful piece of artwork is housed in a building that was also designed by Mr. Looff. This hippodrome, as it is known, has an glass roof that is onion-shaped. Sunlight penetrates this glass to produce a kaleidoscope effect that is almost as breathtaking as the carousel itself. Plan to step back in time and visit one of the most famous landmarks in Rhode Island.
Crescent Park Carousel is located at 700 Bullocks Point Avenue, Riverside, RI 02915.
It is open: Wednesday – Sunday from Noon – 8 PM in July and August.
Carousel rides cost just $1.00. Every Thursday is Kiddy Day where the fare drops to just $.75 and on Wednesdays in August, it’s only $.50! It will make for an affordable trip for the family.
First Baptist Meeting House
The First Baptist Meeting House (also called the First Baptist Church in America) is located in Providence, R. I. and was built in 1774. Roger Williams, who founded Providence, was holding religious services in his home and needed a meeting house to be built; so he commissioned the First Baptist Meeting House.
This one is the first Baptist church in all of America and, unlike others, it has a steeple and a bell. It was the biggest construction event of its time in New England and was constructed by many out of work carpenters and ship-builders. The First Baptist Meeting House is still being used to this very day, as such it has become one of the most famous landmarks in Rhode Island.
Guided tours are available from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Monday – Friday 10 AM – Noon and 1PM – 3PM. Guided tours are also available on Sundays after the service has concluded. The cost is $2 per person.
Self-guided tours are available all year long.
The First Baptist Meeting House is located at: 75 North Main Street, Providence, RI 02903.
Another of the famous landmarks in Rhode Island is The Towers. These are the remnants of the old Narragansett Pier Casino that was built way back in the mid 1800’s.
It was once popular as a summer resort for the wealthier folk. However, this area was devastated by several fires over the years and only the stone structure remained.
It was restored in the 1960’s and now holds various exhibits and is home to the Narragansett Chamber of Commerce. It is a picturesque building that is admired by photographers and architects from all over the world.
The Towers is located at 35 Ocean Road, Narragansett, RI 02882. It is mainly used for functions, you can schedule a free tour by appointment. Click here for contact information.
Block Island Southeast Lighthouse
Not to be outdone by Beavertail Lighthouse, Southeast Lighthouse acts as a navigational aid to water traffic that comes in from the Atlantic Ocean.
This lighthouse was built in 1875 and is made in the Victorian Gothic Style of architecture. An interesting point to note is that the Block Island Southeast Lighthouse was moved 360 feet back from its present location due to the erosion of the Mohegan Bluffs over time. Lighthouses built as sturdy as the Southeast Lighthouse always end up as famous landmarks in Rhode Island.
To reach this lighthouse, you will need to take a ferry from Point Judith to Block Island. It is located off of Spring Street in the southeastern part of the island.
The grounds surrounding Southeast Lighthouse are open year-round. The museum and tours, however, are only offered during the summer months.
Also called the Providence Arcade, Westminster Arcade is the first indoor shopping mall built in the United States. It was constructed in 1828 and has prominent Greek Revival features such as beautiful columns, classic facades and granite architecture.
It features 3 stories of boutiques and shops, just as it did in the 1800’s. There are so many historic, famous landmarks in Rhode Island that I could make an entire “First in the nation” list!
In 2008, the Providence Arcade was closed down in preparation for major renovations. New plans include over 15 stores and restaurants on the first floor and over 40 micro-lofts on the upper 2 floors. The completion date is expected in early 2013.
Even though it is closed for renovations, you can still view this beautiful building from the street. It is located at 130 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903
Flying Horse Carousel
The Flying Horse Carousel in Westerly was built in 1876 and is thought to be the oldest in the entire country. This “flying” style of carousel features horses that are attached from a center frame (and not the floor), which gives the horses the appearance that they’re flying.
The horses were carved by hand and is the only of its type in the U.S. that is still standing.
There is an age limit of 12 years old and a height requirement of under 5 feet. It is $1.50 for an outside horse and $1 for an inside horse.
You can find the Flying Horse Carousel on Bay Street in Westerly, RI 02891.
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987, the Newport Casino was commissioned by James Gordon Bennett, Jr. as a private social club. It was completed in 1880.
Over time, the sport of tennis became an important attraction at the Newport Casino. Several championships were held there and eventually the International Tennis Hall of Fame was built inside the Casino.
Today, the complex features shops, a restaurant, a stadium, several tennis courts and a theatre.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame and the grounds are open to the public. It is open daily from 9:30 AM – 5 PM.
Admission to the Hall of Fame is $12 ($15 with an audio tour) and access to the grounds is an extra $3.
These are just a couple of famous landmarks in Rhode Island that historical buffs, travelers and locals will enjoy. Plan to spend some time enjoying their breathtaking beauty yourself.
What are some of your favorite landmarks in Rhode Island?