Rhode Island Scenic Retreats

From primitive to posh, eight places where scenery is high on the amenities list

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Type “places to stay near me” into your search engine du jour, and before you can say “one Mississippi” – voila! – a seemingly endless list of sponsored selections awaits your click. And yes, there are multitudes of fabulous hotels around the state, but what about those under-the-radar places that aren’t always part of the list? We took some of the legwork out of the process to compile a handful of gems worth exploring. Whether you’re seeking no-frills, luxury, or something in between, these eight unique lodgings have you covered.

CABIN STAY

Want the camp-out experience but less intents (pun intended)? Consider a cabin at Burlingame State Campground. There are 20 of these primitive structures, each with two bunk beds, but that’s it – it’s BYO mattresses and bedding (air mattresses are strongly recommended by Parks & Rec). What the spot lacks in toilets and toiletries (no indoor plumbing but restrooms with showers are nearby) it makes up for with rustic beauty: 3,100 acres of rocky woodland that surrounds Watchaug Pond. The campground has a playground, arcade, freshwater beach, canoe rentals, and hiking trails. Charlestown, ReserveAmerica.com 

FARM STAY

If you love horses and Haydn, Grace Note Farm is the place for you. Virginia Sindelar is putting Pascoag on the map with both her lodgings and Music at the Farm series, all set on a 1700s horse farm. Booking options include rooms at the inn (outfitted in OG prairie style) or a farm stay, where guests can help care for horses and other animals, gather chicken eggs, and pick vegetables. Meet Eeyore the donkey, ride horses, and more. Savvy travelers may try to pair their visit with one of the farm’s classical music concerts. Pascoag, GraceNoteFarmWeb.com

CITY STAY

On an unassuming side street off Smith/Route 44, minutes from the State House, is a historic three-story brick Italianate mansion ready for weary travelers and B&B enthusiasts. Guests at Christopher Dodge House will find 14 decorated guest rooms, each with a private bathroom. Innkeepers Frank and Monica Hopton offer a continental buffet and a hot plated chef’s choice each morning. Two patio areas with Edison string lights add to the city magic. Special PVD-themed packages include the Taste of Providence and La Gondola Seasonal Add-on. Skip the “air” and book this B&B. Providence, Providence-Hotel.com

BOUTIQUE STAY

If June’s Gaspee Day events haven’t lured you to Pawtuxet Village, then Gregory Hill likely will. This family business of boutique vacation cottages currently has three properties (plus one in the works) all with sparkling views of Pawtuxet Cove or Narragansett Bay. Rentals are within walking distance to the restaurants and small businesses that line Broad Street. Cottage interiors look like they were styled for a coastal chic coffee table book with a shoreline palette and neutral aesthetic, and special touches include plush towels, a laundry room, and complimentary bottle of wine. Pawtuxet Village, GregoryHillBnB.com

LUXURY STAY

The Tower Suite at the top of the Ocean House boasts vistas of Block Island, Montauk, and Stonington (that’s three states to you and me). Climb the suite’s spiral wooden staircase to the Crow’s Nest – but don’t stop there – a ladder leads to a historically replicated widow’s walk. Amenities include a complimentary bar, use of the resort’s fleet of Mercedes, a personal valet, and more. OH is also happy to create “unique and extreme” packages, too. As an added bonus, guests get a $500 gift card with a three-night or more stay on selected days this fall. Watch Hill, OceanHouseRI.com

POND STAY

For a vacay that feels like the best parts of sleep-away camp, Boulder Cottages is a compound of two houses and six sleeping cottages on Quonochontaug “Quonnie” Pond. There’s a dock with a rowboat and three kayaks, a private beach, and a game room equipped with activities like a ping pong table. However, this isn’t roughin’ it – the Lodge House has a chef’s kitchen and stone fireplace, the Pond House has a furnished deck, and all cottages have mini fridges, AC, and coffee makers. Charlestown, BoulderCottages.com

SANCTUARY STAY

Norman Bird Sanctuary (NBS) is a 325-acre wildlife refuge and environmental education center by the ocean, with seven miles of hiking trails, breathtaking ridge views, and Paradise Farmhouse. This 6,000-square-foot abode, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, has six bedrooms, each with their own bathroom. Seven decorative fireplaces and a furnished terrace are among the offerings for a maximum of 14-16 guests. The house includes all bed linens and bathroom towels. NBS educational programs or a Guided Bird Hike by a naturalist are available as add-ons. There’s WiFi but no TV, so unplugging is highly recommended. Middletown, NormanBirdSanctuary.org

REFUGE STAY

Craving serenity now? It doesn’t get more peaceful than a cottage nestled within a protected area. Located within the Maxwell Mays Wildlife Refuge, this house rental provides a unique experience while raising funds to support refuge maintenance and Audubon programs. The cottage sleeps five, has indoor plumbing, a fireplace, full kitchen, and a screened porch. Outside, there’s a gas grill, dock and large deck overlooking the pond, a canoe, and a kayak. It’s a great place to watch as sunset gives way to a blanket of stars. Available from May 1 to October 30. Coventry, ASRI.org

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