2022 Best of Rhode Island: Editors’ Picks

Our editors scoured the state for the best food, shopping, fun and beauty businesses in Rhode Island.


Whether it’s outdoor fun for the whole family or more cultured visits to provide a sense of calm, the Ocean State has plenty of options.


Freewheelin’ Fun

The Providence Rink at BankNewport City Center

All ages can discover the fun of roller-skating at the BankNewport City Center, now that the outdoor rink has expanded its offerings to include family-friendly skate sessions held on select Saturdays. They run from noon to 8 p.m., featuring music from different decades. (The series kicked off with fifties tunes.) If you’re in the mood for some nighttime grooves, never fear — the rink is still holding its uber-popular Roller Disco nights on Thursdays and Fridays through Oct. 29 from 5 to 10 p.m. 2 Kennedy Plaza, Providence, 680-7390, providencerink.com


Providence Rink


Open-Air Concerts

Providence World Music and Blackstone River Theatre

It’s been so refreshing to see live music return to the streets and outdoor spaces of the Ocean State. Providence World Music brings live traditional music from Africa and around the world to Grant’s Block in Providence once a month during the summer, along with a Long Live Beerworks beer garden, food trucks and special pop-up events. Cumberland’s Blackstone River Theatre continues its rich tradition of showcasing Celtic and world art and music with its Summer Solstice Festival in Diamond Hill Park and Take It Outside concert series held behind its Broad Street building. Providence World Music, 885-7984, pvdworldmusic.com; Blackstone River Theatre, 549 Broad St., Cumberland, 725-9272, riverfolk.org


Mari Black Band performs at Blackstone River Theatre’s Summer Solstice Festival.


Animal Attractions 

Goat Hikes at Simmons Farm

The offerings aren’t your usual farm stand fare:
In addition to fresh-picked veggies, cheese and pasture-raised meats for purchase, you’ll find friendly goats who’ll help you perfect both your downward dog and your hiking trail etiquette. The farm offers group hikes around the property with your very-own goat on a leash, or you could take part in an all-ages yoga class with adorable goats in an enclosed clover field. Or visit the petting zoo, where a dollar will get you a grain-filled “kid” cone filled with tasty vittles for your newfound four-legged friends. 1942 W. Main Rd., Middletown, 848-9910, simmonsfarmri.com


Goat Hikes at Simmons Farm


Hiking Scavenger Hunt

Rhode Island Walks Challenge

Art and nature collide with joyful results in the Rhode Island Walks Challenge, where strollers young and old search for thirty adorable critters designed by a Steel Yard artist on various land trust trails. You’ll find the colorful, happy creatures (think: an exuberant green acorn and a smiling scarlet thistle) at properties from Burrillville to Hopkinton. Print out a guide to chart your progress and use the hashtag #RIWalksChallenge to show off your findings. riwalks.org


Interactive Art Shop

Gather Glass

There is a luminous array of handmade — or, rather, breathmade — drinking glasses, pendants and other pieces for sale in the Gather Glass studio. But you can also learn the art of glassblowing and make your own ornament, paperweight, vase or bowl in one-hour workshops (for groups of up to four) or four-week courses. Channel your creativity and embrace the Gather Glass motto: “Make. Glass. Fun.” 521 Atwells Ave., Providence, gatherglass.com

Outdoor Adventure Resort

The Preserve Sporting Club and Residences

The Preserve has quietly built hobbit houses and yurts in the woods of Richmond for a few years, but most of the fun at this 3,500-acre sporting club was limited to club members. The resort recently joined the Preferred Hotels and Resorts group, giving overnight guests at the Hilltop Lodge and OH! Spa and accommodations ranging from townhomes to tiny houses access to shooting sports, equestrian trails, fly fishing, a Bentley off-road driving course (yes, that’s a thing) and one of the state’s best destination spas. 87 Kingstown Rd., Richmond, 539-4653 ext. 5, preservesportingclub.com


Kids’ Art Space

Island Art Spot

This is the destination for pint-sized art classes, camps, mommy-and-me time and birthday parties on Aquidneck Island. Kids from eighteen months to eight years old can get creative at Island Art Spot, where artist and educator Jennifer Gee organizes interactive art activities to engage young minds. Drop off your child or stay and learn yourself. Either way, your whole family will have fun drawing, makingdinosaur tails, participating in art-chitecture and mixed media camps and much more. 575 E. Main Rd., Middletown, 595-5322, islandartspot.com


Cool Creations

The Sacred Cow and Clara’s Cart

There are so many places to get a great cup or cone in the Ocean State. But this year, two stood out to us. The Sacred Cow serves up both soft serve and hard ice cream at its Munroe Dairy location, using fresh, local milk from Connecticut cows in fun flavors like strawberry cheesecake, moo trucks! (a riff on Munroe Dairy’s famous cow-patterned delivery vans) and coffee toffee. Pick up a pup cup for your favorite doggo — it’s free! Clara’s Cart mobile soda fountain, an outgrowth of Green Line Apothecary’s tasty ice cream offerings, brings frozen treats and popsicles to your event in a custom 1949 Chevy van. Sweet! The Sacred Cow, 187 North Brow St., East Providence, 537-4424, sacredcowicecreamshop.com; Clara’s Cart, clarascart.com


Artisan Pop-Up

Field of Artisans

Art is hard. The folks behind Field of Artisans’ pop-ups make it a little easier for New England creatives by hosting curated shops around the state. This summer, Field of Artisans can be found almost everywhere — at the Guild PVD Beer Garden, Whalers Brewing Company in South Kingstown, the General’s Market (a rebirth of the General Stanton Inn Flea Market) in Charlestown, Narragansett Brewery and South Kingstown Town Beach. Artists of all experience levels are encouraged to apply, with a fresh lineup of handmade art, clothing, jewelry, home and body goods and more at each pop-up. Every week they publish a new field guide to participating artists online. fieldofartisans.com


Buzzworthy Classes

New Harvest Coffee Roasters

For those of us who’ve always wanted to craft the perfect cold brew or learn how coffee travels from seed to cup, New Harvest Coffee offers multiple caffeinated classes at its roastery and cafe at the Farm Fresh RI hub. You can also learn how to make quality espresso at home and step up your home brewing game with instructions on how to get the most out of an automatic brewer, a French press, a Chemex and more. As the class descriptions say, “Please come prepared to drink coffee.” Um, absolutely! 10 Sims Ave., Providence, 438-1999, newharvestcoffee.com


New Harvest Coffee Roasters


Sunday Funday Activity

Drag in RI 

No tea, no shade, no Del’s lemonade: Drag in RI’s Jacqueline DiMera, Haley Star, LaDiva Jonz and Vi’Let dominate the local drag scene. While the queens are available for private event bookings like birthdays and anniversaries, they’re best known and celebrated for their raucous drag brunches at spots like Back 40 in North Kingstown and Union and Main in East Greenwich. They provide the perfect remedy for the Sunday Scaries, but their adult-appropriate, standup-routine-meets-lip-synch performances can also be enjoyed at new drag dinners, where they tease, “If you think the morning is merry, you should see us after dark!” draginri.com