You no longer need a private boat to take in the beauty of Narragansett Bay. The Seastreak ferry service, operating between Providence and Newport is back just in time for the peak of the summer. Offering a painless alternative to the dreaded commute by car or bus, this 60-minute, $10 each way scenic boat ride connecting two of Rhode Island’s top tourist destinations is sure to be a popular attraction. Now that we have this awesome new ferry, here is a guide for how to take advantage of it this summer.
If you’ve dealt with parking in Providence before, you most likely understand the sense of panic that went through my thoughts as I left to go to the Seastreak ferry terminal in Providence. To my relief, a spacious (and free!) parking lot was conveniently placed right next to the ferry loading dock. We only had to walk a few feet to the ticket office right by the dock to grab our tickets for the 10am ferry and then await it’s arrival - an astoundingly painless process.
As we waited in line for the ferry, we noticed the prime location for the terminal has next to India Point Park, the shops and restaurants of the charming Wickenden street and downtown Providence. For tourists and even Rhode Islanders, there are many different options in walking distance to get a taste (literally) of Rhode Island’s busy capital.
At exactly 10am, passengers eagerly flocked to the rooftop of the ferry, despite the cloudy weather. As we began to depart and pull away from Providence, passengers couldn’t help taking photos of the beautiful skyline. This set the tone for the rest of the ride which was full of breathtaking views of the harbor.
The ferry conveniently dropped us at Perrotti Park after exactly one hour. After picking up a tourist map, we realized we were only a short walking distance away from restaurants, shops, museums and more. What was missing? The stress of parking. No car, no problem.
The first stop on our Newport adventure was the Shops at Long Wharf, which was directly across the street from where we were dropped off. A wide variety of shops and restaurants such as Sephora, J Crew, Yankee Candle, Only in Rhode Island and more tempted us as we headed to our second destination at the end of Long Wharf: The Museum of Newport History. Offering walking tours every day, this is a great option not only for tourists, but for Rhode Islanders as well.
We couldn’t help but walk up the elegant Touro Street, which brought us to the Jane Pickens Theater, which hosts films and unique experiences such as The Great Gatsby Experience and an evening with satirist and writer David Sedaris. After grabbing a schedule of future events (we will be back) we walked back down Touro Street towards Thames street by the court house and by the Newport Opera House.
As we made our way down Thames Street, we decided to stop for lunch at the Brick Alley Pub - a Newport Landmark that has been deemed one of RI’s best restaurants. From the outside, one would think it is a small, cozy restaurant, but on the inside it is actually a large and lively family-friendly pub. I chose the “Lobstacado” Sandwich and my partner went with the award-winning clam chowder and beef nachos. Our food was impeccable and the (piled-high) nachos were the most beautiful plate we’ve seen in a long time. We washed them down with a Newport Storm Blueberry Ale. When in Newport, right?
To top off the meal, we walked a few doors over to Kilwin’s ice cream. As full as we were, we couldn’t help but try a waffle cone of salted caramel, which was recommended to us as the most popular flavor. They weren’t kidding. As we passed the Ryan Family Amusements Arcade wide-eyed and with a waffle cone in hand, we certainly felt like kids again.
We continued to adventure through the brightly colored, alluring streets of Newport and ended up at the shops at Bowen's Wharf. We admired the charm of the Landing Restaurant, picked up some delectable shortbread cookies at The Cookie Jar, marveled at the cupcake-shaped soaps from the Arianna Skincare and took in the wharf buildings and vast marina.
From where we began our adventure at Perrotti Park to where we ended at Bowens Wharf, we completed a full circle around the main hub of Newport in under three hours - the perfect day trip.
At 1:45, we arrived back at Perrotti Park to catch the ferry back to Providence, full of good food and drinks and satisfied by our day’s adventure. The sun had finally come out and as we passed through the harbor and drifted farther and farther away from the Newport Bridge, we realized what a treasure the ferry really is.
The Seastreak Ferry offers an amazing opportunity for Rhode Islanders and tourists alike to take advantage of two of Rhode Island’s most beautiful, historic cities. Set sail with the Providence – Newport ferry this summer and gain a new perspective of the ocean state from the waters of Narragansett Bay.
Newport Ferry Terminal
39 America’s Cup Avenue, Newport
Providence Ferry Terminal
25 India Street, Providence