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Budget-Friendly Day Trips Near Rhode Island and Massachusetts

Get out of town without breaking the bank.

Budget-Friendly Day Trips Near Rhode Island and Massachusetts

Written by  Denise J. Dubé

Arm yourself with a map and head toward the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Both offer breathtaking ocean views and are easy on the wallet. The best part? These destinations are only a tank of gas (or less) away.


Gloucester Harbor Walk 

9 Dale Ave.


(978) 281-9700

Why Go? Gloucester welcomed its first ship in 1623 and is America’s oldest seaport. The Fisherman’s Memorial statue, better known as the Gloucester Fisherman, honors those lost at sea since that date.  

Insider Tip: You need tickets for the official harbor walk, but the website offers a free numbered map.  

Must Do: Download the free apps, 'Walking Cinema Posts from Gloucester" and  "Postcard Points from Gloucester." Both will make the experience more interactive.

The Fine Print: Parking is at a premium during the high season. Make sure you’re not in a residential parking area. However, there is free parking in Peter's Square. If you'd rather take public transportation, the Gloucester MBTA station is accessible from North Station in Boston.   



Upper Main Street

Rockport, MA

(978) 546-9372

Why Go? Visit, if only to see the fishing shack now called Motif #1, located on Bearskin Neck. This iconic red building is plastered on postcards and painted by everyone. Rockport shops, packed tightly along the narrow streets, offer visitors art, clothing, antiques, jewelry, New Age essentials and seafood restaurants. Three noteworthy lighthouses are located nearby. One was built in 1835 and marks the harbor’s entrance. The other two, built in 1789 as twin 45-foot towers, are original.

Must Do: The ocean, the sardine-packed shops, the food, and the rock-lined shore, are fascinating and unusual. Little more than 6,000 people live there, but if you’re in this usually crowded center, it’s hard to believe.

Insider Tip: To escape the crowds, take a walk and enjoy the views in Halibut Point State Park.

The Fine Print: Those narrow streets are one-lane and usually pedestrian-filled. Most people avoid these. Park the car and walk.


Cliff Walk, Newport, RI

43 Broadway


(401) 845-5300

Why Go? Enjoy a backside architectural view of those exquisite estates dotted along the 3.5-mile walk. It’s free and accessible by any side street, so get on or off whenever or wherever.

Insider Tip: Hurricane Sandy did a bit of damage to the area. One section is closed, but the rest offers a magnificent coastal view.  

Must Do: See the mansions, breathe the ocean air, walk along the coast in partial seclusion. Look for a few rare birds.    

The Fine Print: Unless a Vanderbilt invites you over, stay off those private estates and keep Fido on a leash.


East Bay Bike Path, Providence, RI  


(401) 222-1362

Why Go? Part of Rhode Island’s rails-to-trails conversion, this 14.5 mile bicycle path connects India Point Park in Providence with Independence Park in Bristol. “It hugs the coast, crosses trestle bridges and goes through quintessentially New England towns and parks,” said Mark Brodeur, the state’s director of tourism.  

Insider Tip: Some may choose to bike or walk only a portion of the trail. Visit the website and download the map for entrances and exits.

Must Do: As with the Cliff Walk, you’ll see Providence in the rear-view mirror. Some of the ride is bustling, some bucolic. You’ll go through parks, cities and towns. You’ll also find restaurants and food stops along the way, or you can bring a picnic.

The Fine Print: The bike path is 14.5 miles and takes nearly an hour and a half to complete. If you're driving, parking lots are located near all the parks on the pathway.  Check the website for more details.

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