Rhode Trippin': Winter Adventures

Give COVID the cold shoulder with these safe outdoor activities


Some say that Rhode Islanders don’t like going anywhere more than 10 minutes from home, but with the travel bug biting, many of us are now looking for in-state ideas for an afternoon, daytrip, or staycation. Each month, Bob Curley, author of 100 Things to Do in Rhode Island Before You Die, will share about places to go within our own state – this month, he takes us on a series of outdoor adventures.

Love to ski? You won’t need any special dispensations to hit the slopes at Exeter’s Yawgoo Valley Ski Area – just a few extra precautions to make a day (or night) of skiing, boarding, or tubing a safe and fun time. From taking your temp at home to respiratory etiquette, it’s all detailed online at Yawgoo.com.

Yawgoo’s 246 feet of vertical drop would make it a mogul at Vail or even Stowe, but the park’s short lift rides and 14 trails make it perfect for getting in a few hours of snow play. Lodge access will be limited this season, but so will ticket sales, so one COVID-19 silver lining is shorter lift lines and less skiers on the trails (similarly, timed tickets will keep Yawgoo’s seven-lane snow tubing park an uncrowded experience for maximum sliding excitement).

Roger Williams Park Zoo, which is open all winter from Thursday through Monday, also is selling limited tickets in advance and making zoo walkways one-way only to ensure social distancing. The arrival of winter also means more opportunities to encounter some of Rhode Island’s year-round wildlife in their natural habitat, like the snowy owls that nest in Newport’s Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge and the harbor seals sunning on the rocks off of Rome Point in North Kingstown.

COVID or no, the sun will continue to rise each morning at Beavertail State Park, and when winter nights make their too-early arrival, it’s time to bundle up and head down to Ninigret Park in Charlestown for stargazing at the Frosty Drew Observatory, which continues to host public events (advance tickets required) on Friday nights.

Biking and hiking, of course, have become incredibly popular as Rhode Islanders have looked for safe outdoor activities during COVID-19 quarantine periods, so don your hat and mittens for a winter stroll on Newport’s Cliff Walk, or discover the wild oasis of Neutaconkanut Hill in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Providence.

Skating is also back at both the Bank Newport City Center in Kennedy Plaza in Providence, along with the perverse pleasure of ramming your friends across the ice during a bumper car session. The Washington Trust Community Skating Center is open for carving icy turns in downtown Westerly, and while there’s no skating this year at Gurney’s Newport resort, you can still chill out with igloo dining at the Showfish restaurant. Let’s admit it, warming up with a hot toddy by the fire pits on the resort’s rink-side deck is a COVID-safe activity I’ll drink to anytime.


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