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Ride the rails -Rail Explorers- Rhode Island

What is it about trains that excite us all? Well, I was going to find out about it on this trip on Rail Explorers. The warm weather has arrived and we’re traveling. I didn’t waste any time this year with booking adventures for us to do. Our first trip was to Rhode Island for a rail adventure. Rhode Island is such a nice little state with so much to check out. The beaches are great as is the culture and history. But for this adventure, we took to the rails. Trains and railroads tend to be exciting just by themselves, in addition, you get to pedal the rail car only adds to this adventure. Rail Explorers USA has some interesting adventures.

The Rhode Island Division operates along the Old Colony Railroad, built in 1862. The rails meander alongside spectacular Narragansett Bay offering riders unique views that include Jamestown, the Mount Hope Bridge, Hog Island Lighthouse, and coastal woodlands. 

Table of Contents

Rail Explorer Trip Options

The Rhode Island Tours have 2 options. The Northern Ramble and the Southern Circuit. On the Northern Ramble, you will have great views of Narragansett Bay only visible from the railroad. You will see private waterfront estates, 2 golf courses as well as the Newport Preservation Society Topiary Gardens, and the Audubon Society Nature Preserve. This route is six miles on the historic railroad between Portsmouth and the Sakonnet River. However, this is a one-way tour with a shuttle bus to return you to Portsmouth. The scenery is beautiful and if you’re lucky you will see wildlife as well.

Narragansett Bay

The Southern Circuit

The Southern Circuit is a six-mile round trip (3 miles out, 3 miles back) starting at Portsmouth Grove Station and heading south to Bayside Station, their private waterfront picnic area. Where you can enjoy spectacular water views over Narragansett Bay for instance.  Bring a snack and drink to enjoy during a 30-minute break at Bayside Station. You can relax and watch the boats go by on the bay before returning to the station.

The Portsmouth Grove Station

The Portsmouth Grove Station is a very nice little station with souvenirs and information on the area. Outside there is a nice picnic area and seating around firepits. There’s also a bean bag toss to play while you wait for your tour to start.

Evelyn checking out the Rail Explorers info book
The info booklet

The Staff at Rail Explorers

The staff at Rail Explorers were great. The check-in was easy and quick. They seemed to answer the same questions over and over without a problem. Also, they were quick to help take pictures of everyone and give tips on speed, brakes, and safety. The staff certainly make it an easy adventure.

Ready, Set, Go!

The Ride

We got into our 4 person pedal car, buckled our seatbelts and off we went. We chose to take the Southern Circuit rail since there is a built-in rest stop half-way through the adventure. However, it’s not hard at all. In fact, Clint and I let the girls pedal by themselves for a little while to see how difficult it was. They didn’t realize they were doing it by themselves until Clint actually started to pedal. lol.

looking out over the bay.
enjoying the ride

There were some nice vignettes along the way to see the shore and boats out on the water. Ainsley even waved to a man on the beach below.

being friendly
Clint enjoying the ride

When you book your trip, just note they run the trips rain or shine. They provided 2 umbrella’s ‘just in case’ but we lucked out. It was a little overcast as we set off but the sun came out as we made our way to Bayside station. By the time we arrive at the station, I was ready for a break and a snack. I think the kids were hungry by then as well. There is also a port-a-let in case you need that during your break.

break time at the Bayside station
The Claiborne Pell Bridge, Rt 138 from Newport to Conanicut Island

On the trip back to Portsmouth Grove station Clint challenged the girls to see how fast they could get the rail car to go, always the competitor. Well, the girls were up for the challenge. They were able to get it going pretty fast, I was surprised. Since you are between other rail cars but with enough room to have some privacy, they stopped pedaling and allowed the car to glide.

gliding along

Tips and Other Information

They advise you to plan 2 hours for your trip and I’d say that’s about right. If you plan your trip around mealtimes you can take in their picnic area as well. If your kids are into boats though, allow a little extra time to drive through the docks just over the railroad tracks. There are some amazing boats there.

If you’d like to take this trip during the evening, Rail Explorers has a treat for you. You can join them on Friday nights at 7:30 pm for their “Fireside Fridays”. For this adventure, you have lanterns light the way on your round trip rail ride to Bayside Station. A bonfire, s’ mores, and hot apple cider await you. Sounds delightful.

However, if mornings are more your style try their Sunday Brunch adventure which begins at 9 am. This is the normal Southern Circuit route but add on brunch at Bayside Station. They serve muffins, fruit, mimosas, bloody marys, and Death Wish Coffee. Since I’m not a coffee drinker Death Wish Coffee sounds scary to me but I’m sure Clint would love it.

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Other Locations for Rail Explorers

Rail Explorers has adventures in Rhode Island, Las Vegas as well as in the Catskill Mountains in New York. The rail ride in Las Vegas is all downhill. Luckily your ticket includes a ride back to the top of the hill in one of the Museum’s historic trains, and free entry to the Nevada State Railroad Museum. 

The Catskill Mountain rail ride will take you through the breathtaking scenery of the historic Ulster & Delaware Railroad. You ride alongside the Esopus Creek through the majestic Catskill Forest Preserve.  

Since we’ve taken this rail tour the girls have been asking to go on the other 2 adventures as well. It sounds great to me. After reading the description of the different tours I’m up for all they have to offer.

Since we were in the area we also found a geocache. If you don’t know what geocaching is you should check out my post on that adventure. I’m sure your kids will love it. Similarly, Don’t miss this great post that I’m featured in all about other great summer destinations.

How about you? Which rail adventure will you choose?

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. Alexis Farmer

    This is so cool! RI looks beautiful and the trains seem like an awesome way to experience everything.

    1. Leeanne

      Thanks, Rhode Island really is a hidden gem.

  2. Marianne G

    We did rail biking in the Adirondacks. It was awesome!!! I would definitely go for it in another location!

    1. Leeanne

      Us too. We really had a great time. I’m glad to hear the Adirondack trip is awesome too.

  3. alison netzer

    What a great day out, not only is outside in beautiful Rhode Island on rails, but it’s physical activity. That is my perfect day out.

    1. Leeanne

      I agree. It was a great day and the scenery just added to the great time we had.

  4. Tricia Snow

    I would love to do this. The rail bikes look so much fun. And I love the views in Rhode Island!

    1. Leeanne

      These rail bikes are super fun and yes, the views were amazing.

  5. Kristen W Allred

    Ride the Rails in Rhode Island looks like so much fun. The views are fantastic. I love that you let your kids pedal for a while without them knowing.. 🙂

    1. Leeanne

      Hey, they should do the work, right? It was a lot of fun even when we pedaled.

  6. Lisa Manderino

    This is such a fun family adventure! I love trains too!

    1. Leeanne

      This is a really great adventure too.

  7. Charlene

    WOW! That ride the rails experience in Rhode Island looks incredible! I would totally check this out… that little pedal car is adorable!

    1. Leeanne

      It really is super fun. Ride the Rails has 3 locations so I plan to check them out at each place. I’m sure the scenery will be just as gorgeous.

  8. Kendra

    Wow! This looks so cool! I’d love to do a Ride the Rails tour of Rhode Island! Whoever came up with this fun family activity is genius!

    1. Leeanne

      I agree. They take old abandoned train tracks and use them for a fun family activity. Brilliant!! Plus the views are outstanding!

  9. Julie Gazdecki

    Oh my goodness, this is so cool. I’ve never heard of the Rail Explorers, must check them out.

    1. Leeanne

      It’s tons of fun and I’m sure your family would love it.

  10. Jennifer

    The Rail Explorers ride in Rhode Island looks like a fun family activity to do together. I like the view, too.

    1. Leeanne

      It is tons of fun Jennifer, and the view is also amazing

  11. kmf

    What a unique way to ride the rails! Would love to check out Rail Explorers Rhode Island…looks like so much fun!

    1. Leeanne

      Ride the Rails is a ton of fun, Karen. I know you would like it.

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