Planning a reunion in any state, not just Rhode Island, almost always means sifting out the best possible destinations for your crew.  If you’re hosting a group that is into the great outdoors, staying at a state park or visiting a beach can be an economical and effective option.  And Rhode Island has a surprising array of options in a relatively compact area.

At just over 1,200 square miles and containing a grand total of two counties, Rhode Island is by far the smallest state in the Union.  But don’t let its small size fool you when it comes time to planning a family reunion in one of Rhode Island’s state parks. You can choose anything from a primitive wilderness-like adventure to a day of gracious sightseeing.  And if your group wants to catch a live music festival or try out some active sports, Rhode Island’s park system serves that up as well.

Where Can We Camp in Rhode Island?

Camping in Rhode Island encompasses everything from RV hookups to primitive campsites. No matter whether your group is into roughing it or prefers the “home away from home” approach, there will be a camping area with your name on it.  (Although, when planning summertime reunions, you might want to get your name on it sooner rather than later, as parks tend to fill up during peak season.)

Charlestown’s Burlingame State Park and Campground is one of Rhode Island’s most popular camping areas.  Your group will be able to swap tall tales around the fire, go for a swim on the beach, enjoy some boating and fishing, or just stroll through the 3,100 wooded acres that make up this park.  There are over 700 campsites and 20 cabins, so there’s plenty of space for your group to stretch out.  And an abundance of picnic tables ensures that there’s always room for a big group meal.

Charlestown Breachway, located just a few miles from both Burlingame State Park and Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge, has a popular state beach and a gorgeous view of Block Island Sound. Thanks to its boat launch and excellent saltwater fishing, it’s a must for family reunions that feature fish fries and “the one that got away” stories.  The facilities are set up for self-contained RVs, but not tents, and all units must have permanent holding tanks for fresh and not-so-fresh water.

If your group prefers its camping on the roughin’ it side of the scale, the northern Rhode Island town of Chepachet, near Glocester, has a place for them: George Washington State Campground. Tucked inside the 4,000 acres of the George Washington Management Area, this camping facility can host tents and RVs.  Electricity and running water are unavailable, although you can get water from spigots throughout the campground.  Alternatively, groups can rent the two Adirondack shelters, which hold 20 people apiece.  This campground is definitely an outdoorsy person’s paradise: there are opportunities to bike, hike, fish, boat and swim.

What Day-Use Facilities Are Available to Reunion Groups in Rhode Island?

What’s a family reunion without a trip to the beach? There are multiple state and community beaches in Rhode Island. Quite frankly, it’s hard to limit yourself to just one; there has to be a reunion trip that could be built solely around visiting beaches in the state.  If you’re looking for the kind of beach that has a bit of something for everyone, be sure to check out Roger W. Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett.  Its late-90s renovation and redesign left the beach with a new pavilion, coin-operated showers, a playground and an environmental education area – not to mention 63 picnic tables and a spacious parking lot, both of which are ideal for family reunion day visits.

For the reunion that demands multiple attractions in one place, Newport’s Fort Adams State Park is happy to oblige.  With appropriate advance notice, your group can rent the Eisenhower House for a special function, go sailing along Newport Harbor or Narragansett Bay, or indulge in a challenging soccer match. If that is not adrenaline-fueled enough, your group can always go windsurfing.  Or, for a slightly more laid-back approach, there’s plenty of swimming, boating, fishing and picnicking available. Fort Adams is also the home of the Newport Folk Festival and the Newport Jazz Festival, making it ideal for music-loving groups.

For a change of pace, Colt State Park in Bristol offers groups a charming and leisurely experience. It has over 400 acres of manicured lawns and avenues that encompass spectacular shorelines, carefully tended fruit trees, flowering bushes and six picnic groves that contain a total of over 400 tables. Known as the gem of the state parks system, Colt offers miles of bicycle trails and 10 large play fields for active groups.

When you’re planning your reunion in a Rhode Island state park, what kind of experiences are you looking to create?  A day spent marveling at a serene beach or a hard-fought volleyball championship complete with bragging rights? Time spent chatting round the campfire or time spent hiking in the forest?  When you find the right Rhode Island state park, your group won’t have to choose.  They’ll be able to enjoy it all, and save up plenty of stories for next year.