You may recognize certain aspects of Cranston without ever having heard of this charming Rhode Island city of 80,000+ inhabitants. That’s because former Rhode Island resident Seth McFarlane famously used the city as the inspiration for Quahog, the location of his hugely successful animated TV series, Family Guy. Cranston itself, however, has more than that to recommend it - it has repeatedly been voted among the 100 best places to live in America, and other studies have declared it one of the 25 safest cities in the entire country. Based on Rhode Island’s seashore, there is plenty to recommend in this fine city to you, and below, we’ll take you through all of the best things to do in Cranston, Rhode Island.
1. Learn about Cranston's backstory at Sprague Mansion
To call it by its full name, Governor William Sprague Mansion is a Rhode Island institution, having been the birthplace of not one, but two Governors of the state to have shared that name. William Sprague III, the heir to Sprague Print Works, was born and raised here, going on to become a governor, U.S. Representative and US Senator, while his nephew, a Union war hero, also served his state in both the Senate and the Governor’s mansion. Sprague Mansion in the present day is a museum operated by the Cranston Historical Society, and the exhibits here include two restored 1840s cannons that were used by Sprague IV’s regiment during the civil war.
Address: 1351 Cranston St, Cranston, RI 02920
Website: Sprague Mansion
Opening hours: Thu: 1pm - 4pm (April - November)
Price: 10 USD for adults, 5 USD kids
2. Catch a show at Park Theatre
Cranston’s leading venue for the performing arts, Park Theatre is where locals and visitors alike head to watch performances from big-name singers or witness stand-up sets from the greats of comedy. The venue fits approximately 1,000 people in its plush red velvet seats and has hosted shows from some of the biggest names in entertainment, including Engelbert Humperdinck and Pat Benatar. The Park also features regular performances from Rhode Island State Ballet.
Address: 848 Park Ave, Cranston, RI 02910
Website: Park Theatre
3. Go fishing at John L. Curran State Park
The picturesque surroundings of Cranston are a major selling point for tourists, offering exceptional panoramic views all over the area, and nowhere is this more in evidence than at John L. Curran State Park - a forested area with two large manmade lakes offering some of the best fishing in the area. If you’re looking for a few serene moments to enjoy a fishing trip, then this is the place for you - and it’s pet-friendly, too, which is a bonus. Hardy oak, maple and beech trees fringe the area and offer a simply stunning backdrop for your visit.
John L. Curran State Park
Address: Seven Mile Road, Cranston, RI 02835
4. Enjoy fine Italian dining at Marchetti's
There are few culinary experiences quite as affirming as enjoying Italian food cooked by the experts, and that is what’s on offer at Marchetti’s. They cover all the classic dishes such as Fettucini Alfredo and Seafood Marinara, and provide a wealth of specials that are inventions of the chef, such as their Pink Vodka Penne. Located in the heart of Knightsville, a Cranston suburb with a strong Mediterranean lineage, the Marchetti’s experience is one for which you should certainly make time.
Address: 1463 Park Ave, Cranston, RI 02920
Opening hours: Tue - Thu: 4pm - 9:30pm; Fri: 4pm - 11pm; Sat: 3:30pm - 11pm; Sun: 12pm - 9:30pm (closed on Mon)
5. Go ice skating in Meshanticut Park
The name “Meshanticut” is taken from a Native term that means “well-wooded”, and that will certainly be one of the phrases that come to mind when you set eyes on this Rhode Island institution. The perfect place for an autumnal walk, the park is filled with tall deciduous trees and offers a beautifully romantic spectacle. At the center of the park, you will find Meshanticut Lake which, if you visit in the winter, will offer a perfect opportunity for ice-skating. In the summer, it is an ideal place to fish, or just to take a walk around and soak in the surroundings.
Address: Cranston, RI 02920
6. Enjoy tasty pub grub at PJ's
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
Some establishments are “bars” and some are “pubs” - and as the name underlines, PJ’s is very much from the latter group, with its traditional decor and hearty helpings of comfort food. This is an ideal place to come for a warming meal that keeps Rhode Island’s cold winters at bay, with some of the best wings you’ll find anywhere and vertiginously tall burgers - the dishes on offer here are a feast for the eyes as well as the mouth. Add to that a wide range of drinks including beers on tap, and you’ll find PJ’s to be the kind of place you’ll come back to even if you’re not in the area for long.
Address: 1139 Pontiac Ave, Cranston, RI 02920
Opening hours: 11am - 1am (daily)
7. Take a walk in the past at Pawtuxet Village
Pawtuxet may be a village, and it seems like an add-on to Cranston, but it is here that the story of the whole area begins - and indeed, the village is to be thanked for key parts of American history. It was here that Rhode Island settlers attacked a British merchant ship, setting in motion what would become the War of Independence. In the present day, Pawtuxet Village is a well-preserved remnant of the past, where a small community lives in quaint - yet modern - homes and there is always a buzz in the air. Excellent Italian and Thai restaurants are an excellent choice for stopping points in a village that is well worth exploring.
Address: Pawtuxet Village, Cranston, RI 02888
8. Spend a day on Mulligan's Island
There’s plenty of fun to be had at Mulligan’s Island, a tropically themed multi-sport venue that offers something for everyone. If you visit in the summer, there are opportunities to play (and watch) a spot of beach volleyball, while the rest of the year offers more all-weather activities such as baseball in batting cages. By far the jewel in the crown, though, is the choice of two 18-hole minigolf courses themed around a volcanic island. Be warned, some of these holes feature rushing water, others involve fire, and all of them mean great fun.
Address: 1000 New London Ave, Cranston, RI 02920
Website: Mulligan’s Island
Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 10am - 6pm; (closed on Mon & Tue)
Price: 12 USD adults, 9 USD kids
9. Take a walk in Pawtuxet Oxboes Park
Cranston’s location - northerly and by the sea - offers it some interesting natural wonders, among which are its consistently breathtaking parks which are home to fascinating flora and fauna. Oxboes Park, an example of one of these attractions, is attached to Pawtuxet Village and offers some spectacular vistas as well as the chance to see animals and waterfowl in their natural habitat. Of particular interest here are the stunning Wood Ducks that inhabit the lake that runs through this park.
Pawtuxet Oxboes Park
Address: Pawtuxet Village, Cranston RI 02888
10. Bowl at AMF Cranston Lanes
Hitting the bowling alley is always fun wherever you are in the world, and it’s particularly enjoyable at Cranston’s premier bowling alley. At AMF Cranston Lanes, you’ll find the opportunity to enjoy pitchers of beer and plenty of hot wings while taking aim and knocking down a few pins. There’s also a well-stocked amusement arcade for the kids to check out while the adults rest up from a few games in the lanes, and the whole thing is even better on Tuesday evenings when the USD 2.88 Tuesday promotion kicks in for cheap food, drinks and gaming fun.
AMF Cranston Lanes
Address: 1450 Elmwood Ave, Cranston, RI 02910
Website: AMF Cranston Lanes
Opening hours: Sun: 12pm - 10pm; Mon: 5pm - 12pm; Tue: 4pm - 11pm; Wed: 9am - 12am; Thu: 4pm - 12am; Fri - Sat: 9am - 1am
11. Hang out at Brayton Park
In the center of Cranston, among the stores and restaurants, there is a joyful green space where you can come to sit and relax and, if you’re traveling with kids, give them the chance to run off any excess energy they may be carrying. Brayton Park offers plenty for kids to do, with a large playground that offers climbing frames, slides and swings, and there is also a softball diamond - it’s well worth bringing along some sporting equipment to make this the perfect break for the whole family.
Address: Cranston, RI 02920
12. Relax those tired muscles at Massage Envy
After a day or two walking around Cranston and seeing the best of the city, you might fancy taking the pace down a notch or two, and there is no better way to do that than with a relaxing massage at Massage Envy. This popular spa is staffed with experts in the art of sports, deep tissue, and Swedish massages among others, and once you’ve had the aches and pains soothed away, you can also enjoy a facial treatment to make you feel years younger.
Address: 1000 Chapel View Blvd Ste 146, Cranston, RI 02920
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 10pm; Sat: 8am - 7pm; Sun: 9am - 7pm
Price: From 65 USD
13. Shop at Garden City Center
The best shopping in all of Cranston can be found in Garden City Center, with more than 60 outlets covering everything you could want from a mall. With clothes stores both for fast fashion and couture, beauticians and sports stores, and plenty of eateries, you’ll be spoiled for choice here. There are also plenty of places to get a relaxing treatment, including an acupuncturist’s, so you can shop yourself to exhaustion and then enjoy a spot of rejuvenation.
Garden City Center
Address: 100 Midway Rd, Cranston, RI 02920
Website: Garden City Center
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 9pm; Sun: 12pm - 6pm
14. Pick up some fresh produce at Pawtuxet Village Farmers Market
The charming environs of Pawtuxet Village are perhaps the most perfect setting for a farmers’ market, and it’s no surprise that this makes for one of the most reassuringly rustic market experiences you could dream of. Taking place throughout the summer on Rhodes Place, this farmers’ market gets going every Saturday morning and offers plenty of fresh fruit and veg along with some more artisanal pieces such as excellent cookies and coffee. With tempting food stalls and great restaurants nearby, a walk around this market is an ideal way to burn off some calories ahead of a delicious lunch.
Pawtuxet Village Farmers Market
Address: 60 Rhodes Pl, Cranston, RI 02905, United States
Website: Pawtuxet Village Farmers Market
Opening hours: Sat: 9am - 12pm (closed from Sun - Fri)
15. Try a craft beer at Revival Tasty Room & Brewery
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
The popularity of craft brewing has gone stratospheric in recent years, and the popularity of Revival Brewing Company among the hip and cool of Cranston is a testament to this company’s skill with micro beers. Delicious frosty lagers and flavored beers are among the options here at their headquarters, and they have turned the tasting room into a full-on restaurant offering lunches and dinners. A hearty menu of delicious foods offers you a select dining experience, and the options on the menu are all particularly good when paired with a cold beer - of course!
Revival Tasty Room & Brewery
Address: 505 Atwood Ave, Cranston, RI 02920
Website: Revival Tasty Room & Brewery
Opening hours: 12pm - 12am (daily)
16. Watch a game at Cranston Stebbins Stadium
Like most East Coast cities, Cranston is keen on its sports, and the bulk of the action goes down at Stebbins Stadium, a large multi-sport complex on Flint Avenue and Jordan. Depending on the time of year you visit, you could take in a football match, baseball, soccer or lacrosse. It’s also one of the most beautifully-located stadia that you’re likely to find anywhere, with fringing of tall trees making it a particularly good spot to come to in the autumn months .
Cranston Stebbins Stadium
Address: 23 Jordan Ave, Cranston, RI 02910
Classy Cranston is ideal for the discerning tourist
Any holiday should be - first and foremost - a relaxing break spent somewhere with clean air and a cheerful outlook on life. Cranston certainly offers that in no small amount, offering plenty of attractions that give visitors the chance to kick back and enjoy life. As you can see from the options above, this is a city with a small-town heart, and you’ll feel right at home here very quickly. If you’re looking for a holiday that offers a break from the frenzied pace of everyday life, you’ll find it in Cranston.
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