Go big in America’s smallest state

From Travel Pulse

Sometimes, going big means going small.

Rhode Island provides travel opportunities for all ages with its massive coastline, eclectic cities and cultural attractions. If you are looking for an educational trip for the kids, head to Providence, the state’s capital. Or check out the historic landmarks, wildlife refuges and parks throughout the state.

As the smallest state in the country, Rhode Island measures 48 miles north to south and 37 miles east to west but has a larger population than our biggest state, Alaska. It was the last of the original thirteen colonies to become a state and packs a punch in terms of the historical impact it has made in the country.

Home to Brown University, there are 12 colleges in Rhode Island, three public and nine private, including the Rhode Island School of Design and the Johnson & Wales School of Culinary Arts.

Providence

One of the most creative capitals in the country, this city is loaded with cultural, historic and foodie experiences. GQ Magazine recently named Providence, “America’s Coolest City.” In addition to its massive art collection, the Rhode Island School of Design and RISD Museum provide decorative art, sculpture and design in unique materials such as textiles and silver.

If your plan is to walk the city, stay in the center of town at the Omni Providence Hotel, conveniently adjacent to the R.I. Convention Center and close to Federal Hill for Italian cuisine, Westminster Street with The Arcade (America’s oldest indoor mall) as well as the Providence River where you might catch a gondola at sunset. The Omni offers dramatic views of the city and serves as a relaxing respite when you need a break from exploring.

Rest your feet with a cruise by the Providence River Boat Company along the centerpiece river through the city.

Prepare to be schooled in regional history and, if you go at the right time, you’ll witness WaterFire Providence, an artistic experience like no other: One hundred braziers, located on and in the Providence River are filled with chopped wood (stored under the bridges) and lit, creating a dazzling experience.

Newport

A short drive from Providence, the coastal town of Newport is the site of JFK and Jackie O’s wedding. The main street is loaded with beach shops and restaurants, but make sure you hop in the car and travel Bellevue Avenue for a self-guided tour of the famous Newport Mansions.

These monstrous abodes are the summer homes of the rich and famous, with some open for tours.

The coastline scenery is amazing, and the temperature tends to drop along this route as the cold water provides cool breezes on a hot summer day. Home of the annual Newport Jazz Festival, this town also boasts the longest operating newspaper, the Newport Mercury, founded in 1758.

Beaches

There is a good reason Rhode Island is nicknamed The Ocean State: Its coastline covers 400 miles including coves, bays and islands. With more than 100 public and private beaches, you won’t be at a loss for salt water therapy.

The towns of Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth are located on Aquidneck Island, the largest of 30 islands in the Narragansett Bay.

A favorite of locals and tourists alike, Block Island is reachable by ferry. Thirty minutes will get you and your vehicle to a destination with 17 miles of beaches and zero stoplights.

Named after Dutch explorer Adriaen Block and powered by the first U.S. offshore wind farm, this summer destination is a diver’s dream with several shipwrecks just off the coast. Folklore recounts stories about a haunted ship, which wrecked nearby in 1738 causing bad weather and strange sightings during certain times of the year. (Do the walking dead become “swimming” dead if they’re stranded underwater?)

Food

BuzzFeed recently rated Providence #1 of the country’s 12 Most Underrated Destinations for Foodies. When a city houses a ranked culinary college, (the Johnson and Wales College of Culinary Arts), you can be assured of fine dining experiences.

Known for its fabulous seafood, Hemenway’s is the place to go for oysters, clam chowder, Atlantic cod and anything caught off the coast.

Head to Federal Hill, home of the Italian sector, for authentic Tuscan soul food at Siena. The pasta is fresh and the atmosphere is friendly. Or get to the Hill early and enjoy an outdoor breakfast at Caffe Dolce Vita. Gianfranco Marrocco patterned his eatery after the outdoor cafes of Italy. Their lemon poppy seed pancakes with raspberry butter will melt in your mouth and prepare you for a day of exploring. Across the street you might glimpse older Italian gentlemen, gathered on the corner, attacking the problems of the world.

Check out Warwick and West Bay for a Rhode Island classic: Iggy’s Doughboy and Chowder House. Included in their vast menu, you’ll find their signature doughboys, clamcakes and chowder, along with lobster rolls and burgers. The Bristol Oyster Bar is a must while visiting the east side of the state, where locally harvested oysters, mussels and littleneck clams are on the menu.

Whether a family-friendly vacation or a romantic getaway, this tiny state offers an array of options for a memorable travel experience that proves the best things come in small packages.

 

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