It can be easy to overlook Rhode Island. As the smallest state by land mass, it’s literally hard to see on a map. There are those who think that Rhode Island is an actual island (in case you’re one of them - it's not), and those who assume it’s interchangeable with its close-in-proximity New England brethren. No one’s arguing it can be a hard sell. But Rhode Islanders are crazy about their little coastline state.
If you were to ask a native, here are five places that they would likely tell you are worth the pitstop (or an entire weekend getaway):
Sure, lighthouses illuminate the northeastern coastline, but very few have nearly 360 degree views of panoramic ocean. Beavertail State Park is like driving straight into a Ralph Lauren ad - navy waters, white-crested waves, an old-fashioned lighthouse, and hidden lagoons dotted with tall grass and bunnies. The park is free to visit, never over-crowded, and a great place to have a low-key boozy picnic without being bothered. If you’re looking for picturesque New England without a barrage of tourists, this is the place to be.
Unique to Providence, WaterFire is a wonderful visit. On balmy summer nights (and sometimes into the fall), barges will travel up and down the Providence River, illuminating floating wood fire pits that are tethered in the middle of water. Haunting monastery music plays up and down the walkways along the river, with local artists and vendors along the way. It’s one part fair, one part art installation, and the effect is both spooky and beautiful.
: These aren’t your run-of-the-mill big houses. Think Great Gatsby and Rockefeller. With homes spanning the gilded age to the roaring 20’s these homes are unlike anything else. Many are also open to the public, which means you can check out the fantastic interiors. Whether you take a walking tour via The Cliff Walk or rent a bicycle for the afternoon, the Newport mansions will have you dreaming of being a one percenter. Scratch that, a 0.00001 percenter.
Think about the one type of “ethnic” food everyone likes. Italian is always a safe bet. Rhode Island has one of the highest concentrations of Italians anywhere in the United States, with most Rhode Islanders claiming southern Italian or Sicilian heritage. Federal Hill is where this population buys their groceries and celebrates a great report card.
With old school piazza’s and al fresco dining, you’ll feel momentarily international. Make sure to visit on a warm summer night, where live music can be heard along the streets and old Italian couples are cozying up on the dancefloor.
India Point Park
: This is a great place to escape the city. At the edge of Providence, with plenty of free parking, is India Point Park. A gigantic park with water views and a cool breeze from Narragansett Bay, it’s the perfect place to relax, read a book, and sip some Del’s Lemonade. Think tons of puppies, kids on tricycles, and outdoor yoga classes. During the summer, it seems like there’s a festival every weekend - from the fantastic music of the Cape Verdean Festival
to the fresh shucking fun at Ocean State Oyster Fest,
there’s a party for everyone.
Images Via: Town of Jamestown, Ready Set Trek, Newport Mansions, Trip Advisor and Public Broadcasting