Covering just slightly over 1,200 square miles, Rhode Island is unarguably the smallest state in the United States, but that shouldn’t deter visitors from booking a trip. Despite its miniscule size, the state still offers big opportunities for exploration and enjoyment.
Because of its historic background and breathtaking coastlines, it’s an ideal destination for history buffs and nature lovers alike. In spite of its size, travellers of all kinds will enjoy Rhode Island’s many popular destinations and activities. If you’re planning a trip to the so-called “Ocean State,” here are a few things you’ll want to put on your vacation bucket list:
Relax on Block Island
Ten miles offshore from the mainland, Block island is reachable by scenic ferry on the state’s southern coast. From its main harbor, you can browse shops, enjoy a meal at a beachside restaurant, or bicycle to one of the island’s many beaches.
A large portion of the island is legally protected, making it a sanctuary for animals of all kinds. With miles of crisscrossing trails, it’s also an ideal spot for nature lovers who are looking to spot local wildlife or simply get away from the hustle and bustle of the mainland.
As a common destination for couples and families alike, Block Island is the perfect getaway for beachside relaxation or an invigorating hike. With plenty of accommodation and lodging located on the island’s harbor, it’s possible to stay and enjoy the island for an afternoon or an entire weekend.
Explore the Narragansett Bay Beaches
If you’re looking for the chance to take in a classic New England saltwater coastal beachfront, there’s no better place to head than Narragansett. Narragansett is a delightfully cozy, old fashioned resort town that features a lighthouse, lodging, shopping, and other standard comforts.
Perhaps best of all, the town provides access to some of the cleanest, most pristine, and most easily accessible beaches in all of New England. With long stretches of fine white sand and rich blue water, the many beaches of Narragansett are nothing short of postcard-worthy. On the off chance that you tire of exploring the mainland you can take to the water and discover a few of the Bay’s many islands.
Stroll Newport’s Cliff Walk
Known for its extravagant beachfront homes, Rhode Island has long been a popular vacation spot for some of the country’s wealthiest families. Because the area’s rich history in commerce brought wealth into the state, the area is riddled with elegant mansions and luxurious waterfront estates.
To take in some of these homes, it’s best to take a stroll along Newport’s Cliff Walk. The path, which winds along the dramatic, rocky shoreline, gives walkers the chance to observe water crashing onto the rocks below as well as the mansions, gardens, and sea-facing facades of the estates above.
Though the affluent owners of the estates have long lobbied to make the area private, Newport’s Cliff Walk remains public. It’s free to enjoy all year and is one of the state’s most well-known tourist spots.
Tour The Breakers
One of the most iconic homes along Newport’s Cliff Walk is The Breakers, Rhode Island’s most luxurious and celebrated mansion. Built in 1895, the home reflects the unimaginable wealth of the Vanderbilt family, who designed the building to have a whopping 70 rooms. The interior features intricate ceiling paintings, mosaics, marble columns, and wood paneling.
In 1948, the mansion was opened to the public. In the modern day, no one lives in the beautiful Vanderbilt home; instead, it has become one of the most visited house museums in the state. Now, no visit to Rhode Island is complete without a quick tour of its extravagant interior.
See the Marble House
Visitors to Rhode Island will be disappointed if they leave before visiting the state’s famous Marble House. With its extravagant design and an astounding 7 million dollars’ worth of marble, the structure is said to be modeled after the iconic Palace of Versailles in none other than Paris, France.
Now, the Marble House has become a landmark in Newport society. The building of the structure itself set the stage for a new breed of development in Newport which turned the municipality from a sleepy town to the vibrant, wealthy summer destination it is today. Those interested in the Rhode Island history as well as the extravagant lives of the wealthy individuals who built it will delight in touring the estate’s grounds.
As the state’s capital and largest city, much of Rhode Island’s history can be discovered through a visit to Providence. As one of the oldest cities in the entire nation, Providence is the perfect place to discover New England’s history and take in gorgeous examples of period architecture.
Of course, if you’re after more than history the city has plenty modern cultural offerings as well. Visitors will enjoy a stroll through scenic Roger Williams Park or enjoy a meal beside the city’s waterfront.
If you choose to visit between May and November, you’ll even have the opportunity to observe the city’s WaterFire attraction--an art installation that combines bonfire sculptures and the city’s river to create an unforgettable display of wonder.
Explore Bristol and Colt State Park
Also nicknamed the “Ocean State,” it’s no shock that Rhode Island is known as the home to some of the country’s most stunning coastline views. With tens of miles of shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean, you should have no trouble finding a spot to marvel at the view. However, perhaps one of the best places to take in the state’s stunning ocean views is Colt State Park located near Bristol.
Known as the gem of the state park system, Colt offers visitors the opportunity to experience the beauty of Rhode Island’s natural characteristics. After entering the park, you may choose to hike some of the area’s many trails or simply drive along the shoreline. Coastline bike trails are also available.
If you happen to find yourself in Rhode Island on Independence Day, you won’t want to miss Bristol’s historic Fourth of July festivities. As the country's oldest Fourth of July celebration, the Bristol festival dates as far back as 1785. In the modern day, it offers up food trucks, drinks, a parade, and a breathtaking fireworks display.