The smallest state in the Union comes with the longest official name – The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations; more commonly, and easily referred to as Rhode Island. Rhode Island’s first European settlement came in the 1630s when individuals, including Roger Williams, settled there escaping religious persecution in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Similar to several other New England States, Rhode Island was one of the original 13 colonies. While the Rhode Island legislature was the first to declare its independence from England, it was the last former colony to ratify the United States Constitution making it the nation’s 13th state.
While Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the United States, don’t let its’ size fool you. There is enough to do in the state to keep even the most finicky vacationer happy. Rhode Island’s nickname is “The Ocean State.” This is in reference to the fact that nearly 30% of the state consists of several large bays and inlets. As one might imagine, with a geography so dominated by water, water activities and shore destinations are big attractions for visitors to Rhode Island.
There is an advantage to being small. Everything in Rhode Island is a relatively short drive away. It is nothing to spend the day at First Beach in Newport and then go out to dinner on Federal Hill in Providence. A drive from one end of the state to the other is what some people will drive just to go shopping in other states…
A Sample of Things to Do in Rhode Island
Enjoy a Day at the Beach – The Ocean State has beaches! From the wonderful beaches of Newport and Narragansett Bay to the beaches of Bristol, Point Judith, and Westerly. If you want to take a swim in the ocean or work on your tan, Rhode Island is the place to do it.
- Get Educated – Providence is home to Brown University, one of New England’s four Ivy League schools. Other well known schools in the state include Bryant, Johnson and Wales, Providence College (PC), the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), and the University of Rhode Island.
- How About an Affordable Professional Baseball Game? – Yes, you can still go to a professional baseball game without taking out a second mortgage on your house. Rhode Island has just the affordable ticket for any fan of baseball. The Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, play in McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket and make for a very enjoyable and affordable day or evening of baseball.
- Jazz it Up – If you like jazz, Newport plays host to one of the country’s most well known jazz festivals every summer. The Newport Jazz Festival is held every August at the International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino and Fort Adams State Park.
- Ride an Antique Carousel – The Flying Horse Carousel in Watch Hill (Westerly) is considered to be one of the two oldest carousels in the United States (the other being the Flying Horses Carousel on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts). The Crescent Park Looff Carousel in East Providence, another very old antique carousel, was built in 1895.
- Run a Marathon – If running 26.2 miles is your idea of a good time then Newport has just the race for you. The Amica Marathon, held every October, is ranked as the 4th best marathon in the United States by Runners World Magazine (January, 2010). There is also a half marathon and a 5K race.
- Tennis Anyone? – Newport is home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. If tennis is your sport, you will not want to miss this on a Rhode Island Visit.
- Visit Some Mansions – The wealthy of the gilded age chose Newport as the place to build their summer “cottages” – and what cottages they are. To us of more simple means, these mansions are truly amazing. You can easily spend more than a day visiting the Breakers, Elms, Marble House, Rosecliff, Chateau-sur-Mer, Kingscote, Isaac Bell House, Hunter House, and Chepstow mansions.
- Waterfires – WaterFire Providence, is an award-winning flaming sculpture by Barnaby Evans in which 100 braziers are installed and set ablaze on the three rivers of downtown Providence. Full fires run from June through October, and Partial & Basin Fires happen occasionally through out the rest of the year. WaterFire Providence has won international acclaim and is a must see if your travels take you to Rhode Island.
Newport – On the southern tip of Aquidneck Island, Newport is a summer resort destination and home to the famous Newport Mansions.
- Providence – Providence is the capital of the State of Rhode Island, its’ largest city, and the second largest city in New England.