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Journey over Rhode Island
Journey over Rhode Island
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Capital city Providence is the buzz of the culinary world, recently named by Travel + Leisure, Architectural Digest and CNN as one of the most livable cities with some of the best restaurants in the country. A wealth of colleges and universities including Brown, the Rhode Island School of Design, Johnson and Wales – home to the world’s largest culinary school – and others provide the energy that makes this “Renaissance City” spectacular.

The city has become a hub of creativity and expression, where art, music and other cultural attractions rule. To wit is artist Barnaby Evans’ WaterFire, which has drawn over 10 million visitors to Providence with its simple beauty. Featuring 80 sparkling bonfires that sit in braziers atop the three rivers of Providence, WaterFire fills the city with a golden glow and glorious aroma, while street performers, restaurants and musicians celebrate alongside visitors.

The nearby city of Warwick is home to Rhode Island’s “original water fire” – the burning of the British schooner H.M.S. Gaspee in 1772. It is long considered one of the first shots leading to the American Revolution, and Warwick celebrates with a month-long celebration, Gaspee Days, every June.

To the north, Blackstone Valley’s historic mill buildings have been transformed into affordable workspaces where all types of artists thrive. Within view of many of those converted mills is Slater Mill, wherein 1793 the American Industrial Revolution – fueled by water-powered mills – began. Now a museum and visitor center, Slater Mill is the welcoming point to a region alive with the natural beauty and activities along the Blackstone River, colorful ethnic restaurants and historical attractions.

Forty-five minutes away, the sailing hub of Newport is home to sport’s most prestigious trophy, the America’s Cup. Newport has a young and vibrant vibe, and opportunities abound for shopping, dining, sports, historic and culinary tours, music concerts and art festivals. During the Gilded Age, Newport’s rocky coastline became home to hundreds of summer “cottages” of New York families such as the Rockefellers and Vanderbilts. Today, these spectacular mansions are open for tours and special events.

Narragansett Bay, the crown jewel of Rhode Island, was named one of the top 12 adventure destinations in the world by National Geographic in 2012. The bay attracts tens of thousands searching for beauty and adventure, especially along South County’s shoreline. Rhode Island offers more than 400 miles of beautiful beaches, many of which remain natural and underdeveloped, making them home to rare species of migratory birds and wildlife. Twelve miles off the south coast is Block Island, named one of the last great places on Earth by the Nature Conservancy for its population of rare wildlife, nature trails and rocky cliffs and coastline.

Each season brings a new set of opportunities to enjoy life in the Ocean State. The smallest state is rich with opportunities to experience sports and leisure, art and music, and culture and history in spectacular and unforgettable ways. Whatever you wish, Rhode Island delivers.

Journey over Rhode Island
Journey over Rhode Island
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Fun Fact

A lighthouse in Newport, Rhode Island
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Affectionately called “Little Rhody” by locals, this state’s small size gives way to a big coastline, 643 kilometers of it, to be exact.

Must see places

WaterFire Providence fire sculpture installation

WaterFire Providence

Where three rivers converge in downtown Providence, you’ll find this ongoing fire sculpture installation. 100 bonfires are lit in pans on the water and blaze all night while flotillas of performers go down the river, musicians perform and outdoor vendors supply visitors with food and drink.


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Rocky shores of Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island

Narragansett Bay

Boating enthusiasts will find themselves with plenty to do on this estuary, home to 30 islands and accessible from Providence and other towns. Take a seal-watching tour, narrated boat cruise or see what it’s like to be out on the water in a historic schooner. From Scarborough State Beach, you can fish, snorkel or scuba dive.  

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Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Rhode Island

Fort Adams State Park

Tour the 1841 fort, but stay for the music. Set right on Newport Harbor, this park is dominated by what was once the most heavily armed defense post in the USA, but it’s actually better known for its beautiful natural surroundings and a lively concert series, as well as jazz and folk festivals. Fishing, boating and picnicking are popular pastimes here, and the park boasts a sports complex available to the public that offers rugby, football and soccer.

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The Providence Athenaeum

Housed in a 200-year-old building on Providence’s Benefit Street, this gorgeous independent library celebrates the “culture of physical books” by offering multiple tours through its stacks, special collections and rare book room. See the library’s 150 art objects, stop into the children’s library or stay for the Friday night salon or a poetry reading.

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Cliff Walk winds along the shore and mansions of Newport, Rhode Island

Cliff Walk

On this National Recreation Trail set in the National Historic District of Newport, you’ll be peeking into the backyards of the rich and famous, but that’s welcomed. The homes you’ll see are magnificent examples of Gilded Age manors. Over 5.6 kilometers, you’ll be taken over rocky coastline, through meadows of wild bush and high up over the shore, where you can watch surfers and sailboats alike.

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Rough Point

Tour this perfectly preserved English manor of a Gilded-Age heiress, which features French furnishings, tapestries, porcelains and European art inside. Upstairs, visit the galleries that house the original owner’s substantial art collection and offer changing exhibits. Explore the gardens on a self-guided tour.  

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Marble House, a Vanderbilt mansion, in Newport, Rhode Island

Marble House

Get a glimpse into the private lives of the Vanderbilts on a tour of this stately mansion, a National Historic Landmark. Here the rooms are all named and decorated in high style, and as you go from one to the next, the Vanderbilt story unfolds before you. On the lawn sits the Oriental Tea House, which was shipped from China to Newport. 

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Benefit Street Mile of History, full of Colonial homes, museums and churches in Providence, Rhode Island

Benefit Street Mile of History

This street dense with Colonial homes, museums and churches is served by the Providence Preservation Society, which lays out a self-guided architecture tour. Other themed tours are available that explore the thoroughfare’s role in 18th and 19th century culture and history, including an H.P Lovecraft walk and a women’s history walk. 

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The Breakers Vanderbilt mansion in Newport, Rhode Island

The Breakers

The venerable Vanderbilt home is a 70-room Italian Renaissance palazzo and includes within the estate a stable and carriage house. Spend the day on a leisurely self-guided audio tour, then explore the grounds to catch the sunset over the Atlantic. For perspective on the daily operation of this expansive estate, take the servant life tour.

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Rhode Island School of Design and Museum

RISD, as it’s commonly called, is one of the USA’s greatest art and design schools. Together with the school’s museum, which houses nearly 100,000 objects in its collection, the school’s three galleries and thesis exhibitions offer visitors a dive into art and design culture from ancient times to today. Before you leave, stop into the school’s 80,000-specimen Nature Lab.

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Explore Rhode Island destinations

Colorful houses with character in an older neighborhood
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Home to spectacular scenery, awe-inspiring architecture and inviting hospitality that you can’t help but notice, the charming, coastal New England town of Newport glistens like a well-polished gem. From touring the Gilded Age mansions that were the summer homes of Astors, Rockefellers and Vanderbilts, to culinary and sightseeing tours of Narragansett Bay, distinctive destinations and interesting activities abound in Newport.

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