The first of the thirteen colonies to declare its independence from Great Britain in 1776, Rhode Island may be the smallest state in the United States but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in character, culture and clams. Home to over 400 miles of coastline, several grand mansions and some unusual culinary treats, Rhode Island should be firmly rooted on any travelers “to visit” list. Here are 25 reasons why:
1. Witness the “WaterFire Providence”
Billed as one of the “top 20 events in North America” by National Geographic Magazine, the Providence WaterFire is a modern art installation found in downtown Providence during May and October. This unique multi-sensory attraction consists of volunteer fire tenders sailing down the river and lighting more than 80 floating bonfires along their way. The waterborne display is accompanied by new-age music to further perplex the gathering crowds.
2. Visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame
If you are a fan of Tennis, or even if you are not, this is a must visit attraction. Home to a large collection of rackets, balls and a display of the evolution of tennis style through the years, the museum also has grounds containing 13 full size tennis courts which can still be used today.
3. Take a trip to the Roger Williams Park Zoo
Drawing over 500,000 visitors every year, it is fair to say that the Roger Williams Park Zoo is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Rhode Island. The zoo, which can easily keep you entertained for a full day, has more than 100 species from around the globe. The Roger Williams Park is also home to a museum of natural history and the largest indoor botanical garden in New England.
4. Walk the Newport Cliffs
This world famous path along the eastern shore of Newport is a great way to experience the grand architecture and natural beauty of the seaside city. The cliff walk is the first National Recreational Trail in New England and is around 3.5 miles in length. The walk requires a certain degree of physical fitness but is well worth the effort. Many of the grand mansions are visible from the walk although to do them justice, you should certainly attend a guided tour of their interiors.
5. Head to the Beach
The state of Rhode Island has an impressive 400 miles of coastline and over 100 beaches. Travelers looking for a calm and relaxing beach should head to Third Beach in Middletown. Thrill seekers should make a trip to Easton’s beach in Newport, a surf beach just under a mile long with an excellent snack bar.