If you’ve ever thought the old saying “bigger is better” was true, then come to Rhode Island and find out how the country’s smallest state can impress just as much as the larger ones. Rhode Island is known for its impressive small towns that feature some of the country’s most well-preserved colonial era architecture as well as its stunning beaches and coastline.
Some of the state’s most visited attractions are in the city of Newport where hilltop mansions and beautiful views are around every corner. The city of Providence is also home to several attractions including an art display that blends fire with water, and streets with mile after mile of historic buildings and homes.
Water Fire Providence
In downtown Providence visitors can view the spectacular fusion of fire and water. WaterFire combines aspects of performance, public art, festival, and a civic ritual ceremony. It was first created to celebrate the anniversary of First Night Providence and has since taken place every year for thousands of excited spectators. The WaterFire Programs include a variety of fire-lit light displays on the river, performed in an artistic manner.
For those interested in architecture or anyone who wants to step back into the past, plan for a stroll down Benefit Street where you’ll find the most impressive concentration of Colonial homes in the country. The street features restored historic houses, churches, and museums, overlooking the historic waterfront of Providence.
Narragansett Town Beach
This Rhode Island town is one of the state’s many popular coastal towns that draw crowds each year as a summer resort town. The city has three famous beaches and a state park with a former military fort and campground.
In addition to being known for its beautiful beach and waterfront area, Narragansett is also home to a historic district with thirteen buildings and districts listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including a historic lighthouse, towers, and the pier life saving station. The architecture in the historic areas reflects classic Colonial era design.
Colt State Park
Colt State Park occupies over 450 acres in the township of Bristol, Rhode Island. The park includes trails, picnic groves, boat ramps, an observation tower, and an open air Chapel-by-the-Sea. The entire western border of the park is open to Narragansett Bay. The park offers four miles of bicycle trails passing along the Bay. Scenic drives along one of the state’s most spectacular shorelines.
Marble House is a Gilded Age mansion in Newport, Rhode Island, now open to the public as a museum. It was designed by the society architect Richard Morris Hunt. The load-bearing portions of the walls are brick, with the exterior faced in white Westchester marble.
The interior features a number of notable rooms. Entrance into the mansion is through one of two French Baroque-style doors, each weighing a ton and half. The kitchen and service areas are located on the basement level, reception rooms on the ground floor, bedrooms on the second floor, and servant quarters on the hidden, uppermost level.
Top Things to Do in Rhode Island
This collection of historical houses, operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County is Rhode Island’s most visited tourist attraction. The organization owns fourteen historic properties and their surrounding landscapes, out of which half are National Historic Landmarks. Visitors can tour 11 of the mansions to view the development of American architecture beginning in Colonial times through the Gilded Age.
Roger Williams Park Zoo
The Roger Williams Park Zoo houses more than 100 species of rare animals and for more than 130 years has been one of the state’s favorite tourist attractions. The zoo’s major exhibits feature the animals of North America, Africa, Australia, and the tropical regions of the Americas. Another popular exhibit, entitled Marco Polo Adventure Trek features many Asian animals including moon bears, snow leopards, and red pandas. In the farm yard section visitors can view farm animals and several rare breeds. Children will enjoy Hasbro’s Our Big Backyard, an interactive play space.
International Tennis Hall of Fame
One of Rhode Island’s most popular sports, tennis, is celebrated in this museum that honors players and contributors to the sport. The museum has an indoor museum with a hall of fame exhibit as well as grass tennis courts, an indoor tennis facility, and a standard court tennis facility.
Newport Cliff Walk
One of the favorite attractions in Rhode Island is this 3.5 mile public walkway along the Newport shore line. Stretching from Bailey’s Beach to First Beach, the Cliff Walk offers a chance to view the beach vistas as well as many of Newport’s famous gilded mansions include Rosecliff, Marble House, The Breakers, Ochre Court, and Rough Point. A popular view point is near Rough Point where a bridge spans an open chasm offering stunning vistas.
Like many of Rhode Island’s popular attractions, the Breakers, a historic mansion, reflects the cultural and architectural wonder of the state. The Breakers, built by Cornelius Vanderbilt, stands on the edge of Ochre Point, overlooking the sea. It has 70 rooms covering about 65,000 square feet of living space.The house is known for its ornate and lavish design and its beautifully maintained gardens.
Things to Do in Rhode Island
Sometimes big things really do come in small packages. Rhode Island, a state that is just a fraction of the size of most others, is where you’ll find some of the country’s biggest, most impressive homes as well as many other attractions that are sure to impress.