Rhode Island is the smallest state in the United States of America, tucked between Massachusetts and Connecticut in New England. Nonetheless, it has over 400 miles of coastline, courtesy of Narragansett Bay and islands such as Aquidneck Island, home to Newport, the "City by the Sea".
There are five counties in Rhode Island:
There are 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island. Some of the major ones are:
The state's full name, as established by the Royal Charter granted by King Charles II in 1663, is "The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations." Despite east coast urban sprawl, there is still both gently-developed oceanside territory and farmland here. The origin of the name (pronounced "road island") is debatable. It is either derived from the name Roode Eylandt given to it by Dutch explorer Adriaen Block, because of its red clay, or because Block Island reminded the Italian navigator Giovanni Verrazano of the Greek Island of Rhodes, and subsequent explorers became confused and renamed Aquidneck Island 'Rhode Island.' The state's population is just over a million, so even though it is the smallest state in the U.S., it is ranked 43rd in population.
Rhode Islanders talk with a distinctly eastern-New-England accent, similar to Boston's famous broad a and dropped r. Natives also have a habit of adding r to the end of a word. For example, some people may say idear instead of idea. Some words you might hear while visiting: "bubbler" (water fountain), "grinder" (submarine sandwich), and "cabinet" (milkshake).
Rhode Islanders will affectionately complain that if they have to drive anywhere and it takes longer than a half hour, then it is too far.
Natives also have names for certain landmarks, sometimes with a historical aspect with it. For instance, the Henderson Bridge, which is a mini-freeway/bridge in the Providence area, is affectionately known as the "little red bridge" because before the present bridge was built, a red wooden bridge stood there. Central Falls and East Providence will be known, especially in newspapers, as CF and EP respectively. Barrington will sometimes be called Borington because there are no liquor stores there (it is prohibited by a town ordinance).
Rhode Island's local pastime is politics, which can get very emotional here. Rhode Island has the only surviving parliamentary democracy in the US. Combine that with an "everybody knows everybody" state of mind and you've got Rhode Island politics in a nutshell.
It should be noted that local custom often overrules traditional driving right-of-way laws at intersections. Drive defensively, and be aware of the locals' casual disregard for turn signals, stop signs and red lights. As of 2009, major highway interchanges are being rerouted in Providence near the junction of 195 and 95 (exits 18-23). Understand that your map or navigation system may be out of date, even if it has been recently updated. Drive with caution.
Rhode Island is home to many miles of bike paths. Maps are available through local bike shops and the .
Bowen’s Wharf Christmas Tree Lighting in Newport.
Bright Night Providence - Dec. 31. Providence. Features hundreds of the best local sings, actors, dancers, acrobats, musicians, magicians and clowns.
Bristol 4th of July Parade, Bristol The oldest Independence Day celebration in the country, the parade attracts marching bands from all across the nation.
The Chocolate Delicacy, East Greenwich A small family owned confectioner's shop with Chocolates and Frozen Lemonade. All chocolates made on premises.
International Tennis Hall of Fame at the Newport Casino in Newport. Features the only professional tennis events played on grass in North America and the largest collection of tennis memorabilia in the world.
Jamestown Penguin Plunge - Jan. 1. Jamestown. Hundreds of tuxedo-clad swimmers take the frozen plunge into the water to raise money for charity.
Beavertail Lighhouse Museum, Jamestown. This museum at the southern tip of Jamestown features a collection of information and artifacts about the third-oldest lighthouse in North America. The lighhouse has panoramic views of Narragansett Bay.
Jamestown Museum, Jamestown. The Jamestown Historical Society's Museum on Narragansett Avenue was originally built in 1886 as the town's one-room schoolhouse. Open seasonally with changing displays.
Jamestown Windmill, Jamestown. Located on North Road with views of the Newport Pell Bridge, the original 1787 framework of the mill is of hand-hewn chestnut timbers with shingled exterior. The mill is maintained in working condition. Grounds open year round, tours in summer.
Conanicut Battery, Jamestown. Located off of Battery Lane in the southern section of the island, the earthen fort was built in 1776. During their four-year occupation of Newport, the British rebuilt the earthworks in the shape seen today.
Fort Wetherill State Park, Jamestown. Situated on 100 foot high granite cliffs this former coastal defense battery and training camp is known for its spectacular view of Newport Harbor and the East Passage of Narragansett Bay. Family and group picnicking, boating, fishing, and hiking.
Museum of Work & Culture in Woonsocket - The exhibits recreate the unique Woonsocket labor story of the rise of the Independent Textile Union which grew to dominate every aspect of city life.
Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence. The zoo features a park, a dinosaur exhibit, and blends history and culture with the animals each area.
Six vineyards and wineries - which allow for scheduled tours and tastings. Includes Diamond Hill Vineyards, who offers custom labels for their wines.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade - Newport, is the place to be for St. Patrick’s Day.
WaterFire in Providence. A piece of environmental art, it consists of up to 100 bonfires which float on the rivers which flow through the city accompanied by ambient music.
Seabee Museum and Memorial Park in North Kingstown. Located on the site of the Original Home of the US Navy Seabees, the collections include the largest known display of historic Quonset Huts, military equipment and memorabilia, the world's largest all-concrete chapel and largest Seabee statue.
Autumnfest Held every Columbus Day Weekend (October) in Woonsocket, this 5-mapleleaf festival in one of New England's "Little Canadas" attracts a varied crowd of locals and out-of-towners.
Stadium Theatre Performing Arts Centre in Woonsocket. Renowned for its acoustics, intimacy, and decor, Stadium Theatre has been a center for performing arts since 1926. Though it stopped operating in the 1970s, a grassroots project and strong business support in the 1990s raised over 3 million dollars for restoration. It has been operating ever since.
Newport Folk Festival - The first place where Bob Dylan played electric. Part of the Festival Network.
Newport Jazz Festival - Held every August in Newport, this festival attracts some of the biggest names in jazz. Founded in 1954, it was the first outdoor music festival devoted to jazz and is now internationally known. Highly recommended for any music lover.
Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence. A multipurpose facility with approximately 100,000 square feet available for almost any event, from dog shows to trade shows. Services include space rental, catering, parking, A/V, exhibitor services, business center and weddings.
Providence Place Mall located in downtown Providence, Rhode Island’s premier shopping center. With 3 levels of shopping and restaurants and another level devoted to entertainment, visitors can spend the whole day without visiting the same place twice.
Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence “The Dunk” is the home of the Providence Bruins and Providence College Friars and is host to several different attractions including Stars on Ice, Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus, and boxing matches featuring “Contender” finalist Peter Manfredo Jr.
Pawtucket Red Sox at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket, McCoy Stadium is a popular summer site for families looking for an inexpensive night of fun.
The Ryan Center in South Kingstown, University of Rhode Island sports, concerts and events.
Providence Performing Arts Center in Providence. A world-class facility hosting first-class Broadway touring shows, plays, contemporary acts, concerts, and much more.
Rustic Tri-View Drive-In in North Smithfield. Seasonal outdoor movies just like the good old days! One of the last surviving drive-in theatres in the United States, it still brings in quite the crowd every summer.
Slater Mill Historic Site in Pawtucket. A museum complex displaying interpretation of the American industrial heritage.
Blackstone River Theater in Cumberland. Continuing Blackstone River Valley folk traditions.
Blackstone Valley Polar Express in Cumberland. A live story presentation of “The Polar Express,” based on the children’s book by noted Rhode Island author Chris van Allsburg.
Christmas at the Newport Mansions and Newport Winter Festival in Newport.
Block Island late-night Christmas Shopping - Dec. 20.
Mardi Gras Ball in Cranston. New England’s only authentic Louisiana Mardi Gras celebration.
Golfing -There are over 50 golf courses in Rhode Island, including some oceanfront and PGA courses.
Newport Cliff Walk - enjoy the three miles of ocean view and the grandeur of some of the finest mansions in the US. There is no entrance fee and it is open 365 day a year.
Crescent Park Carousel in East Providence.
Blackstone River Bikeway in Cumberland. 17.1 mile long scenic bike-path that runs along the Blackstone River. Scheduled to link to the East Bay Bikepath.
Scituate Arts Festival in Scituate, Rhode Island. Held on Columbus Day Weekend every October. 400 plus painters, artists, and craftsmen sell their wares in the scenic historical New England village of North Scituate. One of the largest and oldest art festivals in the country, the 3-day weekend art festival of paintings, antiques, arts and crafts, music, and food can draw over 200,000 people during the three days.
RI State Pagan Pride Day Held Every Summer typically in Johnston's War Memorial Park. This is a state wide festival that is intended to raise awareness and information about the various pagan paths within the community, as well as for pagans to celebrate their beliefs as a community. The festival consists of over fifty vendors selling artwork, jewelry, books, herbal medicines, clothing, cooking supplies and much more. There is live music throughout the day and many food vendors available selling many autumn favorites. Other attractions include workshops on various topics such as Past Lives, the Mystical Symbolism of Tattoos, kitchen witchery and Wicca 101. The day concludes with an open ritual that anyone may join.
Fishing If you live in Rhode Island or are just visiting, fishing is something that you must do. Many natives have been fishing for most of their lives, and anyone who was born in Rhode Island was born to fish. Rhode Island is home to some really great fishing spots. Most people opt to go fishing on the shores of beaches and some go fishing in boats. People are sometimes shocked to discover that fish exist in the river that flows through the downtown area of Providence as well as the Pawtucket River. Most locals know that the best spot on the river is behind the Apex building. Two of the most common species that you can catch here are blue fish and striped bass, which have been given the nickname stripers. People can easily catch these fish on and off shore. Outsiders will find that Rhode Island is home to a very big fishing community.
There are many different types of culinary venues available: from diners, to theme-based establishments, to the most formal dining. The College of Culinary Arts and Johnson and Wales University provide a steady stream of well-trained chefs to the area.
Providence's Federal Hill district lives up to its heritage with some outstanding Italian restaurants, but there is great Italian cuisine throughout the state. If you happen to be in the area on St. Joseph's Day (March 19th), pop into an Italian bakery and join the locals eating zeppoli, a heavenly sort of cream puff.
Unique Clam Cuisine can be found at "clam shacks" along RI's beaches, especially in South County. Chowder (sometimes pronounced and spelled "chowda," in deference to the local dialect), is much debated and always delicious. The three major varieties are: traditional white (made with cream), Manhattan red (made with tomatoes), and Rhode Island clear (unsullied by either cream or tomatoes). Add quahogs (stuffed clams or "stuffies"), clam cakes (fried dough with pieces of clam in it), and a summer beer to guarantee a perfect trip to the shore, no matter what the weather.
The Port of Galilee is where many locals purchase live lobsters directly off the fishing boats to cook (boiled with corn, potatoes, and quahogs) at home.
Coffee milk is the official drink of RI and can be ordered in most local restaurants. It is sweet like chocolate milk and very nearly tastes like coffee.
Del's Lemonade is a state-wide phenomenon. Once delivered only in small "ice cream truck" style vehicles, it is now available in more than twenty-five fixed locations and in six flavors besides the original lemon. Get some.
Rhode Island is home to quite a few great bars, a few brewpubs, a couple of vineyards, and one or two breweries.
Newport is the home of the Newport Storm brewery. Try the excellent local brew in many places across RI.
Rhode Island law specifies that beer and wine are only sold at liquor stores, not supermarkets or convenience stores, but liquor stores are open on Sundays.
RI is generally safe in most neighborhoods you would intentionally go to. The most dangerous part is probably driving, as the locals are prone to run red lights and shift lanes with no warning. Locals are also known to run through stop signs. Many accidents are the results of not signaling properly when changing lanes and running through red lights and stop signs.
Providence is relatively safe, but be careful while walking around the capital city at night. Areas in which to exercise caution, unless you know where you are going, are Camp Street on the East Side, South Providence, and the Olneyville section of Providence. Broad Street and Elmwood Avenue on the South Side of Providence are also areas in which to exercise caution.
Arguably one of the most gay-friendly states in the U.S., with scores of bars and entertainment venues in Providence, and even a visible "out" community in smaller towns and villages.
Every year around June, Providence holds their Gay Pride Festival downtown. Many people throughout the city attend the festival. Things rarely happen that negatively impact the festival (other than the weather) because Providence is, for the most part, a pretty open minded place. The festival holds many attractions for many people. There are tons of different stalls to see and to buy from on the day of the festival.