An Ode to Rhode Island
Rhode Island, though the smallest of all 50 U.S. States, is known as “The Ocean State” for having over 400 miles of coastline. As the 13th state to join the original colonies, it is only 44 miles long and 37 miles wide. It would take approximately 1 hour to drive through the center of the state, which is about as long as it takes you to drive from south Orlando to north Orlando (Floridians know what I’m talking about).
Rhode Island’s population is 1.096 million, of which only 1 million are my family members, the DeCataldos. I’m kidding, but I’m serious: I have 20 cousins, and the DeCataldos should be accredited with the continuous yearly population increase.
Being small is no problem for the state of Rhode Island because it is so centrally located. Only a few hours from major cities like Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia you can get just about any place you need to be. Its own capital, Providence, is rather large itself and offers plenty of domestic and international flights keeping the state well connected with the U.S., and the world.
When Should You Visit?
Rhode Island is beautiful during every season. Cold and snowy during the winter, colorful and crisp during the fall, full of flowers in the spring, and hot and lively during the summer. You can’t go wrong with any season. However, you’ll have the most outdoor activities open during the summer. If you’re one to hit the beach, where better to do so than in the Ocean State.
Best Beaches in the Country
New England beaches are famous for their lighthouses and large crashing waves, creating some of the best beaches in the country. Even in winter the lake-effect can create some incredible picturesque beach scenes, covering the sand with fresh powdered snow. Not to mention the shoreline is under an hour’s drive from any location in Rhode Island.
Some beach spots you should be sure to check out:
- Block Island
Matunuck offers some of the best small-town New England vibes you could ask for. The beautiful South Kingstown Beach is free and easily accessible. Be sure to walk up the road and find several charming ocean-view restaurants. Ocean Mist is one of our favorites and is largely favorable amongst the locals. Also within walking distance from South Kingstown Beach is the Theatre By The Sea where you can catch live performances during the summer.
Narragansett is my favorite area in all of Rhode Island. It has the lively historic charm unique to the New England area. Much more touristy than other Rhode Island towns, this area features plenty of big, beautiful beaches, an info center that’s been built inside of an old castle, and shopping and dining options galore! Its beaches are perfect for surfing or simply sunbathing and is a popular photo spot for wedding pictures. Narragansett is also where you can catch the ferry to our next place of mention: Block Island.
Named for its dramatic cliffs that drop into beaches, Block Island sits just off the coast of the Ocean State. Here you can find a perfect day trip of beaching, shopping, and dining. The Mohegan Bluffs add an exciting cliff you can climb down on your way to the giant-waved beaches. Along the way you can find a few natural mud baths to soak in.
Once on the beach build a fort with the dead tree branches or race the waves back to the shoreline on your boogie board. Vaills Beach, Black Rock Beach, Mansion Beach, and Mohegan Bluffs Beach are perfect for active kids and thrill-seeking teens.
Lighthouse fanatic? Check out the North Lighthouse on the tip of the island and the South East Lighthouse opposite of that with stunning views over the bluffs.
Back on the mainland is the historic town of Newport. Known mostly for its gigantic, expensive, ocean-view mansions, Newport is popular amongst those of the wealthy. A lot of mansions have been retrofitted into museums or historical centers so you can walk through a few of them like Marble House, Château-sur-Mer, and The Elms. Take a trip down Ocean Drive Historic District for some amazing views or take a walk along the cliffs at Bailey Beach or The Breakers.
If you’re into sports Newport has fantastic golf courses, sailing, and even the International Tennis Hall of Fame.
If all you want is a nice beach day, like most Rhode Island towns there are plenty to choose from in Newport. Options include Easton’s Beach, Belmont Beach, and Gooseberry Beach to name a few.
Beaches aren’t the only beautiful landscapes you’ll find in this beautiful state. Giant rock formations can be found in the parks, beaches, and even as you’re driving on the highways. New England-style houses carry a certain charm that warms the coastal region. You can tell the area just by the shingles on the roof which are all wooden and salt soaked. Though small, Rhode Island is surprisingly spread out. Houses are built with space between, and you’ll often find miles of woods in your backyards.
More Worth Seeing
The Big Blue Bug
We couldn’t write an article on Rhode Island without mentioning some of its biggest landmarks! We’ll start with a classic: The Big Blue Bug!
Found just outside of Providence you’ll spot this giant blue wasp sculpture perched atop “Big Blue Bug Solutions.” It’s more of a drive-by sightseeing experience as The Big Blue Bug Solutions is just an extermination company with great taste. Come during the Christmas season to see The Big Blue Bug all decked out in his Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer attire. If you’re coming from the T.F. Green International Airport, you’ll get a fantastic view heading north on I-95 towards downtown Providence.
If you are more of a city-person, the capital city of Rhode Island, Providence is a perfect spot to sightsee. This city is known as a college town housing students from Rhode Island College, Providence College, University of Rhode Island, and Brown University. So, when school breaks come around, it is an absolute ghost town.
The Providence Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, or one of my favorites, the RISD Museum are all perfect places to have a museum day. RISD is an art museum that holds treasures from ancient Egyptian, Grecian, and Roman times, and even modern-day exhibits. You can see everything from a real Egyptian mummy, to perfectly kept furniture, and China from the 17 and 1800’s.
If you’re looking for a cool place to stay in Providence, we recommend The Dean Hotel. Built in 1912 The Dean Hotel used to be a brothel but was converted into a 4-star cute boutique hotel. It features a café, dining, and an old-fashioned gate elevator. You can stay in private or dorm rooms for a reasonable price at a walking distance away from museums, and event centers.
Beaches, culture, history; what more could you ask for! Add Rhode Island to your bucket list and visit this small but mighty 13th U.S. state.