RHODE ISLANDA small state that packs a big punch!
My family has been living in Rhode Island, the USA’s smallest state, for almost thirty years. Though I now live on the other coast, my heart and fondest memories will always be in New England.Where is Rhode Island anyway?
Rhode Island, the “Ocean State,” has 400 miles of coastline and is nestled in New England, between Connecticut and Massachusetts. It is an easy 2-3 hour drive from New York City and less than an hour from Boston. When is the best time to go?
Fall: The New England foliage, a site of reds, browns, greens, and yellows, is stunning in the autumn months. Most drives are scenic and your camera will go into overdrive! Beware, hotels book up quickly for these months, so plan in advance.
Summer: Most beaches open on Memorial Day weekend in May, allowing you to make the most of your visit. Given all the outdoor/nature attractions, I would recommend visiting Rhode Island at any time, but the winter. We don't really have any skiing or much to do for the colder months, but that may just be my opinion! What about the Food?
This is the seafood capital of the world. What else do you expect from a state known for the plentiful ocean it’s surrounded by? (okay, so maybe I’m a little biased!) The best New England clam chowder and clam cakes in the world can be found here. Here are some recommendations:
Chelo's - Year after year they are voted #1 in clam chowder and clam cakes and I am in complete agreement! The atmosphere is casual, shorts or jeans -- come as you are! They have several locations in Rhode Island, but I would recommend their waterfront restaurant on Greenwich Bay in the city of Warwick. There's no experience more "Rhode Island" than eating seafood by the ocean!
The Eclectic Grill - For a fancier, more "dressed-up" option, I would suggest the Eclectic Grill in Providence. Rhode Island is known for its succulent Italian fare. Atwells avenue in Providence is lined with more Italian restaurants than you can imagine, each option more delicious than the next. The Eclectic Grill combines my love of seafood with impeccable Italian cuisine. To give you an example, the lobster raviolis are my absolute fave here. Once you finish eating, I would suggest walking the length of Atwells avenue (good exercise after a heavy meal!) and making your way to downtown Providence. In the summer months, the rivers and canals are bustling with outdoor entertainment and gondola rides (more to come on that later!)Must-See Sites of Rhode Island
1.Block Island...this is a well-kept secret. Take the ferry from Point Judith. It's the most relaxing ferry ride ever. And then enjoy hanging out on the island. There are so many great beaches, hiking/biking trails, quaint New England shopping areas...and the seafood - well, you know how I feel about the New England Clam Chowder, which you can enjoy with a breathtaking ocean view.
2.Newport...this is where most tourists go, but well worth it. Great shopping, views, and boat rides. Tours of the mansions are a big hit, though I've never been on one. My fave place here is the Cliff Walk. Park your car and walk the Cliff Walk trail, it's an easy 2-mile (maybe 3-mile) walk, completely oceanside and passes through the backside of most of the mansions. A must-see.
3.Wickford...if you like Asian food, "Seven Moons" in the charming town of Wickford just can't be beat! They serve cuisines from 7 different Asian countries. It's like 7 restaurants in one...and the food is soooooo good. The town of Wickford is also very cute and by the water.
4.Narragansett...if you like Spanish food, "Spain Restaurant" is a must. It's by the ocean (see a theme with my recommendations??) and the sangria and paella are the best I ever had. I've been going there for over 10 years...YUM
5.Providence...the East Side
offers eclectic crowds, most of which are Brown University students, but also a bevy of fortune tellers, tarot card readers, quirky shops, and casual dining. The Downtown area
is a great place for shopping (Providence Place Mall) and in the summertime, a fantastic evening option. The Waterfire event is spectacular! Three rivers, a hundred sparkling bonfires, woodsmoke, arched bridges, street performers, gondola rides, and so much more! Check out the 2008 Waterfire schedule!
Other New England Sites worth checking out
Rhode Island is a small state, so most New England sites are within easy driving distance. Here are a few of my faves:
5.Cape Cod (Massachusetts)...Great beaches, charming New England shops and towns, but I would only go in the Fall months. The traffic in the summer is awful, because it's such a popular tourist spot. For the summer, I would recommend Martha's Vineyard. Hop the ferry from Cape Cod to the Vineyard. It can also get crowded, but because there are so many different areas, it doesn't feel as packed. There are great lighthouses, shops, and seafood.
6.Portland (Maine)...the Cape Elizabeth lighthouse is one of the most photographed in all of New England. Very pretty. Also, downtown Portland can be fun, though not enough to do for more than a few hours.
7.Franconia Notch (New Hampshire)...for the real active vacationers! The hiking at The Flume, The Basin, and nearby White Mountain are not for the faint of heart, but so worth it. The views are phenomenal, especially on a clear day and if you're lucky, you might even spot a moose! Though, for the record, I always try my best to NOT spot a moose, most tourists get a kick out of photographing them. Me? I'd probably jump in my car and hit the gas pedal. In any event, Franconia Notch is one of my favorite places and allows the tourist to "work off" any over-indulgent eating from some of the other destinations.