A tale of two cities, we love Rhode Island for its 400 mile coastline, lively capital city and old seaside towns. The smallest state in the USA, it only takes 45 minutes to drive across Rhode Island but it does offer some of the best ocean swimming and white sandy beaches in the Northeast. Not only that, there is the capital city of Providence to explore with its art museums, independent movie theatres and Italian-American neighbourhoods or you could visit the famous summertime resort of Newport.
Travel east of downtown Providence and you’ll discover the city’s colonial history in the 18th century architecture displayed on Benefit Street. Coincidentally, this is also where you’ll find College Hill, the first permanent colonial settlement in Rhode Island and John Brown House, one of the most elegant and magnificent mansions in Providence. A fitting symbol for the renaissance that took place in Providence, Benefit Street was rescued by local preservationists during the 1960s and holds such treasures as the 1708 Stephen Hopkins House, named after the Declaration of Independence signer, and the Grecian-inspired William Strickland’s 1838 Providence Athenaeum. Holding oil paintings, plaster busts and countless books, this is a beautiful relic where Edgar Allen Poe used to study.
Featuring an impressive collection of Maxfield Parrish’s luminous works, Norman Rockwell’s nostalgia, NC Wyeth prints and the illustrations of a number of American graphic artists, the National Museum of American Illustration in Newport is a morning or afternoon well spent. We recommend visiting on a Friday and taking a free guided tour, only held at 3pm year round, which tells the stories behind each image and how they had an impact on American culture over the years. The museum can be found within Vernon Court, a mansion set within grounds designed by Frederick Olmstead.
Known to locals as Second Beach, Sachuest Town Beach is cleaner and prettier than Easton’s Beach. Named after a nearby wildlife sanctuary in Middletown, this beach is a hidden gem. Overlooked by St George’s Schools’ decorative neo-gothic tower, it is one of the more scenic beaches in Rhode Island. If you’re looking for a day in the sunshine with kids or with friends, then this beach comes highly recommended as the surf isn’t rough and the sea is perfect for wading. With a large beach house, showers and a quaint snack bar, this beach is better equipped than most in the area. We recommend grabbing a wave board and running down to the water’s edge after you’ve built yourself a fine looking sandcastle.
Just south of Westerly and on the Connecticut border, the popular Misquamicut State Beach is ideal for surfing and often draws a fair amount of people during the summer. With so much to do and at low prices, families with teenagers and couples are drawn here to try out the old-fashioned but charming amusement park, Atlantic Beach Park and of course, the famous surf. For afters, you can always try your hand at a fun game of mini golf with an ice cream in hand.