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A sailing tour in a schooner off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island
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  • States:
    Rhode Island

Rhode Island manages to pack big-time experiences into a postage-stamp-sized package.

The smallest state in the USA boasts some of the nation’s oldest historical sites, culture fueled by its world-class educational institutions and 644 kilometers of shoreline. And the best part? Rhode Island’s small size means you can see it all! Find fun wherever you go in Rhode lsland with this list of top picks in some of the state’s top destinations.

Newport

One of the top sailing destinations in the world, Newport is as visually impressive as it is historically significant. This is where Gilded Age mansions are perched atop surf-soaked cliffs. Does it get any more picturesque?

Cliff Walk: A National Recreation Trail in a National Historic District, Cliff Walk is a 5.6-kilometer seaside stroll that boasts palatial mansions on the one side and far-reaching ocean views on the other.

Newport Mansions: Tour Gilded Age palaces that have served as vacation homes to the richest of the rich and a backdrop for movies like “The Great Gatsby” (1974).

Sailing: Get frame-worthy photos of lighthouses, ocean-side manors and historic Fort Adams on a schooner cruise. It’s a definitive Newport adventure.

Fresh seafood: Take your appetite to 22 Bowen’s Wine Bar & Grille, The Mooring Seafood Kitchen & Bar or The Black Pearl, all offering water views and seafood caught at historic Bowen’s Wharf.

Aerial view of the dramatic scenery and majestic mansions of the Cliff Walk

Aerial view of the dramatic scenery and majestic mansions of the Cliff Walk
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South County

Rhode Island’s South County region is a foray into the state’s greener side, with all manner of outdoor activities to experience.

Kayaking: Paddle amid the Chafee National Wildlife Refuge via the Narrow River in Narragansett, voted the best New England beach town by Boston Globe readers.

Surfing: Where the Narrow River meets the ocean is some of the best surfing in New England. Take a lesson or rent a board from one of the beach shops in the summer.

Fishing and whale watching: Charter a fishing boat or hop on a whale-watching cruise out of Galilee. From the end of June through September, you might glimpse finback or humpback whales, leatherback sea turtles and giant sunfish.

Fun on dry land: Enjoy the forest-lined hiking and biking trails at Arcadia Management Area, the state’s largest recreation wilderness at 5,665 hectares.

Where to eat: Refuel at Aunt Carrie’s, known for savory clam-based dishes and homemade pies, or dine in a restored U.S. Coast Guard station at the Coast Guard House. Serene views of Narragansett Bay served daily.

Paddling with friends along the Narrow River

Paddling with friends along the Narrow River
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Providence

Founded in 1636, Providence features preserved architecture, Brown University and the Rhode Island State House, home to one of the largest self-supported marble domes in the world – a distinction shared with the Taj Mahal and St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City.

Providence WaterFire: A public art installation of 80 glowing bonfires on the water, WaterFire is best viewed from a private gondola ride along the Providence River.

Rhode Island School of Design Museum: This top cultural attraction houses 100,000 objects from ancient to contemporary, including masterworks by Picasso, Rodin and Monet, and a comprehensive collection of Asian art.

Dine Federal Hill: Providence’s very own Little Italy exudes old-world charm – not to mention some of the city’s most unforgettable dining. Try the “wimpy skippy,” a spinach pie stuffed with cheese and pepperoni, at Caserta Pizzeria or authentic Italian fare at Enoteca Umberto.

The WaterFire art installation illuminating the downtown Providence waterfront

The WaterFire art installation illuminating the downtown Providence waterfront
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Block Island

In less than an hour, you can be transported to an island that the Nature Conservancy called one of the 12 Last Great Places in the Western Hemisphere.

Mohegan Bluffs: Hike to the top of the 61-meter bluff for outstanding ocean views, or to the bottom of the cliffs to relax on a secluded beach.

North & Southeast Lighthouses: Standing guard on opposite ends of the island, these historic lighthouses are quintessential New England. Look for the offshore windfarm from the Southeast Lighthouse.

Fall birding: Block Island's natural charms beckon a number of bird visitors as well. Plan a trip in the fall to see thousands of warblers, sparrows, gulls and maybe even a rare piping plover.

Where to stay: Enjoy historic Victorian-era charm at Sullivan House or Spring House Hotel. Both offer full-service accommodations and inimitable seaside locales.

An epic view of where land meets the sea from Mohegan Bluffs

An epic view of where land meets the sea from Mohegan Bluffs
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Getting There

Two international airports offer convenient access to the Ocean State: T.F. Green/Warwick (PVD) in Providence and Boston Logan (BOS), just an hour away. Rent a car for easy travel to all of Rhode Island’s great attractions.

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Colorful houses with character
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Destination

Newport

A leisurely springtime gondola ride

Destination

Providence