A Squared: Visiting Rhode Island: My Top 10 Things To Do

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Visiting Rhode Island: My Top 10 Things To Do

We are off to Rhode Island today and I could not be more excited. We will be there for an extended weekend and for the first visit in a long time, we don't have any weddings to go to, no family functions, and I don't have to jet off to any work functions. It's a real mini-vacation.

With that in mind, and since I am now a bit of a tourist in my home state, I wanted to share some ideas of things to do when you're planning a trip to the Ocean State. And if you're not planning a vacation in Rhode Island, then you should! It is so beautiful in the summertime with great seafood, sandy beaches, and tons of New England charm. Here are 10 things to add to your To Do List when you're visiting Little Rhody-- with an emphasis on what to eat, of course...
  1. Dining in Federal Hill -- There is no better neighborhood for dining in Providence than Federal Hill. It is Providence's own Little Italy and home to some legendary Italian restaurants. For a casual meal, I'd recommend Venda Ravioli or Bob & Timmy's Legendary Grilled Pizza. For a more elegant night out, give Siena or Mediterraneo.
  2. Bristol 4th of July Parade -- Bristol, Rhode Island is home to the nation's oldest Independence Day parade (established in 1785). Need I say more? Come celebrate in Bristol and experience a little piece of American history.
  3. RISD Museum -- You may not think of Rhode Island as a hub for culture and fine arts, but Providence is home to one of the nation's top design schools: Rhode Island School of Design. The museum features renowned works of art, plus exhibitions of student work. It's also located in the heart of Providence-- steps away from the bars and upscale dining in Down City and from the bustling Thayer Street in the College Hill neighborhood.
  4. Eat fresh seafood. -- One of my favorite stories about our move to Rhode Island was when my sweet Michigan parents went out to George's of Galilee during one of their first trips there (looking for houses) and my dad asked them how fresh the seafood was. They pointed out the window where he saw lobstermen hauling in their live catches from the Bay. It doesn't get better than that. Rhode Island is especially known for their clam chowder and clamcakes, although truthfully I'm not a big clamcake fan-- it's like a doughnut with pieces of clam in it. I seem to be in the minority there though. Stop by Iggy's, Champlin's, or Aunt Carrie's for some of the best causal seafood fare in the state.
  5. Cliff Walk
  6. Newport mansion tours -- One of my favorite Rhode Island tourist attractions is taking a guided tour of the Gilded Age homes of famous American aristocrats like the Astors and the Vanderbilts. As an architecture nerd I have much appreciation for these beautiful seaside homes. As a regular person, I'm just totally in awe of how over the top the finishes and decor are in these places. The Breakers is the biggest and most famous, but my favorites are the Marble House and Rosecliff. If the weather is nice, check out the Cliff Walk after you tour the mansions-- the views are breathtaking!
  7. Sweet Treats -- Rhode Island is, of course, known for its seafood and for some authentic Italian cuisine, but let's not forget about your sweet tooth. Rhode Island is home to Del's Lemonade, which is basically a state treasure. It's frozen lemonade that comes in a variety of flavors, but I would recommend going traditional. They have locations all over the east coast now, but find a lemonade stand or truck while you're in RI. Not a slushie fan? Check out Brickley's or the Inside Scoop for some of the best homemade ice cream ever. My favorites are Pumpkin, Coffee Oreo, and Apple Pie.
  8. Great Chowder Cook-Off -- When in New England, eat clam chowder. Or better yet, sample dozens of clam, seafood, and creative chowders (or chowdahs, as the natives say) as they compete to be named the best. This annual event is held at the Newport Yachting Center and is the perfect way to spend a spring day in RI.
  9. A Day on Block Island -- Block Island is a great little getaway day trip I would recommend, during your stay in the Ocean State. Accessible by ferry from Point Judith (or New London, CT), Block Island is an adorable little resort island and a great spot for biking, hiking, a day at the beach, or some leisurely cocktailing. Extend your stay at one of the local resort hotels or quaint bed & breakfasts.
  10. Waterfire -- Waterfire is a totally unique summer date night activity if you find yourself in Providence. Torches are lit along the edges of the Providence River and there are gondola rides, musicians, and artists along the way. Grab dinner in Federal Hill and then head downtown for this beautiful and romantic summertime event.
  11. Roger Wheeler State Beach -- There's no doubt that if you are headed to Rhode Island in the summer you will be looking to spend some time at the beach. Don't go to Scarborough (as a lot of the locals may tell you to) or to Narragansett Town Beach (admission is pricey!). Instead, make your way to Roger Wheeler State Beach - or Sand Hill Cove, as the natives still call it. It's spacious, well kept, slightly off the beaten path, and relaxing. Much less of a "seen and be seen" beach than the others are.

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