Rhode Island Attractions

The little "Ocean State" boasts a surprising number of Rhode Island attractions packed into only 1,545 square miles of land area. The nearly 150 square miles of Narragansett Bay and its more than thirty scenic islands boast even more Rhode Island tourist attractions within this main geographic feature of the state. Finally, the ocean attractions in Rhode Island are nearly limitless, since the state has nearly 400 miles of coastline dotted with beautiful sandy beaches and rocky outcrops punctuated with historic lighthouses.

Rhode Island attractions literally encompass the history of the country, as well as the state. The beautiful Blackstone River Valley extends from Providence and Pawtucket north and west all the way to Worcester in Massachusetts. This region is considered the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution that transformed the country from farm to factory. It was the first region to divert and dam rivers to provide water power for textile mills. The entire region is a unique National Heritage Corridor. Start your tours of this region at one of the most fascinating of Rhode Island tourist attractions—Slater Mill in Pawtucket, a living history museum and complex of historic structures that include the first water-powered cotton textile mill in the United States. You can then drive, or go camping, through the rest of this picturesque valley, stopping along the way at numerous mills, old homesteads, and museums. You can even go white water kayaking, hiking, and fishing in the rivers and streams.

Other attractions in Rhode Island offer a window into history and another era. In particular, the elegant mansions, once disingenuously called summer "cottages," built in Newport by the wealthy elite of the northeast beginning in the mid-nineteenth century Gilded Age. Most of these fabulous homes and castles—once owned by the powerful Astor, Vanderbilt, Hilton, and other families—are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are open to the public for tours, weddings, and other special events.

After the mansions of Newport, the most popular attractions in Rhode Island have something to do with the ocean. Tiny Block Island, only twelve miles off the mainland from Misquamicut, is a prime destination for Rhode Island vacations. It boasts two historic lighthouses, beautiful coastal hiking trails and beaches, and numerous resorts and Block Island hotels. There are only two ways to get here—by air or water. The only one of the state's airports with flights to the island is the airport at Westerly. There are three ferry routes: from Point Judith and Newport in Rhode Island and Long Island, New York or New Haven, Connecticut. Some of these ferries allow you to transport your car rentals from the mainland.

Prominent Rhode Island attractions also include weddings, as this state (particularly the mainland beaches, Newport and its mansions) is one of the country's premier destination wedding venues. You can even book wedding cruises that can cater to as many as 400 guests or as few as two.

Now that we've mentioned cruises, we've arrived at the three Rhode Island tourist attractions that are the most popular—water, water, and more water. This is the yachting and boating capital of the United States. You can enjoy crewing on one of the prestigious America's Cup racing sailboats, charter deep sea fishing boats, or simply relax on miles and miles of pristine beaches. Take elegant dinner cruises off Newport. Get in some golfing within steps of the beaches, or seek out vacation rentals with their own private beach and boat ramp.

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