Last updated: 06:10 PM ET, Thu July 08 2021
Providence, Rhode Island, USA park and skyline. (photo via SeanPavonePhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Rhode Island

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Castle Hill Lighthouse, Rhode Island (Posnov / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Castle Hill Lighthouse, Rhode Island (Posnov / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

The smallest state in the United States, Rhode Island takes just 45 minutes to drive through, yet has enough nooks and crannies to make up over 400 miles of coast line. With a white, sandy beach never further than a half-hour away, Rhode Island’s charm lies in the many shore towns that dot the Atlantic and attract droves of summertime sun-seekers. Whether seeking out an isolated lighthouse on Point Judith, touring a gilded Newport mansion or catching a favorite band in Providence, Rhode Island is a hands-down favorite among northeastern getaway destinations.

Rhode Island has five counties throughout the state. Providence County is home to not only the capital and largest city of Providence, but other smaller towns like Pawtucket (home to the minor league Pawtucket Red Sox), Cumberland, Smithfield and Woonsocket. Providence stands as the urban heart of the state, with countless great restaurants, bars, music venues and American history packed into the pint-sized metropolis. Alongside the prestigious colleges in town, Providence is brimming with culture and entertainment. Check out the funky museum at the Rhode Island School of Design, Roger Williams Park Zoo or eclectic shops on Thayer Street.

Providence, Rhode Island, USA park and skyline. (photo via SeanPavonePhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
PHOTO: Providence, Rhode Island skyline (Photo via SeanPavonePhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Kent County is home to towns including Warwick and East Greenwich, nestled along the Narragansett Bay, while Bristol County only contains three towns (Barrington, Bristol and Warren) and is bordered on three sides by the bay. Newport County has solely beach towns, as it’s an island just off of Rhode Island’s mainland, and is connected by bridge. Towns like Middletown, Jamesburg, Portsmouth and especially Newport are large draws for both tourists and locals looking to get away. Aside from the massive mansions, Newport is home to annual world-renowned folk and jazz festivals, cobblestone streets lined with boutiques and seaside restaurants, as well as several beaches and the famous Cliff Walk. South County is another popular vacation hotspot, with beach towns like Narragansett, Westerly and the pedestrian-friendly Block Island, accessible by ferry.

Whether hitting up a classic diner, seafood joint on the water, frosty Del’s Lemonade on the beach, or an Italian restaurant on Providence’s Federal Hill, Rhode Island cuisine offers something delectable for everyone. Sitting atop of “The Hill” in Providence, Siena is a classy Italian restaurant serving up authentic and mouth-watering dishes such as homemade pasta Bolognese and grilled balsamic calamari. While in Newport, head to the Brick Alley Pub for a lively pub atmosphere paired with really great American classic meals. For some of the freshest seafood on the east coast, try Evelyn’s Drive-in located in the coastal town of Tiverton.

Rhode Island’s main airport is T.F. Green State Airport (PVD), located just outside of Providence in Warwick. They are serviced by many major U.S. carriers, though the much larger Logan International Airport (BOS) is located an hour away in Boston, Mass., and mainly used for international flights. A car is recommended for getting around the state, more so if beach travel is involved. Rhode Island does have public transportation as well, called RIRTA, and runs buses, trolleys and ferries throughout the state.

Rhode Island has a continental climate, with four distinct seasons giving way to hot, sometimes rainy summers and cold winters. The average high temperature for July is around 83° F (28.3° C), though it can often reach well into the low to mid-90s. In January, the average low temperature is at 20° F (-6.7° C) and winter snowfall totals can reach up to 40 inches per year. The absolute best time to visit Rhode Island is in the late spring through early September, when both the weather and natural scenery are gorgeous.