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Rhode Island’s nickname, the “Ocean State,” is well earned - our beaches are second to none for surf, sand, and crisp, clean Atlantic waters. However, Rhode Island is also home to a thriving arts community, national sporting arena, world-class dining establishments, and rich historical sites. I invite you to visit the Second District and discover beautiful Rhode Island.
If you’re planning a trip, a good place to start is the Rhode Island Tourism Division. Loaded with information ranging from events to attractions to deals, the site also includes a guide for people interested in moving to the state.
As for getting to Rhode Island, the state is located just 60 miles south of Boston and 180 miles from New York. Rhode Island is also served by T.F. Green International Airport. Read on below to learn about some of the regional highlights in the Second District.
The 1793 opening of Samuel Slater’s cotton mill in Pawtucket, Rhode Island ushered in an historical phenomenon now known as America’s Industrial Revolution. Along the banks of the Blackstone River, for which the region is named, dozens of factories sprung up, employing generations of working-class families and drawing thousands of immigrants from around the world. Many serve today as factory outlet stores, art studios and artists’ lofts.
Today visitors, school groups and history buffs alike are drawn to the region to explore its fascinating history and discover its important effects on America’s growth as a manufacturing giant. Some of the region’s most popular attractions are Slater Mill Historic Site (1793), riverboat cruises aboard the Blackstone Valley Explorer, and the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor. And be sure to visit the Blackstone Valley’s newest attraction, The Museum of Work and Culture. The state of the art museum provides a fascinating interactive experience for visitors as it traces the story of mill workers who came from the farms of Quebec in the last third of the 19th century to work in the shoe and textile factories of new England.
The Blackstone Valley, to the northwest, is a land of rivers and woodlands that is rich in historic significance. America’s Industrial Revolution was born here in the 18th century. Today, some of the old mills have been preserved as museums dedicated to the history of labor and immigration. In central Rhode Island, the recently expanded T.F. Green Airport makes air travel to Rhode Island easy and affordable. Amtrak service, already available in Providence, will soon be linked to T.F. Green, providing seamless intermodal transportation through Rhode Island and into the rest of New England.
Block Island, an 11-square-mile seaside resort located 12 miles off the Rhode Island coast, has been heralded as “One of the Last Twelve Great Places in the Western Hemisphere.” Its rolling green hills and dramatic bluffs are reminiscent of Ireland, while its beautifully restored Victorian hotels and inns preserve the elegance of a bygone era.
Long public beaches and 365 freshwater ponds are the main attractions of this tiny island, whose people are strongly devoted to preserving the ecology. The Block Island Nature Conservancy operates a large trail system on the island, offering walking and hiking paths through grassy meadows, quiet woods and along the sandy shore.
Shops and restaurants are abundant in bustling Old Harbor, which is served by frequent ferry boats from Point Judith, Rhode Island. An hour long ferry ride is the most popular method of traveling to the island, although some prefer to take the easy 20 minute flight from the state airport at Westerly, Rhode Island.
Twelve miles off shore, the hiking trails, ocean beaches and dramatic bluffs of Block Island beckon. Reached only by boat or airplane, this teardrop shaped island beguiles with Victorian charm and gently rolling hills that are reminiscent of Ireland.
As Rhode Island’s retail shopping mecca, the City of Warwick attracts hundreds of thousands of eager spenders every year. Hundreds of specialty shops and discount stores, plus two malls housing major department stores, famous retail shops and one-of-a-kind boutiques line the city’s stretch of Route 2, a four-lane thoroughfare which has become known as Rhode Island’s “Miracle Mile of Shopping.”
For water recreation enthusiasts, Warwick’s 39 miles of coastline along Narragansett Bay provides ample opportunities for boating. Greenwich Bay and Warwick Neck are dotted with marinas; beach and boating access is also available at Goddard State Park.
Gaspee Days is an annual month long celebration which recreates the evening of June 9, 1772, a party of Rhode Island patriots in eight longboats captured and burned the British revenue ship H.M.S. Gaspee off the shores of Pawtuxet Village.
Warwick’s central location and easy access to most of Rhode Island’s major roadways has led to its nickname, the “Crossroads of Rhode Island.” Warwick is also the home of Green Airport, the gateway to Rhode Island for millions of visitors every year.
East Greenwich is a small town with fewer than 14,000 residents. What it lacks in size, though, it makes up for in charm. The town center is typical of a New England village, but many of the historic buildings have been updated to include modern shopping and dining. After dinner at one of the town’s fine restaurants featuring local ingredients and Rhode Island’s signature seafood, you can take a stroll to the waterfront for dessert, or walk along Greenwich Cove in Scalloptown Park. Tours of historic spots are available, and the Chamber of Commerce hosts frequent “strolls” to highlight the great deals offered by area businesses.
From Benefit Street’s “Mile of History” on the East Side to festive Federal Hill, Rhode Island’s own “Little Italy,” the capital city of Providence is known and loved for its abundance of historic and cultural attractions. Three-and-a-half centuries of history are alive and well on the streets of Providence, as evident in the scores of immaculately preserved Colonial, Federal, Greek Revival and Victorian houses located throughout the city. The Rhode Island State House,Arcade, John Brown House and the Meeting House of the First Baptist Church in America are among the many historic buildings which are open to the public year-round.
In addition to magnificent architecture, Providence offers a host of attractions for connoisseurs of the arts. Tony Award-winning Trinity Repertory Company, the Rhode Island Philharmonic and the Museum of Art/Rhode Island School of Design offer acclaimed theatre, fine arts and orchestral music. Other exciting entertainment options include the seasonal “Broadway” series at the Providence Performing Arts Center and numerous alternative theatre and dance productions.
Providence is also home to the Rhode Island Convention Center, New England’s newest convention facility, which is in the heart of Capital Center and just footsteps away from spectacular Waterplace Park and the blue-ribbon restaurants for which the city is renowned.
For more than 100 years, southern Rhode Island’s wide, sandy beaches and relaxed lifestyle have attracted summer vacationers from around the globe. Swimming, boating, fishing, water-skiing, whale-watching and beach combing represent a handful of the many seaside activities enjoyed on South County beaches all summer long. Yet South County’s vacation appeal extends far beyond the shore. Charming villages, rolling countryside, historic sites and hundreds of acres of woodlands offer unlimited opportunities for hiking, canoeing, cycling, shopping and touring.
History and culture are evident throughout South County as well. An abundance of historic inns and bed & breakfast establishments affords visitors the opportunity to personally experience Colonial and Victorian era South County. Regional history thrives at local museums like South County Museum, Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Smith Castle, while summerstock theatre productions delight audiences at charming Theatre-by-the-Sea. All of these elements combine to produce a 100% natural vacation experience.
A visit to the coastal region called South County is a nostalgic trip back to the days before family pilgrimages to mega theme parks became a way of life. Vacationers delight in the simplicity they find here - miles of shoreline dotted with winsome beachfront cottages and inns, friendly roadside vendors selling the freshest seafood, locally grown produce, and piping-hot fruit pies. Beach-goers while away the summer days by building sandcastles, riding the waves on boogie boards, surf-casting and digging for clams.