Top 10 Reasons Why You Absolutely Have To Visit Rhode Island (USA) In 14 Stunning Photos – Atlantic Ocean’s Narragansett Bay

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Port of Providence, Rhode Island

One of the busiest deep water ports in America‘s northeast coast and it also has the prominence of being one of only 2 deep water ports in New England (northeastern region of the United States which Rhode Island is a part). It is located at the meeting point of Narragansett Bay (Atlantic Ocean) and the Providence River. ProvPort (Port of Providence) provides both domestic and international bulk, break bulk and project cargo clients.

Rhode Island, An Overview:

Though it is the smallest state in the US, Rhode Island is also known as the “Ocean State” as it takes pride of having 400 miles of coastline. Founded by Roger Williams in 1636 after he was “kicked out” from Massachusetts colony (England) for his religious views. He then named his new settlement “Providence” as he claimed that providence had brought him at the tip of Narragansett Bay which the Indians had sold to him. In later centuries, he will be followed by other religious exiles who founded the settlement of Portsmouth (1638) and Newport (1639).

The new settlement grew despite setbacks in King Philip‘s War (chief of Indian’s Wampanoag tribe) and Rhode Island boasts of an open or liberal attitude. In 1776, it declared independence from British rule and became the 1st state to outlaw slavery. It was at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution with the Samuel Slater Mill as the first textile mill in America. After the Civil War, its industrial revolution grew and the Gilded Age (period of transformation in economy, politics and social life in the US during the early years of the 20th century) produced wealthy industrialists and they made Rhode Island their summer destination.

After World War II, Providence suffered a massive economic slump. However, from the 1970s, it has refurbished its cultural sites and tourism blossomed in Rhode Island in the 2000s. These days, this area of New England has a strong arts community, a notable LGBTQ crowd and a famous tourist destination.

Map showing the location of the state of Rhode Island.

This time I’ve come to Rhode Island in September 2016 when the IVS Leopard Moon was sold to a Latvian shipping company and the new owner had wanted a change of crew at Narragansett Bay of the Atlantic Ocean. I’ve come to explore Providence and Newport like never before and as a foreign traveler in this mesmerizing place that included me, there is no resisting on the charms of “Little Rhody” specifically Newport, the state’s major draw which was once America’s famous playground of the Gilded Age jet setters in the early 20th century. Here are the top 10 reasons why you have to visit this place soon.

1. It is the smallest state but has the longest name (until 2020) in the US.

Providence (the capital), Rhode Island along Providence River.

Covering an area of 1, 214 sq. miles, Rhode Island is the smallest in size among the 50 states in the US but has the longest name (until 2020 when the award went to Massachusetts) which is actually State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. With over 400 miles of coastline, it is famous for its scenic shores and seaside colonial towns, a top reason why you have to visit this state at least once in your lifetime.

2. The sailing capital of the world.

During the later part of the 19th century, Newport Harbor in Rhode Island has undergone from being a maritime business hub to a sailing playground of the wealthy industrialists of New England. It became their yachting destination like the influential Astors and Vanderbilts who did not only build luxurious mansions at the region but brought their sailing boats to Newport which started the most coveted sailing race in the world – the America’s Cup. Sailing and high society, they go hand in hand in Rhode Island and every summer, it’s a top reason why you have to visit the area as it’s a common sight to see of America‘s A-list yachts floating at Newport for the sailing season.

3. A stroll along Newport Cliff Walk will provide you a glimpse of the “summer cottages” of Rhode Island’s the Gilded Age.

Newport Cliff Walk, Rhode Island and a view of The Breakers, summer residence of Cornelius Vandebilt (ancestor of journalist Anderson Cooper whose mother is Gloria Vanderbilt).

Designated as a National Recreation Trail, the Newport Cliff Walk is a public access walking trail which provides a view to the summer residences of the state’s Gilded Age mansions and its dramatic scenery of the Atlantic Ocean, a top reason why you have to visit Rhode Island. Here in the 19th century, it was regarded as the Versailles version of America wherein the moneyed merchants such as the Astors, Morgans, Vanderbilts, Berwinds, Oelrichs, etc.. have built their elaborate summer houses at the area. And so these days, a stroll along the fabled Cliff Walk of Newport will give you the chance to admire at these posh mansions with names like The Breakers (owned by the Vanderbilts), The Elms (owned by the Berwinds) or Rosecliff (summer house of the Oelrichs).

The Elms, summer cottage of the Berwinds of Philadelphia and New York.

4. Pelhalm Street in Newport, R.I. is the site of the first gas-lighted street in America.

Illuminated in 1806 by David Melville (a housewares manufacturer who began experimenting hydrogenous gas from burning coal and wood in 1805) at his house on a sidewalk in Pelhalm Street in Newport this was the first section of road in America to introduce gas light. Another top reason why you have to visit Rhode Island as it is a great privilege to walk along this historic road that had introduced the use of gas-lit street lamps in the US.

A walk along historic Pelhalm Street in Newport, R.I. with one of my co-sailors of the IVS Leopard Moon, September 2016.

5. St. Mary’s Church, the oldest Catholic parish in Rhode Island is where the late Pres. John F. Kennedy wed Jacqueline Bouvier in September 1953.

Founded on April 8, 1828, St. Mary’s Parish is the oldest Catholic Church in Rhode Island and also the venue where the late US Pres. John F. Kennedy married Jacqueline Bouvier on September 12, 1953, a top reason why you have to visit this state and see for yourself this iconic Parish. Built in 1848 in Gothic Revival style to serve the large Irish-Catholic immigrants, this stone Church also served as the Chapel of the Naval Academy during the Civil War of 1861-1865. After that momentous Kennedy wedding, Hammersmith Farmalso at Newport near St. Mary’s Church and the childhood home of Jackie Kennedy, served as the wedding reception.

Thousands gathered on that September day in 1953 to get a glimpse of the Kennedy wedding at St. Mary’s Church in Newport, R.I.

Hammersmith Farm

6. It has the oldest carousel in the USA, the Flying Horse Carousel in Watch Hill, Westerly, R.I.

Made in 1850 and originally turned by a draft horse, Flying Horse Carousel is the oldest carousel you can find in the USA. There is actually no platform under the multi-colored wooden horses which is unbelievable and a top reason why you have to visit Rhode Island. Meanwhile, Watch Hill is an affluent town in this state.

7. The Rhode Island State House is the 4th largest self-supporting dome in the world.

Next to St. Peter’s Basilica, the Taj Mahal and the Minnesota State Capitol, a top reason why you have to visit Rhode Island is its State House which has the 4th largest self-supporting dome in the world. Built during the first part of the 20th century (early 1900s), this building is made of marble and is considered an achievement in American Renaissance architecture. Beyond its astounding construction, the property is also ripe with the history of America as it is the home of the Liberty Bell replica, the Gettysburg Gun and the flags used during the Revolutionary War.

8. Belcourt Castle, also found in Newport, R.I. is believed to be the scene of “haunted things”.

Sometimes mansions mean so much to its former tenants that when they die they visit to remember the memories they’d enjoyed at the place like the Belcourt Castle. Built by banking heir Oliver Belmont, this is a Louis XIII’s hunting lodge Versailles-inspired 60-room estate in Newport. A beautiful, old castle, which is a top reason why you have to visit Rhode Island, however there are some stories of haunted things in it like chairs that are believed to “kick” visitors to the floor or a grandfather’s clock that chime at midnight which is actually had not be wound in 20 years.

9. The Westminster Arcade in Providence, R.I. is America’s 1st indoor shopping mall.

Built in 1828, Westminster Arcade located in the capital city of Providence is America‘s 1st indoor shopping mall, a top reason why you have to visit the state of Rhode Island. Aside from being a historic icon, it also contains 48 apartments. Lauded as a fine example of Commercial Greek Revival architecture, Westminster Arcade served as a shopping center for many years until its renovation in 2008 and declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976.

10. Home to an Ivy League, the Brown University.

Brown University, a leading Ivy League (a group of long-established colleges and universities in the US with high academic and social prestige) research university in Providence, R.I. is the 7th oldest institution of higher learning in America. A top reason why you have to visit Rhode Island, Brown University has been attended by American celebrities and top politicians like JFK and Emma Watson. It is also the 1st Ivy that accepted students regardless of religious affiliation and racial background.

And those were the places I’ve seen in Rhode Island, a state in America that I found to be idyllic, a place that I know will never be compared with any city or locale, an area that has taught me a lot of perspective. Thus I dare you to pack your bags when leisure travel is an option again and you won’t regret of visiting this place for the rest of your life.

Reference: Wikipedia