Why This Unexpected U.S. Destination Deserves a Spot on Your Summer Bucket List

There’s a reason Rhode Island is nicknamed the Ocean State. Surrounded by over 400 miles of coastline, it provides unfettered access to an abundance of stunning beaches, hotels, and restaurants with glimmering ocean views. And maybe I’m a bit biased because I was born and bred here, but I’ll go on record and say that it is hands-down the best place to be in the summer.

But don’t just take it from me—ask Taylor Swift, whose sprawling abode in Watch Hill served as the setting for her iconic Fourth of July parties and Gatsby bashes, or Jennifer Lawrence, who held her star-studded wedding at the Belcourt of Newport Mansion. I could go on, but you get the picture.

Celebrities and everyday tourists have been flocking to Rhode Island for years, and today, I’m here to tell you why the smallest state in the U.S. deserves a spot on your summer bucket list. Whether you’re looking for a quiet seaside getaway or crave the noise of a big city, Rhode Island has everything you could want in a summer escape. Keep on reading to learn more.

 

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1. The beaches are beautiful.

With such a large expanse of coastline, it’s hardly surprising that Rhode Island has some of the most beautiful beaches in America. And with so many to choose from, you surely won’t be disappointed. For a fun-filled day, head to Misquamicut State Beach and enjoy the sand and surf with a drink in hand at Paddy’s Beach Club or Windjammer Surf Bar. Then finish off the night at the on-site amusement park or catch a movie at the drive-in. For a trip off the beaten path, head to Goosewing Beach in Little Compton for a quiet summer picnic.

 

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2. It has picturesque hiking trails.

You don’t have to sit on a beach all day to enjoy the best the Ocean State has to offer. If you prefer being on the move, enjoy scenic ocean views on a picturesque hiking trail. Leisurely stroll the Cliff Walk for a view of Newport’s stunning coastline and storied mansions, or walk alongside the Narragansett Bay at Beavertail State Park in Jamestown. And if you really want to challenge yourself, hike down the 141 steps at the Mohegan Bluffs in Block Island. At the bottom, you’ll find one of the most secluded and coveted beach spots in all of New England.

 

3. There’s a bustling city scene.

Rhode Island is so much more than just sand and surf—it has a bustling city scene in Providence, too. If you’re a city girl, stay in the heart of downtown at the Omni or Graduate Providence and spend the day on a self-guided walking tour to learn about the city’s backstory. Or check out the iconic RISD Museum and America’s first enclosed mall, The Arcade Providence. In the evenings, dine at a restaurant on Federal Hill before heading over to the Rooftop at the Providence G, where you can enjoy an after-dinner drink with skyline views.

 

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4. It has a rich history.

It only makes sense that one of the oldest states is steeped in such rich history, literally and figuratively. The Newport mansions, built during the Gilded Age of America, are some of the prominent symbols of this history. Inhabited by new-money families like the Vanderbilts, they represent the opulence the era embodied. Immerse yourself in that glamour with a tour of these spectacular properties. Afterward, cruise along Ocean Drive to glimpse even more lavish homes before stopping for dinner at Castle Hill Inn for a fine dining experience and glittering ocean views.

 

5. The cuisine is exquisite.

I’ve traveled all around the U.S., and I can confidently say that New York City is the only place that can compete with my home state’s cuisine. Little Rhody has some of the best restaurants in the country (which Viola Davis also confirmed in her memoir, Finding Me). No matter where you go, the seafood is fresh-from-the-ocean and unlike anything you’ve ever had before. Enjoy an authentic Italian meal at Pane e Vino in Providence or head down to Iggy’s in Warwick for some famous clam cakes, chowder, and doughboys.

 

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6. It has a charming, small-town vibe.

Because the summer months can get so busy, most of us need to recharge more during this season. And despite being the second most densely populated state, Rhode Island is the perfect place to do just that. Its charming, small-town vibe will make you feel like you’ve been dropped into the set of Gilmore Girls. Stroll along the European-inspired streets of Wickford Village while sipping a Del’s Lemonade, or head down to Galilee and experience a fishing village firsthand. If you really want to get away, sail away on the Block Island ferry for a day trip to a secluded island.

There’s always something to do in the smallest state. Take it from a local: You’ll leave Rhode Island feeling better than when you entered.

 

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