Autumn in New England (Rhode Island)

The fifth of seven articles

This week I would like to introduce you to the not-so-secret-any-more State of Rhode Island: the “Ocean State”.

To paraphrase the expression: it’s not the size of the box, it’s what’s in the box, that counts. Though Rhode Island is the smallest state in the union, it is compact, historically diverse, and with a selection of activities for eneryone. As a side note, though Rhode Island is half the size of Delaware, the former has about 250,000 more people and has a larger human population than Alaska.

No matter where you venture in the state, you are not far from history, nature, cultural institutions, vineyards and culinary delights.

Predictions about the best times to view fall colors can be found on the web site of the “Old Farmers Almanac.”

Roger Williams established a colony in 1636, in what is now the capital of Rhode Island, Providence.  He spoke about and taught freedom of religion and personal liberty,

A few years passed until Providence elected its first openly Gay mayor, Mr. David Cicilline.in 2003.  Under his current administration, Providence is undergoing a re-birth, where historical and cultural institutions are again beginning to flourish, along with the growth of tolerance and activities of the GLBT population. I would like to point out 3 major academic institutions are also in the City: Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, and the world-renowned Johnson & Wales Culinary School, which keeps the city’s food scene top-tier.

If you would like to stay in Providence for a few days and explore, I would suggest:

The Providence Biltmore: “The Grand Dame” in downtown, which opened in 1922. This hotel recently underwent a $10 million renovation and is centrally located within downtown.

Some of the sights you may wish to visit in Providence that I would suggest would be:

The Arcade” which is the country’s oldest indoor shopping mall, built in 1828 entirely of granite. This building was named by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as one of the finest commercial buildings in the history of American architecture.

Homestyle“, located at 229 Westminster Street is a comfortable store in which to stroll around and explore its mid-century sofas, Impressionist paintings, and vintage Asian trunks mixed with modern décor and design.

Benefit Street” has one of the most impressive collections of Colonial and early Federal-style buildings in the country, some dating to the 1700s.

Depending upon the weather, between May and October, you can even charter an authentic Venetian Gondola to enjoy a part of your day.  And you thought you were in New England!

Less than 25 miles from Providence you will find yourself in in a completely other world, in the coastal city of Newport Rhode Island.

The three accommodations I recommend are:

The Francis Malbone House: This Historic Inn dating from 1760 has been elegantly restored, in the Colonial Newport Mansion period.  It is Newport’s only 5 Star Diamond award winning Bed and Breakfast. It happens to be Gay owned and operated and everyone is always welcome

Castle Hill and Resort, a Member of Relais and Chateaux: Situated on a forty-acre peninsula, at the west end of Newport’s world renowned Ocean Drive, Castle Hill Inn & Resort offers guests the seclusion and extraordinary beauty of a private oceanfront resort. The main section of this property is the their elegantly restored Agassiz Mansion, where you can enjoy your meals in one of Castle Hill’s four refined dining rooms that offer a choice of atmospheres. Another special treat for the connoisseur is the hotels’ selection of over 500 wines from the main Wine List. The Castle Hill Inn & Resort has been awarded The Prestigious Wine Spectator Award of Excellence consecutively for the past five years. Should you prefer your own beachside cottage, these charming fully equipped units allow total privacy. In addition, located on the property is the Castle Hill lighthouse, reached by a secluded walking trail, which continues to the private beach.

Chanler at Cliff Walk: sits on top of a Newport cliff side. Overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and Easton Beach, this former mansion-turned-hotel is within one-and-one-half miles of Downtown Newport and the Atlantic Ocean. Housed in the first mansion built on the prestigious Cliff Walk in 1872, the French Victorian hotel is decorated with authentic furnishings, original artwork and traditional décor. The original antique fireplace, restored parquet floors and a crystal chandelier in the lobby greets the guests. The Spiced Pear restaurant offers oceanside dining at breakfast, lunch and dinner, their seasonal menu features American and French cuisine. Terrazza, serving Tuscan-inspired cuisine, is open during summer months.

While you are in Newport you can take advantage of such activities as:

Newport County Gilded Age Trail: Take a tour of the several of the late 1800 historic mansions.

Vineyards and Winery: Newport Vineyards was originally planted in 1977 on a hill overlooking Rhode Island Sound. Presently Newport Vineyards is the largest grower of wine grapes in New England and is recognized as a landmark attraction in Newport County and continues the tradition of growing quality wines on preserved farmland.

Brenton Point State Park: Occupying the former grounds of one of Newport’s grandest estates, Brenton Point State Park offers you some of the most memorable and breathtaking views along the East Coast. The park is located at the point of land where Narragansett Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean, midway along the renowned Ocean Drive. Visitors can enjoy picnicking, hiking, fishing, or just relaxing with the cool breezes and of course the views of the Atlantic Ocean.

Cliff Walk: National Geographic named this 3.5 mile walk as one of the “50 Places of a Lifetime” to visit. The “walk” trails along Newport’s, most magnificent Atlantic Coastline. You will see and experience the movement of the waves rushing to shore and view the “Gilded-Age mansions” as you walk along. This is also an excellent location for bird watching as well as, of course, Trail Hiking or taking a leisurely walk.

Ganset Cruises: You can take an hour-and-a-half cruise along the coast and to view the Lighthouses, the mansions or the just the incredible coastline.  Take note; their season ends Oct 11th.

As a last treasure at any time of year is: Block Island which was named by the Nature Conservancy as one of twelve sites in its list of “The Last Great Places” in the Western Hemisphere. Roughly 20% of the Island has been set aside for conservation. The Island proudly boasts two historic lighthouses: Block Island North Light built in 1829 on the Northern tip of the Island, and to even things off a bit, the Block Island Southeast Light House built in 1875, both of which remain active today. In addition to its beauty, much of the northwest tip of the island is an undeveloped natural area and resting stop for birds along the Atlantic Flyaway.

There are many wonderful and delightful places to stay on the Island, my first chose would be the The 1661 Inn, because of it’s waterfront location, charming comfortable rooms along with a warm friendly staff.

As many people tend to by-pass this little treasure while driving along from one state to another, I do hope this has piqued your interest, for Rhode Island is a must-see-and-experience little gem.


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One Response

  1. Thank you for mentioning Block Island! Block Island is also a great place to work for the summer. Every summer job seekers from all over the world come to Block Island to work in our Restaurants and Hotels.

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