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Travel and tourism is one of Rhode Island's most valued industries, ultimately generating more than $3.88 billion for the state's economy.
With more than 100 beaches, 400 miles of picture-perfect coastline, historical and cultural attractions, and world-class dining, it is no surprise that tourism and hospitality is Rhode Island's fourth-largest industry, supporting 66,616 jobs and more than $5.9 billion in spending in 2013.
Download the latest Rhode Island Tourism Satellite Account research report, compiled by IHS Global Insight.
Rhode Island may be small, but it packs a cultural and scenic punch. Within Rhode Island's borders is one of the largest concentrations of historic landmarks in the nation, a vibrant arts and culutral scene, miles of pristine coastline and some of the most acclaimed dining establishments in the country.
Providence is never more than a 30-minute drive from anywhere in the state - from the beaches of Narragansett to the City-by-the-Sea, Newport, to the farms and bucolic beauty of Northwestern Rhode Island.
Providence is becoming a hotspot for both business and leisure travelers with more than 2,200 moderately priced hotel rooms, the Providence Place Mall, the Rhode Island Convention Center and a rich theater and cultural scene.
The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation offers the travel and tourism industry access to an unparalleled array of natural resources and critical infrastructure:
The Rhode Island Tourism Division is the official state agency responsible for promoting domestic and international tourism to Rhode Island. It conducts a comprehensive marketing and communications effort focused on expanding the state's $5 billion tourism industry. Annual research is aimed at measuring consumer expenditures and the direct and indirect impact on the state's economy. The Tourism Division produces the state's official tourism guides and interactive Web site, manages the Rhode Island Welcome Center and the Rhode Island Building at the Eastern States Exposition, and is a vital resource for hospitality developers.
Rhode Island is an unforgettable destination. This tiny New England state is a gem, boasting hundreds of miles of breathtaking beaches, rich and dramatic history and attractions for the entire family.
No matter when you visit, you will find plenty to keep you busy and fascinated. Winter brings Christmas in Newport. Spring means Daffodil Days in in Bristol, traditional May breakfasts all over the state and the opening of baseball season at Pawtucket’s McCoy Stadium, home of the Pawtucket Red Sox. Summer brings outdoor music festivals, evening theater in the city parks and the oldest Fourth of July parade in the nation. And autumn might just be the best time of all, when the leaves turn golden, orange and red and the scent of apple cider fills the air.
Rhode Island’s small size means you can take it all in.
It’s time to unwind… in Rhode Island.
The Blackstone Valley is the largest of the Ocean State’s regions; its communities include Burrillville, Central Falls, Cumberland, Foster, Glocester, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, and Smithfield. The birthplace of American industry, it is an area rich in history. Samuel Slater established the nation's first cotton mill in 1793 and forever changed the nature of textile technology; today, the Slater Mill Historic Site stands as a handsomely restored museum.
Block Island, a 10-square mile seaside resort located just 12 miles off the Rhode Island coast, is an evocative page from an Americana past. Heralded as "one of the twelve best unspoiled areas in the Western Hemisphere," the island's rolling green hills and dramatic Mohegan Bluffs are reminiscent of Ireland, and its beautifully restored Victorian hotels and charming inns and B&B's preserve the elegance of a bygone era.
Until recently, East Bay was one of Rhode Island's best-kept travel secrets. The region, comprised of the towns of Barrington, Bristol, East Providence and Warren, is steeped in British and Colonial heritage. North and east of Newport, its laid-back charm is evidenced by its antiques markets, historic inns, main streets and village squares that are as authentic as the patriotic spirit that surrounds America’s oldest Fourth of July parade, held in Bristol since 1785.
Newport County, long a tourist hub of the state, includes the resort of Newport and picturesque areas of Middletown, Portsmouth, Jamestown, Tiverton, and Little Compton. Newport is perhaps best known for its "summer cottages." Built by 19th century industrial magnates and business tycoons, the mansions today stand as reminders to the opulence of a bygone era.
From Benefit Street's "Mile of History" on the East Side to festive Federal Hill, Rhode Island's own "Little Italy" with 47 restaurants within a one-mile span, 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, the 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.
South County is the familiar name referring to Rhode Island's southernmost towns. Charlestown, Coventry, East Greenwich, Exeter, Hopkinton, Narragansett, North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Richmond, Westerly, and West Greenwich are really a microcosm of all things New England. Along with its golf courses, beaches, and historic charm, South County is one of the country's finest fishing and boating areas.
With 39 miles of scenic coastline, Warwick offers many wonderful views of Narragansett Bay. There are more marinas, boat slips, and moorings available than any other municipality throughout the Ocean State, providing ample
opportunity for recreational boaters to cruise the Bay. Warwick also boasts a year-round calendar of cultural events. The Gaspee Days Celebration, for example, is one of the oldest commemorations in America, featuring a reenactment of the burning of the British schooner, Gaspee, by Rhode Islanders in 1772. One of the finest museums in the area is the Warwick Museum, with monthly exhibits featuring prominent and emerging artists, community shows, and traveling exhibitions and objects on loan from other collectors and museums.
Rhode Island features a host of highly acclaimed cultural attractions that are sure to delight the most astute observer of historic architecture and the arts.
Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but its food fanfare is as extraordinary as its larger counterparts. Nicknamed the Ocean State, Rhode Island's close proximity to the Atlantic makes it easy to get fresh-from-the-ocean saltwater fish, scallops, crabs and lobsters.
To some Rhode Island visitors, fun means surfing, sunning or sightseeing. But to a special group of people, fun means only one thing – shopping. From factory outlets to boutiques, unusual discount stores and immense special sales, shopping in Rhode Island can be a new adventure every day.
Rhode Island plays a leading role in the emerging industry along the Eastern seaboard. The climate, moderated by its close proximity to the ocean, provides an ideal growing season for several varieties of wine-making grapes. There are four wineries open to the public in Rhode Island: Sakonnet Vineyards in Little Compton, Diamond Hill Vineyards in Cumberland, Newport Vineyards in Middletown, and Greenvale Vineyards in Portsmouth.
Premium places people love to visit throughout Rhode Island.
One hundred bonfires illuminate the waters of the Providence River during this magical outdoor event. Created by award-winning artist Barnaby Evans, WaterFire Providence © graces the city's riverfront with an exhilarating combination of music and light. Stroll along cobbled riverbank walkways leading to Waterplace Park , as the dramatic fires dance atop the water and fill the air with the rich scent of burning cedar logs. Music, reflecting a variety of cultures and rhythms, reverberates from Venetian-style bridges. WaterFire typically occurs every other Saturday evening and night and draws thousands of visitors. (April-October) 401-272-3111. www.waterfire.com
Because of its compact size, biking is a natural for the Ocean State . Bike paths and trails stretch through miles of scenic landscape with panoramic views of historic harbors, to Narragansett Bay , along the historic Blackstone River and abundant protected nature preserves of Block Island . Beyond Rhode Island 's natural pathways the State's Department of Transportation has led the charge in converting former rail lines into popular recreational trails in collaboration with the East Coast Greenways program. Extensive paved pathways traverse North to South, east to west and offer a two-wheel adventure just a peddle away. For more information regarding cycling in the Ocean State see, www.dot.ri.gov/bikeri/.
Rhode Island Blueways is distributing its first-ever feature release describing an array of on-the-water and hospitality services for recreational kayakers and canoeists. The release describes how visitors can plan a trip using an online guide to shoreline access and paddle sport outfitters. Offerings range from lessons for novices and families, to multi-day packages and winery tours. Advanced paddlers can even learn how to surf in a kayak.
The Rhode Island waters lay claim to the final resting place of more than two thousand shipwrecks, more per square mile than any other state in the US . Wrecks include colonial trading ships, ships of war, a German submarine, and a luxury passenger vessel from the nineteenth-century. It is widely theorized that the world renowned Captain Cook's ship the HMS Endeavour , was sunk off the waters of Newport, RI during the Revolutionary War. This vessel holds special interest to English & Australian underwater archaeologists, being compared in significance to that of the Mayflower. The Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission & the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project administer Rhode Island 's underwater archaeology program. For more information contact RIMAP at: www.rimap.org
The first polo matches in the United States were held in Newport in 1877. Today, the tradition is alive and well as horses thunder, mallets collide and turf flies at Glen Farm in Portsmouth , Rhode Island . Throughout the summer months, Olympic-level matches are scheduled on Saturday afternoons between Team USA and competitors from around the world. (June-Sep), 401-846-0200 http://www.newportinternationalpolo.com
Newport Rhode Island 's all-season resort, is the setting for the acclaimed "Christmas in Newport " celebration held annually throughout the month of December. Three centuries of Colonial, Federal and Victorian homes and Gilded Age mansions are the setting for many of the celebrations, which include concerts, candlelight tours, holiday decorating contests and visits from St. Nicholas. Other major events such as the Holly Ball, Turtle Frolic and Festival of Trees reflect the holiday nostalgia of Christmases past. Twinkling lights lining sailboat masts, gleaming luminaria and the crystallized candlelit windows beckon visitors to the month-long city-wide celebration. www.ChristmasinNewport.org 401-849-6454 (Late Nov-Early Jan)
Experience a unique adventure as a guest and keeper of Rose Island Lighthouse-a living history museum. Overnight visitors enter a bygone way of life by participating in lighthouse keeping, and sleeping in the same rooms occupied by keeper families for over a hundred years. Like keepers of old, today's overnight visitors play a necessary hands-on role in daily monitoring and the minding simple chores that keep the station functioning. Guests relive a lifestyle offering primitive charm in place of modern conveniences, but is rich in romance, history and adventure. The lighthouse, situated between Jamestown and the Newport Harbor area offers spectacular views of maritime activity along Narragansett Bay . Contact: Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation 401-847-4242.
Seal Watching on Narragansett Bay
The rocks off the shores of Narragansett Bay serve as the winter habitat and lounging area of bay seals. The bay tour offers an adventurous unobtrusive way to view the seals in their natural habitat. Nature connoisseurs can take a harbor cruise to Rose Island lighthouse, or from Wickford Harbor aboard the Dutch sailing vessel, Brandaris. For those who prefer to stay on land, a winter hike to Rome Point just outside of Wickford offers the perfect viewing ground. Bundle up, bring your binoculars and a thermos of hot chocolate for an afternoon of fun and frolic with the seals! Call Save the Bay for reservations at 1-800-NARRBAY, or call Brandaris Sailing Charters at 401-294-1481.
Providence has become the center of an emerging arts and entertainment community in New England . Established venues such as the award-winning Trinity Repertory Company, Providence Performing Arts Center and Veterans Memorial Auditorium are historic landmarks which now provide venues for Broadway musicals, seasonal ballets, opera, plays, concerts, and children's performances. The capital city is also known for its "up-and-coming" theatre such as Perishable Theatre , AS220 and the Black Repertory Company, as well as notable collegiate offerings such as Brown's Leeds Theatre, featuring contemporary play debuts and alternative performance art. Providence is a haven for young artists, many of whom are alumni of the renowned Rhode Island School of Design, who have established galleries, art and specialty shops and theaters. Local arts attractions have collaborated to create a monthly "Gallery Night." A free art trolley loops throughout the city stopping at participating venues enabling visitors to experience first-hand Providence 's emerging arts and cultural community.
The original "diner" concept was born 125 years ago in Providence , Rhode Island when Walter Scott created a lunch cart to feed night workers. Today, some 2,500 old-style diners are still operating in America , Spain , Germany , England and Russia . Rhode Island offers a rare glimpse at early Americana with 22 classic diners located throughout the state. These popular, one-of-a-kind eateries can include everything from authentic Jonnycakes at Jigger's Diner in East Greenwich , to a fresh turkey dinner at Newport 's 4 th Street Diner, to a 'gut buster' Hot Dog at Haven Brothers -downtown Providence 's mobile city landmark. The resurgent interest in diners has resulted in the development of the American Diner Museum that will debut in Providence at the soon-to-open (2010) Heritage Harbor Museum. There's also a comprehensive diner exhibit at the Johnson & Wales University Culinary Archives in Providence.
Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island , was the first to view Rhode Island as the perfect getaway. However, his motivation was one fueled by the search for religious freedom, and his journey inevitably led to the formation of one of the earliest of the original thirteen American Colonies. Today, carved in marble on the south portico of the Rhode Island State House, facing the City of Providence and Narragansett Bay , is a quotation from the Royal Charter of 1663, which Roger Williams obtained from the English King, Charles II, on July 8, 1663 . "To hold forth a lively experiment that a most flourishing civil state may stand and best be maintained with full liberty in religious concernments." These words refer to the principle of religious liberty and tolerance upon which Roger Williams founded the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. It the principle for which he is probably best known and made notorious for in his banishment from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Rhode Island continues to perpetuate religious freedoms and the state is home to more than 300 religious organizations. Learn for yourself why today, Rhode Island 's aptly named lively experiment has continued to flourish.
Transport your readers to Newport , the "Sailing Capital of the World" and a venue that has long been considered a yachting paradise. From 1930 to 1983, the America 's Cup Races were held in the waters off Newport , which explains why its main thoroughfare is named America 's Cup Avenue . During the summer, the harbor is filled picturesque sailboats, pleasure craft and mega yachts from all over the world. The international sailing community is familiar with the waters of Newport and Narragansett Bay and return year after year to compete in premier racing. This year features "Alinghi" the Swiss racing team that won the America 's Cup Challenge.
Visitors may be curiously surprised at the wide variety of things to see and do in the Ocean State :