Rhode Island

Rhode Island is the smallest state in the United States of America, tucked between Massachusetts and Connecticut in New England. Nonetheless, it has over 400 miles of coastline, courtesy of Narragansett Bay and islands such as Aquidneck Island, home to Newport, the "City by the Sea".


There are five counties in Rhode Island:

Rhode Island regions - Color-coded map
Bristol County
Kent County
Newport County
Providence County
South County (Washington County)
Rhode Islands summer region, full of small communities on and near the beach


There are 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island. Some of the major ones are:

Other destinations


Providence City Hall

The state's full name, as established by the Royal Charter granted by King Charles II in 1663, is "The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations." Despite east coast urban sprawl, there is still both gently-developed oceanside territory and farmland here. The origin of the name (pronounced "road island") is debatable. It is either derived from the name Roode Eylandt given to it by Dutch explorer Adriaen Block, because of its red clay, or because Block Island reminded the Italian navigator Giovanni Verrazano of the Greek Island of Rhodes, and subsequent explorers became confused and renamed Aquidneck Island 'Rhode Island.' The state's population is just over a million, so even though it is the smallest state in the U.S., it is ranked 43rd in population and second in population density after New Jersey.

You should pack clothes for all weather since the weather changes very drastically day to day. You should bring warm clothes for cold days, lighter clothes for hot days, and a rain jacket and boots, which can happen at any time.


Rhode Islanders talk with a distinctly eastern-New-England accent, similar to Boston's famous broad a and dropped r. Natives also have a habit of adding r to the end of a word. For example, some people may say idear instead of idea. Some words you might hear while visiting: "bubbler" (water fountain), "grinder" (submarine sandwich), and "cabinet" (milkshake).

Rhode Islanders will affectionately complain that if they have to drive anywhere and it takes longer than a half hour, then it is too far.

Natives also have names for certain landmarks, sometimes with a historical aspect with it. For instance, the Henderson Bridge, which is a mini-freeway/bridge in the Providence area, is affectionately known as the "little red bridge" because before the present bridge was built, a red wooden bridge stood there. Central Falls and East Providence will be known, especially in newspapers, as CF and EP respectively. Barrington will sometimes be called Borington because there used to be no liquor stores there (it was prohibited by a town ordinance, although this changed in 2012).

Rhode Island's local pastime is politics, which can get very emotional here. Rhode Island has the only surviving parliamentary democracy in the US. Combine that with an "everybody knows everybody" state of mind and you've got Rhode Island politics in a nutshell.

Get in

By plane

By train

By bus

By ferry

Get around

Pawtucket Armory

By car

Although you can travel from the top to the bottom of the state in about an hour, car is probably the simplest mode of transportation since there is no elaborate public transportation system in the state other than bus lines. Rental cars are available Downcity in Providence, at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, and other places around the state.

It should be noted that local custom often overrules traditional driving right-of-way laws at intersections. Drive defensively, and be aware of the locals' casual disregard for turn signals, stop signs and red lights. As of 2009, major highway interchanges are being rerouted in Providence near the junction of 195 and 95 (exits 18-23). Understand that your map or navigation system may be out of date, even if it has been recently updated. Drive with caution.

By bus

By ferry

By train

By foot

If you're in Providence, you may want to forgo a car and walk. There is no on-street overnight parking in the city (although this is changing for some neighborhoods under a pilot program). Federal Hill, Downcity, and most of the East Side are quite walkable, and a number of bus routes serve the area. Use common sense when walking alone or at night, as you should in any city.

By bicycle

Rhode Island is home to many miles of bike paths. Maps are available through local bike shops and the RI Department of Transportation.


View of Warwick


Mohegan Bluffs, New Shoreham, Block Island

Rhode Island is a small state offering a wide array of activities. The coast is one of the best kept secrets of the east. Rhode Island has a great deal of culture with Rhode Island School of Design and Johnson and Wales Culinary Institute. The region has a distinct dialect and you might need to have some words repeated or explained. There are four distinct seasons, with great variability in temperature. The Atlantic coast allows for many outdoor adventure activities such as spending time at the beach, chasing lighthouses, experiencing good food and music venues and much more.


There are many different types of culinary venues available: from diners, to theme-based establishments, to the most formal dining. The College of Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University provide a steady stream of well-trained chefs to the area.


Rhode Island is home to quite a few great bars, a few brewpubs, a couple of vineyards, and one or two breweries.

Newport is the home of the Newport Storm brewery. Try the excellent local brew in many places across RI.

Rhode Island law specifies that beer and wine are only sold at liquor stores, not supermarkets or convenience stores, but liquor stores are open on Sundays.

Stay safe

RI is generally safe in most neighborhoods you would intentionally go to. The most dangerous part is probably driving, as the locals are prone to run red lights and shift lanes with no warning. Locals are also known to run through stop signs. Many accidents are the results of not signaling properly when changing lanes and running through red lights and stop signs.

Providence is relatively safe, but be careful while walking around the capital city at night. Areas in which to exercise caution, unless you know where you are going, are Camp Street on the East Side, South Providence, and the Olneyville section of Providence. Broad Street and Elmwood Avenue on the South Side of Providence are also areas in which to exercise caution.

While swimming in the ocean, be careful of the undertow. Make sure you feel confident before you venture out.


Arguably one of the most gay-friendly states in the U.S., with scores of bars and entertainment venues in Providence, and even a visible "out" community in smaller towns and villages.

Every year around June, Providence holds their Gay Pride Festival downtown. Many people throughout the city attend the festival. Things rarely happen that negatively impact the festival (other than the weather) because Providence is, for the most part, a pretty open minded place. The festival holds many attractions for many people. There are tons of different stalls to see and to buy from on the day of the festival.

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This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Thursday, December 03, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.