Once nicknamed Rogue’s Island—for its hodgepodge of settlers from all religious backgrounds—Rhode Island continues to cram a lot of diversity into 1,200 square miles. Where else could you spend the morning clad in Lilly Pulitzer, volleying on a tennis court, and an afternoon in the heavily tattooed nexus of the avant-garde? (The former in Newport; the latter 40 miles away at the Rhode Island School of Design.)
Despite the state’s diminutive size, its cities are booming. In recent years, Providence has emerged from Boston’s shadow, sporting its own downtown scene packed with upscale boutiques and small-plate menus. Formerly down-and-out Pawtucket hums with artists setting up shop in refurbished mills. Even tiny Block Island plays host to more than a few Martha’s Vineyard–eschewing celebs. Luckily, the state is handling its surge in popularity with a levelheaded grace. Providence’s streets remain driver-friendly; Pawtucket’s residents organize community-spirited open studios; and Block Island denizens don’t believe in street addresses—or air conditioning. Then again, it’s easy to stay laid-back in the Ocean State, considering you’re never more than 30 minutes from the water’s edge.
[sidebar]A Weekend In: Newport
Pack your tennis whites and Topsiders—despite a rough economy and hordes of day-trippers, Newport’s upper-crust veneer remains intact.
Best Bets: Sipping Points
These stars of the Coastal Wine Trail point the way for oenophiles seeking new flavors, budget-friendly entertainment, and occasionally a place to rest their heads.
New England’s Best Small Towns: Little Compton, RI
Because… it’s a little slice of Napa in New England.
At a Glance: Block Island
Visitors to this speck of land will voyage 13 miles out to sea, and back in time to a breezier era.
Taste of the State
Our top culinary delight in Rhode Island. Not Your Average Cup of Joe.