A Short Visit to Rhode Island

This summer is really starting to look like a Tour of New England. In the past month we have been to New York City – I know, I know… that’s not a part of New England –, hiked up mountains in Vermont and New Hampshire and spent a day wandering in Harvard Yard and Boston. We also went paddle boarding on Lake Winnipesaukee, drove to Cape Cod and the Massachusetts coast and paid a visit to Rhode Island, the US’s smallest state. Right now, when this post is published, we are spending a week camping on the Maine coast.

Downtown Providence, Rhode Island.
Panoramic view of downtown Providence, Rhode Island

The two cities we visited in Rhode Island were Newport and Providence. It really wasn’t more than just a stop on the way to Westport, Massachusetts though. Caroline had injured her foot on one of our previous hikes, so we weren’t able to explore a lot. Because it ended up raining a lot, we didn’t feel too bad about missing out on activities.

Mansions in Newport

In Newport it’s all about the mansions – think the Great Gatsby – that line Bellevue Avenue. We visited The Breakers, which used to be the summerhouse of the Vanderbilt family. Let me just say that that was incredible – as in actually unbelievable, as in ‘no way, this can’t be a house’. The interior was by far the fanciest I have ever seen in my entire life. Too bad you weren’t allowed to take photos, but it was totally worth the visit.

Visit to Rhode Island: The Breakers in Newport.
The Breakers is quite the house
The Breakers, Newport, Rhode Island.
Views of the gardens at The Breakers.

Another highlight of Newport is the Ocean Drive, a road that runs past the mansions and enormous houses that line the shoreline. Newport really is where the rich come to play and spend their money. It’s almost decadent.

Ocean Drive in Newport, RI.
Mansions along Ocean Drive

University and History in Providence

We spent a rainy night in Bristol and headed towards Providence, the state’s capital, the next morning. It was another day of pouring rain, but we decided to try and see some of this surprisingly nice – I didn’t know what to expect – city. It is the home of Brown University, one of the prestigious Ivy League colleges, the campus of which is a gorgeous National Historic Landmark.

Benefit Street in Providence, Rhode Island.
One of numerous historic buildings on Benefit Street

We walked around for a while, saw some of the historic houses on Benefit Street and strolled (or, in Caroline’s case, limped) past the oldest mall in the United States and therefore also in the oldest in the world, I assume.

Westminster Arcade in Providence, RI.
The Westminster Arcade – aka Providence Arcade – is the oldest indoor mall in the US
First Baptist Church in Providence, RI.
First Baptist church in America, Providence

In the end we really, really liked everything we saw in Rhode Island. It was just too bad that we couldn’t do more; the dreadful weather and that injured foot didn’t allow us to.

But hey, all the more reason for another visit to Rhode Island when conditions are more favorable!

Published by Bram Reusen
Bram Reusen is a Belgian travel photographer, writer and the founder of Travel. Experience. Live. He now lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, USA. From backpacking and adventuring to slow travel and cycling trips, Bram focuses on nature and adventure travel. His passions are hiking in national parks and sampling craft beers.

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