Rhode Island

Rhode Island

Rhode Island may be a quick jump along Route I-95 between Massachusetts and Connecticut; however the state’s coastal beauty and woodlands are more than what you can see from a scenic overlook. Likewise, Rhode Island’s independent-mindedness doesn’t show on a trip through Providence past the statehouse.
The state has always been independent-minded from colonial times through the present day. Roger Williams, who fled persecution in Massachusetts to establish a settlement in Rhode Island in 1636, promoted religious and political freedom. Rhode Island was the first to declare independence from England, and was also the last to ratify the Constitution unless a Bill of Rights was attached to it.
In addition, Rhode Island’s full name is unlike any other state: the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Providence Plantations is a holdover from the time of Roger Williams, and modern Rhode Islanders have twice voted to keep the name.
The road to equality for the LGBT community in Rhode Island has not gone from Point A to Point B, but has meandered a little. In 1984, the state legislature considered an anti-discrimination bill based on sexual orientation, which failed each year for a decade. In the meantime, the governor signed an executive order banning discrimination against gays and lesbians in state government.
In 1995, the anti discrimination bill passed and was finally signed into law, In 2008, after civil unions became legal in New Hampshire, Rhode Island was the only state that did not give same-sex relationships any legal standing. It took until 2011 for a civil unions bill to be passed and signed into law. The LGBT community had the unwavering support of Governor Lincoln Chafee, who pressed for full-marriage rights. In 2013, nine years after Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, and thirteen years after Vermont’s civil union law, a same-sex marriage bill passed all the hurdles and Governor Chafee signed it into law.

 

Metro

Providence

Providence was once a leading manufacturer of jewelry and silverware; today it is a city noted for its colleges and universities, as well as healthcare.  A noted culinary college and a school of design bring an appreciation from two different points on the arts spectrum. Providence’s architecture offers a timeline of history, from a colonial church, to a late-nineteenth century shopping mall and a modern 1990’s version. A revitalization project in the center of Providence has opened up the three rivers that run through the city, creating a pedestrian park. In 2014, Providence earned a perfect score for its gay-friendly policies from Human Rights Campaign.

Suburbs/Metropolitan Providence

The communities nearest to the city are East Providence, North Providence, and Cranston, but the suburban and metropolitan area of Providence includes most of Rhode Island and parts of Massachusetts, such as Fall River and New Bedford. Boston is also within commuting distance of Providence. A major airport is located in nearby Warwick.

Northern Rhode Island

Blackstone River Valley

Rhode Island’s portion of the Blackstone River Valley ls situated in the northern part of the state, bordered on the north and east by Massachusetts, and on the west by Connecticut . The Blackstone River runs from Worcester, Massachusetts, southeast through Rhode Island to Pawtucket Falls. Along the river’s length are reminders of the region’s part in the industrialization of the United States. Slater’s Mill on the Blackstone River, and housed the first cotton mill in the country. In the early 19th century, the Blackstone River Canal connected Providence and Worcester for the purpose of trade between the two cities. Today, the Blackstone River Valley mixes recreation and history, with biking, canoeing, hikes along the canal, and visiting museums. The area has recently been designated the Blackstone River Valley National Park.

 

Eastern Rhode Island

Narragansett Bay

Narragansett Bay lies north of Rhode Island Sound, and divides the eastern side of Rhode Island into a series of thirty islands. The largest islands include Aquidneck, which includes Newport, Conanicut comprising Jamestown, and Prudence, which is home to summer residences.  The Bay is a paradise for those who love boating, fishing, kayaking, seal watching, swimming, and simply enjoying the outdoors.

East Bay

East Bay is northeast of Newport, and includes the towns of East Providence, Barrington, Bristol, and Warren Rhode Island. The region is off-the-beaten path from the more bustling areas of the state. A bike path runs 14 miles through East Bay for spectacular views of Narragansett Bay. Colonial architecture and quaint village squares are reminders of the past, as are antique shops and inns. A manor and garden estate along the water, a carousel, and a maritime museum.

Newport, Rhode Island

Located on Aquidneck Island in Narragansett Bay, Newport, is the most well-known of the three island towns. Bridges connect the island to the mainland and to Jamestown on Conanicut Island. Newport is famous for its elaborate mansions built in the late 1800s, of which almost a dozen are open to the public, and for its history of yachting. Other vacation attractions are beaches, shopping, and music festivals.

Jamestown, Rhode Island

Jamestown is located on the island of Conanicut in Narragansett Bay, and is a town with a rural atmosphere reflecting its agricultural and maritime roots. Lighthouses, windmills, and farms are part of the scenery and offer the visitor a quieter, less opulent, but no less attractive destination than Newport.

 

Southern Rhode Island

South County

Also known as Washington County, South County comprises the lower third of the state, from Narragansett Bay in the east, to Connecticut in the west, and Block Island Sound to the south. Some of the most magnificent beaches in the state line the coast, while Block Island Sound gives the area protection from the strong surf of the Atlantic Ocean. Woodlands, historic sites, gentle hills, and unspoiled villages lie inland, offering a different experience.

Block Island

Block Island is approximately 14 miles across Block Island Sound into the Atlantic Ocean. The island has dramatic bluffs, meadows, lighthouses, and rocky shoreline. Several beaches ring the island, however not all are perfect for swimming. Rocky shoreline and riptides on the northern tip of the island may be dangerous for a swim, but offer spectacular views of bluffs. Other beaches are more for clamming and fishing off jetties. Rare birds nest in some areas, and the dunes are fragile, but hiking, with care, can be a great way to see the island. Year-round, ferries from the mainland, small planes, and private boats are the only means to get to Block Island. With its grand inns and hotels, along with spectacular views, the island is a perfect place for a destination wedding. Block Island is gay-friendly, and welcomes gay weddings.

Western Rhode Island

Western Rhode Island comprises the western half of Rhode Island, and runs from South County to the Blackstone River Valley, overlapping these regions. Geographically, the area is part of the New England Upland Region, which continues into Massachusetts and Connecticut, and is characterized by hills and woodlands. The highest point in Rhode Island is located in westernmost Foster.

Warwick and West Bay

Although the region includes a western portion on the Connecticut border, Warwick is in the eastern part of Rhode Island where the mainland reaches Narragansett Bay. West Bay refers to the fact that the region is west of Narragansett Bay. Warwick is the second largest city in the state, and is known for its shopping venues. The communities to the west of Warwick are more rural. Foster on the Connecticut border is scenic with country roads and a covered bridge.

Western Rhode Island Scenic Drive

Otherwise known as Rhode Island Route 102, this drive is 31 miles long and passes through forests, farmland, , and historic homes. It begins in North Kingstown and continues north through West Greenwich, Coventry, Foster, Scituate, and continues into the Blackstone River Valley until it reaches Slatersville, a historic mill community.