You don’t need to be an Astor or a Vanderbilt to call Rhode Island your summer haven. Everything they enjoyed in this “playground of the rich and famous” of a hundred or so years ago, you will still find awaiting your arrival in this tiny state in New England.
Rhode Island is a highly modernized state as well as a densely populated one. Its capital city of Providence has just completed an extensive urban renewal project. The River Walk and Waterplace Park make a splendid, awesome and riveting addition to the infrastructure of this state.
From the Blackstone Valley to Block Island, allow yourself to be astounded by the interwoven diversity of nature, culture and history. Once you get here, you’ll find it difficult to say good-bye!
For many years, the Theodore Francis Green International Airport or TF Green Airport was totally overlooked as a major airport for travelers to and from Southern New England. The recent upgrades and the hassle-free atmosphere allows an atmosphere of relaxation as travelers enjoy the arrival and departure from this International Airport. Nonstop flights, great fares, and the convenient, affordable parking all indicate a commitment to traveler-friendly customer service.
There are three other smaller airports in Rhode Island. The Westerly, Newport and Block Island airports have their own little niches in the travel arena:
Westerly Airport: corporate aviation, extensive maintenance and repairs and commercial service to Block Island. You will also find rental car companies located near the terminal building.
Block Island State Airport: charter flights in and out as well as general air service to Westerly Airport.
Newport Airport: reserved for private planes and small charter flights.
Amtrak has a regional route that operates between Boston, MA and Newport News, VA. Departure terminals include: Providence at 100 Gaspee Street and West Kingston at 1 Railroad Avenue. The Acela Express provides speedy service from Boston, MA to Washington, DC with a stop in Providence. There is also an Amtrak Station located in Westerly, RI.
Railroad enthusiasts should be delighted to know that within this small state there is passenger, sightseeing and commercial train service.
The Providence & Worcester Railroad carries passengers along the Blackstone River Valley from Southbridge Street in Worcester to the Providence Terminal. Many workers who live at either end of this route commute to jobs at the opposite end using this mode of transportation.
If you have never experienced dinner on a moving train, then this is surely for you! Rhode Island has a Moving Dinner Train that has been operating since 1996. You can enjoy classic, elegant dining as the train takes you on a scenic 2.5-hour ride over 22 miles that overlook scenic Narragansett Bay.
How about a 10-mile Scenic Experience that takes visitors along the eastern shore of Narragansett Bay? Salt air is invigorating as you travel along this western shore of Aquidneck Island at Newport. Passengers have a choice of taking this trip in a vintage coach car that is reminiscent of “turn of the century” travel or in a private parlor car comfortably seated in one of 18 wicker chairs. The coach car is heated with a pot belly stove. The parlor car has been updated to include a bathroom, pot belly stove, private office and a food service area.
The Scenic Experience, at day’s end, provides the most beautiful view of a sunset seen from the east coast. Trains leave from a depot at 19 America’s Cup Avenue in Newport, Rhode Island where there is limited parking for depot visitors only. Each ride lasts 80 minutes. Residents and visitors come back frequently to ease their insatiable thirst for this particular scenic trip.
Rhode Island Public Transit Authority operates buses throughout the entire state serving 38 out of 39 communities 7 days each week. The RIPTA brags 3300 daily trips statewide with 58 fixed routes of service. The Authority has 27 Park n’ Ride sites within the state. To accomplish the needs of so many commuters along the various routes requires a fleet of 241 buses, 135 vans and 17 “Flex” vans.
RIPTA operates two facilities, one in Providence and the other in Newport. It offers free rides anywhere in the state on Air Quality Alert Days. Needless to say, ridership is high and the cost ranges from “free” to modest and affordable. More information is available at these locations:
Intermodal Transportation Center at Kennedy Place
Newport Gateway Visitors Center
Newport Harbor Master Building
Pawtucket Transit Center
RIPTA Photo ID Office
Amtrak’s Providence Station
Charter buses arrive and depart daily to points both near and far. They bring commuters to their jobs and visitors to this tiny state.
Boats and Cruises
Boat tours and cruises are very popular attractions in Rhode Island. Providers invite you on harbor tours, sunset cruises, chartered yacht cruises, thematic sightseeing cruises, fall foliage tours and dinner cruises. The beautiful scenery and new information amaze even native Rhode Islanders.
The catamaran, Millenium, offers several tours of the Bay between Newport and Providence. However, the most memorable and popular among the many choices is a narrated 90-minute narrated cruise that includes nine lighthouses, ten islands, two bridges, the Newport Harbor, Fort Adams, several aircraft carriers and much, much more. The popularity of this catamaran tour means that reservations are required!
Where do you find these various water transports? That will, of course depend upon the area you wish to explore. The Spirit of the Blackstone River Valley and the Blackstone Valley Explorer both depart from Pawtucket. The Samuel Slater Canal Boat leaves from Central Falls. New Shoreham, Block Island is the home port of the Viking Fleet.
Come to the East Bay to board the Bay Queen Cruises in Warren or the Bristol to Prudence Island Ferry and the Seanic Charter, both of which leave from Bristol. The Providence Continental Sloop, La Gondola, The MV Providence, Providence-Newport Ferry Service and the Roger Williams Park Boathouse are all centrally located at the Providence piers facing onto Narragansett Bay.
Newport County is running amuck with tours, charters and specialty cruises. The home port of Jamestown houses a charter line and a ferry service: Jamestown and Newport Ferry and the Sea Ya! Charters. Little Compton provides cruises aboard the Sakonnet Charters. Middletown is home to the Eastern Mountain Sports Kayak School and Portsmouth offers the Top Cat.
However, Newport is the place to find a wide selection of cruises, tours or catamarans. Of special note are: A Captain Mike Charter, Amazing Grace, America’s Cup Charters, Flyer Catamaran Excursions, Gansett Cruises, M/V Harbor Queen Newport, M/V Spirit of Newport, Newport Sailing Tours, Rum Runner II and the Schooner Madeleine. There are a few more . . . quite a few more!
Washington (South) County has their share of boating experiences, too. Narragansett alone offers six of the dozen or so water experiences available in South County. This list includes: Adirondack II, Block Island Ferry, Clock Island Hi-Speed Ferry, Frances Fleet, Patty J Charter Fishing and the Southland Riverboat. Westerly is the location for Duck Land & Water Tours. The Brandaris Sailing Charters, Martha’s Vineyard Fast Ferry and the Rhode Island Bay Cruises all depart from North Kingstown.
East Greenwich is the home of Dream Weaver Charters and South Kingstown houses Kayak Today. To the north, the town of Warwick provides two services at the head of the bay near Providence: Alibi Charters and the Bay Maritime Services.
Rental Cars and Personal Vehicles
If you are about to experience a panic attack because you just cannot bear to think of life without a car, don’t fret. Rental car agencies are generously scattered around the state. The Theodore Francis Green International Airport has several nationally known names in the car rental industry - as does the Westerly Airport. However, in the interest of avoiding environmental pollution or carbon footprints, public transport is encouraged.
The “short list” of the rental agencies follows:
Orbitz.com (reserve ahead online)
The bus terminals in Providence, Pawtucket and Warwick sponsor car rental agencies nearby. In addition to these, the Amtrak and Acela train stations are also in close proximity to car rental sites.
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