The Ocean State
Rhode Island is the smallest state of the United States, tucked between Massachusetts and Connecticut in the New England region. Statewide, winter is chilly and wet, with some snow. July and August are the warmest months. Like all New England states, Rhode Island offers incredible natural beauty, colonial history and an amazing cultural heritage. Favored attractions include the Newport "Gilded Age" mansion tours, all of Narragansett Bay and its boating and fishing activities, Block Island, coastal lighthouses and the stylish capital city of Providence. To travel around the state, you will need to rent a car or book a bus or train ticket. If you're only in Providence, you won’t need a car and can walk almost everywhere. Use common sense when walking alone or at night, as you should in any city. For more information you visit: visitrhodeisland.com.
Jump to: Historical Sites & Tourist Attractions | Arts & Culture | Sports & Recreation | Outdoor Activities | Food | Local Festivals | Housing Resources | Transportation | Health & Safety | Help Your Community
Historical Sites & Tourist Attractions
War Memorial Park, West Warwick, Rhode Island. Photo by Marcbela.
Add some local history to your cultural exchange experience by visiting a nearby historical site or tourist attraction when living and working in the U.S.
Fort Adams was established in 1799 and is now the largest coastal fort in the United States. Located along Narragansett Bay and Newport Harbor in Fort Adams State Park, the fort is open for tours from mid-May to mid-October. The park is used throughout the year for events like the Newport Jazz Festival and for outdoor activities.
The Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket tells the story of the many immigrant groups that worked and lived in Rhode Island from the 1880s to the 1920s. The museum has exhibits, hands-on experiences, films and photographs.
Visit the Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum for a glimpse into the Victorian era in Providence. Guided tours are available at this National Historic Landmark and special events take place throughout the year, such as live music and exhibits.
The Newport Mansions are a group of 14 historic buildings that were once the summer mansions of wealthy families like the Vanderbilts. Visitors can tour 11 of the 14 buildings, gardens and parks and take tours, such as the Servant Life Tour at The Elms.
The Roger Williams Park Zoo is a popular tourist attraction in Rhode Island with over 100 species of animals, including many rare species. Special events and programs are also available throughout the year, including animal feedings, family nights and holiday events.
- Blackstone River Tours
- Block Island Tours
- Culinary Walking Tours
- Newport History Tours
- Rhode Island Bay Cruises
- Trolley Tours of Providence
- Viking Tours of Newport
Arts & Culture
Rhode Island State House. Photo by Kumar Appaiah.
The United States offers a wide variety of cultural learning opportunities through the arts. Dance, music, theater, opera, art museums and festivals are just some of the options available to international visitors who wish to learn more about the U.S. and its culture.
From March to November, visitors can enjoy Bristol and Warren ART Nights on Thursday evenings. A free trolley travels between galleries and art studios in Bristol and Warren and many local restaurants and shops also have special sales and events.
Newport Art Museum showcases local and regional artists in their permanent collection, special exhibits and events, which include lunches with the artist, book groups, music concerts and lectures. Classes are also available to the public.
Browse a list ofart galleries in Rhode Island.
Other arts and cultural events and venues in Rhode Island include:
- Courthouse Center for the Arts, West Kingston
- Festival Ballet Providence
- Fusionworks Dance Company, Lincoln
- Gallery Night Providence
- National Museum of American Illustration, Newport
- Providence Performing Arts Center
- RISD Museum of Art, Providence
- Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School, Providence
- Trinity Repertory Company, Providence
- WaterFire, Providence
Sports & Recreation
Sailboats in Newport, Rhode Island. Photo by chensiyuan.
Many Americans are passionate about sports – and not just baseball and football! Get a glimpse into this part of American culture by watching or participating in a favorite U.S. sport or recreational activity in your local area.
College Sports Teams
- Brown University Athletics
- Bryant University Athletics
- Providence College Athletics
- University of Rhode Island Athletics
Minor League Sports Teams
- Pawtucket Red Sox (baseball)
- Newport Gulls (baseball)
- Providence Bruins (hockey)
Sporting Events and Attractions
Newport International Polo Series is a public event with international and American teams competing in multiple polo matches from June to September in Portsmouth, RI.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum looks at the history of tennis and the important role Newport played in American tennis history. The hall of fame and museum also has exhibits, video and memorabilia from famous tennis players. Visitors can also rent a court and play tennis on the grounds of the hall of fame.
Misquamicut Beach, Rhode Island. Photo by Juliancolton.
The United States is home to a variety of landscapes and climates to suit all types of outdoor activities. The courageous traveler can find extreme sports and outdoor adventure tours, while others may want to keep both feet on the ground in a national park or forest. Whatever your interests, take advantage of the many outdoor activities available during your time in the United States.
Bike Rhode Island has information on the 100 miles of bike paths found throughout the state.
Brenton Point State Park in Newport overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and Narragansett Bay. Visitors can go fishing, hiking or enjoy a picnic while looking over the view of the East Coast.
Though it’s the smallest state in the U.S., Rhode Island has over 100 beaches along its shoreline. Enjoy swimming, surfing, fishing, boating and other water activities at one of the many beaches in the aptly named Ocean State.
Block Island is located 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island and it is a popular place to visit in the summer for biking, hiking, fishing, sailing and beach activities. Visitors can reach the island during summer months by ferries from Newport, Montauk in New York and New London in Connecticut. A ferry from Point Judith takes visitors to the island throughout the year. Flights are also available.
Camping in Rhode Island is a popular outdoor activity in areas like East Beach, Fishermen’s Memorial State Park and Charlestown Breachway. Visit the Rhode Island State Parks website for information on campground amenities and locations.
Some visitors may also enjoy adventure sports like scuba diving, windsurfing or skydiving during their time in Rhode Island.
One of the best ways to experience cultural exchange is through food and cooking. Visitors will enjoy exploring the regional specialties and local cuisine during their time in the United States.
Rhode Island cuisine shares many similarities with other New England states, such as its use of seafood and shellfish, like crabs, clams and lobster. It also has some local favorites, like coffee milk, Del’s lemonade, johnnycakes and the “New York System" hot dog.
Find farmers’ markets and special food events at Farm Fresh Rhode Island.
- Great Chowder Cook-off, June, Newport
- Local Food Fest, August, Newport
- Seafood Festival, August, Charlestown
- Rhode Island Seafood Festival, September, Providence
- Harvest Johnnycake Festival, October, West Kingston
- Bowen’s Wharf Seafood Festival, October, Bowen’s Wharf
Street scene prior to the Independence Day parade in Bristol. Photo by TwoSheds.
For a unique and local perspective on American cultural, be sure to check out festivals and events near your cultural exchange program location. These events are a fun and interesting way to interact with locals and to learn more about American culture by experiencing it firsthand.
The Newport Folk Festival in July features folk artists as well as performances from other musical genres, like indie rock, blues, country and bluegrass.
Newport Jazz Festival is the “grandfather of all jazz festivals” and has hosted many legendary performances from artists like Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald. It is held each August and continues to attract leading musicians and performers.
The Greek Festival in Pawtucket is held each August and features Greek cuisine, traditional entertainment, an indoor/outdoor marketplace, games and fun events.
Rhode Island International Film Festival takes place in various locations in Rhode Island, including the screening of premiere works in Providence, the state capital. The festival runs for 6 days each August.
The Newport Winter Festival in February has over 150 events throughout Newport and Newport County, including music, food, historical tours and many other events.
Beach house at Misquamicut Beach, Rhode Island. Photo by Juliancolton.
Employers may be able to assist with housing during your time in the United States, but this is not always possible for all participants. When looking for housing during your cultural exchange program, consider the cost of the accommodation, the distance to your work place and the amount of time you will be in the United States.
It's also important to avoid fraudulent housing. It is highly recommended that you secure short-term housing upon arrival (e.g. in a hostel) and conduct your housing search once you are in the U.S. Never give your financial information to a stranger over the Internet. Browse the Housing Information guides for InterExchange participants below for more tips and advice.
General Housing Information
- Housing information for Work and Travel USA participants
- Housing information for Career Training USA interns and trainees
Rhode Island Housing Resources
Some examples of housing and accommodation resources for Rhode Island participants include:
- Craigslist - Rhode Island
- American Homestay Agency
- Hostelling International
Newport, Rhode Island. Photo by Swampyank.
Public transportation options can be hit or miss, depending on your location in the United States. Buses are a common transportation option for short and long-term travel in the U.S., while some areas will also have trains, subways and other options.
Visit the American Public Transportation Association website for a complete list of public transportation options in your local community.
Rhode Island Public Transit Authority (RIPTA) operates bus services across Rhode Island. RIPTA also runs tourist trolley buses in Newport and Providence.
Greyhound buses make several stops in Rhode Island, including Middletown, Newport, Providence, Portsmouth and TF Green Airport.
The Northeast Regional Amtrak line stops in Providence, Kingston and Westerly and connects to major cities like Boston, Washington, DC and New York.
The MBTA’s Providence/Stoughton Line travels between Boston and Rhode Island, including Providence, TF Green Airport and Wickford Junction.
Health & Safety
Participants in Rhode Island can use the following resources in case of an emergency or extreme weather event in their area:
Emergency Management Agencies
- Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency
- Twitter updates @RhodeIslandEMA
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) www.fema.gov and www.ready.gov
- Rhode Island FEMA updates on Twitter @femaregion1
Help Your Community
Interact with others and expand your skill set by volunteering in your local community. Volunteer organizations are often looking for short-term volunteers or for individuals to help with a single event, making it a great option for InterExchange participants who wish to add to their cultural exchange experience during their time in the United States.
Volunteermatch.org, Idealist.org and Serve.gov are three general volunteer websites that match local organizations with volunteers in their communities.
Habitat for Humanity of Rhode Island - Greater Providence helps build low-income housing for families in need. Volunteers do not need any particular experience to help.
Rhode Island Community Food Bank has volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups. The website also has links to related agency programs in need of volunteers.
Serve Rhode Island connects volunteers with organizations that need help for single events or ongoing opportunities. Volunteers can search for opportunities based on their location, skill level, interest and availability.
Southern Rhode Island Volunteers (SRIV) serves communities in the south of Rhode Island.