With summer ("unofficially") upon us, it's time to start rolling out the summer plans.
Even in the tiny state of Rhode Island, there is plenty to do... either for a day trip, a weekend trip or a full-on vacation stay.
If you are planning on visiting our nation's tiniest state this summer, here are the top 10 must-dos:
1) Explore Newport. This seaside city has endless opportunities for summer fun, from the beaches (Easton's beach - or "First Beach" to the locals - is great for families with its carousel, children's playground and skateboard park) to the Cliff Walk (3.5 miles of architectural, coastal and wildlife beauty) to the Newport Mansions (tour 11 of the historic properties that have helped define America's heritage, located on 80 acres of gardens and parks). Don't forget to stroll down Thames Street and stop for a bite to eat at The Red Parrot or Salas'. A short walk from Thames St. will bring you to The Black Pearl for award-winning clam chowder and an elegant atmosphere. And for the best buffet in town, plus a fabulous theater/cabaret production, don't miss the Newport Playhouse.
2) Go to the Roger Williams Park Zoo. There are always fun events, exhibits and more going on at the zoo, located on the grounds of Roger Williams Park, which also offers a carousel, boat rides and greenhouses.
3) Watch a PawSox game. The Pawtucket Red Sox are the Triple-A Affiliate team of the Boston Red Sox, and their home turf, McCoy Stadium, is right here in Pawtucket, RI. Enjoy a family-friendly, wallet-friendly experience, watching the future household names of baseball fine tune their skills. Sometimes you'll even catch a current Boston Red Sox star playing at McCoy as he rehabs following an injury.
4) Experience WaterFire. This summertime tradition is an experience not to be missed. It lights the night with 100 sparkling bonfires along the three rivers of downtown Providence. Thousands gather to watch the beauty of WaterFire take in its musical and cultural accompaniments. Don't miss it! (Scroll down to the bottom of this page for the 2008 summer schedule.)
5) See the Narragansett Towers. These much photographed historic Towers are located on a beautiful and scenic stretch of road along Narragansett Beach. Live music and dancing, and other public events, are held at the Towers throughout the summer. But it's worth a visit, even if only to take photographs of the architecture.
6) Ride your bike. Rhode Island has so much natural beauty, and one way to experience much of it is by riding on the state's many bike paths. The paths will take you along the riverways, through beautiful towns and into parks.
7) Visit Block Island. The laid-back atmosphere on Block Island is just perfect. Go for the music festival, unleash your adventurous side and go kiteboarding - or just spend the day traversing the island by bicycle.
8 ) Pick Blueberries. July and August are the best months to go blueberry picking around here. When you pick them right from the bush, blueberries are so ripe, fresh and delicious! My favorite place is Rocky Point Farm. You can find detailed information about where to pick other fruits and vegetables around Rhode Island here.
9) Spend the day at the park. For such a small state, there are plenty of wonderful parks in Rhode Island. My favorite two are Colt State Park in Bristol and Goddard Park in Warwick. Pack a picnic basket, a Frisbee and some Wiffle Ball equipment, and you're good to go. Both parks offer walking trails and small beach areas. And you can go on horseback rides at Goddard Park.
10) Kayak on the bay. You're never far from the water when you're in Rhode Island (we are the Ocean State, after all). Take a tour on kayak with The Kayak Centre in Wickford or Ocean State Adventures in Bristol.