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Rhode Island was the first of the original 13 colonies to declare independence from Great Britain. It is now the smallest state in the U.S., but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in a wealth of interesting activities. The state has over 400 miles of coastline and some truly spectacular beaches. Rhode Island is a popular beach holiday destination for families from nearby New York, and visitors from much farther afield.

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The Providence WaterFire

A group of volunteers designs this truly unique experience in the city of Providence. Fire tenders float down the river on small boats and light more than 80 small bonfires. The result is dozens of flickering lights "floating" on the water. The event includes new age music, and a selection of small bars next to the river, creating a party atmosphere. This art installation takes place on select nights between May and October. Try to get to the river bank early to get a good spot as the shoreline fills up quickly.

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Roger Williams Park Zoo

This venue draws about 50,000 visitors every year, making Roger Williams Park Zoo one of the most popular attractions in Rhode Island. You can easily spend a full day viewing the more than 100 animals before visiting the adjacent museum of natural history and large indoor botanical garden.

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Newport Cliffs

This clifftop walk takes in the stunning scenery and grand homes of Newport. The entire trek is about 3.5 miles, meandering along the high cliffs of this seaside city. You will require a certain level of fitness to complete the walk as there some steep sections, but the views are certainly worth the effort. Along the path, you'll have great view of some of the grandest mansions.

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Head to the Beach

The beach is the main drawcard for many people who vacation in Rhode Island. The state has over 400 miles of stunning coastlines and 100 beaches from which to choose. Those looking for a calm and family-friendly locale should head to Third Beach in the Middletown area. Surfers will love Easton's beach in Newport, which is just under a mile long and has some excellent waves.

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Tour the Newport Mansions

The wealthiest families of the United States once flocked to Rhode Island for their summer vacations, and they built some seriously grand mansions along the coastline. Nine of these mansions now belong to the Rhode Island Preservation Society, and they open are to the public. One of the most impressive mansions is the 70-room The Breakers, which was built in the Renaissance style in 1893.

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Fort Adams State Park

Fort Adams was a military base for the army and navy for more than one hundred years. In 1965 the military left, and the area became part of Rhode Island State. Explore the old buildings, take in views of the harbor, enjoy some fishing, and relax with a picnic on the beach or lawns.

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Beavertail Lighthouse Museum

The Beavertail Lighthouse is situated at the tip of Jamestown and is the third oldest lighthouse in the United States. The former lighthouse assistant's living quarters, built in 1889, houses the attached museum, which is filled with interesting artifacts from the lighthouse and facts about its history. Spend a few hours exploring the surrounding Beavertail State Park.

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Ocean Drive

Ocean Drive is often called 10 Mile Drive by locals and is a truly scenic tour along the coastline of Aquidneck Island. The drive offers amazing views and key points of interest such as King Park, the US Coast Guard Station, and the New York Yacht Club. Along the way, you will find a few isolated beaches perfect for sunbathing and swimming.

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Touro Synagogue

This attractive building was built by Isaac Touro in 1763 and is the oldest synagogue in the United States. George Washington famously held a town meeting in the building when he visited Rhode Island. The local Jewish community still uses the Touro Synagogue today. Guided tours are available and are a wonderful way to find out about the history of the synagogue and the surrounding town.

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Mohegan Bluffs

The Mohegan Bluffs are located on Block Island. These clay cliffs tower about 150 feet above the waterline and provide spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. The cliffs are named after a famous 16th-century battle between the Mohegans and the Niantic for control of the island. Spend a day exploring the cliffs and the isolated beaches at their base.

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