Best of Rhode Island 2019
When it comes to what to eat, where to shop and things to do, we have compiled the ultimate list that has your plans for the next year covered.
New Mansion Tour
Belcourt of Newport
657 Bellevue Ave., Newport, belcourt.com
In 2012, Alex and Ani’s Carolyn Rafaelian rescued Belcourt — built for Oliver Belmont and lovingly redecorated by his bride, Ava Vanderbilt — from decades of neglect. Since then, restoration professionals have tackled projects of all scales, from the Pennsylvania slate roof to a 20,000-piece chandelier. Take this tour and learn about the love story that made this manse a home — and the labor of love that’s giving it new life.
New Wine Bar
Providence Wine Bar
485 Angell St., Providence, 443-5249, pvdwinebar.com
Scores of wines in four sizes, refined small plates, local art on the walls and a sleek space conducive to mingling? Providence Wine Bar, the newest biz by the Salted Slate’s Benjamin Lloyd, offers everything we never knew we needed in a social environment. It’s elevated without the pomp, and you’ll find us there ’til closing time.
Rhode Island Red Food Tour
270 Bellevue Ave., Newport, 866-736-6343, rhodeislandredfoodtours.com
On this group walking tour in neighborhoods in Providence or Newport, you’ll sample plates from at least six restaurants while learning about the region’s history and culture. Tours provide an insider’s look into the chefs, dishes and restaurants and will leave you hungry for more.
2206 Broad St., Cranston, 473-0431, visitcolab.com
Telecommuting has its advantages (we’re talking sweatsuit and bedroom slippers) but some out-of-office workers still crave a stimulating social environment. Enter CoLab, an alternative to the library or coffee shop. Members get weekday or twenty-four/seven access, WiFi, office essentials and other perks. Plus, you can kick off the week with fellow CoLabbers on French Press Mondays and unwind on Beer o’Clock Fridays.
Gurney’s Newport Resort and Marina
1 Goat Island, Newport, 849-2600, gurneysresorts.com/Newport
The breathtaking views of Narragansett Bay and the Newport Bridge are worth the trip to Gurney’s alone. But all year long, the hotel offers amenities for all ages. Summer brings outdoor music and firepits by the pool bar, while in the winter you’ll enjoy outdoor igloos, an ice-skating rink and even an indoor carnival for the kids.
What Cheer Writers Club
160 Westminster St. floor 2, Providence, 307-2450, whatcheerclub.org
Finally, Rhode Island has a centralized home for writers in all genres. Once fractured across the state, writing groups — including Frequency Writers, Providence Writers Group and GrubStreet — host classes in this cozy downtown space. What Cheer also offers co-working crannies to set up and scribble, a podcasting studio and tons of networking opportunities for members.
Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation
65 Shun Pike, Johnston, 942-1430, rirrc.org
Fun fact: In 1986, Rhode Island was the first state to enact mandatory recycling. Take this free, ninety-minute, full facility tour and learn all about the landfill (peak elevation: 560 feet above sea level), environmental policies and the unique combination of manual labor and high-tech tools that recycle 385 tons of material a day.
Faces of the Rainforest
Roger Williams Park Zoo, 1000 Elmwood Ave., Providence, 785-3510, rrwpzoo.org
Like the two-toed sloth who calls it home, the zoo worked slowly, slowly, slowly on its brand-new rainforest exhibit, a $14 million, four-year effort completed last fall. The exhibit doesn’t disappoint, with tons of new species — hello, slip-sliding giant river otter! — that roam and fly about, plus balmy climes that beckon Rhode Islanders even in the depths of winter.
Car Lovers’ Paradise
Newport Car Museum
1947 W. Main Rd., Portsmouth, 848-2277, newportcarmuseum.org
If you can’t own them all, at least you can drool over the Newport Car Museum’s seventy-plus collection of Ford Shelbys, Corvettes, Fin cars, World cars and American muscle cars. Browse the galleries and make yourself at home on unusual Mid-Century Modern furniture while watching old racing clips, and then test your driving skills virtually on one of eight Playseat driving simulators. It may not be as good as the real thing, but it’s close.
Kid’s Art Studio
7 Child St., Warren, 318-6725, makersri.com
After popping up around the East Bay, art educator Erin DeThomas has laid down bright, paint-splattered roots in Warren. Kids in a range of ages can participate in themed art classes — making fairy houses, dinosaurs and other fun prompts — as well as drop-in sessions where fingers, toes and spaghetti paintbrushes are put to use for Pinterest-worthy, keep-forever creations.
Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art
763 Westminster St., Providence, 272-0404, rimosa.org
A massive museum this is not, and thank Marie Curie. Curious kids can make it through most of the STEAM stations in two hours or less. The museum — which features a $5 admission price and hosts sensory sensitivity days — is ever-evolving, but some fun attractions include bicycle-powered spin art, flight tubes and a maker space with scientist-approved art projects.
Make a Mess
6188 Post Rd., North Kingstown, makeamessus.com
Make a Mess is the only place in Rhode Island that offers exclusive messy play activities. It has multiple stations equipped with rotating mediums such as play sand, water, rice, play dough and more (including a back-room for even messier action). Bring your little ones for a sensory-filled day to learn, socialize and explore.
Pitter Patter Playhouse
2477 East Main Rd., Portsmouth, 293-0137, pitterpatterplay.com
For rainy days (or too-hot days), Pitter Patter is a pretty place to escape with kids for hours on end. The toys, play structures, costumes and books are top-notch, and the whole space is clean and safe. Parents might even get to sit back and relax for a bit!
Blackstone River Theatre
549 Broad St., Cumberland, 725-9272, riverfolk.org
From Celtic to contemporary, folk music reigns supreme at this brick music box in Cumberland. The intimate auditorium boasts top-notch acoustics and great views of the stage, which has welcomed local faves Atwater-Donnelly and the Vox Hunters as well as big-name artists such as Darlingside.