Reasons to Love the Smallest State in the U.S.

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As some of you know, I’ve been blogging here at LLworldtour for seven years. Seven years doing it all by myself – the writing, the photography, the editing, the publishing, the marketing, the social media (ugh!)…and of course the traveling to bring you these tales from the road. During this entire time, I have published only two guest posts, one to help raise awareness about homophobia around the world by my good friend, Leyla, and the other just for fun by my number one commenter, Kevin Fitzpatrick.

Lately I have been debating whether or not to include some guest posts. I was always adamant about keeping this blog in my voice, but recently I’ve come to think that I’d like share some other fresh voices and stories with you. There are some talented, new travel writers out there that I really enjoy, so I am thinking and hoping you will enjoy them too.   About once a month, I’ll be sharing some of their work with you.  I hope you enjoy it. Please do let me know what you think.  Without further ado, meet Emma.  

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I am practically evangelical about my home state. Lots of people have hometown pride and feel connected to the place that raised them, but I feel that way about my entire state.

Of course, it’s not difficult to feel a connection on the state level when you’re from Rhode Island. Often overlooked, Rhode Island is the smallest of the United States.  And, when I travel, I make a point of educating the people I meet about its existence. Maybe it would be easier to say I’m from Boston, where I’ve lived for four years, but I’ve met too many people who thought Rhode Island was a part of New York (they were thinking of Long Island, which, I’m sorry, isn’t super flattering) to give up that easily.

One way that I’ve worked to set the record straight over the years is by showing people around. They can see what my state has to offer and hopefully fall in love with this quirky, little place. Or at least learn enough about it so they can poke fun at something other than its size.

There is a ritual to introducing people to Rhode Island. We drive into the state on Route 95 South passing through Providence, which refers to itself as “the creative capital” because of its thriving arts scene fueled by students at Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design – one of the best art schools in the country.

Waterfire Providence Rhode Island

Waterfire is an award-winning art piece and public festival in Providence: the creative capital, indeed.

In 2012, Travel + Leisure even named Providence “America’s Favorite Food City,’ so sometimes we’ll stop and get dinner, but usually we keep driving because I’m from Southern Rhode Island.

(Yes, it only takes an hour to drive the length of the state, but we still divide it into Northern and Southern.)

Rhode Island is the Ocean State, and I grew up just a 10-minute drive from the beach, so, this is the part of my home that I most enjoy sharing with friends. It doesn’t matter if you visit in the summertime or not, on Emma Holliday’s Tour of Rhode Island, we take to the sea. We might go to Narragansett Beach and walk along the seawall or stop at The Coast Guard House for a drink overlooking the water.

More often than not though, we’ll go to Black Point. The parking lot is unassuming and the sign reads “Black Point Fishing Area,” but the name doesn’t tell the full story. If you follow the path into the woods for just a few minutes, you’ll find yourself on a rugged rocky coastline. The ocean will spread out before you, the waves will crash, and you’ll breathe the salty sea air. You might see some people fishing, as the parking lot’s sign foretold, but others will simply be walking or sunbathing. There might be children tiptoeing through tide pools trying to catch crabs or marveling at periwinkles with their parents. If you come with me to Black Point in the wintertime, though, we may be the only people there.

Black Point Narragansett

Black Point on a stormy day in winter

Black Point is where my high school friends and I went to talk and do nothing, as teenagers do. It’s where I’d walk my dog when she was younger and more nimble, but now her snout has gone gray and her quivering hind legs can’t handle the uneven terrain. This is where my high school sweetheart and I would have picnics and plan our future together. It was “our” spot. It’s where we went post-break up, when we hoped to still be friends. I brought my best friend from college there and she cut her foot up while hopping around on the rocks, but she was pre-med, so, she just patched herself up and recalls Black Point fondly. I brought my current boyfriend there when we first started dating.

It was almost a test: If he likes Black Point, he likes Rhode Island. If he likes Rhode Island, this relationship has staying power.

He likes Black Point.

This spot has changed over time – there’s more graffiti now than when I first visited. But this is still where I go when I go home. To feel at home.

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Emma Holliday is a freelance writer and travel blogger who likes drinking tea, petting puppies, and analyzing representations of women in media. When she’s not busy wishing she were a polyglot, she’s backpacking Europe, working on an organic farm in Hawai’i, or planning her next misadventure. Read more of Emma’s writing on her blog, An Opportune Moment


  1. says

    I have to admit that I’ve only been through Rhode Island, once by train, once by car. I’d love to spend some time actually getting to know your state. Love your pic of Black Point on a stormy day. I’m really drawn to places like that.

    • Emma Holliday says

      A lot of people pass through Rhode Island, but never bother visiting, and I think it’s such a shame! I live in Massachusetts now and it’s amazing how many people here have never been to RI considering it’s only an hour away. I’m glad you’re considering taking the time to explore my home!

  2. says

    I was aware your state was a state ever since Foghorn Leghorn claimed he was a “Rhode Island Red” and i went and researched it in an atlas. Hey, I was a kid. Nice piece and I’m convinced that next time I pass through your country I’ll make a point of doing the New England thing including swinging by RI. Keep it coming.

    • Emma Holliday says

      It’s nice to know some people have heard of Rhode Island whether it’s because of Foghorn Leghorn or Family Guy or some other media reference I’ve yet to hear about. The New England thing is well worth it. I have friends and family across the region and could write a post dedicated to each state.

    • Emma Holliday says

      Waterfire is fantastic! It happens most weekends from May to September, and it’s really a sight to behold. There are gondolas on the river, and fire twirlers, and music, and food. Best of all, it’s free. I almost wrote this post all about Waterfire!

  3. says

    I’m a fellow Rhode Island blogger (moved here in 2008), and we just love our new home state! So glad you’re out in the rest of the world, spreading the word about what the “biggest little state” has to offer.

  4. says

    Hi Emma great site. I’ve been running my own travel blog for 6 years now and like yourself write everything myself and don’t permit guest posts. Your site has come up a few times and I probably go against the flow here but I prefer sites from just one person without guest posts/ Instead I interview travellers from round the world so I’m still getting a good bit of interaction going! Safe travels. Jonny PS – I havent been to Rhode Island, nor did I know it was the smallest state. Interesting piece!

    • says

      Thanks for chiming in Jonny. I have written everything myself, but now am hosting hand-picked guest posters just a bit like Emma for a fresh voice, but typically only once a month. Enjoy your travels!

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