6 Cultural Experiences for Groups Meeting in Rhode Island

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meeting in Rhode Island, Rhode Island
Prelude to WaterFire, photo credit: John A.

As a coastal state with one of the most art savvy cities in the Northeast, there is no shortage of cultural experiences for groups meeting in Rhode Island.

It doesn’t get more hyperlocal than authentic Venetian gondola rides down the Woonasquatucket and Providence rivers with La Gondola during the WaterFire festival. More than 100 cedar log bonfires illuminate the waterfront as music reflecting countless cultures plays backdrop to strolls on cobbled streets and across Venetian-styled bridges. If this sounds like the kind of experience you’d like for your group, read on, there’s plenty more for groups meeting in Rhode Island.

Colonial to Captain Cook (all in a day)

Groups can explore more than 2,000 shipwrecks that dot the coastline—from colonial trading ships and a German submarine to Captain Cook’s HMS Endeavour, which sank off the coast of Newport during the Revolutionary War. Of course, traditional water sports are also plentiful.

History & Heartthrobs

Providence’s elegant and refined landscapes have played backdrop to countless films, including “Meet Joe Black” and “Evening.” Newport also offers film tours that explore the city straight from the director’s chair; groups amble between some of the most recognized movie backdrops. The history aficionados in your group will also want to check out the historic St. Mary’s church, where John F. President Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier said, “I do.” Countless historic mansions, farms and museums are also ripe for the picking.

Hello Trolley

Providence revs it up artistically in practical ways, such as with the ArTrolley, which shuttles groups fee-free to more than 30 galleries, museums and historic sites. A 20-year-long theatre restoration project has expanded the city’s artistic possibilities—one of the more recent head to toe renos is the Providence Performing Arts Center. Likewise, the popular non-profit AS220 theatre, originally situated just above the center, has spread its wings into three mixed-use buildings totally over 100,000 sf in the heart of downtown. Just a stone’s throw from AS220 is the Trinity Repertory Company, which is settled in its own restored space.

Gut Busting Dine Arounds

As Providence is also rumored to be the birthplace of the diner, groups will also delight in local favs such as noshing on authentic johnnycakes at Jigger’s Diner in East Greenwich or a “gut buster” hot dog at Haven Brothers in downtown Providence. In all, there are 22 classic diners across the state, serving early Americana cuisine.

Preserves to Polo

Rhode Island’s compact size makes biking a fun and popular option for exploring the state, and there are plenty of trails—from historic harbors to protected nature preserves—to choose from. The East Coast Greenways program has also seen the conversion of former rail lines into scenic foot trails. Local vineyards, epic polo matches, sailboat racing and seal watching on Narragansett Bay may also entice groups to get outdoors.

Becoming an Innkeeper

Harbor cruises to the iconic Rose Island lighthouse, a living history museum situated between Jamestown and the Newport Harbor area, is a must-do. Here, they can experience an overnight adventure as both guest and innkeeper. Like the innkeepers of old, groups will manage the daily functions of the lighthouse.

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