11 Fun Facts About Rhode Island

You probably know that Rhode Island (whose full name is the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations) is the smallest state in the United States, with an area of a mere 1,214 square miles. Locals often joke that you can go from one side to another in 30 minutes. But you’ve heard all that before—what about some facts about Rhode Island that you might have never realized?

1. The first in many sports

Rhode Island was the home of many great firsts in sports—in 1876, the first ever outdoor polo match played in the U.S., in 1895, the first open golf tournament, and in 1899, the first National Lawn Tennis Championship, otherwise known as badminton.

2. Saying no to Prohibition

Rhode Island was one of just a few states that never approved the 18th amendment banning the sale of alcohol, otherwise known as Prohibition.

3. Not coffee, not milk, but coffee milk

As of 1993, Rhode Island’s official state drink is coffee milk.

4. The first circus and first jazz fest

Newport hosted the United States’ first circus performance, dating all the way back to 1774. And in 1954, Newport hosted America’s first jazz festival.

5. Revolutionary War

Though most attribute the start of the Revolutionary War to the Boston Tea Party, nearly two years before that historic moment, some Rhode Islanders burned down a British ship called “The Gaspee,” killing one of the warship’s officers.

6. Strange laws

Want to avoid getting in trouble while riding a Rhode Island trolley? Don’t throw pickle juice, to start — that will land you with a fine!

7. State bird

The official state bird of Rhode Island is the Rhode Island Red Chicken.

8. Great deals!

Rhode Island was home to the first discount department store in America, Ann and Hope.

9. Banned from Massachusetts

Roger Williams, a revolutionary thinker in his ideas about freedom of religion and speech, was banned from Plymouth, Massachusetts, for his views, but then went on to found Rhode Island.

10. Oldest church

Jacqueline Bouvier and John Fitzgerald Kennedy got married in St. Mary’s Catholic Church, the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Rhode Island.

11. Don’t drive too fast

Ever gotten a speeding ticket? Well at least you weren’t pulled over by Rhode Island Judge Darius Baker, who in August 1904 became the first judge to sentence a driver to jail for driving too quickly.

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76 Bellevue Ave, Newport, RI
About the Museum: The Newport Art Museum collects, preserves, exhibits and interprets historic and contemporary visual arts of the highest quality ... Read More
1 Colt Drive, Bristol, RI
About Us: Coggeshall Farm Museum is a living history farm set on 48 acres in Bristol, Rhode Island.  The museum depicts Bristol's agrarian li... Read More
28 Monument Square, Woonsocket, RI
Built in 1926, The Stadium Theatre is one of the few remaining examples of the majestic Vaudeville Theatre era still in operation today. Since bein... Read More
115 Strathmore Street, Narragansett, RI
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1058 Kingstown Road Suite 5, Peace Dale, RI
Founded in 1892, South County's oldest museum houses more than 15,000 archaeological and ethnological objects from around the world. Changing exhib... Read More
449 Thames Street, Newport, RI
The Museum of Yachting is dedicated to preserving the culture and heritage of yachting by fostering education and enjoyment of its traditions and h... Read More
224 Benefit Street, Providence, RI
Our Mission and HistoryThe RISD Museum acquires, preserves, exhibits, and interprets works of art and design representing diverse cultures from anc... Read More
1245 Jefferson Boulevard, Warwick, RI
Our Mission The Gamm Theatre is proud to tell stories that entertain, provoke, and engage seriously with the most important issues of our time. The... Read More
201 Washington Street, Providence, RI
Since its founding in 1963, Trinity Repertory Company has been one of the most respected regional theaters in the country. Featuring one of the las... Read More
270 Broadway, Providence, RI
About The Columbus Theatre:The Columbus Theatre was designed by architect Oreste DiSaia and built by realtor Domenic Annotti in 1926. The Theatre o... Read More
1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI
Mission : Roger Williams Park Zoo strives to engage guests in an extraordinary and unique educational experience to improve their understanding of ... Read More
328 Atlantic Avenue, Westerly, RI
The beach was never this exciting! Make a splash this summer at our 35 foot high Giant Waterslides and our 50 foot high Super Speed Slides. There i... Read More
1003 Waterman Avenue, East Providence, RI
A Grand Opening was held on Saturday, October 8, 2005 to invite the Cape Verdean community and others to come and view the location space and to ce... Read More
251 Benefit Street, Providence, RI
Mission Statement: The Providence Athenaeum, founded in 1753 as a member-supported library, will provide a collection of books, other materials and... Read More
194 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, RI
About Us The International Tennis Hall of Fame Museum, housed in the historic Newport Casino, is an uncommon example of sporting excellence.  T... Read More
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