95 Fun & Interesting Facts About Rhode Island

Are you ready to explore the tiniest state in the United States with a huge heart? Let’s take a trip to Rhode Island, a place packed with beautiful beaches, rich history, and lots of fun facts. Even though it’s small, Rhode Island is full of surprises waiting for us to discover. So, let’s start our journey and find out what makes Rhode Island so special with these interesting facts about Rhode Island!

brown horizontal rectangle with white text facts about rhode island image of rhode island state flag in bottom left hand corner outline of state of rhode island in bottom right hand corner

Did you know Rhode Island isn’t really an island? That’s right! It’s actually connected to the mainland, but it does have lots of islands as part of the state. And, it has a really long name too: “The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.” Imagine having to write that on all your letters!

Rhode Island is famous for its gorgeous sandy shores and sailing. With so much coastline packed into a small area, you’re never too far from a beach. People love to go sailing, swimming, and enjoy seafood by the water. Rhode Island even has a special boat called the Herreshoff, known for being really fast and winning races!

This tiny state also has a big history. It was the first of the thirteen original colonies to declare independence from British rule, but the last to agree to become part of the United States. Rhode Island is a place where people love their freedom and have a spirit of independence.

Are you excited to learn more amazing facts about Rhode Island? From its not-really-an-island status to its beautiful beaches and important place in American history, there’s so much to explore and discover in this little state with a big heart. Let’s dive in and uncover all the cool and interesting facts that make Rhode Island a wonderful place!

Be sure to discover even more interesting facts with our Facts about Oklahoma and our Facts about New Hampshire.

purple vertical rectangle with several facts and images depicting rhode island with white block text in middle that reads facts about rhode island with white text in blue rectangle at bottom that reads find more facts at frosting and glue dot com

Facts about Rhode Island

  1. Rhode Island is the smallest U.S. state.
  2. The only nuclear explosion to ever happen in the U.S. outside of a controlled environment happened in Wood River, R.I. in 1964 when a worker at United Nuclear Corporation Recovery Systems mistakenly put too much uranium solution in a tank, resulting in an explosion as well as their death. The worker was the only casualty.
  3. 104°F (40°C) is the highest temperature to ever be recorded in Rhode Island, in Providence, while the lowest was -25°F (-31.7°C), in Greene.
  4. It may be the smallest state (1,214 sq. miles) but it has the biggest (fake) bug: a 2-ton, 58-foot long blue termite known as “Nibbles Woodaway” on 1-95 in Providence.
  5. Rhode Island had the longest state name with  “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.”
  6. There are nearly 400 miles of shoreline and over 100 beaches in Rhode Island.
  7. In May 1790, Rhode Island was the last of the original 13 states to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
  8. Rhode Island Is a Part of New England. New England consists of the northeastern part of the U.S. The term “New England” was given to the region by Captain John Smith, an English explorer. 
  9. The Scituate Reservoir, also the source of drinking water for Providence and many other communities, is the largest artificial lake in New England.
  10. Block Island, 12 mi (19 km) off the coast, also belongs to Rhode Island. Nearly half the island is protected, and it has been called one of the “Last Great Places.”
  11. Rhode Island is known as the sailing capital of the world. Many local children spend summer in sailing camp.
  12. Glee Gum, a natural, vegan chewing gum alternative, is manufactured in Rhode Island.
  13. Dutch explorer Adrian Block named the state “Roodt Eylandt” meaning “red island,” in reference to the red clay that lined the shore. However, when the region came under British rule, the name was anglicized.
  14. The U.S. Open began in Newport, Rhode Island, at what is now The International Tennis Hall of Fame. Although that tournament has moved to New York, Newport still holds a tournament in July where you can see tennis greats play on grass from very close for a much smaller cost than the U.S. Open.
  15. Block Island has its very own ghost ship, which has haunted islanders ever since a deadly wreck there in 1738. Some say the passengers and crew seek revenge against locals who failed to help them as the boat went down. According to legend, a local mass grave contains their bodies.
  16. In 1904, Judge Darius Baker sentenced a driver to five days of jail for driving too fast. It was the first jail sentence for speeding in a car in Rhode Island.
  17. Rhode Island is home to the oldest synagogue in North America, the Touro Synagogue, dedicated in 1763. The Newport house of worship, a national historic site, is home to the oldest Torah in North America.
  18. Central Falls is the smallest of the small, spanning a little over one square mile. The locals claim it’s the tiniest town in the nation. This city holds a population of over 22,500. But, being so tiny, it averages almost 19,000 people per square mile.
  19. In Rhode Island lay the remains of the first girl born to colonists in New England. The baby, the daughter of pilgrims John and Priscilla Alden, was buried in Little Compton.
  20. Sharks can sometimes be spotted in Narragansett Bay’s waters. You don’t have to worry about large sharks getting close to the shore. Typically small species like dog sharks are more likely to venture close to shore. Since they’re small, they’re also less likely to attack.
white horizontal rectangle with purple border with text facts about rhode island at top middle with fact listed underneath with shark graphic in bottom right hand corner
  1. People have lived in Rhode Island for at least 11,000 years!
  2. Rhode Island had many capitals between 1681 and 1854, such as Bristol, East Greenwich, Newport, Kingston, and Providence. However, in 1854, the state’s main capitals were Providence and Newport. Later, in 1900, Providence was declared the only capital of Rhode Island.
  3. Cap guns are illegal in Rhode Island, and playing with them is criminal. No one is allowed to sell, possess, discharge, or use them in this state.
  4. The state is a little larger than Hong Kong, but only about half the size of Palestine. 
  5. Rhode Island is nicknamed the “Ocean State” because one can get to the ocean from anywhere in the state in less than an hour’s drive – the state is only 37 miles wide and 48 miles long.
  6. Rhode Island was the first state to abolish slavery.
  7. Mr. Potato Head was named the official “family travel ambassador” of Rhode Island in 2000. It makes sense with the Hasbro headquarters located in Pawtucket. He was also the first toy to be advertised on television.
  8. The nation’s oldest tavern, the White Horse Tavern in Newport, was built in 1673, a fitting distinction for a state that was the only one to never ratify the 18th Amendment establishing Prohibition.
  9. The USA’s first polo field was in Rhode Island.
  10. There were at least five different tribes living in parts of Rhode Island when Europeans first arrived.
  11. Providence Is the largest city in Rhode Island. The city has a population of 189,697 residents and extends for about 53 square kilometers. 
  12. Rhode Island has a population similar to San Jose, California.
  13. Rhode Island was the last of 13 original colonies to join the Union.
  14. The White Horse Tavern in Newport is the oldest operating restaurant in the United States and the 10th oldest worldwide.
  15. The state of Rhode Island can still technically fine a company for making certain employees work on Sunday. Unfortunately for weekend warriors, it’s only a fine for unnecessary work that’s done, and it’s only a maximum of $10.
  16. The Flying Horse Carousel in Westerly is the nation’s oldest carousel. 
  17. The nation’s first circus was held in Newport in 1774.
  18. If you visit Rhode Island, you must try the official state drink. Coffee milk has been a popular beverage since it was invented in the late 1800s by the state’s Italian immigrants. It’s often compared to chocolate milk because the preparation is similar.
  19. Rhode Island has more than 400 beautiful plant species. It also has native flower species, such as Doll’s eyes, Red columbine, Clasping milkweed, and Yellow wild indigo. The violet (Viola sororia) was officially declared the state flower of Rhode Island in 1968. 
  20. You may not throw pickle juice at a trolley in Rhode Island. It is an offense in this state because it may just stain someone’s straw hat.
white horizontal rectangle with purple border with text facts about rhode island at top middle with fact listed underneath with pickle jar graphic in bottom right hand corner
  1. There are two theories behind Rhode Island’s name: the first is that the state was named after the Isle of Rhodes in Greece. The second theory is that Dutch explorer Adriaen Block dubbed the region “Rood Eylandt”, which means “Red Island”, due to its red clay and/or red foliage.
  2. The state’s shoreline on Narragansett Bay in the Atlantic Ocean runs for 400 miles. Narragansett Bay almost divides the state into two parts. The bay which is between 3 and 12 miles wide, receives Taunton, Providence, and Sakonnet rivers.
  3. The oldest U.S. carousel sits beachside in Watch Hill. It opened in 1876.
  4. Cap guns are illegal in Rhode Island.
  5. The big Kodiak sculpture in Providence known as “Indomitable” is 11 feet tall and weighs more than three tons.
  6. Portsmouth is home to the nation’s oldest schoolhouse, built in 1725. The Redwood Library and Athenaeum in Newport is the oldest lending library.
  7. The Darby Free Library in Pennsylvania is the oldest in the country, but the Redwood Library is the oldest lending library. It’s also the oldest continuously running book repository in the country. Founded in 1747, it’s one of the oldest libraries in the United States.
  8. The highest point in the state, Jerimoth Hill, is located at a height of 812 feet or 247 meters. It is situated in northwest Rhode Island in the town of Foster. Today, the point is used as an observatory. 
  9. Wampanoag and the Narragansett Native Americans were the original inhabitants of the area. Today, they number only 0.1% of the state’s population.
  10. There is an island called “Rhode Island” in the state of Rhode Island. The island in the state is also known by the name – Aquidneck Island. The island occupies an area of 44 square miles. It is on this island that the two towns, Portsmouth and Middletown, and a city, Newport, are located.
  11. One of Rhode Island’s most recognized icons is a 58-foot-long Eastern Subterranean Termite called The Big Blue Bug, or “Nibbles Woodaway,” which looms over 95 south. He welcomes people into the capital city of Providence, often dressed in seasonal garb.
  12. Glendale claims to be home to the world’s oldest penny arcade, with some games dating back to the 1920s, still operating at their original price. 
  13. Local residents hated the 2016 Rhode Island tourism slogan “Cooler and Warmer” so much that the state’s chief marketing officer was forced to resign.
  14. The Cogswell Tower in the City of Central Falls was built in 1904 as the last will of Caroline Cogswell. The land where the tower was built was donated to the city in 1890.
  15. Anne Hutchinson was the first woman to establish a town in the U.S. – Portsmouth, in 1640.
  16. Many Rhode Island residents can trace their family tree to the late 1800s and early 1900s when many Italians immigrated to the state. Rhode Island’s neighbor, New York, has the largest overall Italian population at three million. 
  17. Fashioned after the Sistine Chapel, Woonsocket’s St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Church is home to one of the largest fresco collections in North America. Members of the congregation were the models for the paintings.
  18. Rhode Island’s Narragansett Bay is famous for its clams. Quahogs are used for preparing many scrumptious dishes, such as clam chowder, clam stuffies, and clam cakes. The state also celebrates a seafood festival, “Blessing of the Fleet Festival”. It is a 2-day event, full of cheerful vibes and mouth-watering seafood!
  19. Residents of Rhode Island are called Rhode Islanders or Rhodians.
  20. The Blackstone River provided the power to kick off the industrial revolution in the U.S. In essence, the Blackstone River Valley can be seen as the birthplace of industry.
white horizontal rectangle with purple border with text facts about rhode island at top middle with fact listed underneath with river graphic in bottom right hand corner
  1. The Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, is the oldest standing synagogue in the U.S. The synagogue’s construction began in 1759 under the supervision of the colonial architect Peter Harrison.
  2. Rhode Island’s capital building has the fourth-largest self-supported marble dome in the world. Ours is gold coated and supports a statue of “The Independent Man.”
  3. Rhode Island shores are publically owned.
  4. Green Animals Topiary Gardens isn’t just one of the unique attractions in the state; it’s also one of the oldest. The Newport mansion, where you can find the gardens, has been known for its topiaries since the early 1900s.
  5. The University of Rhode Island is home to the world’s largest collection of sewing patterns.
  6.  First Baptist Church in America is the country’s oldest Baptist church congregation in Providence, Rhode Island. It was founded by Roger Williams in 1636.
  7. There are some beaches in Rhode Island that are designated as “state parks”. The reason is to protect them from overcrowding, pollution, and overdevelopment.  There are over 14 state parks in Rhode Island. Out of these, the ones with a shoreline include Beavertail State Park, Brenton Point State Park, Pulaski State Park (with a freshwater beach), and many more.
  8. Despite being known as the “Ocean State”, around 60% of Rhode Island is covered in forests.
  9. The oldest Catholic Church in Rhode Island, St Mary’s, was built in 1878 in East Providence. William Burges designed it in Gothic style for the Marquees of Ripon.
  10. In the 1800s, Rhode Island became America’s first industrialized state. It built steam engines, textiles, and jewelry, to name a few. 
  11. There is a fictional town on The Family Guy named Quahog.
  12. In Rhode Island, you cannot race a horse down a highway.
  13. Pelham Street in Newport was the first gas-lit street in America.
  14. The first golf open was held in 1895 in Rhode Island.
  15.  Jerimoth Hill is just a small, natural elevation in Foster, Rhode Island. Measuring 812 feet high, it’s not as impressively tall as other high points in the country. 
  16. Around 370,000 acres of land in Rhode Island are forested. Of that, 125,000 acres of land is protected from future development. 
  17. Black bears disappeared from Rhode Island around 1800, but they have made a comeback in recent years.
  18. Behind only St. Peter’s Basilica, the Minnesota state capital, and the Taj Mahal, the state has the fourth-largest unsupported marble dome in the world.
  19. With more than 1,000 manufacturers, Rhode Island is a leading jewelry producer. Rhode Island was once known as the Jewelry Capital of the World.
  20. Many industry magnets from the early 20th century, such as the Asters and Vanderbilts,  had “summer cottages” in Newport, Rhode Island. These huge mansions can still be toured or seen from a walk along the Cliff Walk.
white horizontal rectangle with purple border with text facts about rhode island at top middle with fact listed underneath with mansion graphic in bottom right hand corner
  1. Cumberland is the only place on earth where cumberlandite has been found. It’s high in iron and titanium and very magnetic, often mistaken for debris from a meteor.
  2. The National Lawn Tennis Championship was held in Newport, Rhode Island, making it the first Tennis Open held outside of Europe.
  3. There is a giant 58-foot man-made subterranean termite known as the Big Blue Bug in Providence along the I-95. It stands nine feet tall and weighs over 4000 pounds.
  4. As of 2023, Rhode Island has a density of 1,100 people per square mile, whereas New Jersey has 1,300 people per square mile. 
  5. Rhode Island’s state flag features a gold anchor and 13 stars on a white background. They represent the state’s role as the 13th state to ratify the Constitution and for being one of the original 13  colonies. A blue ribbon is featured below the anchor with the state motto written in gold letters.
  6. The East Bay Bike Path is the first multi-town bike path that was built in Rhode Island. The construction of the Bikeway was completed in four phases between 1987 and 1992.
  7. Frederick Grinnell developed one of the first modern sprinkler systems in Providence. It helped to revolutionize the way it suppressed and extinguished the flames.
  8. Providence has the most number of donut shops per person in the U.S. 
  9. Rhode Islanders are great at growing pumpkins, setting and resetting the world record for the largest pumpkin several times in the last decade. Though Ron Wallace’s 2,009-pound pumpkin was topped by some Californians this year, there’s no doubt Rhode Island will soon be back on top.
  10. Rhode Island has at least 21 active lighthouses along its coast. They can be found from as far south as the tip of Block Island and all the way to Providence Harbor.
  11. In the late 1800s, voting began for the Rhode Island state tree. The red maple was eventually chosen to represent the state due to its abundance in Rhode Island’s forests.
  12. Rhode Island shares a water border with New York.
  13. There are no national parks in Rhode Island, but the state has 22 state-managed parks, most of which are along the coast. The largest is Burlingame State Park on Watchaug Pond, while the most visited is Goddard Memorial State Park, once the estate of Civil War officer Robert Goddard.
  14. Founded in 1922, WJAR was the state’s first radio station.
  15.  In Newport, it’s illegal to smoke a pipe after sunset.

Do you have even more interesting facts about Rhode Island? Share them with us in the comments!

vertical rectangle with purole line at top with white text that reads your kids are going to love these facts underneath is an image of a rhode island harbor at the center underneath that is the text 95 interesting facts about rhode island and a purple line with white text that reads www dot frosting and glue dot com at the bottom

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: