We love exploring America’s back roads and small towns and finding overlooked gems that the tourist brochures never cover. In a series of weekly blog posts we will be sharing some of America’s lesser-known small town museums, historic sites, and oddball attractions, on a state-by-state basis. We don’t have room to cover each and every attraction in every state, but hope to give you some ideas for places to see in your travels.
Adamsville: A monument to a chicken? The Rhode Island Red Monument here pays homage to the world famous breed of poultry.
Bristol: The Herreshoff Marine Museum honors the sport of sailing. Visitors can view the museum’s collection of 60 original Herreshoff boats, steam engines, marine artifacts and photographs depicting America’s greatest boat designer and builder during the Golden Age of Yachting. The museum also houses the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, honoring the people most important to the 150 year record of competition for the oldest and most distinguished of all international sporting trophies.
Bristol: The living history of Coggeshall Farm Museum depicts life on a 1790’s salt marsh farm. Visitors can see animals similar to those found on a 1790s salt marsh farm. Sheep and chickens roam the grounds, cattle graze in the fields, and huge oxen handle the heavy work. There is an heirloom garden and a variety of outbuildings including a blacksmith shop.
Coventry: Built in 1770, the Nathanael Greene Homestead contains artifacts and memorabilia related to the life and career of the Revolutionary War hero.
Cranston: The Ukulele Hall of Fame Museum preserves and promotes the history of the ukulele, its players, and makers.
Cumberland: The oldest known monument to war veterans in the United States, the Nine Men’s Misery Monument was erected in memory of the colonists killed during King Phillips War in 1676.
Newport: The award-winning Museum of Newport History gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the people who have made Newport one of America’s most historic cities. The museum collection contains over 10,000 objects; more than 500 paintings, prints, and maps; and more than 200,000 photographs, along with a research library of 12,000 volumes.
Newport: At the International Yacht Restoration School you can learn all about restoring classic wooden boats and see the school’s collection of vintage vessels.
Newport: The National Museum of American Illustration displays artworks from the ‘Golden Age” of American illustration. The original drawings and paintings in the museum’s collection were specifically created for reproduction in books, advertisements, art prints, and periodicals.
Newport: The International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum honors tennis greats, and displays exhibits on the evolution of the sport.
Newport: Situated at the mouth of the Newport Harbor, Fort Adams State Park offers an exceptional panoramic view of both Newport Harbor and the East Passage of Narragansett Bay. After serving the United States Army for over a century and the Navy for over ten years, the fort was deeded to the state in 1965.
Newport: The Museum of Yachting is dedicated to preserving the culture of yachting by fostering education and enjoyment of its history through the presentation of vessels, artifacts, literature, events, and regattas.
North Kingstown: Quonset Air Museum is housed in an original Naval Air Station Quonset Point (NASQP) hanger built in 1945. The museum has a large collection of aircraft, aircraft parts, and other historical artifacts. 28 aircraft are displayed, including civilian, military, and prototype aircraft dating from 1944 to 1983.
Pawtucket: Picturesque Slater Mill Historic Site, housed in a textile mill complex established in 1793, has a large collection of vintage textile machinery, and visitors can watch demonstrations of their use.
Providence: Roger Williams National Memorial commemorates the life of the founder of Rhode Island and a champion of the ideal of religious freedom. Williams, banished from Massachusetts for his beliefs, founded Providence in 1636. His colony served as a refuge where all could come to worship as their conscience dictated without interference from the state. The Visitor Center features an exhibit and short film on Williams and the memorial’s grounds include a number of wayside exhibits
Providence: The Culinary Archives and Museum at Johnson & Wales University is the premier museum devoted to the preservation of the history of the culinary and hospitality industries, with a collection of over half a million items.
Providence: The world’s largest bug, a big blue 58 foot long termite, can be seen on the roof of the New England Pest Control building.
Sauderstown: The Gilbert Stuart Birthplace is a showplace for reproductions of the works of one of America’s foremost portrait painters, an authentically restored and furnished workingman’s home, and the site of the first snuff mill in America. The lovely wooded homestead on the banks of the Mattatuxet Brook also features a partially restored grist mill and a fascinating fish ladder. In spring the ladder is packed with migrating herring, swimming furiously to reach the pond above the mill dam. The grist mill houses the original fine-grained granite stones used to grind corn for the famous Rhode Island Johnny Cakes.
South Kingston: Built by Samuel E. Perry in 1703, the water powered Carpenter’s Grist Mill is still in operation, grinding Rhode Island Whitecap flint corn into white cornmeal for Johnny Cakes, corn bread, and other recipes.
Tiverton: The Newport Butterfly Farm is the premier butterfly breeding facility in Rhode Island. Here visitors can see as many as 1,000 butterflies in flight at one time. The butterflies are bred and raised for release at weddings, and dried for mounted specimens.
Westerly: The Flying Horse Carousel, the nation’s oldest carousel, is located in this resort town.
Woonsocket: Housed in a former textile mill, the Museum of Work and Culture tells the story of French Canadian immigrants who left Quebec to come to work in the mills and factories of Woonsocket.
Thought For The Day – Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. – Will Rogers