2. Hot wiener
It sounds like a sex euphemism, but it’s actually the state’s heart-stopping take on the hot dog. The formula: a thin veal-and-pork dog topped with celery salt, yellow mustard, onions, and taco-like meat sauce. Just to make it more confusing, it’s sometimes called the New York System wiener, a name employed as a marketing strategy a century ago when Rhode Island was but a gleam in most diners’ eyes. Regardless, the thing is ridiculous and ridiculously delicious.
The Ocean State -- unsurprisingly -- boasts resplendent beaches, but RI swim culture is surpassed by its boat culture. Newport turns into a mainland Nantucket in the summer, where boat shoes, Izod, and yachts abound. Block Island, the unassuming archipelago just 13 miles offshore, is its own boating enclave; little surprise that the island’s best bar is called The Oar. And the tiny, but super-charming town of Bristol actually houses the America’s Cup Hall of Fame.
4. Weekend retreats
For such a tiny state, Rhode Island boasts a damn-high percentage of highbrow sanctuaries. For starters, there are three Relais & Châteaux stunners: Castle Hill Inn and Resort, Ocean House, and Weekapaug Inn are all equally alluring for their water views and culinary aspirations. Newport is basically boutique hotel central; Providence landed on NYCers’ radars when the hipster enclave Dean Hotel opened its doors, and Bristol gives you Point Pleasant Inn, a massive waterfront mansion turned B&B.