Rhode Island is the smallest of the US states, once reserved as the resort for the rich. Today it is a favourite east coast getaway, particularly for Bostonians and New Yorkers, and is only 71 miles (114km) and 167 miles (269km) respectively from those major cities.

Extravagant 19th-century mansions of America's wealthy families grace Newport, Rhode Island's southern city on the Atlantic Ocean. They now exist as relics of a golden age that serve as tourist attractions marvelled at by visitors.

It is easy to understand why the state became a popular pilgrimage for the idle rich in days gone by. There are more than 100 beaches on Rhode Island, boasting miles of packed shoreline jutting into the Atlantic Ocean and Narragansett Bay.

Woodland covers much of the state, with the lands carefully preserved in carefully managed parks. The state capital of Providence lies at the northern point of narrow Narragansett Bay, about 30 miles (48km) from the open ocean.

Interesting histories stem from the colonial periods of both Providence and southerly Newport, worth investing through various local attractions. The small island resort of Block is an unspoilt and well-preserved paradise, about an hour ferry's ride from the town of Point Judith.

Rhode Island is not strictly an island. Instead, it's a portion of coastline cleaved in two and bisected by Narragansett Bay. The name is a legacy of the early Puritan settlers who thought their new homeland resembled the island of Rhodes in the Aegean.

Newport prospered as an important port in the colonial era, with ships trading in slaves, molasses, and rum. After the Civil War, the trading post began to turn into a resort as new millionaires discovered the beautiful beaches and gentle climate around the city.