Despite its latter-day glory as a summer playground for the wealthy during the 19th century, these days Newport  finds itself relatively democratic. Sure, it’s still scattered with seaside mansions once owned by eminent families bearing names like Duke and Astor, and certainly it still draws plenty of the modern-day equivalent: celebrities, CEOs, and astoundingly preppy families (many of whom purchase summer property to be near the thriving yacht culture).
But it also welcomes a salad of others: artists (who build their galleries along the cobblestoned Thames—pronounce the “th” and so it rhymes with James—Street); college students (who tend to share summer homes by the group outside of downtown); mansion gawkers; and bona fide sailors (who come for the big boat shows and top-notch sailing resources).
The bustling yacht-filled harbor contrasts sharply with the rest of the area around Narragansett Bay, which takes a bite out of the eastern shore of the state. East of the bay, the small farming communities might seem more at home in the Midwest, if it weren’t for the frequent glimpses of the sea shining between their stone walls and grey-shingled barns.
The long south coast of Rhode Island , meanwhile, may be the best-kept summertime secret in New England. Home to many old resorts and summer “cottages” in the late 1900s, the area fell out of favor as the crowds moved to Newport  and Cape Cod . As a result, the thirty miles of seacoast are filled with deserted beaches, quaint little towns, and conservation areas that define “getting away from it all.”
That goes double for the little pork chop of an island known as Block Island , a dozen miles off Rhode Island’s south coast. For years one of the last undiscovered quiet places on the New England coast, the island has recently been targeted by the summer tides of tourists. At least thus far, however, they haven’t broken the isle’s spirit of laid-back relaxation and pristine wilderness that make it one of the best summertime destinations anywhere.