America’s smallest states might not have a lot of territory to work with, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t jam-packed with exciting sights and experiences to discover. As an added bonus, you’ll have more time to visit even more curious destinations than you would criss-crossing some of the nation’s more massive states.
It is also convenient that America’s smallest states are all located in relatively close proximity to each other, filling in the nooks and crannies of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Did someone say road trip?
Hit the road and check out these five unique discoveries in each of the smallest states.
Rhode Island: The Providence Athenaeum
At just over 1,200 square miles, Rhode Island is the smallest state in the United States, but don’t let its size fool you. Little Rhody, as the locals affectionately call it, is big on things to do. From devouring some of the freshest seafood you’ve ever tasted to exploring its multitude of prestigious museums, including the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the Ocean State offers something for everybody.
One place you don’t want to miss is the Providence Athenaeum. Founded in 1836, this historic library was frequented by early horror writer H.P. Lovecraft and poet Edgar Allan Poe (you can even see his original library record). Peruse its unrivaled rare book collection and you can find an 1855 copy of Leaves of Grass with handwritten notes by Walt Whitman.
Delaware: Rothschild Patent Model Collection
Famously ridiculed in “Wayne’s World” for having nothing to do, Delaware is actually an overlooked gem with sandy beaches, NASCAR races, and a ton of colonial historic sites.
Of course, you can find all of those things elsewhere. But Delaware offers one thing you can’t find anywhere else: the world’s largest collection of patent models. Up until 1880, inventors had to include physical models along with their patent applications, resulting in some 200,000 models being created.
At the Hagley Museum and Library in Wilmington, you can see an array of pieces from Alan and Ann Rothschild’s collection of 5,000 patent models. Explore this one-of-kind collection of contraptions to discover creations such as George Stillman’s original Roller-Skate, and early versions of washing machines, animal traps, dust pans, and reclining chairs. Can’t make it to The First State? Luckily you can browse a huge chunk of the fascinating collection online.
Connecticut: Traveler Restaurant
Before you leave Connecticut, make sure you stop at the Traveler Restaurant in Union to get a delicious meal and a free book or two. That’s right, diners at the Traveler Restaurant are invited to select a book of their choice from the restaurant’s ever growing library of donated tomes.
The food isn’t bad either. With four stars on Yelp, the Traveler Restaurant menu features classic diner starters like sweet potato fries and onion rings as well as heaps of fresh battered seafood. You can also choose from a wide selection of burgers, sandwiches, pastas, and steaks.
After you get your fill of books and grub, discover some of the Nutmeg State’s other unique destinations like Zaffis Museum of the Paranormal in Stratford or the ruins of abandoned religious theme park Holy Land USA in Waterbury. And if you visit the state capital, Hartford, don’t miss John Steward’s Museum of Natural and Other Curiosities located in the Old State House building.
New Jersey: Batsto Village
Think ghost towns are only found out west? Take a short drive from the glitz and grime of Atlantic City to discover a village lost in time. Batsto was founded in 1687 and developed throughout the 18th and 19th centuries as an iron-working community. Batsto was an important part of securing America’s independence, supplying the Continental Army with iron ore.
Over time, the industry waned, and the last resident moved out in 1989. Now the village is open to the public, and visitors can wander about and observe more than 40 intact historical structures.
New Hampshire: Madison Boulder
New Hampshire rocks. Yes, we mean that literally. Take one look at the Madison Boulder in Madison and you are sure to agree.
The Madison Boulder is exactly what it sounds like, but you have to see it to believe it. The boulder measures 23 feet tall, 83 feet long and 37 feet wide. The giant boulder weighs 5,000 tons. It is the largest known “glacial erratic” in North America, meaning the boulder landed in its current position after being carried a far distance by melting glacial ice.
No trip to the Granite State is complete without a selfie in front of this monstrosity. When you’re done with your snaps, grab a maple sundae and head to Laconia to play games at the world’s largest collection of vintage arcade machines.