Although it's a bit out of the way, food lovers will adore the Culinary Arts Museum at Johnson & Wales. This well-known cooking school (which trained Emeril Lagasse among others) also offers recreational classes at its Harborside Campus.
Rum was once a huge business in Rhode Island, particularly Newport, but by the end of the 19th century it had entirely faded away. In 2008, the company behind Newport Storm beer, a local craft brewery, launched Thomas Tew Rum, a small batch, hand crafted rum that is almost too good to pour into a mixed drink. The distillery is open for tours and offers an educational and entertaining tasting.
Providence is a college town, and a prestigious one at that, with the presence of both Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Add to the mix Johnson & Wales' noted culinary program, and you have educated palates paired with culinary creativity. In other words, its fertile territory for great restaurants, and Providence has a number of them. A long-time favorite with a well-deserved local and national reputation is Al Forno, 577 South Main Street, while newcomers are entering the scene all the time, ranging from upscale American comfort food, like Nick's on Broadway, 500 Broadway, to new twists on regional favorites, like Bacaro, 262 South Water Street. Find more restaurants to add to your itinerary here.
In Newport? Check out the restaurants at boutique hotel Forty 1 North.
The diner was invented in Providence in 1872, when an entrepreneur named Walter Scott decided to serve food from a horse-drawn freight wagon. The genius part of the first diner was its mobility -- Scott could move it to where the people were, and the emphasis was always on simple, hearty, and fast food. To get a taste of history, head to The Modern Diner at 13 Dexter Street, in Pawtucket. Alas, the state's traditional jonnycakes (or corn cakes) aren't a menu standard, but you can order them at Jigger's, 145 Main Street in Greenwich.
How, exactly, Rhode Island became a state obsessed with the flavor of coffee is unclear, but one thing that is: it had nothing to do with the advent of Starbucks. While you might order chocolate milk, or even strawberry milk at restaurants in other states, you'd likely get a puzzled look if you tried to ask for "coffee milk", a popular and standard drink here. Here you'll find coffee milkshakes -- although they go by a special name -- which you can wash down with an iced coffee, common even in the dead of the winter.