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Rhode Island Best Attractions 2012

International Yacht Restoration School, Newport
Watch students restore and build classic wooden boats at this harbor campus, which includes a stone wharf and floating docks where you can check out visiting vessels. Or BYOB: build your own dory, canoe, or kayak during a weeklong class. 449 Thames St. 401-848-5777;

Hope Artist Village, Pawtucket
Rhode Island has more artists per capita than any other state, and a number of them can be found at this 600,000-square-foot converted candy factory, which combines businesses and residences of creative folk in every genre, from jewelers to woodworkers. 1005 Main St. 401-312-3850;

Green Animals Topiary Gardens, Portsmouth
Bonsai shrubs are green with envy over the 80 trees and bushes sculpted into geometric forms and animal shapes, from a giraffe to a teddy bear. The oldest topiary property in the U.S. also has vegetable and herb gardens, orchards, and a Victorian house overlooking Narragansett Bay. 380 Cory’s Lane. 401-683-1267;

RISD Works, Providence
Who knew that a potato masher could be a work of art? This retail store, gallery, and design showroom all in one features an annually curated collection, as well as exhibitions of works and designs by RISD faculty and alums. Now you have no excuse for failure when shopping for the person who has everything. 20 North Main St. 401-277-4949;

Sue Casa, Bristol
If you can’t jet to the Caribbean, get your fix here. Artwork includes gyotaku fish prints by the owner, along with tropical jolts of color, nautical designs, and eclectic wares from Trina Turk and John Robshaw. 39 State St. 401-396-9904

North Light Fibers, Block Island
North Light offers raw fleece to finished yarns at a barn in the middle of Manisses Animal Farm, while kids can see a Scottish Highland bull, sheep, llamas, and alpacas. Mill tours and needle felting classes are offered, while non-knitters can choose from shawls and blankets made by the owners. 129 Spring St. 401-466-2050;

Classic Cruises of Newport, Newport
Take a harbor or sunset cocktail cruise of Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay aboard the 72-foot schooner Madeleine or the Rum Runner II, a motor yacht once used by smugglers during Prohibition. 24 Bannister’s Wharf. 401-847-0298;

Savoring Rhode Island, Providence
Learn when and what to serve with Genoa salami, capicola, and a Calabrian cheese called Crotonese. Cindy Salvato, a cookbook author and pastry chef who has taught at Johnson & Wales University, leads this culinary tour behind the scenes of Federal Hill restaurants and gourmet shops. Call for a reservation. 401-934-2149;

Rough Point, Newport
Take an hour-long guided tour of Doris Duke’s seaside estate, with grounds designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. Peek inside her bedroom and check out the special exhibitions; then explore the museum-worthy artwork and gorgeous collections of French antiques, European art, Chinese porcelains, and Turkish carpets. 680 Bellevue Ave. 401-847-8344;

Edna Lawrence Nature Lab, Providence
This former nature-drawing classroom at the Rhode Island School of Design is now open to the public, with a curator’s permission (call for someone to unlock the door). Even philistines will appreciate the 80,000 specimens, including live birds, bones, plants, and pelts. There’s also an archive of slides, x-rays, and specialized microscopes. 13 Waterman St. 401-454-6451;

Isoude, Newport
This designer has earned accolades from Vogue magazine for her eco-friendly couture cocktail and wedding dresses. She hand-dyes silk fabrics and has even painted wine spills on a $10,000 gown. It doesn’t cost anything to window-shop. 142 Bellevue Ave. 401-619-5775;

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

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