Take Me With You: Carolyn Rafaelian, Founder of Alex and Ani’s Guide to Rhode Island

We’ve long loved the sea-breezey beauty of Alex and Ani’s accessories, and now we get the inspiration behind the brand, Carolyn Rafaelian, guide to picturesque newport, Rhode Island.


What does Rhode Island mean to you?
Rhode Island is pure inspiration. Each time I travel out of the state, I have the same sense of ease and comfort when coming home. You feel that whether you have lived here your whole life or have just moved here. It offers an incredible balance between the energy of city life and the calm and peacefulness of rural living. We are able to experience four captivating seasons, each having its own tradition that Rhode Islanders take part in faithfully each year. Summers are full of beach days and enjoying the outdoors. Fall with its amazing foliage, Christmastime is right out of a storybook, and spring is full of bursting colour. We have such a strong sense of community and are surrounded by it. It is a gentle reminder of how lucky we are to live in a state abundant with history, beauty and pride.

How long have you called Rhode Island home?
I was proudly born and raised in Rhode Island and have lived here most of my life.

If you could sum up Rhode Island in one word, what would it be?

What are some hidden gems in Rhode Island?
Nothing is hidden to Rhode Islanders as we are so in tune with the beauty of our state. When it comes to rich history, I immediately think of Bellevue Avenue in Newport. Our historical society keeps this street beautiful and preserved. Our beaches are second to none and the views never disappoint. The west side of Providence for its great restaurants and Roger Williams Park and Zoo for its picturesque grounds. Sakonnet Vineyard in Little Compton for its wine and scenery. At the vineyard, you are literally surrounded by life and growth. Every inch of that land speaks to you and inspires you. When the opportunity arose to own this piece of Rhode Island, I was grateful to have the chance to continue preserving its beauty for locals and visitors. I find myself there every weekend to reset for the week ahead.

Where are your favourite places to relax in Rhode Island?
I love going to Castle Hill in Newport. It’s a historic Victorian mansion set on 40 acres of waterfront land and the views are absolutely gorgeous. It’s the perfect place to slow down. I also love the beautiful Ocean House in Watch Hill and Bowen’s Wharf in Newport for its many places to eat and relax.

Top Instagram-worthy locations?
Providence Waterfire is definitely something to capture. The city is already filled with so much art, music and great food, so it is a perfect addition. When a Waterfire takes place on the river, people travel from all over to visit and experience. Another great location is The Cliff Walk in Newport. Every picture you take is awe-inspiring.

Top cafes or spots to sit and read/people watch?
A favourite is Federal Hill in Providence. You will quickly feel a part of the energetic spirit of the city by sitting in the Plaza with friends while listening to live music in the summer. I love visiting Trattoria Longo in Westerly and local spots in Wickford or sitting oceanside on Thames Street in Newport. A favourite is Sakonnet Vineyard for the Sunday Jazz Series – it’s filled with great people who love music. Another great spot is the Coffee Exchange in Providence, where you’ll see everyone and everything!

Top three places that inspire you in Rhode Island?
1. Watch Hill in Westerly: It is located at one of the most southwestern points in the state and saying the views are breathtaking is an understatement.

2. Bellevue Avenue in Newport: This one street holds so much antiquity. Built hundreds of years ago, these homes are inspired by families, ideas and a way of life that has lasted for generations. It’s an immediate sense of the life force that is rooted in our state, full of rich history.

3. Beavertail in Jamestown: Some of the most beautiful vantage points along our coast can be found here. This is a location that moves you on a different level. I become inspired here. I can look out at the horizon and breathe. I can live in the moment and acknowledge how grateful I am for this life and to live in a place of such beauty.

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