The hosts of “The Rhode Show” asked me on air about my favorite restaurants and my impression of Rhode Island in general. We were chatting about their annual search for a third co-host and what qualifications might be needed. According to the hosts a knowledge of the state, including its food scene, is a plus. They suggested to those who might be seeking the position to go out and “have a Rhode Island experience.”
There are three Rhode Islanders who have created a virtual industry doing just that. Experience Rhode Island is ostensibly a transportation service to bring foodies as well as visitors in general to some of the key attractions around our state. But it is also a guided tour of some of the things that make Rhode Island the unique place we all love.
Ted, Jonathan and Timothy Stricklin are three brothers who grew up in Rhode Island. Their family often entertained out-of-town guests, who they treated to tours of their favorite attractions around the state. The Stricklins brought their visitors everywhere, from Federal Hill to the Newport mansions.
The guests looked forward to their Rhode Island excursions. Soon the brothers found themselves in demand to give their tours to other people’s guests, as well as some lifelong Rhode Islanders. All found their memorable day or evening an experience they long remembered and recommended to others.
Finally, the family decided to make Experience Rhode Island their full-time job. They created several unique itineraries and their gleaming, white tour bus is a familiar sight from the cities to the beaches.
The business seems to have overcome some of the pitfalls that hampered previous tour operators who have attempted to overlay a public or semi-public transportation system over the city’s already crowded streets and traffic patterns. Since downtown Providence has still not yet transformed into a vibrant residential community, the potential passenger base must come from the suburbs. This means locating shuttle pickup points out of town or near highway exits at the city limits. Either has the potential to make the service cost prohibitive when added into the evening’s tab for dinner, drinks, theater tickets and the like.