1. Behold a Giant Sequoia Tree
Where? Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum at 101 Ferry Road in Bristol, Rhode Island. 401-253-2707
When you think, "Giant Sequoia," you probably think: "California." True: Sequoiadendron giganteum, the world's most massive tree, only grows naturally in California's Sierra Nevada mountain range. In 1911, however, John DeWolf, superintendent of New York City's Prospect Park, shipped a 12-foot-tall Giant Sequoia he'd been cultivating in a greenhouse up to Providence, Rhode Island, by train. From there, it journeyed to its new home at Blithewold, the coastal estate of William and Bessie McKee. As the estate's landscape architect, DeWolf had already begun transforming the property into an arboretum showcasing diverse tree species. He was careful to create an ideal environment for this addition, and the giant redwood is now more than a century old, and, at nearly 100 feet, it's the tallest Giant Sequoia east of the Rockies.
There are a dozen other Sequoias at Blithewold, too: All but one are descendants of this towering tree, planted from cuttings or seeds. The grounds at Blithewold are open daily year-round from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Mansion tours are offered mid-April through Columbus Day, Tuesday through Sunday.