Tiny Rhode Island has got a lot of nerve. This scrappy state lead the march toward American independence by being the first of the 13 colonies to cut the cord with Britain. Rhode Island declared its independence on May 4, 1776, other states began to follow suit two months later. Rhode Island’s rich history is celebrated in countless sites like the Daggett House in Pawtucket, which is chockfull of Colonial era furnishings and personal effects, while the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor features historic mill villages, canals and historic sites that emphasize the area’s legacy as the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. The beaches of this ocean state boast a variety of attractions. The shores of Narragansett Bay are protected by geological barriers that tame the surf, making its beaches a gentler option for novice swimmers. In Atlantic Beach Park in Misquamicut, amusement rides, bumper boats and batting cages welcome visitors seeking wholesome family fun. The coastal ecosystem of Rhode Island is prime bird watching habitat, and natural parklands with hiking trails abound throughout the state. In 2011, the Rhode Island Hospital in Providence was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons.