Known for: historic charm, shopping, dining, art
Good for: families, couples, kids, boaters, aesthetes
This quaint, historic village within North Kingstown is nestled on one of the best protected harbors on the entire East Coast. Wickford boasts one of the biggest and best collections of 18th century homes in the Northeast. Its picturesque charm and scenic harbor give it that classic small town feel, but the thriving arts community and eclectic shopping are anything but antique. It’s the perfect place to spend a day strolling the main thoroughfares, exploring the harbor, and wandering down old side streets.
The town is steeped in history. Famous presidential portrait artist Gilbert Stuart, who is responsible for the image of George Washington that appears on the dollar bill, was born in a small snuff-mill on the outskirts of Wickford, just south in Saunderstown (also a part of North Kingstown). The village was also the inspiration for the fictional village of Eastwick in John Updike’s novel The Witches of Eastwick. The Old Narragansett Church at 60 Church Lane is the oldest Episcopal church building in the Northeast. Smith’s Castle, a heavily fortified 1678 house, is said to be the first English home in the area, and one of the oldest in the state.
In more modern developments, Wickford’s Main Street was named one of America’s ten best in the book Remembering Main Street: An American Album, an illustrated social history of Main Streets throughout America by author Pat Ross. There are over 50 owner-operated businesses in Wickford, and many of them can found right on Main Street. The town center is also alive with events all year round, including Daffodil Days in April, the Garden Tour in July, the Festival of Lights in December, and perhaps the best known, the Wickford Art Festival in July.
Down by the harbor, the waterfront is dotted with great outdoor dining spots, and is known for being pet friendly. With the recent addition of a MBTA station, Wickford is now train accessible.