11. Who hasn’t enjoyed a great party (like our Taste of Narragansett) at The Towers? But they’re more than just a beautiful function space. They’re a beloved landmark and community icon – one that has graced our cover more than once, and in more than one form. How could we not give some love to the place that inspired our sandcastle sensation on Narragansett Town Beach this spring?
12. New England’s only private aquarium is right here in North Kingstown, and Ruby the Octopus is waiting for you there. Biomes has been educating kids since the 1980s – and hosting more than its share of shark-petting birthday parties. The marine education center is moving to a bigger, brand new facility in October.
13. Some universities exist apart from their communities. Not the University of Rhode Island. From all of the events at the Ryan Center to the field trip friendly greenhouses to the abundance of quality student plays and concerts worth attending, URI is as much a part of daily life in southern Rhode Island as your morning coffee.
14. It’s true: when something is out of sight, it really is out of mind. That’s why, unless you drive to it for a specific reason, it’s so easy to forget what remarkable work happens at the Port of Davisville at Quonset Point
. One of the East Coast’s major shipping ports (and the fifth largest port for automobile shipping in North America), Quonset brings in over $30 million in revenue to the state every year, and employs one in six Rhode Islanders. That’s definitely worth appreciating.
15. For too long now, The Odeum
in East Greenwich has sat unused and unloved. Not anymore. The theatre – which opened in 1926 as the Greenwich Theater, a vaudeville house – has been shuttered for five years because of needed fire code updates in the wake of the Station Fire. However, the Odeum Corportation, with a major grant from the Champlin Foundation, is about to relight those stage lights this fall.
16. It might look like a castle, but that giant brick building is actually the Westerly Armory
, built in 1902 to replace the previously destroyed armory (that once served a real military purpose). Now, the Armory is a cultural center, home to a military museum and the Westerly Band, the oldest civic band in the country. Under the passionate preservation of Roberta Mudge Humble, the space is a testament to how a dedicated community can enliven and keep relevant its historic places.
17. It takes a rare breed to dedicate yourself to preservation, but the rewards are innumerable, as evidenced by the good work of the Westerly Land Trust
. What started in 1987 as a good idea and not much else has become an example for other communities in what can be accomplished by a handful of people passionate about their town. The Land Trust has preserved hundreds of acres in Westerly, Watch Hill and Pawcatuck through its Pawcatuck River Initiative, offers guided trail hikes and summer paddles, tends a community garden, and helped create the new winter skating rink in downtown Westerly.
18. Casey Farm
, a working farm for the past 200 years, gives new meaning to the term “living history.” Though the land was purchased in 1702, the house that still stands on the property today was built in 1750. Now, the historic landmark (which is part museum, too) houses animals and an organic and heirloom farm that participates in the Saunderstown Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program, and also hosts a weekly seasonal farmer’s market.
19. There’s doing things the old fashioned way, and then there’s doing things the really old fashioned way. Kenyon’s Grist Mill
in Usquepaugh has been grinding white corn into johnny cake meal a since 1696, and they still use granite millstones quarried from Westerly. Kenyon’s celebrates its Colonial ties in October at the Johnny Cake Festival, which brings in art vendors, kids activities, live music, a chance to get up close and personal with the farm’s alpacas, sheep and goats – and, of course, more johnny cakes than one person should ever reasonably eat.
20. Sure, it’s nice to spend a ski weekend away in New Hampshire or Vermont. But if you need an immediate fix as soon as the snow falls, Yawgoo Valley
is the answer. In the colder months, skiing and snow tubing are the order of the day. In the summer, two pools, waterslides and lawn games are enough to make you forget all about winter sports.
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