1. There may be other, newer and more sophisticated local brews (we’re looking at you, Newport Storm and Grey Sail) but Naragansett Beer is the oldest and arguably the most beloved. What other beer’s logo is proudly displayed in the middle of a major rotary? The company is encouraging you to “drink your part” to bring the brewing operation back to rhode Island. Plans to build are already in the works.
2. Olympia Tea Room sits on just about the furthest southerly point you can reach in Rhode Island, but it’s worth the trip, if just for the chandeliers and the effusive art. This Watch Hill institution has been around for almost a century (it opened in 1916) and serves a lot more than tea. Think creative cocktails – the Olympia sparkler is a frozen drink made with cava, vodka, fresh lemon and sorbet – and eclectic, gourmet – but not frilly – fare.
3. Allie’s Donuts is an institution in the most positive sense of the word. You aren’t really from South County unless you’ve celebrated at least one birthday with one of their famous donut cakes. (In fact, we celebrated in our office with the one on the cover of this month's issue.) The North Kingstown shop opened in 1968, and produces up to 7,500 donuts a day – but that doesn’t stop them from selling out nearly every weekend.
4. We love our wine. and we love just about everything that’s locally produced (well, except for DJ Pauly D). So it only makes sense that Langworthy Farm Winery would hold a special place in our heart. The Westerly bed and breakfast grows its own grapes, has a seasonal tasting room (and tasting getaway packages) and bottles varietals like Charlestown Cabernet Franc, Misquamicut Merlot and Weekapaug White.
5. Tucked away on Moonstone Beach road in Matunuck is a secret the locals would prefer to keep... if only they could stop raving about the freshly baked loaves of Daddy’s Bread. The bakery, which has been around since 1975 and still operates completely on the honor system, offers any number of its 19 varieties (think Blueberry apple Cinnamon or Watercress Herb) seasonally through October – if you get there early enough in the day, that is.
6. There are lots of chocolatiers worth mentioning in southern rhode Island, but Hauser Chocolates (pictured above) is the only one with an honest to goodness Swiss confectioner at the helm. The Westerly shop, started by Ruedi Hauser and now run by his family, has been producing impeccably smooth truffles with a gourmet sensibility – like Blueberry Port or Black Vinegar – since 1983.
7. Equal parts delicious and extravagant, the Nordic Lodge is a feast for the eyes and the stomach. The all-you-can-eat seafood buffet in Charlestown has been serving up lobsters, raw bar, smoked fish, seafood salads any other ocean dweller fit to eat since 1963. For $85 a person, you’d better come hungry – and people do, by the busload.
8. Rhode Island has its share of iconic foods – stuffies, anyone? – but there’s only one town with the culinary reputation that Westerly has. While the spicy, dry-cured sopressata sausage is made widely in Italy, its variant “soupy” is a uniquely Westerly delicacy. Families will closely guard their own recipes (most are passed down for generations and don’t change over the years) but a handful of companies, like DiPollino’s Supri, sell them to those of us who aren’t in on the tradition.
9. There aren’t many places where you can get a taste of history, but Aunt Carrie’s (pictured below) in Narragansett is one of them. What started with one woman selling clamcakes and chowder on the beach in 1920 is now a fourth generation family business that still uses some of Carrie’s nearly century-old recipes. Try the Rhode Island chowder, Indian Pudding or her iconic pies to learn that some places really do make ‘em like they used to.
10. No trip to the beach is complete without ice cream, and in Bonnet shores that ice cream is Brickley’s, a family-run operation that has been making 45 flavors of the sweet stuff from scratch for 17 years. A second location in Wakefield serves the less sandy crowd; try one of their unique flavors like banana, or the fall favorite: pumpkin.