Known for: historic charm, shopping, dining, art
Good for: families, couples, gourmands, window shoppers
With its concentration of unique stores and beautiful scenery, Wickford is a natural gathering place for locals and visitors alike. The village (in larger North Kingstown) is clustered at the confluence of Brown and Main Streets and Wickford Harbor, making for a setting that’s easily walkable in 10 minutes, but where you could spend hours strolling, shopping and eating. Prolific author John Updike was so taken with Wickford that he based his novel The Witches of Eastwick on the town.
Set on the dock of Wickford Harbor, Beach Rose Café serves up locally sourced breakfast and lunch fare. Take a Smoked Gouda Panini or a Fried Clam Roll and some chowder outside to a picnic table and watch the sailboats float by. 85 Brown St. 401-295-2800.
Upscale Al Fresco
Tavern by the Sea’s Mediterranean and American cuisine are worth trying at any time of year, but taste that much better on their waterfront deck. Don’t miss the Olympus: shrimp sautéed in a white wine, tomato, garlic and feta sauce. In the summer months, Tavern serves both lunch and dinner until late. 16 W. Main St. 401-294-5771.
Get Some Culture
One of the oldest homes in the state, Smith’s Castle houses 400 years of New England history. Costumed interpreters give tours of the place, along with regular events like their Strawberry Festival (June 15) and live cannon demonstrations. 55 Richard Smith Dr. 401-294-3521.
Now in its 51st year, the Wickford Art Festival brings artists from all over New England together to sell their paintings, ceramics, photography, sculpture and more. Plan to spend at least the afternoon – the huge event is worth savoring.
Never heard of Gilbert Stuart? Check your wallet. Stuart painted the portrait of George Washington that’s on the $1 bill. The Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum (in Saunderstown, another nearby village in North Kingstown) is a time capsule of Rhode Island in 1750. 815 Gilbert Stuart Rd, Saunderstown. 401-294-3001.
Stroll and Shop
For Your Kitchen
Narragansett Bay Olive Oil Company allows you to taste your way through gourmet olive oils and vinegars, including an irresistible selection of fruit-infused balsamics and oils from all over the world. 4 Brown St. 401-295-2500.
Outfit your kitchen, pantry and table at Wickford Gourmet, which sells cookware, servingware and kitchen gadgets from high-end companies at amazing discounts. 21 West Main St. 401-295-8190.
Indulge at Beauty and the Bath, which carries an impressive selection of products for your face and body, including Thymes of London body lotions, Wish shaving products and Jack Black’s men’s line. 11 W. Main St. 401-294-3576.
Style is always worth talking about, especially at Gossip, a chic boutique that carries flirty summer dresses, hard-to-find designer jeans and artful, affordable jewelry. 16 Main St. 401-294-7333.
For Your Home
Blue Hydrangea is the kind of place that defies description, but that you can’t leave empty handed. The shop sells candles, gifts and home décor items that add the perfect finishing touches to a room. 2 Main St. 401-295-2583.
Bring your best friend back home a surprise from your South County trip: Shaggy Chic Pet Boutique specializes in accessories and gourmet treats for your favorite member of the family. 3 Main St. 401-667-7273.