One of the most beautiful and underrated areas of New England is the area comprised of four coastal towns, Tiverton and Little Compton RI, Westport and Dartmouth MA. It’s pretty, pastoral and quiet, but chock full of things to do ….if you happen to like food, wine and art. A real tough sell, right? Every year I swear I’m going to make it to SouthCoast Open Studios Tour, and this year I finally did. The local artists open their studios to the public twice a year, and a map is provided to drive between them all. After spending the day at the beach, I hit four or five of them. But first, lunch. A local favorite is The Bayside. You’ll never catch me sitting inside for a meal in summer, but that often means compromising on the quality of the food. Not at The Bayside! I had a salmon burger with avocado and tamari aioli, washed down with a local brew (Grey Lady from Cisco Brewers on Nantucket). I could have stayed here all day.
A hub of activity in this area is the historic district of Tiverton Four Corners….lots of cute shops, a couple of options for eating, and lots of art and antiques. The vibe here – and throughout the SouthCoast region – is understated and casual, but with a certain elegance about it.
Act like a local – buy a used book at the library’s used book sale:
Farming is a big deal here, Westport even bills itself as a “Right To Farm Community”. It’s written right into their bylaws that farms shall be allowed “to function with minimal conflict with abutters and town agencies”. It’s common to see an unattended table at the end of a driveway, with a pile of corn or other produce, and a container to leave your money. One of my favorite stops is Westport Rivers Winery, specializing in sparkling wines. Like many businesses in this region, they’re closed on Sundays so plan accordingly.
The same family owns Buzzards Bay Brewing right around the corner…..don’t miss it. If you’re looking for more to see and do in this region (as well as addresses and a map), see my Jauntful guide.
A discovery I made recently is the website Jauntful. It’s an easy way to create your own travel guides and a perfect fit for this blog. I’m hopeful they will soon create a widget for WordPress like the Yelp one to the right of this post. In the meantime, I’ll embed links to individual guides as they relate to what I’m posting about. I will try to put aside my resentment at not having invented this website myself.
A couple of weeks ago I visited the village of Padanaram in Dartmouth MA; I had forgotten how beautiful this corner of Massachusetts is. Recently there’s been a push to expand tourism in the region, complete with snappy nicknames (SouthCoast! FarmCoast!) and some polished social media: Discover Farmcoast and their blog. This might be the perfect daytrip, and there is more than enough to make a long weekend out of it. I would suggest starting in Padanaram (Faunce Corner Road exit off 195, just before New Bedford), if it’s lunchtime try the Black Bass Grille. Head west along the coastal roads to take in Horseneck Beach, and stops at Buzzards Bay Brewing and Westport Rivers Winery. If you can time it right, you won’t regret dinner at The Back Eddy. Fresh, local seafood with a Portuguese slant.
A doorway in Padanaram –
The deck at the Back Eddy –
From The Back Eddy follow Adamsville Road into Rhode Island, and the towns of Little Compton & Tiverton. Tiverton Four Corners is an historic crossroads with a few pretty shops, a couple of art galleries, some of RI’s best ice cream at Gray’s, and a fantastic cheese shop. In between you’ll find rolling fields, stone walls & farm stands.
A place I’m lucky to be able to spend a lot of time in is Sandwich, MA, one of the prettiest towns on the Cape. These pics were taken from the boardwalk….I’ve decided I need to swim here at some point this summer:
A rosé tasting on the deck – Les Dauphins won hands down, although I freely admit I bought them based on how pretty the labels were.
A late spring tradition is the Fields of Lupine Festival in Sugar Hill, NH (home of Polly’s Pancake Parlor!). Spring was late this year so the flowers weren’t as abundant as in years past, but it was still pretty.
I’ll leave you with a picture of Bristol (RI) Harbor, sunset on the longest day of the year.