Here is, in no particular order, a list of my favorite spaces and places in this beautiful state.
1. The Spring House on Block Island. An old Victorian grand hotel, the front porch of the Spring House is the perfect place to while away an afternoon or evening.
2. Napatree Point, Westerly. Now a wildlife preserve, this spit of land was swept bare in the Hurricane of 1938, killing 15 people. Today it’s a peaceful beach free from the crowds that swarm other local beaches.
3. The view of Providence from Prospect Terrace Park. I love this statue of Roger Williams gazing out over the city he founded. I recently found out that H.P. Lovecraft frequently visited this park.
4. The Ocean Mist. The O’Mist is a legendary beach bar, hard by the shores of Matunuck Beach. People once played volleyball in front of the deck, but severe erosion has claimed most of this space…..pro: you feel like you’re on a poor man’s cruise ship….con: the future of the Ocean Mist is iffy. Come for live music, excellent fish tacos, and a great beer selection.
5. Diamond Hill Vineyards. Yes, a winery in Cumberland is one of my favorite spots! It’s really come a long way over the last few years, a great spot to hang out and sip wine. This picture was taken on a beautiful December day, when it warmed up to over 60 degrees!
6. The Towers, Narragansett. The entire town qualifies for my Best Of list, but the Towers are an iconic and beautiful landmark. Built as part of the Narragansett Pier Casino in the 1880s, they’re now a venue for private events.
7. Wickford Village. Shopping and dining with views like this:
8. THIS BARN. I am on a quest to get a picture of it in all seasons. Come on spring!!
9. The Pawtucket Wintertime Farmer’s Market. I can’t believe this place doesn’t get more press. It’s bigger and better than the summertime markets. I counted four vendors selling grass-fed meat. FOUR. There are fresh winter veggies, seafood & poultry, products such as herbals, honey, pickles, chocolates. My routine is to grab an insanely delicious crepe (my fave is brie, spinach & craisins), a coffee from New Harvest, and stroll around for an overview before I buy anything.
10. The Clarke Cooke House, Newport. Four stories of fun in a beautiful Colonial-era building, from the basement nightclub to fine dining on the top floor “Porch”….and five bars that I can think of.
Well, there you have it! Do you agree with my choices? Am I missing anything obvious? Be in touch and let me know!
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.
Last weekend I went to Newburyport MA with a couple of friends, and on the way we stopped at Mill River Winery in Rowley. We were very pleased with the whole experience….a beautiful building, nice wines and a well-stocked gift shop. What more could a girl want? My guest photographer took this great shot inside the winery – she is none other than Eden B. of the well known blog Eden’s World. I hope I can return the favor sometime soon!