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Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year's Travel Resolution and Promise: Visit the Small Towns of Coastal Rhode Island

Jamestown, R.I. (photo by Eric)
For a small state, Rhode Island has so many interesting, beautifully low-key small coastal towns. Sometimes getting overlooked because travelers opt for busier Newport or Cape Cod, these underrated communities are certainly worth discovering.

My 2015 New Year's resolution and promise is to visit these quieter Rhode Island towns more as initial visits have generated much more  personal interest and excitement than many of the higher profile New England coastal destinations. The resolution refers to resolving a travel wish that hasn't been truly fulfilled in the past while the promise focuses on definitely following through!

Additionally, these towns can serve as a nice antidote to the increasingly loud, congested world we live in -- that is, away from the worst traffic, overhype and tackiness that can impede the more familiar New England travel spots. Peace and quiet is a good thing, and much-needed elements to reconnect to the New England land that we love!

Although these Rhode Island towns are optimal to visit during the summer and early fall with all businesses open, any time of the year will do just fine. A nice winter weather day with snow blanketing the back roads and main streets, and spring offering a warm reawakening of the senses after a long-cold winter are certainly nice times of the year to visit, too.

Here are some of those Rhode Island destinations that fit the more humble version of New England quite nicely...


Wickford Village (photo by Eric)
Wickford Village This charming section of North Kingstown acts like a low-key version of Dock Square in Kennebunkport, Maine -- that is, without as many shops and restaurants but still enough to keep things interesting. The real draw of Wickford Village, however, is to just get out of the car, walk, and enjoy the scenic water views, the classic New England older homes on tree-lined Main Street and take in the refreshing, welcoming, relaxing coastal environment. It's a great place to kayak, also, as Wickford Harbor provides a wonderful setting for such recreation. For breakfast try the Wickford Diner, lunch the Beach Rose and dinner Tavern-by-the-Sea (the last two have water views) Read more on Wickford Village

Pawtuxet Village (photo by Eric)
Pawtuxet Village Virtually unknown to any travelers outside Rhode Island, Pawtuxet River spans two cities -- Cranston and Warwick -- and abounds with some of the nicest small town charm in the six state region. One of the earliest settlements in the United States, Pawtuxet Village retains its historic look well,  features some nice specialty shops and is currently enjoying a growing restaurant scene.  There's also a beautiful public park by the water on the Warwick side. It's a great walking town! Read more on Pawtuxet Village



Jamestown (photo by Eric)
Jamestown Beautifully situated on the Narrgansett Bay, Jamestown borders Newport but without the crazy traffic and crowds. Jamestown's leisurely feel is a welcome change from the ever evolving hustle and bustle of New England tourist destinations. With its hilly downtown leading to the sea, it almost feels like a little country town that was fortunate enough to be born by the coast. Although the shopping scene is just "OK," a good choice of restaurants -- some with outdoor seating -- and some amazing views of Narragansett Bay and the Verrazano Bridge prove that low-key places can make for the most memorable times. Away from the downtown, Beavertail State Park, with its lonesome, sweeping coastal views and an old lighthouse, makes for one of the nicest state park visits in all of New England. Additionally, Jamestown Town Beach spans a half-mile with calm waters -- often ideal for summer swimming.  Read more on Jamestown

Bristol RI (photo by Eric)
Bristol Although Bristol has drawn more crowds than in the past, this mid-sized town is still vastly underrated and, sadly for many, just a stop along the way south to Newport and north to Providence. Bristol has a wonderful waterfront park, 464 acres of open space at coastal Colt State Park, the beginning of the 14-mile East Bay Bike Path, a vibrant dining scene with more than 40 restaurants and breathtaking views of the Narragansett and Mt. Hope Bays. The tree-lined downtown with its historic homes and shops, restaurants and cafes is quite impressive. Quaint bed and breakfasts like the Williams Grant Inn offer wonderful downtown lodging ambiance.  Bristol is also home to the oldest continuously running Fourth of July Parade in the United States. Read more on Bristol

Tiverton (photo by Eric)
The FarmCoast Farms meet the coast in this truly unspoiled, often beyond scenic section of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. On the Rhode Island side, Tiverton and Little Compton make the FarmCoast special with its rural, coastal scenes, isolated beaches (like Fogland Beach, also known as Tiverton Town Beach) wineries, johnnycakes for breakfast at local restaurants, seafood (like the seasonal Evelyn's Drive-in), ice cream at Gray's Ice Cream Stand and farm stands turning out delicious produce.  The quintessential small town New England look is firmly intact, especially at Tiverton Four Corners -- with some nice antique stores -- and the center of quiet Little Compton. Perhaps the most impressive area of the FarmCoast is Sakonnet Point with its incredible Atlantic Ocean views, often set to an absence of crowds. Read more on the FarmCoast

Related articles, resources:
Visiting Scituate, Mass.
Idyllic Northeast Harbor, Maine
Rhode Island travel suggestions
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