North Kingstown was home to Quonset Point in World War II, then the biggest air base in the world (it’s where the ubiquitous hump-shaped Quonset hut was invented by the Seabees) and now a sprawling business park with a golf course, public beaches, ferries, museums, and shops. The town draws couples and families to its quaint villages such as Wickford, which in summer bustles with festivals, including the popular arts festival in July.
In the historic district the Haddie Pierce House (146 Boston Neck Road, 401-295-5163, www.haddiepierce.com, rates from $145) is a five-room Victorian inn built in 1906 within walking distance of Wickford Village and a town beach.
Five minutes from the new Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Wickford Junction stop is the Hamilton Village Inn (642 Boston Neck Road, 401-295-0700, www.hamiltonvillageinn.com, rates from $79), a pet-friendly place with a new second floor featuring bigger rooms and balconies.
A new lodging option is TownePlace Suites (55 Gate Road, 401-667-7500, www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/pvdts-towneplace-suites-providence-north-kingstown/, rooms from $94), a LEED-certified hotel with free Wi-Fi, continental breakfast, and indoor pool near a ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, museums, and lighthouse cruises.
Start your day at a local favorite, the Breakfast Nook (6130 Post Road, 401-884-6108, breakfast from $2.79, lunch from $3.79), a place so small you have to shuffle sideways to sit at the counter but offering great food, like the whopping omelets.
A local hot spot for lunch is Oatley’s Restaurant (1717 Ten Rod Road, 401-295-5126, www.facebook.com/pages/Oatleys-Restaurant/116616101696516#!/pages/Oatleys-Restaurant/116616101696516, lunch from $7), where they serve comfort food that includes burgers, sandwiches, meat loaf, and fish and chips.
What ocean town would be complete without ice cream? Check out the expanded Nana’s Gelato and Ice Cream Factory (6710 Post Road, 401-885-8640, www.nanasgelato.com, cones from $3.25) where popular items include Nana’s Kiss gelato, a concoction of dark chocolate, Snickers and Twix, and the salted caramel chocolate pretzel. Dieters can go light with fat-free frozen yogurt.
East Asian cuisine representing seven countries can be had at Seven Moons (6900 Post Road, 401-885-8383, www.7-moons.com, entrees from $6.99) including Vietnamese bee boong, pad Thai, and Cambodian sour soup, on a menu liberally dotted with “hot and spicy” designators.
Seafood abounds, including the triple lobster special and clam boils, at Duffy’s Tavern and Restaurant (235 Tower Hill Road, 401-295-0073, www.quahog.com/duffys.html, entrees from $9.95), where in addition to fresh local seafood and a raw bar, you can feast on steaks, ribs, and chicken.
Fittingly located at the former air base are the Quonset Air Museum (488 Eccleston Ave., 401-294-9540, www.quonsetairmuseum.com, admission $7), in an original hangar brimming with birds of war, including a Quonset Sky Raider, a Grumman F-14 Tomcat, and a McDonnell-Douglas AV-8B Harrier; and the Seabee Museum & Memorial Park (21 Iafrate Way, 401-294-7233, www.seabeesmuseum.com, free admission, donations accepted), with vintage Quonset huts, one of which was a chapel during World War II, all of it honoring the naval construction battalion that was made cinematically famous in the 1944 John Wayne movie “The Fighting Seabees.”
Families flock to Wilson Park (West Main Street, 401-294-3331, www.northkingstown.org/departments/recreation) with multiple sports fields, tennis courts, a refurbished playground, myriad hiking and biking trails, and a boat ramp.
Get your beach fix at three free ones within Quonset Point Park (enter from Route 403 off Route 4 and follow signs, 401-295-0044, www.quonset.com/news-and-notices/quonset-news/quonset-point-sports-four-bay-beaches), including Compass Rose Beach, Spink’s Neck Beach, and Blue Beach, the latter strictly for naval officers in the air base’s heyday.
Duffers can hit the links at the public North Kingstown Municipal Golf Course (615 Callahan Road, 401-294-0684, www.nkgc.com, green fees from $23), a 6,200-yard course made more challenging by constant bay breezes.
Two of Wickford Village’s newest stores are Maxwell’s Made in America (25 West Main St., 401-295-9700, www.facebook.com/maxwellsmadeinamerica), where the crafts, jewelry, and clothing are made in this country and owner Maxx Reid is happy to tell you about them. The store’s resident cat, Lord Greystroke, is just as happy to sit in any lap offered. Also new is Narragansett Bay Oil Co. (4 Brown St., 401-295-2500, www.nboliveoil.com), home of fine California olive oils you can taste, specialty vinegars, and giftware. Consignment lovers should hit Pink Chair (7511 Post Road, 401-295-7700, www.facebook.com/pages/Pink-Chair-Consignments/321922501156985) with a wide range of crystal, furniture, jewelry, and clothing, all in a screaming-pink building with rooms that seem to never end.
Gillian’s Ale House (7835 Post Road, 401-667-0900, www.facebook.com/GilliansNK) is the place for karaoke Wednesday and Saturday nights, a DJ on Friday nights, and pool tables and 17 big-screen TVs playing sports the rest of the time. Check out the “penny bar,” embedded with pennies minted in 2000, the year Gillian’s opened.
Get your game and groove on at Kingstown Bowl (6125 Post Road, 401-884-4450, www.kbowl.com, $4.50 per game), where on Saturday nights they run Rock-n-Bowl, with DJ music, glowing lanes, and multicolored pins. This is also the home of Club Roxx, with DJs and live bands, pool tables, sports on 10 HD TVs, and movie nights.
The North Kingstown Arts Council (401-294-3331, ext. 241, www.NKArtsCouncil.org) runs a number of nighttime events, including a free family summer concert series at the town beach on Thursdays, music on Tuesdays in Wickford Village, and its Take a Break arts night classes, including calligraphy, watercolor painting, writing your autobiography, and Photoshop techniques.
Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at Kandarian@globe