Warren, R.I., is a vibrant village packed with arts, boutiques, history
Warren is a waterfront village in the state’s smallest county, tucked between Newport and Providence, and sometimes overlooked because of its proximity to those more recognizable tourist destinations. But with more than 16 miles of shoreline, abundant recreational opportunities, and a downtown bursting with restaurants, boutiques, antique shops, historic buildings, and a thriving arts scene, it’s a tiny town with a lot going on and well worth a visit by couples, singles, and families.
Warren offers several quaint lodging choices, including the Thomas Cole House (81 Union St., 401-245-9768, www.the
thomascolehouse.com, rates from $150), which features a three-room guest suite on the historic home’s second floor. A full breakfast is included and the grounds, with a fountain, are superb, notably a 150-year-old black ash tree for shady lounging about. The three-room Candlewick Inn (775 Main St., 401-247-2425, www.candlewick
inn.net, rates from $135) is right on the East Bay Bike Path and within walking distance of the town park, tennis courts, and beach. The inn also hosts cooking classes where friends gather in the inn’s spacious kitchen and learn how to create multicourse meals.
Looking for a morning nosh with a side of water views? The Sunnyside (267 Water St., 401-247-1200, www.sunnysideri
.com, breakfast and lunch from $9) is the best breakfast spot in the state, according to Yankee magazine. Joe Simone, once a featured chef on PBS’s “The Chefs of Cucina Amore,” puts out inspiring breakfasts, small and large, from grits with parmigiana and jack cheese to a seriously satisfying baked raisin French toast. Come lunchtime Bebop Burrito (40 Market St., 401-289-2740, www.bebop
burrito.com, burritos from $4.25) is your stop for burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and more. Rhode Island is known for hot wieners and in Warren, the place to go is Rod’s Grille (6 Washington St., 401-245-9405), where $1.65 gets you one the way they’ve been serving them since 1955. Seafood in a waterfront town is as fresh as it gets, and one hot seasonal spot is Blount Clam Shack (335 Water St., 401-245-3210, www.blount
retail.com/warren/home, menu items from $3.50) where you can score a lobster roll for $20, stuffed with a quarter pound of tail and claw meat, to eat on the nearby wharf. Trafford Restaurant (285 Water St., 401-289-2265, www.trafford
restaurant.com, entrees from $15), opened a year ago to great reviews, owing to the food and terrific location over the Warren River. From its second-floor dining room, you can watch boats glide by as you devour some sweet, juicy, fat-bellied fried clams.
DURING THE DAY
Enjoy the outdoors at Touisset Marsh Wildlife Refuge (100 Touisset Road, 401-949-5454, www.asri.org/refuges/touisset-marsh-wildlife.html), an Audubon Society of Rhode Island property featuring 66 acres of salt marsh, upland field, and woods. Up for kayaking? Check out Steve’s Boat Rental (294 Market St., 401-245-0453, www.stevesboatrentals.com, kayak rentals from $22,) where you can also get a Circraft, a round vessel with no rudder that’s controlled by shifting your bodyweight. Bicyclists, walkers, roller-bladers and families love the East Bay Bike Path (www.riparks.com/eastbay.htm), an easy, paved 14-mile trail from East Providence to Bristol that includes almost four winding Warren miles. Funky and fun is the shopping at Whimsies (4 Church St., 401-289-2404, www.whimsiesart.com), which lives up to its name with owner-painted furniture and collages, along with the colorful work of 75 other local artists. Said to be the largest gift shop in New England, Imagine Gift Store (5 Miller St., 401-245-4200, www.imaginegiftstores
.com), is massive, purple and hard to miss — and you shouldn’t. Housed in a 100-year-old building, this three-floor, sprawling space comes packed with traditional gifts, clothing, candy, cards, art, food, and, as an added bonus, houses a ’50s-style ice cream parlor and massive colorful cows in the foyer. It is an eclectic shopper’s dream come true. Antiques abound in Warren, and Wren & Thistle (19 Market St., 401-247-0631, www.wren-and-thistle.com) is a good spot to check some out, 2,000 square feet of quality crystal, china, furniture, all of it a century-plus old, says owner Jackie Williams.
Carved out of the former Cercle Jacques Cartier Society Hall, 2nd Story Theatre (28 Market St., 401-247-4200, www.2ndstorytheatre.com, tickets from $15), produces top-quality shows held in a 150-seat black-box theater upstairs, with cozy lobby and bar downstairs. Now showing through May 20, “The Divine Sister,” Charles Busch’s send-up of the pop culture image of nuns. Brand new is Art Night Bristol and Warren (www.artnightbristolwarre.org), a collaboration between those towns on the last Thursday of the month through November, showcasing more than a dozen galleries, with free trolley service between them (Note: Warren has one of nine state districts where no tax is charged on art purchases). For laid-back tunes, and extensive food menu, check out Stella Blues Restaurant & Lounge (50 Miller St., 401-289-0349, www.stella
bluesri.com), an upscale pub hosting acoustic music Friday and Saturday nights. Samantha’s Pizza (13 Child St., 401-289-2993, www.samanthas
pizzari.com) serves New York-style thin pizza, along with acoustic music Friday and Saturday nights, along with trivia Tuesdays, karaoke Thursdays, and the occasional live band on Wednesdays.
Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at kandarian@globe