If it takes a village, South Kingstown has that covered, with more than a dozen of them, with quaint names like Tuckertown, Torrey Hill, Peace Dale, and Ocean Ridge. The town in south-central Rhode Island has many opportunities to shop, eat, find culture, and stroll more than 10 miles of beaches in an ocean-facing place with nearly 11,000 acres of protected space.
With many historic buildings in a town named for King Charles II, there are several now serving as B&Bs. Lily’s at Little Rest B&B (2545 Kingstown Road, 401-792-1325, www.lilyslittlerest.com, rates $130-$140), is located in the heart of Kingston Village, in a circa 1736-1829 building named for Lily, a cat rescued years ago by the innkeepers. Lily is gone, but there are two others that cat-loving guests are free to enjoy. Breakfast during the week is European continental, including cured meats and cheeses, and full breakfast on weekends. Sugar Loaf Hill (597 Kingstown Road, 401-284-3399, www.sugarloafhillbandb.com, rates $110-$149) is a four-room inn, the original part of which dates to 1720, and is located within an easy walk of the village of Wakefield, with several working fireplaces and serving daily country breakfast. Meyer House B&B (592 Matunuck Road, 401-783-5884, www.meyerhouseri.com, rates $140-$180,) is a passive-solar post-and-beam home with two rooms, serving breakfast made from fresh local farm and dairy products, where you can’t help but relax. There are no TVs in the rooms, though there is Wi-Fi for those who can’t make the connection break.
Start your day with coffee and art at Java Madness (134 Salt Pond Road, 401-788-0088, www.javamadness.com, breakfast and lunch, $2-$6.75), located on the water where local art hangs on the walls, there is an espresso bar, and they serve a variety of breakfast and lunch sandwiches, salads, and house-made and locally bought baked goods, along with live acoustic music, mostly on weekends. Spice things up at El Fuego Mexican Grill (344 Main St., 401-284-3353, www.elfuegomexicangrill.com, lunch and dinner $7-10), a routine winner of local dining awards, where you’ll find tacos, burritos, nachos, and quesadillas as hot as you like; they have a variety of hot sauces, including a scorching house-made offering. Check out the covered rooftop bar with heaters and views of the Saugatuck River at Phil’s Mainstreet Grille (323 Main St., 401-783-4073, www.philsmainstreetgrille.com, dinner $13-$25), a longtime local favorite where the pine nut encrusted haddock is a signature dish, and they serve slow-roasted prime rib on weekends. Native Perry Rasa opened the Matunuck Oyster Bar (629 Succotash Road, 401-783-4202, www.rhodyoysters.com, lunch and dinner $11.95-$23) on Potter Pond at the height of the recession and has been doing gangbusters since, for very tasty reasons: He grows his own oysters on the pond, using them and other shellfish from around the state. Check out the huge raw bar, and wide range of fresh seafood. Got a sweet tooth? Try Sweet Cakes Bakery and Cafe (1227 Kingstown Road, 401-789-5420, www.sweetcakesbakeryri.com, lunch $3.25-$7) where they make special occasion cakes, pastries, soups, salads, and what sounds like a must-have, a banana-and-Nutella sandwich on homemade bread.
DURING THE DAY
The town is the center of academia with the University of Rhode Island, and a great place to find a rare read is the nearby Kingston Hill Book Store (2528 Kingstown Road, 401-792-8662, www.abgbooks.com), a privately owned antiquarian and second-hand bookstore where recent offerings include a collection of antique prints and maps, some by Fritz Eichenberg and C. J. A.Wilson, as well as hand-colored botanical plates and children’s prints. Put your camera to the grindstone at Kenyon’s Grist Mill (21 Glen Rock Road, 401-783-4054, www.kenyonsgristmill.com), where you can snap them grinding meals and flours as it’s been done since 1696, and buy a variety of items, including white corn meal, the main ingredient in a Rhode Island favorite, the johnnycake. Contemporary cashmere and denim is the focus at Therapy Boutique (330 Main St., 401-783-9400, www.therapyboutique.com), with cashmere lines of 360 Cashmere, Duffy, Kokun and Subtle Luxury, and high-end denims such as AG, Big Star, and James, where owners Candace Brown and Lauren Wells offer “retail therapy and a cure for wardrobe blues.” The town has ample hiking options for outdoor lovers, including at holdings of the South Kingstown Land Trust (227 Robinson St., 401-789-0962, www.sklt.org), such as the Yawgoo Trail, a 1.26-mile jaunt by a kettle pond and through a grove of white pine. Or take your walk vertical and indoors at Rockspot Climbing (1174 Kingstown Road, 401-789-7768, www.rockspotclimbing.com, day pass $16, with gear, $25), with 11,500-square-feet of climbing surface and features like slabs, steep faces, and overhangs. Get a taste of pumpkin spice whiskey and other potent potables at Sons of Liberty Spirits Co. (1425 Kingstown Road, 401-284-4006, www
.solspirits.com, tour and tasting, $10), where they make whiskeys and vodka. The pumpkin blend comes from eight tons of pumpkins cored, roasted, and pressed, then mixed with autumn spices.
Great sunsets and live music are the orders of the night at Ocean Mist (895 Matunuck Beach Road, 401-782-3740, www.oceanmist.net, cover charges vary), a hot spot on the water, where in November play the likes of the Delta Generators and Dr. Westchesterston. With art galleries and live music, The Courthouse Center for the Arts (3481 Kingstown Road, 401-782-1018, www.courthousearts.org, ticket prices vary) is a staple of the arts in southern Rhode Island, with upcoming shows that include the James Montgomery Band, the Pousette-Dart Band, and Melanie. At the Contemporary Theater Co. (327 Main St., 401-218-0282, www.contemporarytheatercompany.com, ticket prices vary), they’re doing “The Visit,” and “Mrs. Bob Cratchit’s Wild Christmas Binge.”
Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.