LITTLE COMPTON — Save your gas money and forget the days-long road trip around New England. Instead, head to this one little town in our littlest state.
To visit this farming and fishing village by the sea is to feel bits of stoic Vermont, old Cape Cod beaches, and New Hampshire woods rolled into one. Settled circa 1682, Little Compton remains a slice of old New England lifted from a postcard.
Drive 10 miles from the quaint Town Common — complete with white steeple church, general grocer, and the town’s only school — to the open ocean, and you’ll see more cows than people; more barns than stores, golden haystacks, grazing horses, ancient barns and centuries-old stonewalls, all just an hour south of Boston.
Anyone who’s been to Little Compton will tell you to breakfast at The Barn. Follow their advice. The brunch nook is, literally, a restored two-floor barn without even a sign on its rustic doors (there is a road sign.)
It consistently wins local awards for best breakfast. Everything is homemade and everything is from scratch, from the cinnamon raisin French toast to the corned beef hash with green peppers and carrots. Many items have local twists or local ingredients, from the fluffy pancakes bursting with local blueberries, to the Portuguese omelet with chourico, peppers, onions, and cheddar cheese, and Portuguese sweet rolls that can’t be beat. Don’t be confused if your GPS reads Adamsville, which is a village in the town (13 Main St., Adamsville, Mon-Fri, 7 a.m.-noon,Sat-Sun 7 a.m.-1 p.m. 401-635-2985, www.facebook.com/pages/The-Barn-Restaurant/171111597692).
For lunch or early dinner, try the nearby Simmons Cafe and Market. If you haven’t been in a while, you’ll get a happy surprise: Once a barebones general store, it’s been recently transformed into an indoor farmers’ market and organic cafe with local produce, fresh cut-flowers, homemade sandwiches and ice cream, and free Wi-Fi to boot.
Nearly everything else in the store is made within a 100-mile radius: Fresh baguettes delivered daily, local milk, eggs, cheeses, brownie, and bread mixes made in Dartmouth, Mass., local jellies, applesauce made in Pawtucket, peanut butter from Providence. Even the ice cream is homemade in the store, as fresh as cream.
Another section of the store has been newly transformed into a Wi-Fi cafe with plush white couches, pillows, and art on the wall. Dinner is also made fresh — from homemade chicken pot pie to sweet potato casserole or eggplant Parmesan, plus soups, salads. For dessert? Fresh-baked pies and that creamy ice cream (78A Crandall Road, Daily 7 a.m.-7 p.m., 401-635-2420).
For fresh local seafood, try Crowther’s Restaurant, which offers everything from New Bedford sea scallops to Sakonnet lobster rolls (90 Pottersville Road, 401-635-8367, www.crowthersrestaurant.com).
A-1 Pizza in the Town Common offers hot and cold grinders, Buffalo wings, calzones, and some 40 types of pizza (20 Commons, 401-635-8353).
Directly across from The Barn is the Adamsville Field, where you can toss a football or Frisbee or let the kids and dog run free. Be sure to snap a picture of the monument to the state’s namesake, the Rhode Island Red, which sits proudly behind home plate.
Dress for the fall weather and take a bike ride along the Westport River. Park in The Barn parking lot or by the road near Adamsville Field and head down toward Adamsville Landing, about a five-minute ride from the field and near the Rhode Island-Massachusetts line.
There’s a stunning view of the river, where painters often set up easels, and photographers aim to get a glimpse of the osprey that nest there.
If you kayak or canoe, park at Adamsville Landing (not allowed after sunset) and head out onto the river. (Westport Harbor Road)
Surfers might want to head to Living Water Surf Co. to rent boards, equipment, and ask about the best spots to paddle out to — there are many in the area. Lessons are available on request (73 Simmons Road, 401-635 www.livingwater.com).
Take a fall hike through the protected woodland area of Simmons Mill Pond. Grassy old wagon paths and foot trails cut through some 500 acres of forest bursting with oak, red maple, and American beech trees. There are plenty of ponds, freshwater wetlands and shallow open waters. Simply gorgeous in the fall. (Intersection of Coldbrook Road and Long Highway.)
With sweeping views of farmland and stonewalls, Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard offers a charming wine-tasting spot. Founded in 1975, Sakonnet Vineyard covers some 150 acres of land. The microclimate and soil conditions allow for making some of New England’s most distinctive and award-winning wines. Daily tastings are $10 per person, with tours from noon to 3 p.m. Their cafe also offers great pairings — from tapas and cheeses to grilled flatbread pizzas and Tuscan panini (162 West Main Road, 401-635-8486).
The Art Cafe offers an afternoon pick-me-up and a chance to soak up the works of local artists in a garden setting (7 South of Commons Road, 401-635-2169).
Gray’s Daily Grind on the Little Compton town line (the state line runs through the mill pond) offers a view of Adamsville Pond, where herons, geese and egrets gather — giving names to three of their coffee bean selections, all of which you can buy by the bag or as a freshly brewed cup, along with smoothies, organic teas, and pastries.
Take your blueberry cornbread — made from cornmeal ground at their mill — and coffee across the street and over the pond bridge, to sit and sip at a picnic table. (638 Adamsville Road, Westport, Mass., 774- 269-9669), www.graysdailygrind.com.
While you’re there, you can pop in and see Gray’s Grist Mill, one of the oldest, continually running grist mills in New England, with roots dating to at least 1700. Gray’s Daily Grind sells cornmeal and johnnycake meal ground on-premise, so you can take a taste of Little Compton home with you. They also sell artisan T-shirts, mugs, and books on the area (638 Adamsville Road, Westport).
No trip to Little Compton is complete without a stop at Walker’s Roadside Stand, where you can buy organic and local produce from June to October — thick heads of broccoli, fresh corn, spinach, greens, tomatoes, and pumpkins, along with apples and fresh-pressed cider (261 West Main Road, 401-635-4719).
Simmons Cafe and Marketplace also offers an abundance of artisan gifts, from handcrafted earrings to homemade soaps and candles, handmade pillows to books, artisan mugs, local books, baby clothes, and more.
Lauren Daley, a freelance writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clarification: A previous version of this article mentioned the Stonehouse, which is closed for renovation.