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Cumberland’s charm should not be overlooked

Diamond Hill State Park still shows the contours of the former ski hill.
Diamond Hill State Park still shows the contours of the former ski hill. MATT TAYLOR FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE/Matt Taylor
Two Rhode Island staples:  wieners with everything and coffee milk.
Two Rhode Island staples: wieners with everything and coffee milk.Matt Taylor

Cumberland gained some recognition in the news last summer with the amazing run of the town’s Little League team in Williamsport, Pa. However, this quiet town in Rhode Island’s northeast corner is often overlooked by travelers on their way to destinations like Providence or the Twin River Casino. Cumberland has a variety of ways to enjoy the outdoors, sample gourmet cuisine, and experience some of the Ocean State’s unique history and character.


Lodging options are next door, where there is a Courtyard by Marriott (636 George Washington Highway, 401-333-3400, www.marriott.com, from $129) in neighboring Lincoln that features an indoor pool and fitness center. The Holiday Inn Express (194 Fortin Drive, 401-769-5000, www.hiexpress.com, from $105) in neighboring Woonsocket offers a complimentary breakfast in addition to its indoor pool and fitness center. The Pillsbury House (341 Prospect St., 401-766-7983, www.pillsburyhouse
, $95-$135) in Woonsocket has reasonable rates, a full breakfast, and easy access to Blackstone Valley attractions.



Perhaps no aspect of Rhode Island’s distinction is more pronounced than its food. From ice-cold coffee cabinets to hot wieners to Del’s Lemonade to Doughboys, the state has a food culture all its own, and Cumberland has a number of places to relax and enjoy a great meal. Poppy’s Family Restaurant (3344 Mendon Road, 401-658-2700) has delicious breakfasts including its signature Italian omelet with tomato, cheese, potato, pepperoni, and marinara. They also have hot wieners to enjoy with that Rhode Island specialty, coffee milk. Make sure to order them “all the way” with meat sauce, celery salt, chopped onions, and mustard. Eggs Up Family Restaurant (2378 Mendon Road, 401-658-2424, www.eggsupri.com, breakfast $4-$10) is a local favorite for breakfast with unique items such as banana split waffles and “Funky Monkey” pancakes with chocolate, bananas, and nuts. Cumberland House of Pizza (2360 Mendon Road, 401-658-2626, www.chopsri.com) offers delicious pizzas for lunch and dinner such as the white buffalo chicken pizza and tasty steak and cheese grinders. They also have a full-service pub on site. J’s Deli (2364 Diamond Hill Road, 401-334-1414, www.jsdeliri.com, sandwiches $6-$9) packs its sandwiches with the best meat, veggies, and cheeses on the freshest bread of your choice. “The Graduate” sandwich has chicken, buffalo sauce, bacon, blue cheese, and melted American cheddar, and is one of the favorites. For dinner Angelo’s Palace Pizza (133 Mendon Road, 401-728-3340, www.angelospalacepizza.com, entrees $8-$16) has been serving gourmet pizzas like the “Palace Special” with pepperoni, linguica, peppers, onions, sausage, and hamburger, and Italian dishes such as their signature spanikopita for 37 years. Davenport’s Restaurant (1070 Mendon Road, 401-334-1017, www.davenportsri.com, entrees $9-$20) offers Ocean State favorites such as stuffed mini clams served with lemon and hot sauce, award-winning pizzas, and chicken pot pies. Andrew’s Bistro (3755 Mendon Road, 401-658-1515, www.andrewsbistro.com, entrees $10-$30) offers delicious grilled pizzas like the “Such a Pizza” with three cheeses, pancetta, spinach, garlic, and herbs on a grilled flatbread. Or try the butternut squash ravioli in an amaretto and shallot cream sauce. Rhode Island is also known for its bakeries. Crugnales (1764 Mendon Road, 401-721-5377, www.crugnalebakery.com) is known for its fresh breads and deluxe pizza squares and strips with ingredients such as such as sausage and peppers and eggplant and cheese. Dave’s Fresh Marketplace (2077 Diamond Hill Road, 401-333-7979, www.davesmarketplace.com) also has delicious Rhode Island pizza strips and brick oven pizzas, as well as the freshest produce, and prepared foods. Summer may be long gone, but The Ice Cream Machine (4288 Diamond Hill Road, 401-333-5053, www.icecreampie.com, Wed-Fri noon-6 p.m., Sat-Sun 11 a.m.-5 p.m.) has winter hours and some of the best frozen treat flavors in New England, including brownie batter and chocolate peanut butter chip.




It may be the beginning of a long winter, but Cumberland provides a lot of indoor and outdoor recreational opportunities. Diamond Hill State Park (4097 Diamond Hill Road, 401-334-9996, www.cumberlandri.org/parksandrec.htm) has over 350 acres of hiking trails, playing fields, picnic areas, and a pond on a piece of land that was once a ski area. There are also abundant unique stones and quartz to view as you climb to the summit. The Blackstone River Bikeway (Blackstone River State Park Visitors Center, Interstate 295 North between exits 9 and 10, www.riparks.com/locations/locationblackstonebikevisit.html) offers over 10 miles of trail along the river and the historic villages of Cumberland that thrived during the Industrial Age. Diamond Hill Vineyards (3145 Diamond Hill Road, www.diamondhillvineyards.com, 401-333-2751) has been owned by the Berntson family since 1976, and they specialize in producing fine pinot noir and delicious fruit wines such as their signature cranberry apple. Tastings are offered year-round in their 200-year-old vineyard house, and the vineyard is open Wednesday through Saturday noon-5 p.m. and Sunday noon-
3 p.m. Pea Poddery (2364 Diamond Hill Road, 401-333-3304, www.peapoddery.com, $5-$55) paint your own pottery and glassware studio was started by the husband-and-wife team Joe and Kimberly Silva, who left the corporate world to start a business that helps children and adults of all ages channel their creative energies by painting custom pottery and glassware and making memories. Phantom Farms (2920 Diamond Hill Road, 401-333-2240, www.phantomfarms.com) is a popular destination during apple picking season with its expansive orchard, but winter at the farm is a great time to pick your own Christmas tree, sample a treat from the wonderful bakery, or purchase a gift from the extensive selection of local food items. Speaking of the holidays, the
Polar Express Train Ride (1 Depot Square, Woonsocket, 401-495-1213, www.blackstonevalleypolarexpress.com, tickets $36-$50) in neighboring Woonsocket features a 90-minute train ride through the enchanted holiday world inspired by author-illustrator Chris Van Allsburg’s Christmas classic.



Even with Cumberland’s reputation as a quiet suburb, there are some interesting activities to experience after dark, including the Blackstone River Theater (549 Broad St., 401-725-9272, www.riverfolk.org). The theater was abandoned in 1987 after standing for 60 years across from the old Ann & Hope Mill. It was renovated and reopened in 2000, and functions as a cultural arts, arts education, and community center for the Blackstone Valley. The theater offers concerts starting Jan. 10, featuring Celtic-inspired music, acoustic blues, and other genres of music. There is also an art gallery featuring the works of local artists. J Gray’s Family Tavern (405 Mendon Road, 401-723-7600, www.jgraystavern.com) offers live music on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to midnight.


Matt Taylor can be reached at matttaylor0403@msn.com. Follow him on Twitter @matttaylor0403.