Rhode Island's westernmost and southernmost community has more than its share of interesting art and architecture. The Artists' Cooperative Gallery of Westerly (12 High St., 401-596-2221, westerlyarts.com ) in the historic Brown Building displays the works of some 50 artists and craftspeople, including watercolors, oils, jewelry, mosaic, fabric art, stained glass, and ceramics. Several artists have studios in the building. The windows of the Black Duck Gallery (25 Broad St., 401-348-6500, blackduckgallery.com) are filled with wood carvings and decoys, both antiques and reproductions. Galleries and studios downtown and in neighboring Pawcatuck, Conn., just across the Pawcatuck River, welcome browsers and buyers during the Art Stroll on the first Wednesday of every month from 5 to 8 p.m. While you're strolling, check out the 1912 railroad station, an elegant, Spanish Colonial Revival structure with stucco walls and hipped, terra-cotta tile roof; the post office, a Classical Revival building reminiscent of a Greek temple; and the Romanesque-style library, with distinctive golden bricks, blue and gold mosaic decor, and red roof tiles.
Misquamicut Beach (257 Atlantic Ave., 401-596-9097, riparks.com/misquamicut.htm, parking $12 weekdays, $14 weekends), running a half-mile along Atlantic Avenue, has moderate surf, a gradual drop-off, and moderate undertow. With parking for nearly 3,000 cars, it still fills up on summer weekends. Atlantic Avenue is chock-full of amusements for children, including water slides, amusement rides, go-karts, batting cages, bumper cars and boats, and miniature golf.
Watch Hill's Flying Horse Carousel (Bay Street, 401-348-6007, $1.50 children ages 2-12 only), built in 1867, is said to be the oldest merry-go-round in America. The hand-carved and hand-painted horses, with tails and manes of real hair, are not attached to the floor but instead are suspended from a center frame, swinging out or "flying" when in motion.
Find rainy-day fun at Get Fired Up (7 West Broad St., Pawcatuck, Conn., 860-599-5015, adults $8, children $6 plus bisqueware piece), a do-it-yourself pottery studio just over the river.
Chartreuse (4 High St., 401-596-0089) is a new shop focusing on environmentally friendly products. Owner Elizabeth Shorrock used to teach planet-friendly fashion design at the University of Rhode Island. We loved the candy-wrapper-chain handbags by Ecoist and earrings by Annabuilt, made from recycled cans and tins. Escama bags, made from recycled aluminum pull tabs by a women's cooperative in Brasilia, Brazil, look like mail mesh. Shorrock does patchwork sweaters, scarves, and vintage bags.
Everything sparkles at Hammen Home (62 High St., 401-596-3688, hammenhome.com). Along with novelty and decorative items for the home, the shop offers clothes, books, and jewelry. We liked the Japanese lanterns and drop lights, and our eyes kept returning to the rhinestone jewelry, tiaras, and hair clips.
If you're craving the penny candy of your youth, check out Candy Galore (31 High St., 401-596-3033, candygaloreofwesterly.com). There are at least a dozen varieties of malted milk balls, as well as Jelly Belly gourmet jelly beans, fudge, and truffles. Gift baskets are a specialty.
Pick up a self-guided tour of the trees and monuments in lovely Wilcox Park at the Westerly Public Library (44 Broad St., 401-596-2877, westerlylibrary.org, brochure $1). The 18-acre Victorian strolling park, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed by Warren Manning in 1898. The brochure details more than 35 species of trees, shrubs, and flowers; the pond lilies are especially beautiful.
From downtown Watch Hill, you can hike to Napatree Point, a half-mile-long spit of land that separates Little Narragansett Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. At the tip lie the ruins of Fort Mansfield, built during the Spanish-American War. Access is from Watch Hill Beach , where parking is limited.
The Babcock-Smith House (124 Granite St., 401-596-5704, babcock-smith house.com, $5 adults, $1 children, seasonal) is a museum that reflects the modes of life of the generations who occupied the house from 1734 to 1972. Three generations of Smiths worked in the quarries and helped make Westerly one of the most important granite centers in the world in the late 1800s.
The Villa Bed & Breakfast (190 Shore Road, 401-596-1054, 800-722-9240, thevillaatwesterly.com, $115-$305) represents Michael and Barbara Cardiff's effort to create a Mediterranean-themed oasis on the New England coast. Luxurious rooms, many with fireplaces and Jacuzzis, surround a heated pool with a hot tub, and every nook and cranny of the property is brightened with flowering plants.
Langworthy Farm Bed and Breakfast (308 Shore Road, 401-322-7791, 888-355-7083, langworthyfarm.com, $110-$260) offers rooms in an 1875 Victorian farmhouse on the site of a working winery. After enjoying a full country breakfast, guests can head for Misquamicut Beach, just a few minutes away. In the afternoon, taste Weekapaug White, Watch Hill Merlot, and other local vintages.
The oceanfront Pleasant View Inn (65 Atlantic Ave., 401-348-8200, 800-782-3224, pvinn.com, $85-$225) on the Watch Hill end of Misquamicut Beach offers a variety of rooms and suites, two dining rooms, a heated pool, and tennis courts.
The Granite Theatre (1 Granite St., 401-596-2341, granitetheatre .com), housed in a handsomely restored Greek Revival church, stages Broadway plays, children's plays, lecture programs, cabaret acts, and more year round. "Leading Ladies," a comedy by Ken Ludwig , the author of "Lend Me a Tenor" and "Moon Over Buffalo," continues through July 29.
Perks & Corks Coffee and Wine Lounge (48 High St., 401-596-1260, perksandcorks.com) offers an impressive variety of wines by the glass. On weekends this cozy lounge hosts live folk, jazz, and acoustic performers.
The top spots for beach parties are the Andrea Hotel (89 Atlantic Ave., 401-348-8788, 888-318-5707, andreahotel.com) and Paddy's Beach (159 Atlantic Ave., 401-596-2610, paddysbeach.com). The Andrea bar has a beachfront patio and dance floor, with a DJ seven nights a week in the summer months, as well as a live entertainment schedule. Paddy's offers an exotic drink menu, volleyball courts, and live music.
Strings of tiny white lights frame the windows of 84 High Street (401-596-7871, 84highstreet.com, lunch $7-$13, dinner $10-$26). This casual eatery across from Wilcox Park specializes in Mediterranean-inspired dishes as well as steaks, seafood, and pasta. There's a good selection of grilled pizza, and we especially liked the creamy cucumber sauce that accompanies many dishes.
The Up River Café (37 Main St., 401-348-9700, theuprivercafe.net, lunch $8-$18, dinner $10-$27) is in an old mill building with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the swiftly moving Pawcatuck River; in warm weather there's patio seating. The handsome interior has warm woods and lots of exposed brick. The bistro menu features fresh local ingredients, and the wine list is extensive.
There are no fewer than 30 pizzas on the menu at Pizza Place, home of "pie & suds" (43 Broad St., 401-348-1803, $7.50-$14.50). There's also a large selection of beer and wine. The brick-oven pizza was so good we ignored the framed T-shirt on the wall signed by all the members of the 1998 World Series champion New York Yankees .
If you'd like to take a picnic to the beach or pick up a prepared meal to enjoy at your summer rental, stop at The Cooked Goose (92 Watch Hill Road, 401-348-9888, thecookedgoose.com, sandwiches $5.50-$11). This friendly place offers a creative selection of sandwiches, salads, quiche, and homemade soups at lunch, as well as creative breakfast entrees, such as truffled eggs.