THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
CLOSE-UP ON CUMBERLAND, R.I.

Two views

Town has a historic mill past and lots of natural beauty

Andrew's Bistro serves French and Italian quality cuisine at its strip mall location.
Andrew's Bistro serves French and Italian quality cuisine at its strip mall location. (Christine Hochkeppel for The Boston Globe)
Email|Print| Text size + By Kathleen Burge
Globe Staff / December 5, 2007

Cumberland, tucked in the northeast corner of Rhode Island, is a town with two faces. On one are the open fields and forest stretching across the north. On the other, close against the Blackstone River, are the remnants of the old mill town that once had the country's largest textile mill. Less than 10 miles from Providence, Cumberland became the site of the first European settlement in Rhode Island when William Blackstore arrived around 1635 - fleeing religious intolerance in the settlement that would eventually be called Boston - and made his home along the river that would later bear his name. The town is also exciting to petrologists for its great array of minerals, including the world's only large deposit of cumberlandite, an unusual mineral that contains titanium.

Fuel

Restaurants in Cumberland have tended to be unadventurous, but newcomer Andrew's Bistro (3755 Mendon Road, 401-658-1515, andrewsbistro.com, dinners $10.95-$22.95) is getting good reviews for its French and Italian food, including crepes and pasta, and its cozy dining room, nestled improbably beside a giant gym in a strip mall. Tuck's Pub (2352 Mendon Road, 401-658-0450, entrees $8-$14.75) is a bit quirky, with dishes ranging from calamari served in a pomodoro sauce with prosciutto to grilled Chinese pork loin, and plenty of vegetarian options. Davenport's Restaurant (1070 Mendon Road, 401-334-1017, davenportsri.com, entrees $8.99-$17.99) has the feel of a chain restaurant, with its laminated menus full of photos, but its chowder wins awards and the kids' menu is more extensive than most. Pizza places also abound, including Sakis Pizza & Subs (2275 Diamond Hill Road, 401-334-4137) and Angelo's Palace Pizza (133 Mendon Road, 401-728-3340, angelospalacepizza.com).

Rest

Cumberland, for all its chain restaurants and pharmacies, has no lodging choices. Head to Woonsocket, 5 miles away, for a selection of chain hotels and independent establishments, including a Holiday Inn Express (194 Fortin Drive, 800-465-4329). For a more intimate stay in Woonsocket, try the Pillsbury House Bed and Breakfast (341 Prospect St., 401-766-7983, $95-$135) in an old Victorian home. Lincoln, to the south, also has a Courtyard by Marriott (636 George Washington Highway, 401-333-3400). Of course, Providence, 8 miles to the south, has a large array of choices.

Do

Diamond Hill Vineyards (3145 Diamond Hill Road, 800-752-2505, favorlabel.com/wedding_favors/Winery.php), down a bumpy dirt road, is a lovely spot for wandering among Pinot Noir vines or sipping their fermented juices. The tasting room inside the old farmhouse offers generous samples of wine produced on the premises. Many of the wines are blended with other fruits like apple, cranberry, and peach. The blueberry wine packs an unusual flavor. Explore the land around the Cumberland Public Library, once a monastery for Cistercian Monks of the Strict Observance (commonly called Trappists). After a fire destroyed much of the elaborate campus in 1950, the monks moved to Spencer, Mass. The town now owns the land and from the monastery's remnants built a library (1464 Diamond Hill Road, 401-728-2400, cumberlandlibrary.org/monasterypage.htm) amid miles of walking trails, grassy areas for picnicking, and a playground. One of the trails leads to Nine Men's Misery, where a stone cairn memorializes nine Colonial soldiers who were tortured and killed during King Philip's War. Both the library and the monument are said to be haunted by ghosts.

Play

Diamond Hill State Park (4097 Diamond Hill Road), once a ski area and no longer a state park, is crisscrossed by hiking and cross-country ski trails and a picnic area. Its name comes from the mile-long stretch of exposed quartz. After your exertions, head across the road to The Ice Cream Machine (4288 Diamond Hill Road, 401-333-4513, icecreampie.com). The small shop is famous for its unusual flavors - last season's included smores, green tea, and cotton candy - and its slices of ice cream pie. Cumberland has an unusually large number of ice cream shops, perhaps a remnant of the area's farming history. Another fun spot is Lizzie and the Enchanted Creamery (1764 Mendon Road, 401-334-3375), tucked inside a strip mall. In warmer months, stop at the familiar yellow and green Del's lemonade stand (170 Mendon Road, 401-724-1708, dels.com), famous for its frozen treats and its franchises across Rhode Island.

Party

Pitcher's Pub (120 Manville Hill Road, 401-658-0058), a microbrewery with 22 taps and more than 150 bottled beers, attracts connoisseurs from afar for its unusual offerings. The pub, open till 1 a.m. on weekends, also serves nachos, burgers, and sandwiches. The Blackstone River Theater (549 Broad St., 401-725-9272, riverfolk.org) opened seven years ago in an abandoned Masonic Lodge and features performances of traditional folk music, especially by groups that settled in the Blackstone River Valley. Events this month include Celtic harp and storytelling. For a more introverted exploration, check out the daily meditation sessions, open to the general public, at the Providence Zen Center (99 Pound Road, 401-658-1464, providencezen.org).

Spend

Many of the most appealing places to shop are the local farms in the more rural reaches of town. Phantom Farms (2920 Diamond Hill Road, 401-333-2240, phantomfarms.com) sells numerous varieties of apples grown in the orchard behind the store. The sprawling farm store also includes a garden shop, baked treats, and coffee, with a few indoor tables and some on a wooden deck outside, for taking a break. Vadenais Farm (65 Pine Swamp Road, 401-405-0054) grows vegetables and flowers, and has a small petting zoo of farm animals on the days the barn is open. Adams Farm (140 Sumner Brown Road, 401-333-1845) sells pumpkins and apples in the fall with the added excitement of hayrides and a corn maze.

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