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A TANK AWAY | LITTLE COMPTON, R.I.

For beaches or berries, a natural place to be

Sakonnet Harbor, opening into Rhode Island Sound, offers bucolic views. Sakonnet Harbor, opening into Rhode Island Sound, offers bucolic views. (John Tlumacki/Globe Staff/File 2009)
By Eric Wilbur
Globe Staff / May 19, 2010

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It’s true that Little Compton possesses many of the physical qualities synonymous with the quintessential New England destination: the towering white church, the general store, the white picket fences, the town common (the only one in the state). But it is the sense of community that truly distinguishes this village on Rhode Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. It boasts a friendliness often assumed to be a product of yesteryear — or at the very least a clever marketing tool. But Little Compton prides itself on this identity, making this quaint town a fine place for families and couples to visit. Here, much like the farmland and coastal surroundings, the hospitality is natural.

Stay
The luxurious Stone House (122 Sakonnet Point Road, www.stonehouse1854.com, 401-635-2222, $300-$1,000) opened last summer to great fanfare. This hotel and spa, housed in a historic 1854 mansion on meticulous grounds, is a pebble’s throw from the coast, where the hotel provides a private beach with views of the iconic Sakonnet Point Light. It is an opulent lodging alternative that had been somewhat foreign to the sleepy town, but has arrived to mostly rave reviews. For those seeking more classical digs, the Edith Pearl Bed and Breakfast (250 West Main Road, www.edithpearl.com, 401-592-0053, $175-$350) and the Harmony Home Farm Bed and Breakfast (456 Long Highway, www.harmonyhomefarm.com, 401-635-2283, $150) are both romantic avenues for a getaway. The Edith Pearl, surrounded by 200 acres of farm and woodland, is perfect for an isolated escape, while Harmony Home’s cozy accommodations, which can be rented by the week or the month, will probably make you feel like one of the family.

Dine
For breakfast, you won’t go wrong choosing one at Commons Lunch (48 Commons, 401-635-4388, breakfasts $4-$7) or the Barn (15 Main Road, Adamsville, 401-635-2985, breakfasts $4-$11). The former, in the center of town known as “The Commons,’’ is renowned for its johnnycakes, a type of pancake made from cornmeal that has roots as far back as the exploration of North America. You’ll find them at the Barn as well, along with omelet menu ingredients including Portuguese chorizo and lobster. After taking a tour at Sakonnet Vineyards, hit up the Coop Cafe (162 West Main Road, www.sakonnetwine.com/coop.cfm, 800-919-4637, $5-$9), the on-site establishment featuring an array of sandwiches, salads, and a cheese plate perfect for the tasting palette. Local seafood dishes are the highlight at the family-friendly Crowther’s Restaurant (90 Pottersville Road, www.crowthersrestaurant.com, 401-635-8367, entrees $12.99-$22.99), while Tuscan dishes made with local organic ingredients are the selling point at the Stone House’s Pietra (122 Sakonnet Point Road, www.stonehouse1854.com, 401-635-2222, entrees $21-$42).

During the day
Those looking for a history of the area (beyond this being the original home of the Rhode Island Red) should be sure to check out the Little Compton Historical Society (548 West Main Road, www.littlecompton.org, 401-635-4035, $5) at the Wilbor House Museum, a refurbished area preserving the town’s Pilgrim era. Tours of Sakonnet Vineyards’ (162 West Main Road, www.sakonnetwine.com, 800-919-4637) expansive winery take place at noon and 3 p.m., when you’ll be introduced to more than 50 acres of grape harvesting and the opportunity to sample one of the chardonnay, gewürztraminer, and pinot noir offerings. The more adventurous should head to Living Water Surf Co. (73 Simmons Road, www.livingwatersurfco.com, 401-635-9100) for surfing equipment and information on where to catch the best waves. For a more serene beach experience, Goosewing Beach, owned since 1989 by the Nature Conservancy, possesses one of the most undisturbed, scenic spots in the state. Of course, a visit to Little Compton isn’t complete without sampling some of the local produce, some of which is pick-your-own. For strawberries this summer, try Delucia’s Berry Farm (96 Willow Ave., www.deluciasberryfarm.com, 401-635-2698). For eggplant, watermelon, pumpkins, cantaloupes, and tomatoes this August, hit up Old Stone Orchard (33 Colebrook Road, www.oldstoneorchard.com, 401-635-2663). In the fall, visit Young Family Farm (260 West Main Road, www.youngfamilyfarm.com, 401-635-0110) for apples. For a late afternoon pick-me-up, swing by the tiny Art Cafe (7 South of Commons Road, 401-635-2169) in the Commons for a cup of coffee, and the chance to view the works of local artists in a picturesque garden setting.

After dark
Like the town itself, night life is understated and limited. Watch the sun set with the gourmet dinner of your choosing aboard Sakonnet Charters’ Hinckley 59 yacht (sailing out of Sakonnet Harbor, www.sakonnetcharters.com, Monday-Thursday, $175 per person, $500 minimum, 401-474-2405). Margaret’s Corner Cones (Corner of Simmons and South Commons Roads, seasonal) serves ice cream on the Commons, perfect after a day on the beach or on the waves. While in town, be sure to visit the Est. of C.W. Wilbur General Store (50 South Commons Road, 401-635-2356), a retail shop, supermarket, and deli counter that sprawls far deeper than the unsuspecting visitor may imagine.

Eric Wilbur can be reached at ewilbur@boston.com.