A timeless safe harbor for all seasons
Colonial history, village shops, and novel connection
WICKFORD, R.I. - This North Kingstown village is one of the most picturesque and popular seaside hamlets in the state. Established in 1709 on Wickford Harbor, it is bustling with activity in summer. It stays busy in winter, too, especially when Brown Street shines like a Christmas tree, with storefronts and shrubs twinkling with holiday lights. Built around one of the most protected harbors in the country, Wickford is home to a huge collection of 18th-century homes. It is also said to have been the inspiration for John Updike’s “The Witches of Eastwick,’’ the name combining nearby East Greenwich and the village itself.
The only places to stay nearby are the Hamilton Village Inn (642 Boston Neck Road, 401-295-0700, www.hamiltonvillage.com, rates from $79), newly renovated with pet-friendly rooms, and the Wickford Motor Inn (7650 Post Road, 401-294-4852, $63), about a mile away. The historic Haddie Pierce House (146 Boston Neck Road, 401-294-7674, www.haddiepierce.com, rates from $140) in the village itself is closed for the winter. An American four-square clapboard home with widow’s walk built in 1906, it was named a Best of New England winner for 2008-09 by bedandbreakfast.com.
One of the best places to eat in Wickford is Tavern by the Sea (16 West Main St., 401-294-5771, www.tavernbytheseari.com, entrees from $15.95), a historic, restored mansion on the water that looks like an old framed boathouse. Deck dining is popular in summer, but the winter views are stellar. Check out the Tuesday night special that for $29.95 gets dinner for two with two glasses of wine. Wickford Diner (64 Brown St., 401-295-5477, www.quahog.com/diner.html, breakfast from $2.95, lunch from $2.75) has been around forever. A restored Tierney diner, it was expanded five years ago. Its filling oyster stew for $7 is just the lunch you need on a cold winter’s day. Right on the harbor is popular lunch spot Beach Rose Café (85 Brown St., 401-295-2800, www.beachrosecafe.com, breakfast from $2.95, lunch from $6.95, and in winter, occasional dinners on Friday nights), featuring locally harvested food from land and sea, and fair-trade organic coffee. Get morning coffee and bagels at the aptly named Bagelz of Wickford (221 West Main St., 401-294-6366, www.bagelzri.com, bagels $.92, sandwiches from $5.39) offering fresh-baked pastries and a full deli menu.
DURING THE DAY
Year-round shopping is big here with dozens of shops on Brown Street. The Book Garden (99 Brown St., 401-294-3285) on the corner of Brown and Main is a fun, old-style store with huge windows overlooking the busy intersection. It is crammed with secondhand books, collectibles, and topiaries. Different Drummer (7 Main St., 401-294-2867, www.differentdrummerri.com), run by artist Susan Amelia Smith since 1988, is jammed floor-to-ceiling with gifts such as Trollbeads, wind chimes, handcrafted jewelry, and this time of year, a sun-catching front-window assortment of holiday glass ornaments. The Midnight Sun (83 Brown St., 401-295-1601, www.midnightsunri.com) on the harbor, which owner Sharon B. Kucera laughingly admits is a “hippie-dippy place,’’ has fun things such as bottles of incense, didgeridoos, and seasonally necessary items such as Peruvian wool sweaters. The Kayak Centre (9 Phillips St., 401-295-4400, www.kayakcentre.com) is one of the country’s biggest kayak shops with seasonal deals on kayaks and accessories.
In Wickford Village proper, you won’t find any night life, but not far away in North Kingstown is Duffy’s Tavern (235 Tower Hill Road, 401-295-3733, www.quahog.com/duffys.html), a popular local restaurant with live entertainment Friday and Saturday nights. Also in North Kingstown is Sonoma Pub (7366 Post Road, 401-295-0800, www.sonomagrille.com) with a huge lounge and seven HD televisions. It serves 22 draft beers, 50 bottled beers, and 21 wines by the glass, and hosts live, mostly acoustic music, on weekends. Gillian’s Ale House in North Kingstown (7835 Post Road, 401-667-0900), an Irish pub featuring live music Wednesday through Sunday, serves $5 martinis and $.25 wings on Thursdays and Sundays after 6 p.m.
Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at email@example.com.