History is one center of busy waterfront town
Here at the geographic center of Rhode Island, this town’s Division Street in fact divides the state’s north and south. East Greenwich is a picturesque New England bayside town steeped in history (the first formal, governmentally authorized navy in the Western Hemisphere was born here), with an abundance of historic homes, museums, restaurants, and shops, most of them concentrated in the Hill and Harbor district, which includes Main Street. The town’s waterfront, Greenwich Cove, is home to marinas, pleasure boats, and places to savor and sip amid great views.
The town has a wealth of things to do but little in the way of lodging. In nearby towns, however, you’ll find Comfort Suites (10 Keyes Way, West Warwick, 401-826-1800, www.comfortsuites.com/hotel-west_warwick-rhode_island-RI016, rooms from $89) and Hampton Inn Coventry (850 Centre of New England Boulevard, Coventry, 401-823-4041, hamptoninn.hilton.com/en/hp/hotels/index.jhtml?ctyhocn=CVTRIHX, rooms from $84), both with amenities such as free Wi-Fi and continental breakfast.
DURING THE DAY
History thrives on Main Street. Check out the Varnum Memorial Armory (6 Main St., 401-884-1776, www.varnumcontinentals.org, open by appointment, admission free but donations accepted), which is on the National Register of Historic Places and has an extensive military and naval museum. The oldest surviving working wireless station in the world is at the New England Wireless and Steam Museum (1300 Frenchtown Road, 401-885-0545, www.newsm.org, open Thursdays and by appointment, $15 admission), which showcases the history of steam engines and wireless technology, and has the world’s only surviving George H. Corliss engine run by steam. Looking for other diversions like, say, shopping? Stroll down to Alex and Ani (232 Main St., 401-398-1023, www.alexandani.com/retailers.html), where you can browse jewelry, including a huge collection of trendy bracelets with designs reflecting mood and personality. Need some glad rags? Zuzu’s Petals (165 Main St., 401-398-1199, www.zuzusri.com) is a contemporary dress shop that specializes in party clothes, carrying designer goods from Nicole Miller, Laundry by Design, Tibi, Maria Bianca Nero, as well as jewelry and lingerie. Great reads, from bestsellers to bargains, can be found at Symposium Books (247 Main St., 401-886-1600, www.symposiumbooks.com), which looks small from the outside but holds a sizable collection within. Candy lovers must browse the Chocolate Delicacy (219 Main St., 401-884-4949, www.chocolatedelicacy.com), where Dave and Marie Schaller use Merckens chocolate to concoct such confections as the Wilbur, a chocolate-covered caramel and bacon delight, and truffles that Dave learned to make at the Rhode Island School of Design. Grab a lobster-shaped lollipop there and take a walk at Scalloptown Park and Nature Preserve (50 Rocky Hollow Road), a hilly scenic spot with walking trails and vistas of Greenwich Cove, or the Briggs Boesch Farm (830 South Road, 401-886-8645, www.eglandtrust.org), owned by the East Greenwich Land Trust, with its old farmhouse, working fields, and meandering trails.
This small town is thick with restaurants, big and small. A tiny fun spot is Main Street Coffee & Toscana Lounge (137 Main St., 401-885-8787, www.facebook.com/pages/Toscana-Lounge-at-Main-Street-Coffee/115304105205735, lunch from $6.49 ), a Tuscan-style place with coffee, pastries, sandwiches, and a cozy little art gallery upstairs that showcases the work of local artists. A popular breakfast stop is T’s (5600 Post Road, 401-398-7877, www.tsrestaurantri.com, breakfast from $4.99, lunch from $7.29), with a granite breakfast bar and original art on the walls by owner Anthony Tomaselli. One of the town’s oldest and best eateries is the very Italian-American Pal’s Restaurant (43 Division St., 401-884-9701, www.palsrestaurant.com, entrees from $7.95) with signature dishes such as veal Sinatra: veal with prosciutto, mushrooms, and spinach topped with mozzarella and a light pink sauce. Photo-worthy views of Greenwich Cove abound at Twenty Water Street (20 Water St., 401-885-3700, www.twentywaterstreet.com, entrees from $13.95), known for its fish and chips, and steaks, chops, and sandwiches.
Terrific local music reigns at the Greenwich Hotel (162 Main St., 401-884-4200, www.facebook.com/#!/greenwichhotel), which hosts acoustic bands every Thursday and “Rockin’ Songwriters’’ every Friday, and open mike and jam nights. Rhode Island Monthly awarded the lounge “Best Open Mic Night’’ last year. Fat Belly’s (241 Main St., 401-884-3434, www.fatbellyspub.com/eastgreenwich) is where you’ll find, along with great pub food and drink, live acoustic music and cover bands on Friday and Saturday nights. Right on the East Greenwich-Warwick line is upscale eatery 1149 Restaurant (1149 Division St., 401-884-1149, www.elevenfortyninerestaurant.com/1149.html), also a good place to kick back, or kick up your heels, and enjoy what the restaurant calls “upbeat dance music’’ on weekends.
Paul E. Kandarian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.