This little-known Rhode Island village is worth a trip

The Kayak Centre of Rhode Island offers several tours that depart from Wickford. –Rachel McCarty

If you don’t know about Wickford Village — if you’re not deliberately seeking it out — there’s a solid chance you’d never just happen through. Down long side routes, along Wickford Cove, it’s a hidden gem across Narragansett Bay. With unique artisan shops, galleries, antique shops, cafes, restaurants, and kayaking spots nestled in a walkable downtown, it’s the quainter side of Newport on a gentler pace. In warmer months, the seaside village in North Kingstown, R.I., springs to life. About an hour and a half south of Boston — and some 20 minutes from Newport — the idyll makes for a charming summer escape.

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Eat
Breakfast with a view at Wickford on the Water, a stone’s throw from the ocean. Linger over blueberry buttermilk pancakes, French toast made with sweet brioche, Belgian waffles with chocolate chips, or a “Meat Me in Wickford’’ scrambled eggs with sausage, ham, bacon, and cheddar cheese with homemade hash. 85 Brown St. 401-294-7900. www.wickfordonthewater.com

Lunch at Shayna’s Place, where the house take on an Italian grinder, “Vinny’s Kitchen,’’ is renowned. Travelers might tuck into “The Traveler’’ — curried chicken salad with golden raisins, romaine, and mango chutney — or a lightly breaded eggplant grinder with fresh mozzarella, arugula and house dressing. Summer salads include the Narragansett Pear, with baby arugula, red pear, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, Vidalia onion, gorgonzola and honey poppyseed dressing; and Plum Beach Garden salad, with baby arugula, yellow plum tomatoes, beets, red onion, sliced cucumber, carrots, and sunflower seeds. 45 Brown St. 401-294-8740. www.shaynasplaceri.com

Grab a slice of teriyaki pizza, a fried chicken calzone or honey mustard wings at The Place, a classic everything-you-need-in-a-pizza-joint pizza joint. 95 Brown St. 401-294-0800. Sweet tooth? Iconic Rhode Island doughnut shop, Allie’s Donuts, is about a 10-minute drive from the village and worth every minute. They’re also known for their custom “Big Donuts.’’ We’re talking cake-size. #TreatYoSelf. 3661 Quaker Lane, North Kingstown. 401-295-8036.

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On date night, dine al fresco at Tavern by the Sea. You might start with goat cheese croquettes drizzled with Greek thyme honey; or crab cakes seasoned with white wine and garlic. Sample entrees include roasted duck with plum glaze, baked sea scallops in white wine lemon butter, or grilled swordfish. A warm night might call for a lamb burger with feta, house lobster roll, or grilled pizza. 16 West Main St. 401-294-5771. www.tavernbytheseari.com

Fare changes almost daily at Tate’s Italian Kitchen, but par for the course: roasted cauliflower, crab cakes, pan-seared gnocchi with basil, lasagna bolognese, veal saltimbocca with prosciutto, linguine clams with pancetta, plus an extensive wine list. 64 Brown St. 401-294-0000. www.tatesitaliankitchen.com

Unique shopping
There’s lots of it. The small and bustling downtown mostly encompasses Brown, Main, and West Main streets. Start your wanderings here. The area is lined with dozens of independent and curated shops — many more than can be mentioned here. Your best option is to just stroll, stop, and shop.

Try Green Ink, an eclectic-stylish women’s boutique — think Habitat, Eileen Fisher, Dansko — for clothing, curated jewelry, and accessories. (89 Brown St. 401-294-6266. www.greeninkboutique.com.) Canvasworks+ offers women’s clothing and handbags — think Vera Bradley, Baggallini, and the like — plus items for guys, kids, and tots, along with specialty foods and more. 10 Main St. 401-295-8080. www.canvasworksplus.com

Find artisan jewelry, pottery, glassware, cards, and whimsical clothing at Different Drummer. (7 West Main St. 401-294-4867. www.differentdrummerri.com) JW Graham offers a variety of jewelry (26 Brown St., 401-295-0757) while sister store Yes! Gallery houses home decor, gifts, and the ilk. 17 Brown St., 401-295-5525.

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Shop glassware, jewelry, home decor, gifts, and more at Lulabells (12 Main St. 401-667-7676. www.lulabellsgifts.com). Find kids clothes and toys at Teddybearskins. 17 Brown St., 401-295-0282. www.teddybearskins.com.

Make an antiques road trip to Re, just outside Wickford, where you’re apt to find anything from Navajo squash blossom pendant necklaces to a vintage ferry life jacket cabinet, a French wine rack, a gilded console from Newport mansion, or a chess set by Igor Faberge. 7512 Post Road, North Kingstown. 401-667-5996. rerhodeisland.com

Play
The Kayak Centre of Rhode Island is a hub of summer activity. Here you might take a half-day stand-up paddleboarding class, zen out in paddleboard yoga class, embark on a guided kayak tour of coastal Newport or Jamestown, take a sunset or moonlight harbor paddle or rent a paddleboard or kayak and head out on your own for stunning views. 70 Brown St. 401-295-4400. www.kayakcentre.com

Art lovers, mark your calendar for the 56th Annual Wickford Arts Festival July 7 and 8 when downtown pops to life, quite literally, with tents, as hundreds of artists showcase their works in acrylics, mixed media, glass, metal, pottery, woodworking, and more. Admission is free, plus there are food vendors. Shop till you drop (wickfordart.org). Throughout the summer, you’ll find Wickford Harbor Lights nights, when the harbor lights up and live music starts.www.facebook.com/WickfordHarborLightsRI

Cyclists, bring your wheels — and phone with cycling GPS app — as roads here make for gorgeous ride. Or launch a kayak, toss the frisbee or football, or picnic at Wilson Park. GPS: 211 West Main St. Hike nearby at The John H. Chafee Nature Preserve. Boston Neck Road, North Kingstown. www.riparks.com/Locations/LocationJohnHChafee.html

Explore the nearby Gilbert Stuart Museum. The early American portraitist is perhaps most well-known for his unfinished portrait of George Washington. His family’s 1750 home has been authentically restored and furnished. 815 Gilbert Stuart Road, Saunderstown, R.I. 401-294-3001. www.gilbertstuartmuseum.org

Stay
Starting Memorial Day, stay at Blue Oaks Bed & Breakfast at the historic Victorian-era Haddie Pierce House (146 Boston Neck Road. 401-268-3902. www.facebook.com/blueoaksbedandbreakfast). A mile from downtown, Hamilton Village Inn offers onsite restaurant and picnic tables. 642 Boston Neck Road, North Kingstown. 401-295-0700. www.hamiltonvillageinn.com

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