The small towns of
South County, RI enjoy distinctive seasons: the sun-drenched summer, when tourists flock to the beach; the fire-kissed fall, when the deciduous trees of New England color the countryside; the festive winter, when Christmas lights cheer visitors and locals alike; and the celebratory spring, when the landscape serves as a constant reminder of the regenerative powers of nature. During the summer, South County--an area that combines eleven towns from Washington and Kent County--becomes saturated with people, many of whom are drawn to the breathtaking beaches of South County, as the region boasts an impressive
one-hundred miles of coast.
But stunning beaches are only the start of South County's appeal; the region contains numerous towns and villages steeped in colonial and Native American history. Rhode Islanders clearly care about their
local heritage as the abundance of cultural centers and museums indicates.
Places such as the Native-operated Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum, which allows visitors to view exhibits featuring legendary members of the New England
Narragansett Tribe, help to give travelers a personal and authentic historical perspective. The Museum and its grounds include gardens, forest, lawn, the outdoor Friendship Circle as well as the many Native exhibits and original historic documents in the Museum's collection. Nuweetooun School a central part of Tomaquag Museum empowers youth by teaching the knowledge of Native ancestors through arts, history and culture-based education.
South County also boasts an array of storied buildings-from mansions, to courthouses, to colonial homes. Take a stroll through downtown Wickford, where homes from the late 1700s buffer both sides of the street, and you might imagine how it felt to live in a close-knit community without the constant hum of electronic distraction. The
numerous lighthouses in South County spark similarly romantic visions of the lighthouse keeper, that transcendental recluse responsible for guiding ships to safety.
Authentic and charming lodging can be found at family-owned and operated B&Bs like the Eden Manor: a farmhouse-turned-mansion first built in 1840. You can get a taste of South County's rich maritime heritage by sampling the seafood at George's of Galilee, a restaurant that purchases seafood straight from the docks of the
squid capital of the East Coast, Point Judith. Those who enjoy the outdoors could spend weeks exploring South County's extensive park system. Here you can bike along a paved path for thirty miles--slipping through cedar swamps and forests as you wind your way from town to town. For those interested in golf, South County--sometimes referred to as the
"Golf Coast"-is home to 17 public courses.
Don't be fooled by the diminutive size of Rhode Island; this state is host to a staggering array of options, many of which are located in South County. Whether you're a golfer, beach-goer, nature-lover, or history buff, South County, RI is a great place to explore: a small-town steeped in history.
Chris & Kelsey Maki
Kelsey Maki teaches composition and creative writing at The College of New Jersey and Brookdale Community College. She earned her BA in American Literature from the University of California-Santa Cruz and her MA in English from Rutgers University and has published articles on teaching and composition.