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Historic Wickford Village: Hidden Small Town Charm in Coastal Rhode Island

Kayakers at Wickford Village Harbor, Wickford Village RI

Wickford Village, R.I.

by Eric Hurwitz. Article updated on 11/28/16

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Most New Englanders I've talked with have never heard of Wickford Village, R.I. Therefore, in my ongoing unofficial, casual poll, Wickford Village can be considered a certified hidden travel gem.

Tucked away by the harbor in North Kingstown, Wickford Village -- established in 1709 -- embodies everything that is good about New England and what many people expect this region to look like. The beautiful harbor views with boats and a sense of serenity, the tree-lined streets with old homes from the 1700 and 1800s, stately churches, outdoor waterfront cafes (try the Beach Rose for some delicious chowder and a lobster roll) and an unassuming but wonderful mix of shops (remarkably, more than 50 owner-operated) make Wickford Village a perfect place to spend a day or extended vacation. Although Wickford Village's downtown is relatively small, the shopping scene includes, clothing, books, jewelry, crafts, galleries, gifts, as well as the Kayak Centre at 9 Phillips St. when in the mood to navigate beautiful Wickford Village harbor. What's more, the seasonal events are tremendous: the Christmas season when lights and designs give Wickford Village the look of a cute, little toy village; the Wickford Art Festival in July; and Daffodil Days in the spring.

There's even a beach a few blocks over. I'm probably not supposed to say this since it is a town beach, but if you walk there (10 Beach St.) from the downtown and are on your best behavior, no one is porbably going to hassle you (results may vary, though).

Wickford Harbor town beach, Wickford Village RI
Town Beach in Wickford Village.

I found Wickford Harbor to be a great coastal walking town full of scenery with churches, gardens, the residential streets, and the beautiful harbor with all those colorful boats in the water. It is a friendly place where people stop to say "hello," and that really counts for a lot -- that is, to feel welcomed. If you took away the cars and a few other examples of modern leanings, I feel like many aspects of Wickford Village reflect what life was like 150 years ago. Not that I was around then, but I do read books on New England history!

West Main Street, Wickford Village RI
Historic tree-lined street in Wickford Village.

My plan for the day was to see as many Rhode Island towns as possible, but after feeling a sense coldness (not talking about the weather) in a nearby town, I decided to return to Wickford Village. I stayed here for the rest of my visit to coastal Rhode Island. When the feeling of quintessential New England resonates so strongly in the charming waterfront streets, it's best to stay put. Log onto the Wickford Village site for more info

Main Street USA scene in Wickford Village RI
Small town charm in Wickford Village.

Editor's note: there are no places to stay in Wickford Village, but you can book a room in nearby Newport.

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