Warren, the smallest town in the smallest county in the
smallest state, offers big time travel fun.
You're in for a Treat When Visiting Warren, Rhode Island
Updated on August 14, 2017
Orange cabinet drink from
the soda fountain at Delekta's in Warren, R.I.
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Located between Providence and Newport, Warren shares very little in
common with those two popular Rhode Island destinations. Unglamorous,
short on square miles and more a working-class town than a world-class
travel spot, Warren might take some getting used to as a travel
destination but wonderful coastal memories can easily be made in the
process of discovering this hidden gem. Bordering upscale Barrington
and the classic, leafy New England seaside town of Bristol, Warren has
remained more unassuming and varied in appearance -- sometimes with
elements of blue collar urban neighborhoods and other times exhibiting
the best scenes of coastal Rhode Island.
Warren -- once well-known as whaling port and as a shipbuilding center
beginning in the 18th century -- surprisingly offers many
criteria sought after when planning a coastal New England day trip.
There’s great seafood, a beach, a growing restaurant scene, a wonderful
bike trail, theater and and a walkable, historic downtown with
boutiques, galleries, a one-of-a-kind gift shop and many appealing “mom
and pop” stores. It is especially heartwarming to travel the narrow
Main St., that retains a charming, historic traditional New England
look rather than the wide single and multi-lane roads -- or being split
in the middle by a major route -- that have increasingly impeded the
authenticity of so many towns and cities in the northeast. Yes, the
traffic can become more congested on a single lane road, but it's not
all that bad in Warren and the retro layout lends itself to having a
close-knit community vibe.
Downtown Warren, R.I.
“This is a perfect example of a small town,” said Tim White, a Bristol
native now living in Boston -- and whose mom once owned a flower shop
in Warren. “You get that small-town Americana feel here, but you also
have theater, and so many great restaurants. That Americana feel,
there’s not enough of it here (in our country) so it’s nice to see that
Warren still has it. I really enjoy coming back here.”
The 8.6 sq. mile town with a population of a little over 10,000 people
as part of Bristol County (with a population of only 50,000) includes a
scenic location on the Warren River. One of the biggest draws of
visiting Warren is the East Bay Bike Path, which spans nearly 14 miles
from Providence to Bristol. It’s one of southern New England’s most
beautiful bike and walk ways with some stunning water views, especially
in Bristol. Warren offers a great advantage to East Bay Bike Path
visitors around the downtown district, as many make a stop here to
discover some unique shops and restaurants.
East Bay Bike Trail in Warren, R.I.
Waterfront views at the East Bay Bike Trail, just over the
border in Bristol, R.I.
Delekta’s, at 496 Main St., serves as the cornerstone of Warren
businesses, dating back to 1858 as a pharmacy with a soda fountain. The
pharmacy side closed in late April, but the delightful old-fashioned
soda fountain remains serving its famous “coffee cabinet” (in Rhode
Island, cabinet is the word for “milkshake,” or for “frappe” in New
England with varying ingredient interpretations) and other delicious
flavors that keep it simple with syrup, ice cream and milk. The coffee
syrup recipe is secret, according to Bob Daignault who worked at the
pharmacy as a youngster and then went onto a career in the medical
field before returning to work at Delekta’s in his retirement. The
store has only seen three owners in its history and still features
original woodwork, tin ceilings, tiny vintage booths, and tile
flooring, as well as collectibles, old-fashioned candy and basic drug
store items. The stone bar is an update, but the feeling is truly
nostalgic and priceless -- a must visit as few soda fountains remain in
Old-fashioned Delekta's in Warren.
A return to yesteryear: the inside of Delekta's in Warren.
Mixing some 21st century business ingredients into its signature drink,
Delekta’s recently ran a social media promotion and, according to
Daignault, sold 225 cabinets in a day.
Daignault, a lifelong Warren resident, said that while the Warren of
yesteryear had many more local stores and services, the pride of a
small town template still remains.
“Growing up here, you could get anything you needed in town,” said
Daignault. “We had five pharmacies within a block! There was also
Woolworth’s and Newberry’s (both five and dime stores), two grocery
stores, everything. You don’t see that anymore, but you still have that
local feel... I am proud of Warren.”
Historical preservation helps keep the older look of Warren prominent
with a visually appealing variety of housing in 19th century revival
and Victorian styles within the central district. At the center of town
is the beautiful Warren Town Hall, at 514 Main St. -- built in the
1890s and featuring an Italian Renaissance tower on a Federal
hip-roofed structure, with Italianate compound windows.
The food scene in tiny Warren is quite impressive. For seafood lovers,
the year-round Blount Market and Kitchen at 406 Water St., has a
fabulous seafood market, as well as a cozy small dining area serving
delicious half pound lobster rolls, New England clam chowder to die
for, full bellied clams, lobster and, overall, a great variety of
seafood and shellfish arriving fresh daily—some from its own local
lobster and scallop boats. The Blount family helped pioneer the oyster
industry locally going back to the early part of the 20th century, but
the 1938 New England Hurricane wiped out the thriving business.
Blount’s recovered, however, transitioning the business to clams and
thriving to this very day with further expansion to a state-of-the-art
soup facility in Fall River, Massachusetts. Many restaurants nationwide
serve Blount’s soups under brand names.
New England clam chowder, Rhode Island clam cake and lobster
rolll with tail from Blount Market and Kitchen in Warren.
Unassuming from the outside, delicious on the inside: Blount
Market and Kitchen in Warren.
Down the road at 335 Water St., the seasonal Blount Clam Shack has the
same menu as the Kitchen, but with water views and, often, lines
forming to soon enjoy the summer breeze and fresh seafood.
More than 15 restaurants reside in the central district, including
waterfront dining at the Wharf Tavern (215 Water St.), traditional
American food at the Square Peg (51 Miller St.) and the Revival Craft
Kitchen and Bar (50 Miller St.) with contemporary American cuisine,
tapas and specialty drinks.
Waterfront dining at the Wharf Tavern in Warren.
Mini restaurant row in Warren. R.I.: Square Peg and Revival.
For lovers of shopping, Imagine Gift Store, at 5 Miller St., in the
downtown district, calls itself the largest gift store in New England,
and that could very well be the case. Located in the former Lyric
Theater building, the colorfully-painted storefront features three
floors of merchandise including home decor, gourmet food, fashion
accessories, bath and body items, clothing and apparel, stationery,
jewelry, unique gifts, a 1950s-style ice cream parlor and a candy shop
with more than 500 candy choices. Imagine Gift Store is also part of
the CowParade movement where more than 10,000 artists worldwide have
participated by creating art work with cow themes. Imagine Gift Store
features four full-sized cows on display both inside and outside the
store, as well as miniature cows which can be purchased within the
Imagine Gift Store in Warren is housed in the former Lyric
Some other noteworthy businesses downtown include in Your Ear Records,
at 462 Main St., for new and used CD and records; Luca, at 193 Water
St., a “designer children’s & maternity consignment
boutique”; Sea Dog Adirondack, at 92 Water St., selling hand-
crafted Adirondack chairs made by owner Glenn Turgeon; Made in Warren,
at 476 Main St. showcasing a cooperative of artists’ and artisans’
in a retail storefront; and Flashback Vintage Emporium, at 450 Main
St., merchandising vintage pop culture collectibles, records, clothes,
and toys. 2nd Story Theatre, at 28 Market St., utilizes local talent to
offer affordably-priced plays at its theatre.
The free Warren Town Beach at 533-539 Water St. offers a modest stretch
of sand, shallow water for swimming (and virtually no waves),
playground equipment and nice, grassy, shaded areas for walking or
enjoying a picnic.
Warren Town Beach in Warren.
Nice, shaded area just beyond the Warren Town Beach.
At the end of the travel day in Warren, it is quite apparent that this
friendly little town offers more than initially meets the eye. Given
that Warren is less busy than Providence, Bristol and Newport, the
chance to see the town and make your own discoveries can easily be
achieved by getting out of the car and enjoying the quaint narrow
streets, bike path access points, and waterfront all within walking
“It’s such a wonderful town,” said Carole Ferias, a manager at Blount
Market and Kitchen. “So cute, so quaint. It’s really a great community.”
Stay at the Bristol Harbor Inn near Warren, Rhode Island
To find out more about Warren, log the Discover Warren web site at http://discoverwarren.com/.
Interested in having your
Warren, R.I., business featured on this page for a low, one-time fee? Contact Eric for
Quaint, historic downtown Warren.
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VisitingNewEngland.com Publisher Eric Hurwitz
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