Find great and fun things to do in the Blackstone ValleyThis is the home of the American Industrial Revolution, which was launched at a mill in Pawtucket and powered by the strength of the Blackstone River. A place of old towns with immigrant flavor, you can browse country stores; ride horseback on forest trails; or paddle your own canoe or kayak past the dams, canal locks, and bridges that tell the story of America’s hardest working river. For fun activities, there are local breweries and wineries to sample, a sophisticated jazz venue to enjoy, and a gambling casino with video slots, table games, and top name entertainment year-round.
Brown & Hopkins Country Store on Putnam Pike in Chepachet defines itself as “purveyors of fine primitive country wares, period lighting & reproduction furniture [with] everything from penny candy to primitive cupboards.” The store, in business since 1809, sells primitive country home accessories, curtains, furniture, lighting, quilts, framed prints, fabric by the yard, candles, florals, garlands, primitive dolls gourmet specialties and, of course, penny candy. The shopkeeper, Liz McIntyre, promises: “Stop in soon... old fashioned hospitality awaits you!” Open daily. Phone: 401-568-4830
Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but it sure packs a punch when it comes to art and relaxed fun with a group of friends. Paint and Vino at 150 Main Street, Pawtucket offers a unique ladies' night out at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. nearly every day of the week and weekends. Practice the art of painting in a relaxed, social atmosphere. Even if you've never picked up a paintbrush before, Paint and Vino can provide you with a full evening of creative fun and wine tastings in Pawtucket’s buzzing art scene and night life. Local artists teach these group painting classes step-by-step, and New England wine will be served during the party. Reservations are required. Phone: 401-680-0856
The Blackstone River Valley, extending from Providence, RI, to Worcester, MA, is a crucible of American industrial history. The town of Pawtucket is where the Englishman Samuel Slater built our country’s first cotton spinning mill in 1790, based on plans stolen from England. Over the next centuries, the river became an industrial zone for early mills and a magnet for immigrant workers from French Canada and elsewhere. Today, visitors can enjoy tours of historic sites -- principally the Slater Mill -- along with biking and water sports along the river. The boat Blackstone Valley Explorer offers cruises from its base in Pawtucket. The Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor is eager to tell the story of this region that so much exemplifies the American story. Six visitor centers, in Pawtucket, Lincoln, Woonsocket, RI and Uxbridge and Worcester in MA help you plan your tour. Choose a self guided tour and follow this map of the corridor. Phone: 401-762-0250.
Since 1965, Chan’s Fine Oriental Dining on Main Street in Woonsocket has been a legendary place to take in a Chinese dinner followed by a close-up, live performance by masters of jazz, blues, folk, cabaret, and comedy in a sophisticated nightclub setting. Your host is John Chan, son of the founder, who greets and seats guests in family-style tables close to the best music to be found anywhere on the East Coast. Music is live and vibrant every weekend and some weeknights, including open mic nights once a month. Some upcoming performers include Duke Robillard Band, Commander Cody, Bellevue Cadillac, Ana Popvic Band, Lil’ Ed and the Blue Imperials, and more great jazz and blues. Silk ties and high heeled shoes are right in style at this place of glitter, fun, and excellent music. Phone: 401-765-1900.
Lots of people don’t know how much inland beauty is found in Rhode Island’s western regions. A drive out to the wonderfully named village of Chepachet will get you to the famous Ancients and Horribles Parade on July and also to the new Purple Cat Vineyard and Winery at 11 Money Hill Road. The Purple Cat offers small batch handcrafted wines, available for tasting and purchasing in the tasting room daily, year-round, from noon to 8 p.m. The Cat also has a delightful bistro featuring a healthy menu with teas, javas, and smoothies; and a theater company presenting performances by local people. Come to the pretty inland places of Rhode Island. 401-566-9463