Visit South County, home of seaside villages and historic mills
Old Narragansett Church
Church Lane off Main Street
One of the four original colonial parishes in Rhode Island, this church was built in 1707. Includes antique communion silver, slave gallery, and the oldest church organ in North America, built in 1680. Gilbert Stuart, the portrait artist, was baptized there in 1755.
Hours: Open July-August, Sunday only, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
55 Richard Smith Drive
This National Landmark was built in 1678, and is very near to the trading center built by Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, in 1636. Numerous archeological discovers have been made here, and in 1995 the original house underwent a major restoration.
Hours: Open May-June and September-October, Friday-Sunday, noon-4 p.m.; July-August, Thursday-Sunday, noon-4 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $6; children age 6-112, $2.
Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum
815 Gilbert Stuart Road
Saunderstown, RI, 02874
A showplace for reproductions of the works of Gilbert Stuart, one of America’s foremost portrait painters, this home also is an authentically restored and furnished workingman’s home and the site of the first snuff mill in America. The lovely wooded homestead on the banks of the Mattatuxet Brook also features a partially restored grist mill and a fascinating fish ladder. The grist mill houses the original fine-grained granite stones used to grind corn for the famous Rhode Island johnny cakes.
Hours: May- September; limited hours in October; call ahead for days and times.
Admission: Adults, $10; children age 6-12, $6
Historic seaside village founded in 1641, visitors will find great water views, 17th- and 18th-century buildings that are well preserved, and many fine shops and restaurants.
The Towers are all that remains of the historic Narragansett Pier Casino, built in 1883 and designed by world famous architect Stanford White, who also built the original Madison Square Garden in New York City. Restoration of the property currently is underway, and there are exhibits to view there, in adition to the Narragansett Chamber of Commerce Visitor's Center. Open daily 9 am-4 pm. Summer tours are available.
Flying Horse Carousel
Watch Hill, RI
The Flying Horse Carousel is the oldest in the country, and records show it was used earlier than 1879. It was brought to Watch Hill in 1883. Each carousel horse is hand-carved from a single piece of wood, and features authentic tails, manes, leather saddles, and agate eyes. They are suspended from a frame in the center, swinging out above the base of the carousel when it is in motion. Only children are permitted to ride the carousel.
Hours: Open June 15-Labor Day, 1-9 p.m.
General James Mitchell Varnum House
57 Peirce Street
East Greenwich, RI, 02818
James Mitchell Varnum was one of George Washington’s generals. His mansion was built in 1773, and visitors can enjoy the Colonial garden, the paneled walls, and period furnishings.
Hours: June-August, Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Admission: Donation suggested.
Watch Hill Lighthouse Museum
14 Lighthouse Road
Watch Hill, RI
Exhibits feature information about life in the area in the 18th and 19th century, particularly relating to marine issues. Facing Fisher's Island Sound, the lighthouse was built in 1858.
Hours: July-August, Tuesday and Thursday, 1-3 p.m.
2325 Boston Neck Road (Route 1A)
Saunderstown, RI, 02874
Explore this working farm with a tour that includes the farmyard and the family cemetery, where six generations of Caseys are buried. Visitors are welcome to ramble along trails and view the organic vegetable and flower gardens. The farm also keeps a flock of heirloom Dominique chickens as well as heritage-breed turkeys. Hiking trails surround the property.
Hours: June 1-October 15, Tuesday and Thursday, 1-5 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. The Coastal Grower’s Farmers’ Market is held on Saturdays, May through October, 9 a.m.-noon.
Admission: $4; seniors, $3; students and children, $2.
1460 Ocean Road
Built in 1816, this eight-sided building replaced the original lighthouse, which was lost in a gale in 1815. During the American Revolution, the light was the site of a Coast Guard station. The grounds are open to visitors and plenty of information is available on the history of the site. Access to the lighthouse and the Coast Guard Station are restricted, but tours for groups can be arranged by appointment.
Hours: Open Monday-Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
124 Granite Street
Built in 1734, this was the home of Dr. Joshua Babcock, who was the first physician to practice in Westerly, and who also served as postmaster. Babcock is known as a friend of Benjamin Franklin. A later resident of the house, Orlando Smith, discovered granite on the property, which became a major industry for the community in the 19th century.
Hours: May 30 through October 31, Saturday, 2-5 p.m.; July and August, Friday and Saturdays, 2-5 p.m. Group tours by arrangement.
Admission: Adults, $5; children, $1.
Along Route 138
South Kingstown, RI
Kingston Village was founded in 1723, and many historic buildings remain, adding to the atmosphere of Colonial life in Rhode Island. Located right at the entrance to the University of Rhode Island.