In the summer, tourists flood South County to enjoy the abundant beaches, waterfront dining and coastal attractions. The rest of the year, though, those things are all ours to enjoy. Take a day trip and enjoy some off-season exploring.
The Main Street stretch of restaurants, salons and shopping in East Greenwich has a sophisticated city feel. Blueprint 5 (631 Main Street. 401-885-2500) sells upscale men’s clothing and custom-tailored suits, and Therapy (235 Main Street. 401-884-3130) recently relocated its ladies clothing, including hard to find denim, from Wakefield to this bustling city center. Sports and More (99 Main Street. 401-714-0485) sells collectible sports memorabilia.
Over on Post Road, grab something sweet from Sweet Twist (5707 Post Road. 401-885-7579), whether that’s chocolate or jewelry, and a bottle of wine from The Savory Grape (1000 Division Street. 401-886-9463) for perfect hostess gifts. Next door, Le’s Isle Rose (1000 Division Street. 401-885-8391) has unique floral arrangements and memorable gifts.
The harborside hamlet of Wickford (a village within North Kingstown) is so picturesque that John Updike himself is said to have based the town in The Witches of Eastwick on it. Stop by for a bite at Tavern By the Sea (16 West Main Street. 401-294-5771) or the new Tate’s Italian Kitchen (64 Brown Street. 401-294-0000) before or after your shopping. Different Drummer (7 West Main Street. 401-294-4867) offers jewelry and unique gifts sure to make a lasting impression. Green Ink (89 Brown Street. 401-294-6266) has been a ladies’ fashion mainstay in the community for decades. Canvasworks Plus (10 Main Street. 401-295-8080) has fun handbags and gifts, and Blue Hydrangea (2 Main Street. 401-295-2583) has beautiful housewares. The Grateful Heart (17 West Main Street. 401-294-3981) is a spiritual store that sells thoughtful gifts, including candles and incense. The Impressed Olive (4 Brown Street. 401-295-5757) is a specialty shop where you can taste-test olive oils and vinegars before you buy them.
A village of South Kingstown, Wakefield is home to South County’s only mall - but don’t overlook these independent merchants in favor of the big box. Just off of Route 1, there’s a cluster of small businesses, including Zero Wampum (161 Old Tower Hill Road. 401-789-7172), which sells lovely gifts and unique cards and wrapping paper, and Feet First (153 Old Tower Hill Road. 401-783-8074) which specializes in brands like UGG, Birkenstock and Dansko and carries hard-to-find sizes.
Heading into downtown Wakefield, stop at Seaside Style (343 Main Street. 401-284-1551) for fashionable finds for ladies and coastal-inspired gifts. Up the street, Purple Cow (205 Main Street. 401-789-2389) has been a mainstay in the community for years, selling eclectic and fun gifts and clothing. Benny and Jack (237 Robinson Street. 401-360-2258) has everything your four-legged friend has ever dreamed of. Nearby in Peace Dale, Comfort and Joy (1220 Kingstown Road. 401- 783-5300) sells innovative, super comfy pillows, chairs and toys.
On your drive into downtown Narragansett, don’t miss Crosswynds Traders (1175 Boston Neck Road. 401-782-1110), which sells name brand and designer clothing for significantly less than mall prices.
Don’t be fooled by the expanse of ocean – Narragansett is open year round, with all of the same delicious restaurants and none of the tourists taking your tables. In Pier Marketplace, a year-round shopping hub, there are lots of options. If you need to refuel before you shop, stop at Maharaja (1 Beach Street. 401-363-9988) for authentic, perfectly prepared Indian food.
Then, walk off your meal by strolling the Pier. Simply Natural (24A Pier Marketplace. 401-782-3400) focuses on local, organic, sustainable gifts. Curiosity and Mischief (4 Pier Marketplace. 401-782-1992) is your stop for booklovers – stock up on cards, stationery and bestselling books. If you’re feeling creative, stop in at Create Color Art Studio (5 Pier Marketplace. 401- 363-9511) to make unforgettable handpainted gifts. Stop into nearby Critter Hut (91 Point Judith Road. 401-789-9444) for all of your pet supply needs.
In Hope Valley, Hack and Livery (1006 Main Street. 401-539-7033) is a good old-fashioned general store, where you can find everything from toys and clothing to candles and edible gifts. West Kingston’s Jules Antiques and General Store (320 Kingstown Road. 401-539-2925) is an emporium of housewares and gifts you never knew you needed.
In Charlestown, The Fantastic Umbrella Factory (4820 Old Post Road. 401- 364-1060) is a destination unto itself. Plan to spend an afternoon browsing its art gallery, greenhouse, petting zoo, cafe and gift shops.