What if I told you that in less than 15 minutes from downtown Providence by car (22 minutes via RIPTA bus), you could be walking the sidewalks of a quintessential New England seaside town, ice cream cone in hand – where there’s harbor views, cafe umbrellas signaling al fresco dining, a white steepled church, flowers cascading from colorful window boxes, and enough blossoming trees and shrubs (including beach roses) to sweeten the breeze? I’m describing Pawtuxet Village, a place many Rhode Islanders have yet to experience (chat with a village shopkeeper for a minute or less and they’ll tell you).
Even if Pawtuxet Village doesn’t ring a bell, you may have heard of Gaspee Days. Held each June, it’s essentially a small-scale version of Bristol’s Fourth of July festival that commemorates the 1772 burning of the HMS Gaspee, considered “America’s First Blow for Freedom” – the main drag even has a red, white, and blue stripe down the center, and flags fly from most every telephone pole. But if a Revolutionary War reenactment and parade haven’t lured you to this spot that straddles Cranston and Warwick, there’s plenty to experience all year long.
So, where is this mini Mystic? There are a couple of ways to get there, but opt for scenic 1A. Take Eddy Street to Allens Avenue, where you’ll pass all kinds of interesting sights, including a mountainous scrap yard – somehow bordered with rose bushes – and the classic Seaplane Diner. Before long, spot the entrance to Johnson & Wales University’s Harborside Campus and it’s around here where you’ll turn onto Broad Street, so you don’t miss All Favorites Cafe, a cool eatery serving up inventive classics amidst Joe Strummer posters.
You have now crossed the line into Cranston and are in Edgewood, a historic neighborhood not far from Roger Williams Park Botanical Center (mind blown?). When you reach Trinity Church, you’re about to enter the thick of the village: sidewalks dappled from tall leafy trees, awnings and strings of Edison bulbs, and street signs about boat parking. Broad Street is lined with cafes, small shops, and businesses, and there’s a bridge that you can walk across and take in views of the rolling Pawtuxet River. Keep going, even past Noon Designs, because Pawtuxet Park is not to be missed. The well-tended green space by the water’s edge features a playground, stone checkers/chess tables, identification labels on trees, a few Little Free Libraries, and a picturesque gazebo. Tall flora creates framed vistas of the harbor and homes across the water, comparable to a snippet of Camden, Maine.
For even more visual surprises, take Narragansett Avenue back to Providence where you’ll skirt the water. Turn onto Ocean Avenue and follow to the end – past Rhode Island Yacht Club – for a good look at the Providence River, the wind turbines, maybe even a sailboat or two. Back in the city, chances are good you’ll already be plotting a return visit to spend a full daycation by the water, no ferry or long drive required.
From eateries to handmade gifts to salons, here’s a sampling of what Pawtuxet offers. Learn more at FriendsOfPawtuxetVillage.org
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