June 18, 2024

Special Places by the Sea & in the News

 Rehoboth Ramblings


Don’t you sometimes wish that places called “hidden gems” by travel writers would stay hidden, or at least not overly publicized? You don’t want it to be like that old line “no one goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.”

I felt this way when I recently read a travel article in The New York Times titled “Country Roads, Coastal Views and Autumn’s Bounty in Rhode Island”. Mentioning Warren, Bristol, Tiverton, and Little Compton, the article goes on: “the farm stands, art galleries and land conservation efforts of the East Bay region show why Fall is the golden season in the Ocean State.” Included are lovely photos of Goosewing Beach in Little Compton glowing in the sunset and of shells on the beach at Fogland in Tiverton.

My first (somewhat uncharitable) thought was “No! Don’t encourage more New Yorkers to come up here.” We could hardly find a parking spot at Tiverton Four Corners this summer due to all the cars with New York plates. Yes, I know Massachusetts plates are out of state in Rhode Island too, but this little part of the littlest state was once part of Massachusetts, and we’re right next door.

The author of this Times article, Christine Chitnis, focuses on such things as land trusts and local farms and restaurants, including Groundswell in Tiverton Four Corners, the new complex of upscale café, home goods store and gardening shop. The café is where Provender used to be (in Rhode Island speak). While I’m glad that Groundswell is doing a booming business, I still miss getting sandwiches and cookies at Provender before going to South Shore/Goosewing. Also, you can tell that the author is an out-of-towner because she neglected to mention Gray’s Ice Cream, a cherished local institution.

While Rehoboth is in a picturesque woodsy location, it does lack any access to the shore, which requires a bit of a drive (by Rhode Island standards anyway). The coastal drive through Tiverton is so scenic, showcasing the beauty of the South Coast. I’m thinking especially of Seapowet Avenue on the way to Fogland Beach. This lovely road is in a residential area (unlike Rt. 88 on the way to Horseneck in Westport) and signs urge drivers to go slow. Good advice.

Unlike Horseneck, Fogland isn’t an ocean-facing beach since it is situated on the wide Sakonnet River before it flows into the sea. You won’t find pounding surf, but the gentle waves are great for little kids and it’s a good place to go for a walk. Wind-surfers seem to love the place and they are fun to watch too.

Speaking of Horseneck, on a drive there in October, we found that they were repaving both the main parking lot and the one to the west, by the campground. The signs said to use Parking Lot 1, which I wasn’t even aware of. Turns out that there is a paved trail from that lot going about a mile east to the other campground. We hadn’t been on this path before and it was fun to think that we had found a new (to us) feature in a landscape we had been visiting for over four decades.

Bristol gets a nod in the Times article, with a mention of Blithewold, the historic mansion on the bay with such beautiful grounds. I like Blithewold too, but don’t forget the free places along the bay in Bristol, such as Colt State Park, which is always a favorite, and the trail at the Audubon Society Nature Center, right at the Warren town line. The boardwalk goes down to a platform with a great view of the bay. In the summer you can usually see osprey high up in their nests, raising their chicks and swooping down to catch fish. The trail crosses the East Bay Bike Path too. The bike path is very popular with walkers, runners and skaters, so it can get a bit crowded.

And speaking of walks, I now have a copy of “Walking Rhode Island: 40 Hikes for Nature and History Lovers with Pictures, GPS Coordinates and Trail Maps” by John Kostrzewa. This is a collection of his columns in the Providence Journal from the past few years and it’s very helpful for anyone who wants to explore the outdoors in Rhode Island (trails range from easy walks to more demanding hikes). Maybe he’ll hike over to Southeast Massachusetts next.


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