Summer Guide – Day Trips

South Kingstown: Villages Full of Summer Fun

There’s a lot of awesome packed into a small area - take a day to explore it.

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By the Shore in Matunuck
As far as South County beaches go, you could do a lot worse than East Matunuck State Beach. Most of the traffic ends in Narragansett, but Matunuck is just a few minutes farther down Route 1 and, on the whole, has much smaller crowds. The other bonus: Succotash Road has choice restaurants like Matunuck Oyster Bar, on the short list of must-visit summer restaurants because chef/owner Perry Raso raises his own Matunuck Oysters, available from the always-packed raw bar. Across the street, Cap’n Jack’s (and its sister restaurant Salt Marsh Raw Bar) serves up traditional New England fare, and has an attached bakery that’s nearly impossible to resist. Just down the road, bring your own wine to Jim’s Dock, a no-frills restaurant where you pick your own lobster and eat it on picnic tables on the actual fishing dock. Matunuck Oyster Bar: 629 Succotash Road, Matunuck. 401-783-4202, RhodyOysters.com. Cap’n Jack’s: 706 Succotash Road. 401-789-4556, CapnJacksRestaurant.com. Jim’s: 1175 Succotash Road. 401-783-2050

Stroll in Wakefield
If the weather isn’t cooperating – or you just need a break from the beach – spend some time exploring Main Street in Wakefield, which is lined with shops, restaurants and galleries. The Hera Gallery is a non-profit artist collective focusing on feminist art, and has been an institution in South County since 1974. At The Glass Station, artists Eben Horton and Jennifer Nauck create beautiful objects out of glass, and even offer classes in paperweight and ornament making. Hera: 10 High Street. 401-789-1488, HeraGallery.org. Glass Station: 318 Main Street. 401-788-2500, TheGlassStationStudio.com

The Mews Tavern is a Rhode Island dining icon, offering creative comfort food and 69 beers on tap at any given time. Their upstairs Celtic Pub has 200 Scotches and 40 whiskies and bourbons to sample… just not all at the same time. The rooftop bar at Phil’s Main Street Grille is a rare find in South County, offering up scenic views and delicious cocktails. Downstairs, there are two restaurants – a casual diner and a more upscale dining room – to whet your appetite. Mews: 456 Main Street. 401-783-9370, MewsTavern.com. Phil’s: 323 Main Street. 401-783-4073, Phils-Grille.com

Whaler’s Brewing Company isn’t your typical brewery. Founded by three friends, the brewers encourage you to come to the tap room, hang out, taste beers and bring your own food with you (or order something in). Try their new Stone & Steel series, including Lazarette Double Citra IPA, and grab a growler to go. South County’s only distillery, Sons of Liberty, is also New England’s most awarded one. Sons of Liberty has made a big splash with its Uprising and Battle Cry American Whiskies. Visit the distillery to taste their new releases or to barrel age your own Manhattans and take them home with you. Whaler’s: 1070 Kingstown Road. 401-284-7785, WhalersBrewing.com. SOL: 1425 Kingstown Road. 401-284-4006, SOLSpirits.com

Feeling Dramatic
The Contemporary Theater Company (CTC) stages unexpected and under-the-radar dramas and comedies in repertory. This summer will see rotating performances of beloved musical The Fantastiks, Neil Simon’s New York dinner party farce Rumors, and Slamming Doors, which is a full-length improvised farce. There are also kid-friendly performances on Saturdays. This summer, it’s The Emperor’s New Clothes – and late night improv comedy on the weekends. Fridays bring Micetro, CTC’s flagship improv show, and Saturday night is the Late Night Jamboree, where a rotating set of shows – house troupes Bait & Switch, Wilbur Wilbur Nealbur, Gorilla Improv and More or Less – let the audience decide the scenes they’ll be enacting. 327 Main Street, Wakefield. 401-218-0282, TheContemporaryTheater.com

When the Sun Goes Down
Theatre by the Sea (TBTS) has been a tradition in South County for nearly a century, and has seen the likes of Marlon Brando and Groucho Marx grace its stage. Housed in a historic barn, TBTS hosts professional-quality musical productions throughout the summer. This season, Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, West Side Story, The Wizard of Oz and Sister Act are taking the stage. 364 Cards Pond Road, Matunuck. 401-782-8587, TheatreByTheSea.com

The Ocean Mist is nothing fancy, but it’s a South County gem: just great pub fare, cold beers and a relaxed crowd. By day, the O Mist is a family-friendly restaurant. By night, it’s the place to be when you’re coming straight off the beach and you need refreshment. The expansive deck has views of Block Island, and the waves come directly underneath – that’s how close to the ocean you are. The Ocean Mist hosts live bands in the afternoon and at night. 895 Matunuck Beach Road, Matunuck. 401-782-3740, OceanMist.net