Charlestown, Richmond and Hopkinton, colloquially known as Chariho, offer a taste of both South County’s lively tourism industry of today and its rural past. Charlestown is the only one of the three on the water, and thus home to Chariho’s only beaches, with both a town and a state beach occupying the narrow strip of land that encircles the coastal lagoon Ninigret Pond. Hopkinton and neighboring Richmond share the historic village of Hope Valley, the center of which is featured on the national Register of Historic Places.
Celebrate in Chariho
Despite being largely rural, this three-town area is home to several of the biggest and best events of summer in South County. Here’s your social calendar.
August 7-9: Charlestown Seafood Festival
This self-proclaimed “gastronomic extravaganza” is a three-day carnival style midway with lots of entertainment – and, of course, food. Feast your fill on clams, chowders, lobster, fish and chips and so much more. Ninigret Park, Rt. 1A, Charlestown. 401-364-4031, charlestownrichamber.com/seafoodfestival.html
August 12-16: Washington County Fair
This five-day festival is the state’s biggest agricultural event and draws visitors from far and wide for country music concerts, a huge midway, rides for the kids, horse and tractor pulls, and lots of other fun stuff. Washington County Pomona Grange Recreational Area, Rt. 112, Richmond. 401-539-7042, washingtoncountyfair-ri.com
September 4-6: Rhythm and Roots Festival
Celebrate Labor Day weekend with three days of food, festivities and the best in American roots music ranging from blues to zydeco to bluegrass. There are multiple stages of music, kids and family entertainment, and camping space available. Ninigret Park, Rt. 1A, Charlestown. 888-855-6940, rhythmandroots.com
Fantastic Umbrella Factory
For one of the more unique shopping experiences to be found anywhere, check out this collection of vintage shops and curiosity peddlers set on a secluded rural site in the woods of Charlestown. 4820 Old Post Rd. 401-364-1060, fantasticumbrellafactory.com
Frosty Drew Observatory and Nature Center
Located within Ninigret Park, Frosty Drew provides both an observatory/sky theater for those who want to see the stars, and an educational nature center for those who prefer to stay closer to the ground. 401-364-9508, frostydrew.org
Hack and Livery
Get that old-time general store experience at this unique emporium. They’ve got a little bit of everything for everyone, and plenty of small town charm. 1006 Main St., Hope Valley. 401-539-7033
Kettle Pond Visitors Center
This environmental learning center teaches kids and adults alike about local ecosystems. take the opportunity to learn about the national Wildlife Refuge Complex across the state, especially Ninigret national Wildlife Refuge just down the road. 50 Bend Rd., Charlestown. 401-364-9124, fws.gov/ninigret
When it’s not hosting festivals, this 227-acre park offers a range of other activities, with a playground, ball fields, bicycle path, tennis and basketball courts, freshwater pond with beach and picnic areas. Rt. 1A, Charlestown. 401-364-1222
The Charlestown Gallery (5000 S. County Trl. 401-364-0120, charlestowngalleryri.com) is a contemporary gallery with an emphasis on regional photography, sculpture and painting. Peter Pots Pottery (494 Glen Rock Rd., West Kingston. 401-783-2350, peterpotspottery.com) is a must-see working kiln with unique creations.