Summer Guide – Day Trips

Chariho: Three Towns Full of Adventure

The towns of Charlestown, Richmond and Hopkinton, colloquially known as Chariho, are rural hideaways that offer some of South County’s best coastal and wooded scenery.

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A Magical Excursion
Contrary to its name, The Fantastic Umbrella Factory does not make, or even sell, umbrellas. This whimsical destination defies description, but is a fantastic place to spend a few hours. Since 1968, the 19th century farmyard has been a sort of artist collective and international bazaar. At the Umbrella Factory, you’ll find potters creating art at Small Axe Productions, and shops like The General Store and South County Artisans Loft selling everything from penny candy to local art. The Umbrella Factory Gardens is a unique greenhouse, and there are perennial gardens filled with flowers and sculptures throughout the property with places to sit and take everything in. There’s a bamboo maze, and a barnyard filled with emus, goats and chickens. And after you’ve done all that, make sure you've saved room for lunch at the Small Axe Cafe. 4820 Old Post Road, Charlestown. 401-364-1060, FantasticUmbrellaFactory.com

Unusual Eats
Chariho has its share of delicious restaurants, but two are unlike any other in Rhode Island. The Nordic Lodge is a lakeside restaurant in Charlestown that brings in customers by the busload, literally, to get a taste of their seafood buffet. The price tag is high – $93 per adult – but the spread is worth it: all you can eat lobster, crab, raw bar, prime rib, filet, bacon-wrapped scallops, lobster bisque, shrimp scampi and lobster mac and cheese (to name a few), plus a salad bar, a dessert bar and soft drinks. There’s also an a la carte menu for smaller appetites. 178 East Pasquiset Trail, Charlestown. 401-783-4515, NordicLodge.com

The Charlestown Rathskeller is a piece of South County history, revived from a speakeasy in operation in that building 80 years ago. Now, the Rathskeller is a go-to hangout for locals. The kitchen serves gastropub favorites like the Duck & Sausage plate (crispy confit duck leg and German-style bockwurst with braised red cabbage), a Bacon Blue Burger (with blue cheese, bacon, pickled onions and arugula) and their signature Rathskeller Fries plain, loaded, with truffled pecorino or with short rib gravy. Before or after dinner, the lawn has lawn games – their cornhole tournament is on Thursday evenings – and the restaurant often hosts live music. 489A Old Coach Road, Charlestown. 401-792-1000, TheCharlestownRathskeller.com

Natural Wonders
Charlestown’s Ninigret Park hosts signature events like the Charlestown Seafood Festival, but the 227-acre park is also home to a playground, ball fields, a bike path, tennis and basketball courts, picnic areas and a freshwater pond with a beach. Inside the park, Frosty Drew Observatory offers nighttime stargazing and an educational nature center. Route 1A, Charlestown. Park: 401-364-1222. Observatory: 401-364-9508. FrostyDrew.org

Kettle Pond Visitors Center is an environmental learning center that teaches families about local ecosystems. It’s a great resource for learning about the National Wildlife Refuge Complex spread across the state, especially Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge just down the road. 50 Bend Road, Charlestown. 401-364-9124, FWS.gov/Ninigret