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Historic Wickford, Rhode Island | Home to the Wickford Art Festival

You must love a harbor specked with sailboats, embrace dogs of every nation, and enjoy strolling through the 1700s—or the charms of Wickford will elude you.

Blue skies over Wickford Harbor

Blue skies over Wickford Harbor

If, however, such things appeal, this coming weekend, July 13 and 14, might be the perfect time to indulge. You can enjoy Wickford at the height of summer season, while the village is saturated in the ultimate arts experience: the yearly Wickford Art Festival. This major event draws over 200 artists from around the country, descending on a town festooned with artwork and popup tents. With this as the backdrop.

Round-about town

Round-about town

Here’s the backstory. Just 25 minutes from the bustle of Providence and Newport, RI, is an echo of bygone times and a Main Street so authentic it’s been called one of America’s 10 best. But the real heart of historic Wickford, settled in 1637, is its harbor, a deep-blue indentation halfway down Narragansett Bay. Wickford Harbor insinuates itself into the center of the village, sidling around to the far end of Main Street and reaching under the bridge at Brown Street to drift alongside the casual Tavern By the Sea restaurant.

Tavern By the Sea

Tavern By the Sea

Pleasant Street shoots down to a boat launch sandwiched between the Yacht Club and a classic boatyard. There really is water everywhere, if you’ll excuse the trite and true.

End of Main

End of Main

You almost have to close your eyes to not see water, slivered between gaily-painted houses from the 18th and 19th centuries. The houses have a lively presence of their own. It’s one of the densest collections of historic homes in New England, with buildings wearing placards that bear names like Remington Straight, Jabez Bullock, and countless others–reminders that this iconic town and Main Street were centuries in the making.

Classic Cape

Classic Cape

Baby Blues Colors on Main Gambrel with a view Main Street Beauty More Pleasant! Old Yellow, the oldest house On Pleasant Street Perfect beach house
Yellow and pickets

Speaking of massive collections, are dogs a requirement here?

You must have a dog...

You must have a dog…

“It’s one of the bylaws,” says a man out walking his Golden Retriever. The two of them are stopped in front of Shaggy Chic, a dogtique on Main Street. “I come here once a week to walk my dog.”

1. Pubs.. 2. and watering holes everywhere 3. and their own dogtique

Well you would, too. This seaport nugget has been named One of America’s Ten Best Main Streets, in Remembering Main Street, by Pat Ross.

Corner of Main and Brown

Corner of Main and Brown

It also served as the model for John Updike’s novel The Witches of Eastwick, but that’s heading into a whole other dimension…. Meanwhile, here are some more reasons why this village is so bewitching.

You can have your morning coffee in full view of paddling swans at the Beach Rose Café, overlooking a harbor darting with sailboats and kayaks;

Beach Rose Cafe for morning coffee

Beach Rose Cafe for morning coffee

take your lunch on the water across the street at Tavern By the Sea (dogs wait tableside with infinite patience for good fortune to drop their way);

Yum

Yum

rent a kayak right in the center of Wickford at The Kayak Centre, and thread your way through the fishing vessels and sailboats scattered around the harbor;

Kayakers anywhere there's water

Kayakers anywhere there’s water

and top it off with a few leisurely forays into the tawny brick shops that are postcard stand-ins for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, only here you’ll be scooping up kitchen goods, garden salvage, dog treats, and 60s nostalgia instead of magic wands.

Could you shop here?

Could you shop here?

Inspiration is on hand in decorating shops and antiques corners. This place, The Wickford Collection on Main Street, is a living still-life everywhere you look, and attracts an unexpected variety of shoppers, as you will see.1. Wickford Collection sign 2. on Main Street 3. Inspiration 4. and temptation 5. appeals to a range of shoppers

Given Wickford’s charms, it should come as no surprise that the village hosts such a major yearly arts festival every summer. It’s the perfect setting, really. There could be no lovelier canvas than Wickford itself.

The prettiest setting imaginable

The prettiest setting imaginable

Please Note: This article was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Annie Graves

Author:

Annie Graves

Biography:

Annie Graves is a regular contributor to Yankee. A New Hampshire native, she has been a writer and editor for over 25 years, while composing music and writing young adult novels. Find out more about Annie at anniegraves.com.
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