8+ Charming Shopping Destinations in Rhode Island

Rhode Island’s villages, wharfs, and commercial thoroughfares transform holiday errands into memorable experiences

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Across the state there are charming streets and villages that seem like they’re straight out of a New England postcard. Here, historic homes and coastal views are the backdrop to shoppers meandering from day to dusk through mom-and-pop shops. Enter the holiday season and many shopkeepers have decorated their spaces (they may even be serving up hot cocoa and cider), and the atmosphere is picture-perfect, seemingly far from the mad hustle and bustle of the big box stores and clogged plazas. In these special places, shoppers are reintroduced to the joy of shopping. 

JAMESTOWN: BEAUTY AND THE BRIDGE

Jamestown is known for its stunning coastal views. By nature of it being an island, it’s filled with beautiful waterfront parks and farms. But more than that, Jamestown is home to a variety of award-winning restaurants and locally owned shops within a small footprint, making for a worthy ride over the bridge. 

Eat, Drink & Be Merry

Start your visit on Narragansett Avenue for a windy walk by the water and breathtaking views of the bridge from East Ferry Memorial Square. Warm up at shops like All Ashore Cottage Outfitters, Curiosity & Co., and Conanicut Gift Shop. Dining options range from sandwiches at the popular East Ferry Deli and Slice of Heaven to sumptuous meals at Beech, Our Table, and J22. 

Capture the Moment

For something unique, set a course for the Jamestown Historical Society to snap a photo by the 235-year-old Jamestown Windmill. Learn more at JamestownRIChamber.com

NEWPORT: WHARFS FILLED WITH WHIMSY

For a taste of classic New England, Newport’s multi-century-old wharfs are the perfect place to start. Bannister Wharf and Bowen’s Wharf, both located off America’s Cup Avenue, have been thriving seaports since the 1700s, boasting unique goods from near and far. Today, each is still lined with boutiques, cafes, restaurants, sightseeing excursions, and more. With brick walkways, brisk ocean breezes, and 18th century buildings, these districts are replete with quintessential Newport charm.

Eat, Drink, & Shop

On a brisk winter day, there are few things better than warm chowder. Pop into the Black Pearl for a world-famous bowl, which you can even take with you in a can! Just next door, check out Brahmin for handbags and accessories, Royal Male for British and European clothing, or North Sails for high-style performance wear, and Mandarine Boutique, among countless others. Remember to peek down the alleyways for hidden gem shops. Look into Bannister's Wharf Marina & Guestrooms before planning your visit if you’re interested in staying the night. To refuel after shopping, don’t miss the 12 Metre Cafe in nearby Market Square. Any trip to Bowen’s Wharf isn’t complete without something sweet from The Cookie Jar.

Parking Tip

Bowen’s Wharf does offer parking year-round, but the fees can be pricey if you’re planning to park for the day. If you don’t mind a quick walk, park for free (November 1 - April 30) at the Gateway Visitors Center Parking Lot instead. 

Capture the Moment

Most any photo taken from either wharf is destined to be stunning. Learn more at DiscoverNewport.org

PAWTUXET VILLAGE: A HIDDEN GEM

At the border of Warwick and Cranston, where the Pawtuxet River flows into the Providence River, sits Pawtuxet Village. In the 18th century, it was considered one of America’s premier shipping ports and was home to various mills. Today, many of its Colonial structures have been preserved, contributing to its quaint appeal. It’s also surprisingly close to Roger Williams Park.

Eat, Drink, & Shop

Lucy Juicy is a great place for smoothies, juices, bowls, and a slew of plant-based foods; directly across the street is American bistro, Revolution, and for pizza lovers, you won’t want to miss Fellini Pizzeria. When you’re ready to begin shopping, head up Broad Street to antique store Tag Sale Treasures, Twice Told Tales for used books and cards, or The Pawtuxet General for Pawtuxet-themed gifts. Just don’t forget to circle back by the river to shop homegoods and handmade jewelry at Noon Design Shop.

Capture the Moment

Make your way to Pawtuxet Park, a scenic spot with views of the Pawtuxet River and homes on the other side. Find a couple of Little Free Libraries before snapping some photos in the gazebo. Learn more at PawtuxetVillageAssociation.org

PROVIDENCE: STROLL SCENIC STREETS

The city has so many pockets of places to spend the day, but for history and charm, we’re focusing on two streets: Hope and Westminster. On the East Side, Hope Street is lined with historic homes and the city’s highest concentration of independently owned businesses. In the heart of downtown, Westminster Street offers another slew of local businesses, made even more quaint by the brick-lined walkway and string lights, a perfect place to wander before a show at PPAC.

Eat, Drink, & Shop

Starting on Hope Street, Little Sister is a great centrally located spot to grab flavorful breakfast pastries, brunch, or lunch. Ready to shop? Stock Culinary Goods, Rhody Craft, Frog & Toad, Kreatelier, J Marcel, and countless others are among the many great shops to explore. On Westminster Street, try ​​Amaryllis for a quiet, farm-to-table dinner with a bottle of wine from their neighbor, Eno Fine Wines. Or, if you’re looking for something more casual, head up the street to The Malted Barley for handmade pretzels and an extensive beer menu. In between you’ll find a large array of stores, including Craftland and Homestyle for gifts and art, The Vault Collective for vintage, and Symposium Books. While you’re exploring “downcity” keep an eye out for the many murals and sculptures scattered throughout downtown. Learn more at TheAvenueConcept.org 

Capture the Moment

Just off Westminster Street, on Weybosset, you’ll find the Arcade, the nation’s oldest indoor shopping mall. With Greek revival columns, granite walls, and classic facades, it’s the perfect spot for some fun photographs. Learn even more at GoProvidence.com; InDowncity.com

Parking Tip

Parking in downtown Providence can feel intimidating, but don’t let it deter you. Free two-hour parking will be available in designated commercial districts throughout Providence through December 31, 2022. In addition to on-street metered parking, there are many lots and garages around the area. 

TIVERTON: FESTIVE FOUR CORNERS

Tiverton is a small town in the East Bay packed with farm coast character. A perfect representation of that quaint allure is Tiverton Four Corners. In this village, you’ll find a collection of 18th century buildings and locally owned businesses and galleries together along two roads: Puncatest Neck and Main. 

Eat, Drink, & Shop

Park the car and head to Groundswell Café + Bakery to start your day with their menu of baked goods, sandwiches, coffees, teas, and more; don’t miss their sister shops Garden + Home and Table + Provisions. Keep wandering Route 77 because there are so many lovely shops to explore, including Tiffany Peay Jewelry & Healing Arts, cool vintage finds at Carmen & Ginger, and The Farm – an enchanting garden and decor shop open seasonally. There’s also Artemis, Peter’s Attic, and Patina Studio where you can browse antiques, vintage clothing, handmade wall art and more. Close the afternoon with lunch and a drink from Four Corners Grille, and if it’s not too cold for you, Gray’s Ice Cream is open 365 days a year.

Capture the Moment

Wander the sculpture garden behind the Four Corners Art Center. If you’re interested in the history of the area, the Amicable Congregational Church offers a self-guided walking tour. Learn more at TivertonFourCorners.com

WARREN: SET A COURSE FOR WATER STREET

Tucked between Barrington and Bristol, quirky little Warren is one of the towns along the stunning East Bay Bike Path. It has an emerging arts scene that runs throughout, and a reimagined downtown filled with shops and eateries, but set your navigation system for Water Street for one-of-a-kind businesses where you’re sure to find or eat something unexpected.

Eat, Drink, & Shop

The many options for dining on Water Street can make it tough to choose, but if you’re looking for waterfront, Trafford Restaurant offers stunning views with refined New England cuisine. For dessert, just pop across the parking lot to Cafe Water Street for crepes, baked goods, or espresso. A selection of distinctive shops includes Nature’s Apothecary, Beach Barn Art & Gifts, and Cerulean. Of course, don’t miss the storefronts in between!

Capture the Moment

While you’re at The Guild for a brew or app, pop out onto the deck for a picture with Little Island as your backdrop. Learn more at DiscoverWarren.com

WESTERLY: A DARLING DOWNTOWN

Lesser considered than its shoreline attractions, Westerly is home to a bustling and historic downtown district complete with a theater – The United. Split by the Pawcatuck River, the area shares its border with Pawcatuck, Connecticut. With beautiful historic buildings, such as the library and city hall, downtown Westerly has held onto its old New England aesthetic over the years.

Eat, Drink, & Shop

After bundling up for a walk through Wilcox Park, stop for a slice of pizza or a grinder at the widely loved PizzaPlace. Then, take a walk down Broad Street to Woodmansee’s and its sister store, Woodees for apparel, and find coastal art at Black Duck Gallery. Downtown has no shortage of gift shops, with multiple on High Street, including Westerly Gifts and The Eagle Nest Gallery. You’ll also find jewelry, antiques, furniture, boho clothing, surf wear, books, and more. As you plan the day, be sure to find time to pop into Tapped Apple Cidery & Winery for local beverages in a relaxed tasting room.  

Capture the Moment

Plan to linger through nightfall for Starry Lights, a new installation illuminating both parks and pond that runs through December. Learn more at OceanChamber.org

WICKFORD VILLAGE: CINEMATIC CHARM BY THE HARBOR

An undeniably special part of North Kingstown is Wickford Village, where visitors can “shop, dine, and play by the bay.” A big part of Wickford’s cinematic charm comes not only from its Colonial architecture, street lamps, and marina backdrop, but the efforts of the merchants, who go all out decorating shop windows for Christmas, imbuing the warm feeling of a Hallmark movie set.

Eat, Drink, & Shop

Wickford is full to the brim with shops, so while the area is small, you might want to set aside a full day to explore. Need something comfy and pretty to wear? Green Ink has been dressing women of all sizes for 50 years! Around the corner you’ll find clothing and accessories from around the world at Midnight Sun, local art and gifts at Vanessa Piche, soaps and PJs at Beauty and The Bath, great deals at Wickford Gourmet Factory Outlet, and so much more. If you’re staying for dinner, Tavern by the Sea and Wickford on the Water are both popular spots for American cuisine, while Tate’s Italian Kitchen offers a range of classic Italian dishes in a cozy dining room. Pizza lovers? Don’t miss Micky’s.

Capture the Moment

Behind Shayna’s Place is Library Park where you’ll find water views, along with the famous Narragansett Runestone. Learn more at WickfordVillage.org

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