Wickford, a charming and historic village of old churches, Colonial houses and beautiful gardens about 10 miles from I-95 on Narragansett Bay, is the kind of place that makes you screech on the brakes. It's that cute. The former town center of North Kingstown, it's said to have the densest concentration of original late-Revolutionary and Federal period houses in New England. Among its treasures are the 1707 Old Narragansett Church, one of the oldest Episcopal churches in America, open to visitors on weekends in July and August; the 1740 Wickford House; a 1733 house known as "Old Yellow" for obvious reasons; and the Old Narragansett Bank, now a private residence, dating from 1845.
Getting hungry? Snag a booth at the Brown Street Deli (85 Brown St.), clearly a local favorite, or The Place (95 Brown St.), known for its pizza. Or take your lunch across the street to Updike Park, with its moving monument to the soldiers of North Kingstown. Save some time for the antiques and specialty shops along Brown and Main streets, including the Book Garden (99 Brown St.), where the new and used books and garden supplies (nice combination!) are presided over by Beans, the resident Yorkie; Pipsee Doo (6 Main St.), not as cutesy as it sounds, with hand-painted furniture, antiques, jewelry, crafts and wonderful, affordable origami shadowboxes; and A Different Drummer (7 Main St.), purveyors of cards, journals, hand-painted frames and witty pins contrived from old photos and postcards ($4.50 each). Check out the galleries, too, including Studio Zwei (2 Main St.). The Wickford Art Festival, an annual outdoor art fair, always draws big crowds (this year, July 10-11).
To get to Wickford, take the exit to Route 102 and follow that for 10 miles to its intersection with Route 1. If you're coming from Newport, take Route 138 west over the Newport and Jamestown bridges, go right onto Route 1A north and continue three miles. Details: North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce, 401-295-5566, www.northkingstown.com.
CAPTION: Colonial villages don't get any quainter than Wickford.