A drive along Tiverton's roads meanders pleasantly past farms and fields protected by stone walls rising high to a flat surface even without mortar. Beth Dolan Whitehead, 54, has done her share of travel, but her favorite stretch of country road is here at home. The ride to Fogland Beach "starting from the Provender on Neck Road is the prettiest ride around," she says. "The beach is rocky, but beautiful for sunsets, swimming, windsurfing, picnicking, walking, and stone-skipping." Not far from better-known Newport, Tiverton was named for the town in Devon, England, and incorporated into the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1694, and into Rhode Island in 1747. Looking onto the Sakonnet River and Mount Hope Bay, Tiverton offers some of the prettiest coastal vistas in the region. It's no surprise the town has lured second-home owners and visitors with its pastoral setting, historic Tiverton Four Corners, and quaint shops and galleries. Summer and fall are ideal times to visit.
There are no hotels in Tiverton, so if you must bed down, your choices are two bed-and-breakfasts. Ferolbink Farms Bed and Breakfast (993 Neck Road, 401-624-4107; $75-$140 a night, two-night minimum, open April-October) is a 20-room Victorian house with a porch overlooking Narragansett Bay, and a working 550-acre farm. Six rooms in a separate area of the house are reserved for guests, with singles and doubles, as well as one two-room suite that accommodates up to six. Breakfasts are a treat, especially when fresh berries and vegetables from the farm are used. Owner Jason Peckham, who grew up in the house, says, "When the weather is favorable, you can sit on the porch and eat."
Lundgren's Bed and Breakfast (531 Neck Road, 401-624-6364) is a 1740 Federal-style home with a private cottage, set amid gardens, available for two-night stays. The cottage has a living room, dining room, kitchen area (which you may need since breakfast is not included), and bath on the first floor, and a bedroom upstairs. Nancy and Raymond Lundgren allow guests to use their tennis court.
The emphasis is on nature here. Get up for sunrise and walk along Fogland Road toward the beach. A landscape of wildflowers bursting out of stone walls leads to the rocky shore. Next stop is Fogland Beach, named for the fog that envelopes the shore. The black stone beach (on Fogland Beach Road) is popular with surfers and families because it has a lifeguard, bathrooms, and showers. (Nonresident parking $5 weekdays, $10 weekends.)
For a bike tour of the area, cycle with a group from across the border at Village Bicycle (678 Main Road, Westport, 508-636-0525, villagebicycle.com).
For something less strenuous, visit the Four Corners Arts Center 10th annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition (The Meeting House, 3850 Main Road, 401-624-6200, fourcornersarts.org).
Art buyers, come ready to adorn your walls. Tiverton is home to a few working studios and galleries, most notably The Donovan Gallery (3895 Main Road, 401-624-4000, donovangallery.com), representing New England artists.
Gallery 4 (3848 Main Road, 401-816-0999) features paintings and unique home decorating pieces from China and Vietnam.
The Richards Gallery (3964 Main Road, 508-999-5288, artistkenrichards.com) specializes in paintings by Ken Richards, many of them landscapes of Mykonos, Greece, where he lives part of the year.
For the home decorator, visit The Cottage at Four Corners (3847 Main Road, 401-625-5814, thecottageri.com) where proprietor Nancy Hemenway specializes in furnishings by Mitchell Gold and Maine Cottage.
If you crave night life, head to Newport or Providence, less than 30 minutes away. Still, there is a buzz of activity many summer evenings at Tiverton Four Corners. On Wednesdays, Tiverton Four Corners Arts Center (tivertonfourcorners.com/artscenter/) shows independent films and puts on plays. Last month, a film about Christo was featured. Check the website for updates.
Savor the sunset from the Boat House (227 Schooner Drive, 401-624-6300, boathousetiverton.com) a restaurant where you can sip a cocktail in an Adirondack chair overlooking the Sakonnet River. No matter where you watch the day end, expect nature to provide the party. Most of the water views in Tiverton are to the west and the sunsets are spectacular.
When in Tiverton do as Tivertonians do and head to Coastal Roasters (1791 Main Road, 401-624-2343) for a light breakfast, where you can sit outside by the Sakonnet River and watch a working waterfront while you sip your coffee or latte.
Or, head to The Barn (15 East Main Road, Adamsville, 401-635-2985), a renovated 200-year-old barn, for a traditional breakfast of johnnycakes or omelets.
For a good old-fashioned clamshack, Evelyn's Drive-In (2335 Main Road, 401-624-3100, evelynsdrivein.com) is a must.
Across from Grinnell's Beach, Four Corners Grille (3841 Main Road, 401-624-1510) is reasonably priced and serves good home- style food three meals a day.
For a picnic, stock up at Provender (3883 Main Road, 401-624-8084). For dessert, stop by Gray's Ice Cream (Tiverton Four Corners, 16 East Road, 401-624-4500, graysicecream.com).
Tiverton Four Corners Arts Center (3852 Main Road, 401-624-2600, fourcornersarts.org) is a hub of activity this time of year with a calendar of plays, music, children's classes, and activities.
This weekend you can visit artists where they work as part of the SouthCoast Open Studio Tour (openstudiomap .com).
Later this month, The Meeting House will be alive with the Four Corners Antique Show (3850 Main Road, 401-624-6200, fourcornersarts.org; Aug. 25, 9 a.m.-4 p.m.) with dealers from 10 states offering 18th- to 20th-century American furniture, folk art, and paintings.
In neighboring Little Compton, Sakonnet Vineyards (162 West Main Road, 800-919-4637, sakonnetwine.com) is open daily 10 a.m-6 p.m. for tours and tastings.