2021 Best of Rhode Island: Editors’ Picks

Our editors scoured the state for the best food, shopping, fun and beauty businesses in Rhode Island.

Patio cocktails or a dog-friendly getaway: Fun is calling.



PhotograpH (left) Courtesy of the Wayfinder/ Catherine Druken.


The Wayfinder
This dog-friendly, kid-friendly, locally owned hotel feels like home but, let’s face it, a whole lot trendier. Its midcentury/West Coast vibe is elevated by art from Rhody makers, think: Jenny Brown, Lizz Kelley and Sean Spellman by the pool. And let’s not forget the artistry at in-house resto Nomi Park, which puts a spin on old classics. Before long, you’ll be sipping the Lit Juice and, a la Chelsea Hotel, fantasizing about staying forever. 151 Admiral Kalbfus Rd., Newport, 849-9880, thewayfinderhotel.com

Garden Tour
Sakonnet Garden
Our favorite secret garden isn’t much of a secret, anymore. New this year, owners John Gwynne and Mikel Folcarelli open to the public every weekend for tours of extraordinary garden rooms and vistas, including a pollinator meadow and a sub-tropical quadrant with a Delhi-inspired red pavilion. Book your spot online, wander for a couple of hours and be forever inspired. 510 West Main Rd., Little Compton, sakonnetgarden.net



Courtesy of the United Theatre.

New Arts Complex
The United Theatre
Music, movies, dance or visual art: There’s something for everyone at the United. The revitalized venue, which opened this July in the heart of Westerly, is home to state-of-the-art facilities, a restaurant, the Rhode Island Philharmonic music school and a Public’s Radio bureau. Now more than ever, you’ll say: “Meet me in Westerly.” 5 Canal St., Westerly, 348-5829, unitedtheatre.org



New Flower Farm
Lavender Waves Farm
Is this heaven? (Close: It’s Wakefield.) Here, visitors can cut their own fragrant stems from tidy rows, picnic on the grounds, shop for farm-fresh soaps and candles and commune with friendly farm animals. Stay for the day or, for a seriously soothing experience, book the overnight suite. 3814 Commodore Perry Hwy., Wakefield, lavenderwavesfarm.com




Patio Hotspot
Industrious Spirit Company
Providence has come a long way from bootlegging and bathtub gin. The patio at ISCO Spirits, the city’s first distillery since Prohibition, is the scene for covetable cocktails made with handcrafted vodka, gin and bourbon. Live music, fire pits, pop-up food vendors and pork rinds — trust us — are sure to lift your spirits, too. Don’t miss Sunday afternoon distillery tours. 1 Sims Ave. #103, Providence, iscospirits.com



Melrose School art teacher Erica Connolly with student Brooke Montoya and her art installation. Courtesy the Jamestown Arts Center staff.


Outdoor Art
Jamestown Arts Center
Amid the pandemic, JAC met the moment — and gave us a good reason to visit — with a series of al fresco art installations dotting its picture-perfect island. Now through October, the nonprofit offers another opportunity to engage with the landscape via “Spacing Out(side),” a series of four outdoor sculptures by the East Ferry, the bike path and Fort Wetherill, one of which was conceptualized and designed by very creative local elementary school students. jamestownartcenter.org


Courtesy of Harmony Railway.

Train Ride
Harmony Railway
Couples, families and locomotive lovers, young and old: All aboard! This little blue train fills a big hole in our hearts with ten-minute rides that span farm and woods back to a simpler time. After your trip, sweeten the day with a jar of honey from the onsite shop. 474 Putnam Pike, Chepachet, 250-3435, harmonyriproducts.com



Photograph by Jamie Coelho.


Gaming Experience
This new attraction, at the R1 Indoor Karting facility, boasts twenty-five private rooms labeled with a year in time, from B.C. (hieroglyphics challenges!) and present day (a selfie station!) to the distant future (space invasion!). Test your strength, flexibility and intellect against the buzzer. 100 Higginson Ave., Lincoln, 721-5554, r1indoorkarting.com/timezone



Getty Images.


Shark Education Facility
Living Sharks Museum
The space might be small, but its bite is big. On Fridays and Saturdays, climb the stairs and enter the lair of curator and shark advocate Keith Cowley, who’s always on-hand to offer context for his collection of artifacts including paleontological specimens, intact jaws, egg cases, movie merch (guess which one) and more. Admission is free, but visitors can support this shark lovers’ paradise with donations. 53 High St., Westerly, livingsharks.org