Written by: Judy Waytiuk

"We're southern Rhode Island and happy are we that we're the largest geographical portion of the state. We're three gallons wide and two gallons long," said Myrna George, president of the Wakefield-based South County Tourism Council. "We have an ecological approach to our attractions all those beaches and probably one of the largest management areas for hiking, biking, fishing and all the outdoor soft adventure you can think of."

There's a Winery Trail from Newport to Westerly, which includes the Langworthy Farm Winery. The property operates as a bed and breakfast as well as a vineyard and winery. Maple syrup and honey offer sweet touches to South Country touring. Charlie's Sugar Shack in Coventry shows off sugar mapling and candy-making, "and he's sweet as can be," George added.

Quaint waterfront villages, annual events like the Balloon Festival, the Old Yankee Festival (featuring that Yankee staple, Johnny cakes), Charlestown Seafood Festival and historic spots like the South County Museum, Smith's Castle in Whitford, the Gilbert Stuart Museum in Narragensett and the Babcock-Smith House Museum in Westerly represent just the tip of the festival and museum iceberg (there are 15 all told) in South County.

South County also has a full 100 miles of coastline and beaches. Narragansett's Scarborough State Beach is the state's most popular, but there are dozens more, some as tiny as Salty Brine Beach, barely 100 yards long.

Where there's coastline, there must be lighthouses, and the Rhode Island Lighthouse Cruise from Quonset Point covers nine stops around Narragansett Bay, along with 10 islands, two bridges and John F. Kennedy's summer home.

"The preservation around the state is phenomenal," White said. "Yet it's so diverse that you can go from a city like Providence to rural countryside and farms in 30 minutes, with everything in between. It's a microcosm of all things New England."