South County encompasses miles of pristine coastline, thousands of acres of woodlands and nature preserves, ocean beaches, freshwater ponds and meandering rivers. From scenic coastal communities along Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to pastoral villages, inland forests and farmlands, South County is truly a nature lover’s dream.
At the head of the Pettaquamscutt River lies the first stop of this tour, the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace Museum. View the famous waterwheels as you walk the historic grounds and gardens. The Museum was built in 1751, giving you a glimpse of where the great artist was born and began his life before his famous portrait of George Washington graced the front of every dollar seen in America today.
Next, we visit the South County Museum in Narragansett a 174-acre town park that was the 19th-century estate of Rhode Island's Civil War-era governor and post-war senator, William Sprague. Jump into the past where you’ll explore 22,000 artifacts and various aspects of working life on the sea and shore throughout Rhode Island. For more information about the museum, call 401.783.0154.
Next, we head to Westerly and take a stroll through is at Wilcox Park, a beautifully landscaped, miniature replica of New York’s Central Park. Maintained by the Westerly Public Library, it has unique species of trees, a dwarf conifer collection and perennial and annual flower beds. After a driving tour of downtown, historic Westerly, enjoy a stop at the Westerly Armory, one of 18 historic armories in Rhode Island and one of the 5 ½ designed by the architectural firm of William R. Walker & Son. Built in 1901, it served as home to the various military units in Rhode Island and now displays a variety of community and military memorabilia to preserve community, state, and national history. For more information about the armory, call 401.596.8554.
The last stop is Babcock-Smith House, a Georgian-style mansion built in 1734 by Dr. Joshua Babcock, Westerly’s first physician, a postmaster and the Chief Justice of Rhode Island. It later became the home of Orlando Smith, discoverer of the famed Westerly Granite in 1846. For more information, call 401.596.5704.