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THE PREFECT DAY TRIP..........................................

Take a trip 300 years back in time to Rhode Island's most unique and stylish little village

TIVERTON, R.I. With the price of gasoline climbing ever higher, and the time available for family vacations growing ever shorter, many families are looking for day trips close to home. For those living in central and southern New England, a day trip to Tiverton Four Corners on the Sakonnet Passage is the perfect answer.

CORY PLACE SHOPSJust an hour's drive south of Boston, Tiverton Four Corners exists in an area unscarred by the passage of time. The Colonial-era village (which takes its name from the crossroads where a country store once stood) boasts an impressive collection of 18th and 19th century homes, many with gambrel roofs and cedar-shingle siding, which have been converted into one of the most stylish collections of shops and galleries in New England. Surrounding the village is a landscape of ancient stone walls and working farms that look like they've been airlifted in from the English countryside, or preserved intact since the days of the American Revolution.

This perfect slice of New Englandiana is hidden away but not hard to find. Motorists coming south from Boston or Providence on Route 24 can exit at RI Route 77 just before the Sakonnet River Bridge. Known familiarly as the Main Road, Rt. 77 winds scenically past the Tiverton harbor and then along a high bluff overlooking the ever-widening vistas of the tidal Sakonnet Passage. Tiverton Four Corners is about five miles south of Rt. 24, and the scenic road continues down through the town of Little Compton before ending at the picturesque Sakonnet Harbor and Sakonnet Light on the edge of the open Atlantic.

The entrance to Tiverton Four Corners is guarded by the Amicable Congregational Church. While the oldest sections of the current building, across the street from the Hillside Cemetery, date from around 1811, the church was established in 1747.

Just down the road from the church, at the outskirts of the village, the Union Public Library, probably the smallest library in the smallest state in the Union, welcomes visitors a few at a time! It was organized as a private lending library in 1829 and moved to its tiny location around 1865. It is now one of two public libraries in the town.

There is ample free parking behind the Colonial-era buildings that front both sides of Main Road at the Four Corners intersection. Lovingly restored and filled with smart new shops offering stylish clothing designs, wonderful gifts and accessories for the home, sought-after antiques, unique toys and fine works of art ranging from painting and photography to hand-thrown pots and hand-knitted items. Dedicated shopaholics are sure to find something special on the shelves, but even "just lookers" will enjoy wandering through the shops.

For a delicious midday break, Tiverton Four Corners offers hand-crafted sandwiches at the Provender, gourmet treats at the Milk and Honey Bazaar, or sit-down dining at the elegantly casual Four Corners Grill. And be sure to save room for dessert Gray's Ice Cream, a popular purveyor of hand-packed homemade ice cream for more than 80 years, offers more than 30 flavors of sinfully delicious treats.

A hundred yards down Main Road, an ancient stream pours through the old raceway which once powered a grist mill's machinery. The Mill Pond Shops boasts another collection of elegant boutiques and galleries for browsing. Follow your nose to the Sakonnet River Pie Company, where you can pick up a fresh-baked treat filled with goodness from local orchards and gardens.

Across Main Road from the Mill Pond Shops is the Old Cory Place, which has been expanded into CORY PLACE SHOPSanother shopping arcade. Antiques and collectibles await a connoisseur's visit.

Be sure and check out the schedule of events at The Meeting House (visit the calendar page). This rustic facility, set on more than an acre of gardens and meadows, is often used for musical events, summer theater and film productions and special events. It's also a favorite location for local weddings. Every summer, an exhibit of new sculpture is set out on the broad lawn and under the shady trees.

Once you've finished enjoying all that Tiverton Four Corners has to offer, your day trip can continue with an exploration of the Coastal Villages Trail. No matter what the season, the quaint villages and quiet countryside beckon to travelers. Pick up a guided map and enjoy the hidden charms of Little Compton, Adamsville, and across the line in Massachusetts, the three Westport villages, Russells Mills and Padanarum.

Along the way, you'll encounter roadside farm stands, antique stores, two local wineries, working farms and magnificent seaside vistas. No matter how long your day lasts, your Tiverton Four Corners day trip is sure to be memorable.