Perhaps you’re here visiting from someplace exotic and interesting, like Europe or Asia. It could be that you’re even from that lesser part of the country—dim the lights and cue a dramatic sound effect—the West Coast. Whether you’re fresh off the plane from Timbuctoo, or just a Californian who’s decided to come over from the Dark Side, you’re in Yankee territory now. And after a lifetime of hanging up glossy calendar prints featuring fishermen casting lines in Cape Cod, receiving postcards of rambling Rhode Island coastlines, and salivating over bowls of creamy Maine clam chowdah on your Instagram timeline, you want live out your lobster-roll dreams and be a true New Englander for a day.
Here’s the deal. Unless you’ve memorized every single play Tom Brady has ever made in every single football game since his pee-wee years (plus his favorite type of soup, what color socks he prefers, and his go-to brand of salad dressing), you’ll never really pass as a New Englander. If you wanna be a Yankee, you’ll also need to be absolutely head-over-L.L.-Bean-Boots obsessed with Dunkin Donuts (why would you pay $6 for an overpriced Starbucks pastry when you can get a 25 piece box of assorted Munchkins for the same price?). Oh, and if you think about Superman flying through the air when someone says “the Cape,” go back to Los Angeles. They’re talking about Cape Cod, not a superhero garment. Got it?
As long as you understand the terms and conditions of becoming a Yankee for a Day™, we can happily suggest a perfect New England travel destination for you. But hold onto your tricorne hat, because we’re not suggesting Boston. While Boston is certainly a stop on the full-blown Yankee Experience™, we’re about to send you someplace distinctly more obscure, and unquestionably more authentic. If Boston is the girl who carefully plans and coordinates every pose in the photos on her Facebook, this place is the candid queen. You won’t find any tourist traps here—though, you may find more than a few lobster traps.
Little Compton, Rhode Island: at just under 30 square miles in area and with a population of under 3,500 people, Little Compton might just be the smallest town in the smallest state in America. For its quaint size, Little Compton represents a perfect, idyllic microcosm of New England living. In contrast to the monumental, Gatsby-esque mansions of Newport, with their manicured lawns and driveways clogged with glittering Rolls-Royces and Aston Martins, Little Compton is composed mostly of tiny, picturesquely weathered beach houses and sprawling cow fields. While Newport is certainly a must-see for any tourist visiting Rhode Island, Little Compton is a vastly underrated gem of the Ocean State.
As promised, we have gone through the backbreaking, selfless, downright grueling labor of taking in the sights and scenes of Little Compton, in order to painstakingly map out an itinerary for the perfect New England day in this tiny seaside escape. Please, hold the applause, and don’t bother thanking us. We wouldn’t even consider accepting your generous donation1. The only appreciation we need is a small concession: just be sure to tell all your friends that New England is vastly better than the West Coast2, and Tom Brady is the original G.O.A.T.3
9am: You slowly emerge, yawning and stretching languidly, from your 8+ hours of deep, uninterrupted slumber. There’s a chorus of Disney-esque birdsong outside your window, and you step gracefully out of bed, feeling refreshed and energized. For breakfast, you head down to Walker’s Roadside Stand, a roadside stand selling fresh fruit, veggies, and wonderful local products like honey, jams, butter, and more. Next door is Wilma’s at Walkers, a lovely little bakeshop offering truly scrumptious pastries and baked goods, mouthwatering sandwiches (the cappicola breakfast sandwich will change you for the better), and great coffee. You stop and pick up something delicious to start of your morning, and some produce to cook a garden-fresh, locally-sourced dinner later.
11am: Feeling pleasantly buzzed from good coffee and good food, you gather your beach towel and John Grisham novel and head down to South Shore beach, one of Little Compton’s top-rated (and free!) beaches. Alternatively, you might decide to relax at the popular Town Beach, a lovely stretch of pale white sand bounded by raggedly handsome red granite cliffs. As is the unspoken law of beach-going, you don’t “do” anything in particular while at the beach. Instead, you spend most of the afternoon farting around in a blissfully directionless manner, alternating between the time-honored practice of pretending to read (but really just squinting in semi-blindness at the too-bright pages of your book), and wading out to approximately buttcheek-height in the ocean before concluding that you’ve fulfilled your “swimming” obligation for the day.
3pm: After a satisfyingly purposeless afternoon at the beach, you head back to your cottage to rinse off the caked accumulation of sand which has coated your entire body, causing you to bear a striking resemblance to the Thing from Fantastic Four. Freshly scrubbed, you drive down to Westport Lobster Co., a charming fish market only 20 minutes away in New Bedford, MA (Rhode Island is a shrimpy little state). Whether you’re a seafood fan or not is immaterial. As a proper Yankee (for today, at least), you make a generous selection of your favorite freshly-caught aquatic poultry. For the most authentic experience, we recommend you purchase a half dozen lobsters, which you can later use as vehicles to eat a substantial amount of butter.
4:30-7:30pm: Back at your place, you begin to leisurely prepare your fresh, locally-sourced New England meal. We suggest you pair your butter-bugs (in other words, butter-drenched lobsters) with a salad WHICH CONTAINS ABSOUTELY NO TOMATOES4.
8-9pm: After dinner, you make the most important trip of the day: the nightly run to the Trolley Stop, a downright adorable nearby ice cream shop featuring a vast selection of truly delightful flavors. Cone in hand, you drive about 2 miles to the shore, and sit enjoying your ice cream to the ambiance of cricket-song and waves lapping quietly against the shore. In the tall grasses of the dunes that rise above the gentle crescent of beach, fireflies dance, faithfully blinking out Tom Brady’s pregame hype playlist in Morse code.
Congratulations, champ. You’ve just experienced a genuine New England summer’s day.