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Reminiscent of simpler times, the South County area offers an array of relaxing diversions. Hundreds of acres of woodlands are accessible for hiking, biking and canoeing. Fresh seafood and local produce are sold roadside along miles of shore where attractive inns and bungalows overlook the Atlantic Ocean.

Regional stories are told at local sites such as South County Museum at Canonchet Farm, Narragansett, which is dedicated to preserving the rural, village and maritime legacy of the past 200 years. Consider also Smith's Castle at Cocumscussoc in Wickford, site of 17th century trading posts erected by Richard Smith, and Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island. For drama lovers, the Theatre-By-The-Sea at Matunuck produces summerstock performances.

Thirty miles south of Providence lies Newport, the resort city of America's Cup yacht racing. The fabled Cup is said to be the oldest trophy in sports. A century of yacht racing has accorded Newport the claim to be America's sailing capital. Yachting charters, fishing trips and sailing instruction are easily accessible here.

The city also is home to imposing Gilded Age mansions built in the last three decades of the 1800s, an era of cultural pluralism, industrialization and urbanization. Grand houses along Bellevue Avenue are open for public tours.

While yachting and the Gilded Age ensures Newport's international renown, the city is also noted for its other features: beaches and waterfront, colonial heritage and cultural attractions such as music and film festivals.

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