Off the Beaten Path: Pet-Friendly Rhode Island

When most people consider Rhode Island vacations, they usually think Newport or Block Island. And while they are great destinations, there are a lot of other extremely beautiful and pet-friendly places to visit in the Ocean State.

Our CEO, Smudge Kingsley, recently packed us up and took us on a road trip to visit some of those places, including South Kingstown (in an area known overall as South County) and Jamestown. We stayed at a fantastic bed and breakfast called the Kings’ Rose in South Kingstown. It’s right down the road from the University of Rhode Island and is run by Barbara Larsen-Viles and her numerous Corgis. It’s a beautiful Williamsburg Colonial-revival home that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. With 16 rooms, three fireplaces and over two acres of fantastic gardens (where you can roam with your favorite animal), it is a great place for both people and pets. Barbara is extremely knowledgeable about dogs and encouraged Smudge and Rilee, a friendly and playful Wheaten Terrier, to hang out at the table while breakfast was being served. The Kings’ Rose is all about old-world charm and extreme pet-friendliness. It gets a serious A+ from our CEO, who does not grade lightly.

Formal dress not required at Rhode Island restaurants.
Formal dress tolerated but not encouraged at Rhode Island restaurants.

Emboldened that Smudge didn’t knock the breakfast table over or try to eat other guests’ scrambled eggs, we headed out to Jamestown, which Barbara claimed had two very pet-friendly restaurants. Jamestown is on Conanicut Island which is connected by a bridge over Narragansett Bay to Newport. Its center is a small town right on the water with an incredible view of the the bridge. Even on a Tuesday night, the place was hopping. We tenuously approached Trattoria Simpatico, a very elegant but casual restaurant with a huge patio bar and tented courtyard. There was a jazz band playing and we thought, no way are they going take a 90-pound dog. How wrong we were! It turns out they love dogs and ushered us to a table right next to a water fountain which Smudge, for the next fifteen minutes, kept sticking his head into. Only once did Smudge try to do what we call a smooge (in which he shakes his head lets copious amounts of drool fly). No one screamed so we assumed it didn’t land in anybody’s clam chowder. Our waiter Kevin was great and kept the food and drinks coming. So there we were, listening to jazz, eating great food, while Smudge remained extremely calm and happy, even barking out approval for the guitar player’s excellent licks. Very cool. A+.

The next night we ate across the street at Tricia’s Tropi-Grille (401-423-1490). Tricia, the owner, is such a dog lover that she came out to greet Smudge while we were waiting to get in. And, once we got to our table, she brought over water and dog biscuits. Together with Bridgette, our waitress, they both took fantastic care of Smudge, who seemed to be getting used to being treated like royalty. Just like at Simpatico, the food was great, although instead of Italian cuisine, Tricia’s leans toward Caribbean and Cuban fare. Can you guess the grade? A+.

Back on the mainland, we headed for historic Wickford and had lunch at the Tavern By the Sea. By this time, Smudge was such a restaurant veteran, we were tempted to hand him the wine list to pick out a nice dry Pouilly Fuisse to go with our clam cakes. As usual, the waiters were extremely kind and attentive to Smudge. Chashtin, who wasn’t even waiting our table, immediately brought over some cool water for him and Drew, the bartender, stopped by to tell us about his big white 100-pound Akita. The food was good and the service was even better. Smudge gave them an A. Even though he was in love with Chashtin, he doesn’t want to seem like a total pushover.

Overall, this part of Rhode Island is one of the most pet-friendly areas we’ve ever visited. With thousands of miles of beaches, harbors, lighthouses, state parks, and historic landmarks, it’s an incredible place for a vacation for you and your pet. Also, we were amazed how every road seemed to lead to Gilbert Stuart’s birthplace. We’re going to make some inquiries because Petswelcome would like to learn that trick on Google.

By the way, we can’t leave out the Cove Fish Market in Mystic, CT, where we stopped on our way home. If your dog loves fried oysters or lobster rolls, he can hang out at one of the 40 picnic tables at their outdoor dining area.

Other places to see and visit in this part of Rhode Island:

Beavertail State Park: A beautiful 170-acre state park in Jamestown. It has a lighthouse, an aquarium, rocky cliffs and an expansive view of the New England coastline. Great hiking and picnicking. It’s free and only requires that you keep your dog on a leash.

Fort Wetherill State Park: Also in Jamestown, Fort Wetherill affords spectacular views of Newport Harbor and the east passage of Narragansett Bay. It’s also free and requires your dog to be on a leash.

Kingston Hill Book Store: This is THE best used and antiquarian book store we’ve been to in a long, long time. Smudge browsed the food books with his beloved mistress, Pam, but luckily found none to eat.

Jamestown and Newport Ferry: Stops at Newport, Rose Island, Fort Adams and Goat Island. A $15 all-day pass allows you to get on and off as desired. Great way to see the lighthouses and the bay. Small dogs on leashes allowed, though the harbor master said the captain could be talked into larger dogs….

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3 thoughts on “Off the Beaten Path: Pet-Friendly Rhode Island

  1. Hi Hi!!!

    Oh, love the site. I went to school in Providence and loved the time I spent in South County. My husband and I are going to pack up our little hot dog, Betsy, and head on over. Can’t wait to escape Manhattan.
    Just a side note: I noticed that you published something about the fish market and offering dogs oysters, lobster… I learned that Fish in any form is dangerous for dogs. “Fed exclusively or in high quantities can cause vitamin B deficiency- causing loss of appetite, seizures and death- in severe cases.” Just wanted to help out. There are a lot of other things besides chocolate and onions that are poisonous. Grapes, raisins, currants… they are actually poison. This was news to me, even though Betsy is my 5th dog. Best to all, and keep an eye out for our furry vacuums.

  2. Hello,

    I live in RI…great place. Yesterday, took my 10 month old 85 pound GSD to Matunuck Oyster Bar, very pet friendly! They gave my little guy fresh water and lots of people talked to him. He was a star.

    The food and service were great. Nice outside dining area.