The South County Tourism Council is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the towns of Charlestown, Coventry, East Greenwich, Exeter, Hopkinton, Narragansett, North Kingstown, Richmond, South Kingstown, West Greenwich, and Westerly as a leisure travel destination. The SCTC’s promotional efforts include publication of a 100-page vacation guide; a year-long advertising campaign directed at our leisure tourism market; targeted sales efforts; public relations strategy; participation in numerous trade shows; and a comprehensive website. The SCTC is available to assist travel professionals including media, tour operators, and travel agents, aid in planning a meeting or corporate event, and provide information to help visitors enjoy the destination.
1. ) What is your destination most known for?
South County, Rhode Island is the southernmost part of what is known as “the ocean state.” And South County is what makes Rhode Island the ocean state. We have 100 miles of coastline and twenty public beaches as well as many secret coves and inlets perfect for paddling and catching glimpses of rare birds and wildlife depending on the season.
2.) During this time, how can we enjoy your destination?
South County can be enjoyed best from May to October. Beaches will open on or a little before Memorial Day weekend. Along with beaches, we have miles of hiking and biking trails through lush forests and wildlife preserves so visitors can escape into nature and immerse themselves in outdoor activities. We were socially distancing before it was a thing. We also have several museums including the Gilbert Stuart House and Museum where Gilbert Stuart, famous for painting the portrait of George Washington that’s on the dollar bill, lived. We also have the only museum in the state dedicated to the indigenous people, the Tomaquag Museum. Aside from history, there are many cute downtowns among South County’s 11 towns to shop, dine or visit an art gallery. Speaking of dining, we are known for fresh seafood caught right here in the port of Galilee and many of our restaurants serve farm-to-table or sea-to-table cuisine.
3.) What hidden gem should not be missed when visiting your destination?
Depending on what you’re looking for, we have many hidden gems. I spoke about the Tomaquag Museum above, and it is truly a hidden gem that should not be missed. If you’re talking about places to amuse the kids, Yawgoo Valley Ski Area and Water Park is a hidden gem all year round. In the winter kids can learn to ski or snowboard or go snow tubing, in the summer there are water slides and a pool to keep them amused for hours while parents can soak up the sun and a cocktail at the on-site tiki bar. Speaking of cocktails, visit Sons of Liberty Spirits or South County Distillers for locally made spirits or tour one of our many breweries, such as Whalers, Grey Sail, Shaidzon, LineSider, West Passage, and Tilted Barn. There’s also wine, cider, and more. For a luxury treat, visit the Ocean House Secret Garden Creperie, or better yet, check out their sister property The Preserve and reserve their Hobbit House for a special occasion meal. The Preserve is now accepting reservations for various types of cabins and townhomes and we think that’s such a unique and wonderful place to stay. Everyone needs a good beach read and it’s nice to support local businesses while you’re away, so why not pick up your vacation reads at the Savoy Bookshop – they also serve coffee, wine, and beer. You might want to stay awhile. For a tucked-away spot to enjoy the water and maybe go clamming or fishing find Quonnie Pond in Charlestown. For casual eats, grab one of the many types of burgers available at Crazy Burger Café (even vegan options) or get a classic and delicious lobster roll or a RI favorite, clam cakes and chowder at Monahan’s Clam Shack or Aunt Carrie’s. You also can’t beat buying fresh lobster right off the docks in Galilee. Get them on your way home and have a taste of South County to remind you of your vacation when you’re back home.
4.) What’s one feature that can’t be missed when visiting your website?
We have a new podcast, The Wavelength, that gets updated on our website when there’s a new episode. You can get to know a lot of the people behind some of the most popular and/or unique businesses in South County.
5.) How did you hear about NATJA, why did you join?
Our previous President was a member and soon after I started, she passed her membership down to me, and I have enjoyed being a NATJA Member and connecting with the journalists who write enticing articles about destinations all over the world. Over the years, I’ve come to find NATJA as a kind of travel journalism family as both the members and the NATJA staff are so friendly and helpful.
6.) Is there anything else you feel travel media should know about your destination?
South County, Rhode Island is the quintessential New England coastal escape. What makes us special is we’re not overly built up – we are known for our nature – 20 public beaches plus many places enjoy the outdoors and soak up nature as well as places to dine on fresh seafood. There are many family-friendly activities, but it’s also a nice romantic escape for couples.