Venture Out: The Kayak Center, Newport Vineyards, Watch Hill

Revisit your younger days when you hopped in the car, started the engine and drove off in search of something fun. The Sunday Patch Passport maps out where you can go on a 15-, 30- or 60-minute drive from your home. You won’t want to miss these unique sto

Start your tour of some of the area's attractions with a quick, 15-minute ride to The Kayak Centre in Wickford.

When it comes to viewing Wickford Harbor, there's really only one way to do it. Head down to The Kayak Centre, located right in the heart of Wickford Village, to hop in a kayak or paddleboard and see Rhode Island's waterways in a whole new light.

Rent a kayak or a stand-up paddleboard for two hours, four hours or even the entire day. Not ready to jump right into a kayak? The Kayak Centre frequently offers lessons.

Additionally, The Kayak Centre offers tours of Wickford Harbor and other areas. We suggest the sunset paddle for a romantic night on the water, recently voted best date night by Rhode Island Monthly.

The Kayak Centre, 9 Phillips St., Wickford; 401-295-4400, www.kayakcentre.com

Perhaps you're in the mood to venture a little further around the Ocean State. Check out these fine destinations:

30-minute drive: The story of Newport Vineyards is really an underdog tale, overcoming adversity and banishing generally accepted knowledge that New England is an inhospitable climate for making wine.

When retired Navy Captain Richard Alexander first planted wine grapes on his property on Indian Avenue in 1977, he was told he would fail, and quite miserably at that.

Instead he flourished, producing wine for local restaurants and residents for almost 20 years. John and Paul Nunes acquired his operation in 1995 and have since turned a few acres of grape vines into the 75 acre vineyard. Newport Vineyards is now the largest grower of wine grapes in New England.

The unique micro-climate of Aquidneck Island is the secret to their success. Ocean breezes cool off the land during the summer and dry out the vines to keep away fungus and supply oxygen to the roots. In the fall the warm ocean waters help ward off an early frost that could kill the grapes.

The beautiful vista of acres of grape vines stretching off into the distance wouldn't have been possible without help from the Aquidneck Island Land Trust, which joined with the Nunes family in 1998 to buy the land so it could not be developed for residential housing.

Currently 60 of the 75 acres of land on the vineyard are planted with grapes. The plants are traditional European Vinifera grapevines that have been grafted onto American rootstock. It takes roughly five years of growing for a plant to mature enough to produce grapes. After they have matured, a healthy plant can produce fruit for 70 years or more.

The grapes are harvested beginning in mid-September until early November, except the grapes for their Vidal Ice Wine, which are harvested around Thanksgiving after the vines have experienced at least three hard frosts. The grapes are pressed frozen, yielding a very sweet juice with rich flavors.

The vineyard offers tours and tastings daily, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Wine tasting is $10 per person and includes a souvenir Newport Vineyards wine glass.

The vineyard offers almost 30 different kinds of wine, so you're sure to find something you enjoy. No experience is necessary for the tasting either, so if you don't know how to swirl your glass or inspect the tannins, you're in good company.

“The majority of people who come in here don't know a lot about wine,” said tasting room attendant Tyler Will. And that's the perfect way to enjoy the wine, without any preconceived notions. After all, everyone thought you couldn't grow wine here.

60-minute drive: Watch Hill in Westerly is a great place to bring the whole family! From the beautiful beaches, to the Flying Horse Carousel, to the quaint shops and restaurants, there is something for everyone.

First, check out the great shops on Bay Street and then head down to the Flying Horse Carousel to see if your children can grab the brass ring while ‘flying’ around the carousel! Next, head down to the beach and catch some rays and some waves while you dig your toes into the warm sand. Walk a little way down the beach to check out Ocean House, newly rebuilt to be a beautiful replica of the ancient hotel that once stood in its place.

On your way back to the car, stop by St. Clair Annex to grab some yummy ice cream. The locals say it's some of the best ice cream around!


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