Where the Taunton River flows into Mount Hope Bay, Swansea is a coastal town on the MA/RI border, with abundant agriculture inland.
The town beach is one of the best in the area, open to the public during the school summer break, and sloping gently into Mount Hope Bay, allowing you to walk out for several hundred feet at low tide.
Sweet tooths will be in heaven in Swansea, as there are three much loved ice cream stands open during the summer.
You can justify your indulgence, knowing that these are all small businesses, a couple of which are on farms that go back generations.
1. Swansea Town Beach
Facing south and looking out for miles over Mount Hope Bay, Swansea has a fine public beach, open mid-June through Labor Day.
Swansea Town Beach has lifeguards on duty throughout this time, and can be accessed with a day or seasonal pass, which are available for non-residents.
The beach itself is a bend of pale sand with salt marsh behind. At low tide you could walk out into the bay as far as a mile before the water reaches waist height, while at high tide the beach tapers to just a few dozen feet.
On the shore there’s a spacious grassy area, restroom facilities and a playground.
2. Martin House Farm
The National Society of the Colonial Dames of America (NSCDA) cares for this historic farm, which was home to the Martin Family for more than two centuries.
This pastoral property consists of a gambrel-roofed house, raised around 1728, accompanied by two barns and set among cultivated fields and woodlands, all marked by old stone walls.
The farm was donated to the society in the 1930s by the family’s eight generation. On Sunday afternoons, mid-July through September, you can go inside the farmhouse to view Martin-family heirlooms, including a fine collection of antique chairs.
The barns have recently been restored, and the older stone barn serves as additional space for exhibitions, workshops and special events.
3. The Ice Cream Barn
One of a clutch of great places to go for frozen treats in Swansea, the Ice Cream Barn is set on a dairy farm in beautiful countryside in the north of the town.
This is a collaboration between two talented young ice cream makers and a dairy farmer whose family has owned this land for six generations.
All of the ice cream served at this seasonal stand is made fresh on-site, using plenty of local ingredients, from fruit to honey and maple syrup.
There are more than 20 flavors on offer, among the long-term faves are apple crisp, kahlua brownie and the regionally appropriate cranberry jubilee. Be sure to go for a waffle cone, also made fresh every day.
4. Continent Bakery
This treasured local bakery has been a fixture in Swansea for close to 70 years. Continent Bakery keeps things simple, using traditional ingredients and avoiding preservatives.
As well as delectable sweet treats like donuts, pies, muffins, cakes, cannoli, and cookies, the bakery offers fresh breads, and savory options like meat pies, spinach rolls, and sandwiches.
Swansea, like neighboring communities in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, has significant Portuguese heritage, and this is reflected in menu items like biscoitos, pataniscas, chouriço rolls, and pão caseiro.
Continent Bakery has seasonal hours, taking a protracted summer break until October.
5. Eskimo King Ice Cream Shop
Open April 1 to Columbus Day, this ice cream stand has been a summer go-to in Swansea since 1957.
You can’t miss the giant sign on Market St, or the mascot, Manny Flavors, raising a cone to the passing traffic from the parking lot for more than 60 years now.
Eskimo King specializes in soft serve, with a dizzying menu of more than 350 flavors, the most popular being the chocolate-vanilla twist.
There’s also a roster of hard ice cream flavors, as well as specialty sundaes, and ice cream cakes and pies. Something special about the stand is the ample grassy space at the back, with a children’s play area and several picnic tables and sunshades.
6. Johnson’s Roadside Farm Market
Right next to the Rhode Island line on Market St, this family-run fresh produce stand has been a part of local life for more than 40 years now.
You can come by to stock up on ultra-fresh seasonal and regional fruit and vegetables, grown on the family’s 20-acre farm. The market is normally open from Easter to Christmas Eve, with a steady variety of fresh produce planted and harvested at the farm throughout the season.
The list is huge, but for a summary you’ve got various tomatoes, lettuces, squashes, berries, and a range of pumpkin varieties.
The store also sells local gourmet products like fresh roasted coffee, fresh pastas, grass-fed beef, ice cream, sodas, seafood, kettle corn, and much more.
7. Simcock Farm
The third ice cream stand on our list is on a fourth-generation farm in a rural landscape of fields, woods, stone walls, whitewashed fences and traditional farms with gambrel roofs.
This classic New England scene will greet you at Simcock Farm, which serves award-winning Gifford’s ice cream.
There’s a wide assortment of hard ice cream flavors, and you can also try sugar-free scoops, low-fat frozen yogurt, mudpies and s’mores.
The farm is an attraction in its own right, with animals like goats, miniature horses, miniature cattle, donkeys and sheep, as well as a sunflower maze in late summer.
Starting in late September, “Fall Fun on the Farm” brings hayrides, a corn maze, pick-your-own pumpkins, and the climactic “Spooky Sundae” event.
8. Swansea Village Park
If you’re in the mood for a hike, a surprise awaits you in Swansea Village, where the town hall and library complex marks the entrance to almost 200 acres of nature.
Swansea Village Park was purchased by the town in the mid-1980s, and has miles of trails weaving off into the woods.
These include raised boardwalks over damper areas, and will bring you face-to-face with some giant outcroppings of conglomerate, given names like Abrams Rock and Wildcat Rock.
The former is particularly grand, rising more than 40 feet over the forest, and steeped in legend going back to King Philip’s War in the 1670s.
9. Luther Store Museum
Dating back to 1813, and open until 1903, this well-preserved store belongs to the Swansea Historical Society, and has served as a museum since the society took over in 1952.
At the time of writing, the Luther Store was undergoing long-term renovations to remove termite and powder post beetle infestations, and was temporarily closed to the public.
If you do get the chance to go inside, the store has a lot of original features, among them mahogany counters, the proprietor’s desk and storage fittings.
10. Almeida’s Vegetable Patch
Another great spot for fresh and seasonal produce, this family-run farm has a history going back to 1928. The founder, John Almeida Mello, Sr. arrived in the United States in 1915 at the age of just 16.
For years this was a dairy farm, until John Almeida Mello, Jr. rented extra acres in the 1950s and started planting vegetables.
The farmstand came later, in the 1970s, and has been expanded by the third and fourth generations. There’s a staggering selection of produce available throughout the season, including the farm’s signature sweet corn, and a bounty of summer fruits.
In the fall people stop by for apples, pumpkins and gourds, and this is a favorite place to buy Christmas trees in the holiday season.
11. Touisset Marsh Wildlife Refuge
Near the tip of a peninsula in Warren, RI, there’s a 66-acre wetland sanctuary maintained by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.
Touisset Marsh Wildlife Refuge is on the lower reaches of the Kickemuit River, and is loved for its fantastic views over the water and marshes.
The flat topography makes this a fine place to bring younger children for walks, and the trails run past salt marsh, over open fields and into hardwood forest.
You stand a good chance of spotting harbor seals in the water, while the tally of birds commonly sighted in the refuge includes snowy egrets, great egrets, ospreys, and eastern bluebirds.
12. Seekonk Grand Prix
Not far northwest of Swansea is a fun-packed family entertainment center, combining an array of attractions at one giant facility.
The big activity here is go–karting, with a choice of four tracks for different ages and skill levels, including a slick track designed to test your drifting skills.
You’ve also got a mini-golf course, bumper cars, bumper boats, an indoor ropes course, a climbing wall, a virtual reality experience, and an arcade with a redemption counter.
Seekonk Grand Prix is set among a series of shopping centers along Route 6, with the likes of Five Guys, Chick-fil-A and McDonalds close by.
13. Seekonk Speedway
A little closer to Swansea on Route 6 is a racetrack, owned and operated by the Venditti since opening in 1946.
The widest track in the region at 72 feet, this is a semi-banked, 1/3 mile asphalt oval, with a season that runs from May to October.
There’s Saturday night NASCAR racing throughout this time, for the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series, featuring pro stocks, Sport trucks, sportsmen, and late models.
Wednesdays meanwhile are for open-wheel racing, and then on Fridays there’s lower budget racing, for drivers hoping to graduate to the big divisions on Saturday night.
Look out for the regular thrill shows, with demolition derbies, one-lap drag races, and occasional monster trucks.
14. Fall River
In Swansea you’re barely ten minutes from Fall River, the tenth-largest city in Massachusetts. Fall River developed quickly in the 19th century as a manufacturing center, producing textiles and iron products.
A leading industrial family in the city was the Bordens, notorious today for Lizzie Borden (1860-1927), who was accused and later found not guilty of killing her father and stepmother in a double axe murder.
The scene of the crime is now a bed and breakfast, open for tours. Fall River is also renowned for Battleship Cove, an incredible collection of mostly WWII-era museum ships, led by the magnificent USS Massachusetts, a South Dakota-class fast battleship launched in 1941.
15. Wampanoag Golf Course
This public course is located in the very west of Swansea, on the low-lying banks of the Palmer River.
Dating back to 1926, Wampanoag Golf Course is in the town’s Barneyville section, historically known for shipbuilding in the 19th century.
Covering mostly flat terrain, the nine-hole course has an open, links-style layout, with accommodating fairways and small greens.
The final two holes are especially pretty, with tees set right along the edge of the Palmer River. Memorable holes include the long par 4 4th and the riverside 8th hole, which is strewn with water hazards.