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Photo Travel Essay of Cumberland, R.I.
"An underrated area for New England day trip travel"
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Arnold Mills Reservoir, Cumberland RI
Arnold Mills Reservoir, Cumberland, R.I. 

Article and photos by Eric H.

I always like to dig deep when discovering New England and always consider the area of Cumberland, R.I., bordering Wrentham, Mass., an integral part of the best of underrated New England travel.

Diamond Hill State Park, the Diamond Hill and Arnold Mills Reservoirs, several farms and well-maintained colonial homes create a wonderful semi-rural, quaint New England ambiance -- ideal for a scenic drive. Better yet, get out of the car and walk around the reservoir and park areas for some refreshing peace and quiet -- you'll feel like you're a million miles from civilization, although you are only 10-15 minutes from urban Pawtucket and Woonsocket, R.I..

As expected, you'll find some traditional New England attractions in this section of Cumberland. Phantom Farms at 2920 Diamond Hill Rd. is best known as an apple orchard, but also operates a wonderful, welcoming roadside stand year-round with a wonderful bakery, gift shop and garden center. Every time I've been, there seems to be delicious hot muffins coming right out of the oven. The homemade pies are amazing, also -- most notably the blueberry -- but the real prizewinner here is the mouthwatering pumpkin mousse roll. I could eat 20 of these in one sitting, thanks goodness the park and reservoir are nearby to walk off, probably, a fraction of the calories!

Photo of Phantom Farms, Cumberland RI
Phantom Farms, Cumberland

While on the subject of sweets, be sure to visit the Ice Cream Machine at 4288 Diamond Hill Rd. This is our our favorite ice cream stand in New England, as the texture and taste of the ice cream is phenomenal and the flavors plentiful and sometimes innovative. My favorites are key lime pie, cinnamon, raspberry truffle, ginger, smores, pumpkin, black raspberry, and chocolate peanut butter. A classic New England ice cream stand, just be patient with the long lines and enjoy your ice cream on one of the picnic benches. After your ice cream cone, walk across the street to the aforementioned Diamond Hill Park for a nice stroll around the bandstand and pond. Be careful if you choose to walk some of the steep hiking trails! The Ice Cream Machine is also open year-round -- great news for ice cream aficionados. 

Photo of the Ice Cream Machine, Cumberland RI
The Ice Cream Machine, Cumberland RI

Many passersby don't realize that the Cumberland Diamond Hill area also features a country store. Located in a large home, the Diamond Hill Country Store, at 3777 Diamond Hill Rd., might not have the high profile aura or rustic exterior look of other local country stores but does carry with local pride the many of the tenets of a great country store: gifts, home furnishings, toys, kids books, teas, candles, and gourmet foods. In back of the Diamond Hill Country Store is the Calico Shack, a rather fascinating antiques and collectibles spot with no rhyme or reason to the layout. It looks like a crazed yard sale...

Photo of the Calico Shack, Cumberland RI
The Calico Shack, Cumberland

Across from the Diamond Hill Country Store is the Diamond Hill General Store (also know as the L'il General Store), at 3782 Diamond Hill Rd. This is an ancient-looking, old school community store where you can grab an excellent sub, buy some groceries, grab a cup of coffee, buy a newspaper and enjoy the friendly chatter amongst locals. You'll feel like you went back in time here and will be glad to find this joyfully antiquated market that has nothing in common with the over sized supermarkets of today.

Photo of Diamond Hill General Store, Cumberland RI
Diamond Hill General Store, Cumberland

It's seasonal having only a short window of operation during the fall and also around Christmas time but Adams Farm, at the corner of Sumner Brown Road and Burnt Swamp Rd., is certainly worth a visit. The beautiful farm land makes a for a peaceful destination, and fall staples like pumpkins, mums, Indian corn, apples, cider, caramel apples, hay rides, hay and corn mazes please our inner autumn souls. During the holiday season, Adams Farm offers a terrific selection of Christmas trees -- this is where we have bought our trees the past several years. What makes Adams Farm so special, however, is the friendly,  family-oriented feeling as owner Jim Marszalkowski runs his farm with pride and and respect to the family business dating back to 1900. Always call ahead for hours during the fall and Christmas time at 401-333-1727.

Picture of Adams Farm, Cumberland RI
Adams Farm, Cumberland

Photos of pumpkins at Adams Farm, Cumberland RI
Pumpkins at Adams Farm, Cumberland

Photo of Adams Farm during the fall, Cumberland RI
Pumpkins and flowers at Adams Farms

Although not in the Diamond Hill area, we recommend driving to the other side of Cumberland to visit the Ann and Hope Curtain and Bath Outlet at 1 Ann and Hope Way (intersection of routes 114 and 123)...

Picture of Ann and Hope Outlet Center, Cumberland RI

Formerly the flagship site of the legendary local Ann and Hope department store chain, this is now a great place for huge savings on home accessories and furnishings, as well as offering an excellent discount "garden center" outlet.

Photo of the Patriots Diner, Woonsocket RI
Patriots Diner, Woonsocket

For breakfast, lunch or dinner, be sure to take the 10-minute drive from the Diamond Hill section of Cumberland to the Patriots Diner at 65 Founders Drive in Woonsocket. OK, so you lose much of the rural charm along the way, but once at this 24-hour diner, you'll find mounds of delicious comfort foods in a classic neon and chrome setting. Our favorites: the chicken pie, pastichio, meat loaf, fried clam strips, cream of turkey soup, and the waffle sundae -- a plain waffle topped with "three scoops of your favorite ice cream, walnuts, syrups and whipped cream." Yum, what a nice way to complement your visit to the wonderful Diamond Hill area of Cumberland!

We suggest you round out the day by driving around the Diamond Hill Reservoir at sundown. The quiet of the early evening and the stunning scenery serve as a reminder to return this this truly special area of New England soon...

Photo of nighttime at Diamond Hill Reservoir, Cumberland RI

Diamond Hill Reservoir, Cumberland
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