Somewhat overshadowed by its charismatic cousin Bristol , Warren has been fast becoming a destination itself, with the same concentration of colonial homes and historic waterfront, but more ethnic diversity and a less precious feel. Founded on land once held by the Wampanoags, the city was a center of shipbuilding and whaling after the Revolution. In the 1800s, it also became home to many textile mills, which brought an influx of French-Canadians, Portuguese, Italians, and Irish who each brought their own cultural heritage to the mix.
Throughout the 20th century, Warren was also known as the “oyster capital of the world” due to the famed Warren Oyster Company, which closed its doors after the Rhode Island  oyster trade dried up in the 1950s. Now it is better known for its antiques , with more than a dozen shops along the Main Street historic district.
A plaque on Baker Street marks the site of Massasoit Spring, where the great Womponoag sachem Massasoit ruled over his people and kept peace with the Englishmen for 40 years. Exhibits on Native American life as well as 18th-century colonial customs are displayed at the brick Maxwell House (corner of Church and Water Sts., 401/245-0392, www.massasoithistorical.org , 10 a.m.–2 p.m. Sat., free), run by the Massasoit Historical Association.
Rhode Island’s  favorite bivalve is feted at the Warren Quahog Festival (Burrs’ Hill Park, S. Water St., 401/410-0045, www.warrenbartingtonrotary.org , mid-July), which features chowders, cakes, and stuffies, as well as displays by the many artists who have taken up residence in town.