Open up your wallet, and chances are you’ll find an example of the work of Gilbert Stuart, best known for his portrait of George Washington that graces the one-dollar bill. Stuart’s life and work are encapsulated at the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace & Museum (815 Gilbert Stuart Rd., Saunderstown, 401/294-3001, www.gilbertstuartmuseum.com , 11 a.m.–4 p.m. Thurs.–Sat. and Mon. and 12–4 p.m. Sun. early May–Sept.; limited hours Oct., $6 adults, $3 children 6–12, free children under 6), which also includes a grist mill that once produced Rhode Island  johnnycakes, and a serene pond with rowboat rentals.
Don’t expect to see battlements at Smith’s Castle (55 Richard Smith Dr., Wickford, 401/294-3521, www.smithscastle.org , Thurs.–Sun. June–Aug.; Fri.–Sun. May and Sept.–Oct.; open for tours only at 1, 2 and 3 p.m., $5 adults, $1 children 6–12, free children under 6); the 200-year-old mansion, however, does provide a fascinating glimpse into little-known New England history. Tours take in the history of the site, from its beginnings as an Native American trading post to its 19th-century heyday as a horse and dairy plantation, complete with indentured servants and slaves.