Aerial view of the Beavertail Lighthouse in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

9 Of The Most Charming Towns In Rhode Island

Officially admitted to the Union as the 13th state on May 29, 1790, the teeny US State of Rhode Island is one of the southernmost states in the New England region of the American Northeast. Considered to be ‘unique’ among the original Thirteen Colonies, the Ocean State is distinguished for its quaint 400 mi long coastline, breathtaking oceanfront sandy beaches, delightful attractions, rich imperial heritage, and comfortable New England hospitality. Even though Rhode Island’s crowded cities such as Warwick, Cranston, Pawtucket, and the state capital, Providence, are at the top of the lists of a majority of holidaymakers, the innumerable captivating small towns speckled all over the state are waiting to be discovered. So, quickly pack your luggage and set out to explore all that the Ocean State has to offer.


Luxury waterfront houses in Watch Hill, Westerly, Rhode Island
Luxury waterfront houses in Watch Hill, Westerly, Rhode Island.

Rhode Island’s westernmost town, Westerly, is an adorable beachside settlement located next to the Pawcatuck River in Washington County. This excellent Southern New England shoreline destination invites holidaymakers to survey its ultra-clean beaches, such as Weekapaug Beach, Watch Hill Beach, East Beach, Misquamicut State Beach, and Westerly Town Beach. Westerly’s dynamic downtown is jam-packed with a cornucopia of retail outlets, breweries, eateries, cafes, and boutiques, apart from interesting structures like the Flying Horse Carousel, Westerly Armory, Weekapaug Inn, Lewis-Card-Perry House, and Babcock Smith House.

Do not forget to check out the Granite Theatre, Wilcox Park, Atlantic Beach Park, Napatree Point Conservation Area, and Watch Hill Lighthouse. Various yearly events such as the Columbus Day parade in October, Pawcatuck River Duck Race in April, Memorial Day parade in May on Memorial Day, Shakespeare in the Park & Summer Pops in June, and Virtu Art Festival in May are held here.


The beautiful coastline at Narragansett, Rhode Island.
The beautiful coastline at Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Narragansett, a pleasant Washington County community occupies a narrow chunk of land stretching alongside the eastern banks of the Pettaquamscutt River to the Narragansett Bay shores. The most preferred warm season vacay retreat, this stunning town welcomes adventure seekers and beachgoers to be fathomed by the unsullied beaches, temperate waters, and friendly environment.

Christened after the Indigenous Narragansett tribes who primarily inhabited the area, travelers touring the town should check out the several remarkable landmarks, including The Towers spanning Ocean Drive, Narragansett Baptist Church, Point Judith Lighthouse, Gladstone Springhouse & Bottling Plant, etc. In addition, discover the significant beaches: Narragansett Town Beach, Salty Brine State Beach, Roger Wheeler State Beach, and Scarborough State Beach; trek the various trails at the Fishermen’s Memorial State Park; and sip waterfront cocktails as well as relish scrumptious seafood at The Coast Guard House.


Waterfront homes in Wickford, Rhode Island.
Waterfront homes in Wickford, Rhode Island.

Wickford, called after its namesake English town, is a peaceful seaside village in south-central Rhode Island’s Washington County on the western banks of the Narragansett Bay. This administrative center of North Kingstown town, placed around one of the most well-protected natural harbors of the Atlantic Seaboard, is home to a massive collection of meticulously restored colonial properties. Take a stroll through the appealing tree-lined streets and gaze in wonder at the grand structures dating many centuries back, family-owned shops, boutiques, waterfront cafes, antique stores, finest restaurants serving delectable seafood, home décor stores, and art galleries.

Sightseers must also join in a 90-minute lobstering tour, a walking tour to learn more about the village’s past and take part in water-based recreations. In addition, find time to be present at the Wickford Art Festival hosted by the Wickford Art Association every July.


 beach in Jamestown, Rhode Island
People having a good time at a beach in Jamestown, Rhode Island. Editorial credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Located entirely on Conanicut Island - the second biggest island of Narragansett Bay, this Newport County town is home to 5,559 inhabitants as per the latest US Census. Jamestown lures vacationers to witness its well-maintained properties, major parks, art galleries, locally-owned small businesses, and award-winning restaurants. Fringing the town are a number of lighthouses such as the Poplar Point Lighthouse, Conanicut Island Lighthouse, Castle Hill Lighthouse, Dutch Island Lighthouse, Plum Island Lighthouse, Goat Island Light, and Beavertail Lighthouse that should not be missed.

The Beavertail Lighthouse Museum, Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge, Clancy Designs Glass Studio, Jamestown Arts Center, Jamestown Fire Memorial Museum, Fort Getty Park, Village Hearth Bakery & Café, and Historic New England Watson Farm are Jamestown’s other outstanding sites of interest. Furthermore, follow the twisting trails of Beavertail State Park and Fort Wetherill State Park to watch the rich biodiversity of Marsh Meadows Wildlife Preserve and Conanicut Island Sanctuary.


 Sakonnet River and a small residential neighborhood in Tiverton, Rhode Island
Sakonnet River flowing by Tiverton, Rhode Island.

An idyllic coastal haven in Newport County, Tiverton is located by the side of Sakonnet River and Mount Hope Bay, close to the state border with Massachusetts. Perfectly amalgamating astounding natural splendors with cultural pleasures, the town is full of one-of-a-kind shops, art galleries, locally-owned boutiques, and dozens of restaurants like Boat House Waterfront Dining and Four Corners Grille, serving delectable cuisines.

A large number of 18th and early 19th-century buildings in the Tiverton Four Corners Historic District, Bourne Mill Complex, First Baptist Church of Tiverton, the Osborn-Bennett Historic District’s Thomas Bennett Homestead, Cook-Bateman Farm, and Fort Barton Site & Woods are the town’s prominent sites. Head to Fogland Beach to engage in kayaking and windsurfing activities and the Weetamoo Woods & Pardon Gray Preserve to unwind amidst the greens.

Little Compton

Sakonnet Lighthouse and harbor in Little Compton, Rhode Island
Sakonnet Lighthouse and harbor in Little Compton, Rhode Island.

This serene seaside community in Newport County is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the south, the tidal Sakonnet River to the west, Tiverton to the north, and Westport, Massachusetts to the east. Little Compton’s comparatively cool maritime climate, multiple stonewalls, and the pristine Goosewing Beach and South Shore Beach have made it the most sought-after vacation destination.

Initially settled by the indigenous Sakonnet Indians and followed later by the Europeans, the settlement’s interesting attractions include the Friends Meeting House & Cemetery, Rhode Island Red Chicken Monument, Stone House Inn, Wilbor House (at present a museum and the headquarters of the Little Compton Historical Society), Sakonnet Point Lighthouse, Young Family Farm, William Whalley Homestead, and the nearby Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard. Also located in Little Compton is Rhode Island’s official “Town Common” which serves both as a religious as well as a civic center.

East Greenwich

East Greenwich, the oldest town of Rhode, Island
East Greenwich, the oldest town of Rhode, Island.

East Greenwich, the state’s 8tholdest town and Kent County’s administrative center, is a prosperous municipality on the western shores of Narragansett Bay. Spread throughout this coastal town christened after Greenwich, England, are numerous National Register-listed landmark structures in various architectural styles aside from the abundant art galleries, clubs, eateries, bars, and exclusive retail stores lining the waterfront.

Do not miss the town’s noteworthy sites of interest, including the Varnum House Museum, Greenwich Odeum, Varnum Memorial Armory Museum, and New England Wireless & Steam Museum. The Frenchtown Park & Fyre Nature Preserve are perfect places to reconnect with nature, whereas outdoor lovers can witness incredible views of the adjoining bay and partake in plenty of recreational activities at the Goddard Memorial State Park.


Aerial view of Newport, Rhode Island.
Aerial view of Newport, Rhode Island.

The seat of government of Newport County, this quintessential New England summer resort is situated alongside the Narragansett Bay on Aquidneck Island, roughly 33 miles southeast of Providence. Steeped in sailing heritage, Newport is famed for its magnificent Gilded Age mansions that were erstwhile summer ‘cottages’ of the country’s wealthiest families and are currently open to the public as museums.

Furthermore, the town is home to the Newport Historic District - featuring one of the largest concentrations of colonial properties in the nation, the Redwood Library & Athenaeum, Touro Synagogue, the Ocean Drive Historic District, Save the Bay Exploration Center & Aquarium, a 3.5-mile-long Cliff Walk, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, Fort Adams State Park, White Horse Tavern, and multiple public recreation spaces like King Park, Touro park, Easton’s Beach, and Brenton Point State Park. Annually, the town hosts the Newport Folk Festival, Newport Flower Show, Newport Jazz Festival, and Newport Classical.


Ocean front garden in Bristol, Rhode Island.
Oceanfront Garden in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Dubbed “America’s most patriotic town,” Bristol, the seat of eastern Rhode Island’s Bristol County, sits on a peninsula approx. 13 miles southeast of Providence, surrounded by Narragansett Bay to the west and Mount Hope Bay to the east. This moderate-sized town holds the distinction of hosting the country’s oldest uninterrupted Independence Day festivities, attracting more than 20,000 enthusiastic spectators every year to participate in a three-week-long celebration culminating with a gala parade on the Fourth of July.

When in town, the Blithewold Mansion & Arboretum, Bristol Art Museum, Joseph Reynolds House, Bristol Ferry Light, Bristol County Courthouse, Linden Place Mansion, Herreshoff Marine Museum, Colt State Park, and East Bay Bike Path are must-visits. Also, try to be present at the town’s other yearly events, such as the Bristol Harbor Festival, Bristol Burger Bash & Bluegrass, the Audubon Experimental Education Center’s Raptor Weekend, Harvest Festival, and Grand Illumination of Hope Street.

From the coastal grandeur of Westerly to “America’s most patriotic town,” Bristol, the gorgeous towns in the smallest and 7th least populous state in the nation have something for visitors of every age and taste. With mesmerizing natural landscapes, ample outdoor recreation, colorful celebrations throughout the year, and home-like restaurants offering lip-smacking fresh seafood, these lovable towns in Rhode Island are worthy locales to spend a vacation away from the fast-paced life of urban metropolises.

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