People relaxing at Narragansett Town Beach on a sunny day. Image credit Jay Yuan via Shutterstock

Rhode Island's Most Charming Beach Towns

Rhode Island may be the United States of America's smallest state by size, but that does not hinder Rhode Island's ability to charm all those who visit. Offering an abundance of beach towns, boating, seaside trails, cottages, and museums, Rhode Island is perfect for a calm weekend getaway or for retirees looking to settle in a quaint coastal town adorned with small yet delicious restaurants, refreshing beaches, and vineyards. One of these charming towns could be your next summer destination.


Coastline beaches scenes at narragansett rhode island
Beaches at Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Located in Washington County, Rhode Island, Narragansett is a small seaside beach town and is home to approximately 15,000 people year-round, although within the warm and beautiful summer months, the population of this quaint town doubles to approximately 34,000 people! Thanks to this small town's location nestled on a narrow strip of land along the eastern bank of the Pettaquamscutt River, this stunning little community is perfect for visitors looking to take a road trip to the beach, own a summer cottage or even live full-time for calm winters and lively summers. Narragansett is home to a plethora of them, the most popular being Narragansett Town Beach, followed by state beaches such as Scarborough State Beach, Roger Wheeler State Beach, and Salty Brine State Beach. Some other amusing activities include walking around Rose Nulman Park, visiting Point Judith Lighthouse, and taking a ride on Block Island Ferry.


Boats in the harbor, view from Watch Hill in Westerly, Rhode Island
Watch Hill in Westerly, Rhode Island.

First inhabited by the indigenous Niantic peoples up until English Colonists settled the area in 1661, Westerly has natural beauty and waters. About 23,000 people call Westerly home, attracted by its stone-cutting industry, stunning views, and calm lifestyle. Meanwhile, in the summer, the town's population grows to almost 50,000 people! If visitors are looking to take a relaxing walk along the water, Napatree Point Conservation Area is gorgeous and perfect for nature lovers. Prided for being great for swimming and lacking in the rocky category, Watch Hill Beach is extremely popular with local beachgoers and visitors of all ages. One feature this beautiful town is proud of is three large salt ponds that lie along the marvelous coastline of Westerly. They are shallow, reef-like pools with outer walls that form the long, white beaches for which the town is famed.

New Shoreham

Block Island North Light Lighthouse in New Shoreham Rhode Island
Block Island North Light Lighthouse.

Home to 1,000 people, New Shoreham, is Rhode Island's southernmost town and is on the beautiful "Block Island," a close-knit community with lovely beaches. New Shoreham is an excellent fit for visitors, retirees, and families. Despite being one of the smaller towns in the state, that fact does not prohibit the town from offering lots to do, thanks to New Shoreham's bounty of natural wonders. Some of these relaxing activities include strolling along Mohegan Bluffs, which is the location of some of the most gorgeous beaches in Rhode Island, accompanied by sparkling and smooth sandy beaches to sit upon while enjoying a sunset on the horizon. For hikers, Clayhead Natural Trail is a refreshing seaside trail painted with green flora and the beauty of nature.

Little Compton

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

Originally dubbed "Sakonnet" or "Saughonet," meaning "where the water pours forth" by the indigenous Sakonnet peoples of the region, they definitely chose the perfect name for what is now called "Little Compton" by Europeans. This quaint town boasts marvelous beaches, setting this lovely community apart from just any other town. Packed with history, nature, character, and relaxation, Little Compton is an excellent option for a beach day or for retirees choosing their new home. One defining factor of Little Compton is its astonishing Vineyard, perfect for wine tastings and a relaxing stroll admiring the Vinyard. After admiring Sakonnet Vineyard, Goosewing Beach Preserve is the perfect spot to end the day, enjoying wine on the beach and taking in the gentle breeze in the splendid town of Little Compton.


Boats in the water in Gooseneck Bay, Newport, Rhode Island
Gooseneck Bay, Newport, Rhode Island.

The stunning seaside town of Newport, located on Aquidneck Island, rests along the breathtaking Narraganset Bay. The town is illustrated with jaw-dropping colonial-era architecture, perfect for history lovers. Newport has long been prideful of being a popular summer resort destination for New Englanders, home to 25,000 people and adorned with historic mansions and summer homes. Due to the town's close proximity to the water, Newport is well known for having a rich sailing history. When in Newport, some essential activities are visiting The Breakers Museum, hiking along the mesmerizing Cliff Walk, driving along Ocean Drive, and swimming at Easton's Beach (First Beach).


Scenic view of Mt. Hope bay Bristol Rhode Island
Mt. Hope Bay in Bristol, Rhode Island.

Known for boat building and beaches, Bristol is a charming small beach town comprised of approximately 22,000 residents. Named after Bristol, England, this quaint boaters paradise is a deep water seaport with aesthetically pleasing gardens, parks, beaches, marine museums, and much more for visitors of all ages to enjoy. Originally inhabited by the Pokanoket Wampanoag Indigenous peoples, the historic village was originally called Pokanoket until colonized and settled by British Colonists. Today, Bristol is home to a plethora of refreshing activities, such as walking and enjoying the scenery of Colt State Park or admiring the colorful botanical gardens of the gorgeous Blithewold Mansion, Gardens, and Arboretum.


People in the water and surfing at Sachuest Beach, Middletown Rhode Island
Sachuest Beach, Middletown, Rhode Island.

Graced with scenic vineyards, bird sanctuaries, and beaches, Middletown is an attractive small town home to 17,000 residents. By the late 1990s, after East Main Road and West Main Road running through Middletown, propelled Middletown's commercial industries forward, and the town quickly became Aquidneck Island's central business district. On top of the commercialization of the town, thanks to a number of exquisite beaches, Middletown is perfect for tourism. For visitors itching for a swim or to admire nature, Sachuest Point National Refuge is perfect, with its untouched beauty being a beacon for a steady yet still modest number of tourists. Other admirable beaches in the town include Second Beach, Third Beach, and Surfer's End, to make for a memorable weekend getaway.

After observing all these quaint yet charming towns, one must admit Rhode Island has so much in store despite its minuscule size. What this historic state may lack in size is made up for in beaches, nature, history, and community. Every single town has its own unique heritage, location, and charm. Whether known for vineyards along the coast or museums along the seaside, Rhode Island has attractions for everyone, no matter their age, and is a state that will not disappoint!

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