What are the best beach towns in Rhode Island?
Beaches, besties, and delicious holiday food wherever you turn. What more could we all wish for? Rhode Island is known as a buzzing hub of beach life, bringing all the fun with very little worry.
It’s time to skip Martha’s Vineyard and step off the tourist circuit. If you’re looking for a wonderful beach getaway (who isn’t) and the Bahamas is too far, why not try the best beach towns in Rhode Island on for size?
As always, I have the very best info and all the secrets to share…but shhh, don’t tell anyone else!
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Just like its British namesake, Bristol is a deep water seaport with a lot of history to share. Here some of you want to come head to the beach. Others can explore the history of the town. So there’s no better place to go if you all like different things.
Search for seashells along Bristol Town Beach, or get your adrenaline pumping by kayaking the harbor. Don’t worry- the sea in the harbor is quite sheltered, so it’s less white-knuckling and more enjoying the sights! You can even learn here.
Bristol does have a great beach, but the real charm of this town is the food and historic architecture. The waterfront is achingly picturesque (bring your selfie stick). There’s good food wherever you turn. Come hungry!. It also has a British Motorcar Festival annually, if you’re curious. The oldest Fourth of July parade in the country, now over two centuries old, happens here too.
In short, come to Bristol for play and fun in the outdoors. Drink in some history in one of the most charming towns in New England. Then gorge yourself worry-free on the delicious food. I did mention how good the food is, right? If you’re looking for an all-day adventure that many people are sure to enjoy, I can’t think of any place better!
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This is a tiny town- less than 7,000 people- and it shows. So if you’re looking for sleepy, quaint, and restful, come on over! It’s fantastic for introverted travelers, too. Don’t let those sleepy vibes fool you. Charlestown is regularly celebrated among those ‘in the know’ as a nature lover’s dream and a hidden gem.
Here you’ll find camping on the beachfront, saltwater fishing, and a staggeringly beautiful flash of the Milky Way overhead every night. You can’t come here and not spend an evening stargazing. It’s staggering.
Head to the gorgeous East Beach for breathtaking views and the best camping. Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge lies right next door. Kayaking and birdwatching are the name of the game.
The sand is gorgeous if you just want to chill, however. Or take the whole family to Blue Shutters Town Beach for a fun day in the sun. There’s also the Frosty Drew Observatory and Science Center to enjoy.
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Nearby Newport is better known, but I’d recommend heading to Jamestown instead. This coastal gem is redolent with historic farms and rolling parkland. Explore the locally-owned galleries and craft shows, and sample goodies at delectable restaurants.
It seems like there are beaches at every turn. Plus plenty of fun attractions open up in the summer. Jamestown is also home to 12-footer sailing boats, so go get your sea legs! There are beginner-friendly lessons for the adventurous.
Beavertail State Park is a can’t-miss, as is the lighthouse. There are some museums to explore, too, if you’re bringing the whole family. The seafront views are superlative.
Jamestown is the perfect place to head for quiet romance and pastoral bliss. Trace cobblestone paths through the town, or admire the sea from the spectacular coast. Don’t forget the 3.5 mile Cliff Walk!
Finish the day off with classic clam chowder or some delicious oysters on the half shell. You can spend an entire day just exploring the foodie haven here.
Little Compton, big views! This is another idyllic pastoral town, a pleasant contrast to bustling Newport. There’s no crowds, no big box stores- there aren’t even traffic lights! What there is is good food, arty vintage shops, and a ton of peace and tranquility.
While there’s a lot of beaches here, not all of them are open to the public. Goosewing Beach is, but under the Nature Conservancy’s protection. So expect pristine, beautiful scenery with rolling grassy dunes. It’s perfect for a picnic! You’re bound to see shorebirds at play, too.
Why not stay into the evening and toast s’mores over a campfire? The sight of little fires dotting the distance will make summer feel like an adventure again.
This is a land of flowers, farms, and breathtaking vistas. The tranquility is the draw card, so don’t come in too boisterous or you’ll anger the locals! You could also find the Rhode Island Red Chicken here.
Sakkonet Point is a can’t-miss site in a can’t-miss town if you’re looking for rest and rejuvenation. Here stands a spectacular lighthouse that needs to be on your bucket list. Let the big beauty of Little Compton woo your soul!
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Middletown’s big draw for holiday goers like you and me is its 2 miles of stunning waterfront. Add 2 wonderfully accessible beaches. It’s a place that invites you to set up an umbrella, fluff up your beach towel, and chill out. Think crystal clear water and gentle waves. Think summer on the beach.
Head to Sachuest Beach, known locally as Second Beach, if you’re not one for the crowds. First Beach is the most popular, so go there for parties and people. Third Beach offers beautiful views of the harbor and even fewer crowds. Amenities like showers, grills, and surfboard rental are also less, though.
The coast around this area is heavily weathered. The Atlantic Coast portion has magnificent rock ‘sculptures’ formed by the waves. You’re sure to find your heart in your throat more than once. As with nearby Maine, it’s worth the exploration.
If you tire of your day on the beach, go poke around the charming town. Prescott Farm offers a perfect glimpse into the history of the area. There’s beauty everywhere, though. Don’t forget that selfie stick! There’s also a spectacular nature reserve to enjoy.
Surf’s up, my fellow surfers!
This is the best beach town in Rhode Island for fun on the waves. Want to learn? There’s plenty of quality surf shops to teach you. These are the most popular beaches in the state, so don’t expect to miss the crowds. It’s worth it, though.
This town has gorgeous scenic routes and exquisite views. There’s also fantastic fishing. In fact, the port of Galilee sends out fishing charters if that’s your idea of the perfect holiday. Or head to the seafood restaurants in time to taste the catch of the day.
Narragansett Town Beach is endlessly popular, and said to have the best surfing in New England. It does have an admittance charge, however. It also gets crowded in summer. Surfers, however, have a reserved portion of the beach. Super cool, right? There’s plenty of beaches that don’t have these restrictions, though, so don’t be shy.
The addition of a new 16-room hotel has really opened this town up to people. It’s also cemented its status as one of the best beach towns in Rhode Island. So there’s plenty of incentive to stay for a weekend of fun in the sun.
New Shoreham and Block Island
While the area is better known for Block Island, the town is properly called New Shoreham.
Block Island itself lies in the Block Island Sound. It’s a quiet scene, and this is one of the least inhabited beach towns in Rhode Island. What does that mean for you and I? Perfect hiking!
Hiking and biking are the name of the game. Head to Mohegan Bluffs and perch high above the sea for gorgeous views. It’s like nothing else. You’ll need the breather after the 141-step staircase to get there, though! Chill out on the beach when you’re done.
Head into town for historic inns to explore, or sample the succulent seafood. It’s time to relax, rejuvenate, and pull the plug on electronics. Pristine white sand calls you!
If you’re heading to the island by ferry, book in advance. That goes double if your car is coming too. It makes a great day trip, or a full holiday, but it’s popular. Luckily the ferry itself limits how many people visit a day. There’s plenty of beautiful lodgings in the area if you’d like to stay the night. The Block Island Race brings you 5 days of sailing action, if that’s your thing. It’s fun to watch even if you aren’t big in the sport.
Block Island is a haven for outdoor activities. If you’re the hiking, sailing, fishing, biking, swimming kind, this is your new spiritual home. Half the island is also part of a conservation zone, so the natural beauty is unspoiled. In fact, the island has been named one of the Last Great Places in the Western Hemisphere!
Despite this overshadowing, New Shoreham itself is also amazing. Watch out for the iconic glass floats (an excellent gift for loved ones) and be sure to bike the town.
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From the smallest to the largest we go! This is not only one of the best beach towns in Rhode Island, it’s also the largest water-and-land area. The town was founded in 1722, when the King’s Towne (quaint, right?) split into North and South Kingstown.
This is something of an arts and culture hive for the area. There’s still beautiful villages, rolling farmland, and stunning views, too.
It’s family-friendly, with beautiful playgrounds, two picnic areas, and a boardwalk. Steer away from East Matunuck State Beach with little ones, though. This far-reaching shoreline has very strong waves. Not unmanageable, but scary for small people. Crowds are limited, though, and it’s a great spot for finding seashells. You can even join a morning yoga class on the beach.
Town Beach at Matunuck is your place to be, with 2 picnic areas, showers, restrooms, playground and 1,300 feet of sand! Beach passes are sold for residents and turists every year. Here are more details on how to buy them.
If you’re here to swim, come in August. The sea is warm and welcoming at that time of year. Most of the restaurants serve delicious local food. Including the iconic oysters the area is known for. You don’t want to miss out on that delicacy. The Kinney Azalea Gardens and historic Theater By The Sea make for wonderful distractions if you’re too sunburned for the beach.
This gorgeous little coastal town dates from 1638. So there’s tons of historic sites to explore. Technically speaking, this is 4 islands in one. Prudence Island, Patience Island, Hope Island, and Hog Island. If you giggled at the odd one out, don’t worry! I did too! You have to wonder how that came about.
Green Animal Topiary Gardens and the 1852 St. Mary’s Episcopal Church are can’t-miss attractions. Schedule a morning for the Large Clement’s Marketplace, too. Delicious foods, fresh produce, and so much more to explore! The town also has public golf courses, marinas, and other fun activities. There’s even polo to watch- or play, if you have a team.
Although there’s some fabulous beaches in the area, this is more of a historic destination to enjoy. Which doesn’t mean you should write off local beaches- they’re wonderful.
Portsmouth Beaches to check out:
Sandy Point Beach – Perfect for families, this shallow beach is a must visit. There are restrooms and showers which are open when lifeguards are on duty. Check out the official site here for prices and open days. Beach fee is paid at the entrance.
McCorrie Point – Lovely wide beach, perfect for walks and sport activities. No lifeguard here or facilities here.
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Nope, no Game of Thrones references here! This is the westernmost beach town in Rhode Island. It’s also a quintessential beach vacation destination. Misquamicut State Beach brings you a half-mile of pristine beachfront and it’s not alone. There is also Wuskenau Beach, also know as the “New Town Beach” open 7 days, check out beach passes here.
Those who hate crowds might want to head to Napatree Point Conservation Area. Beautiful shorebirds flit up and down, and the walks are exquisite. Migratory birds make this peninsula a regular stop, so the birding is always fantastic.
Want some nostalgic fun? Watch Hill Flying Horse Carousel is the oldest continuously operating carousel in the country. It’s too delicate for adults, but the littles will love it.
Westerly is packed with adventure holiday goodies. Sailing, surfing, swimming, fishing, and camping. If you like your mod-cons, there’s great shopping and golfing, too.
It’s a small town, but the population doubles over the summer. All the same, it’s a can’t miss for a fun and vibrant beach experience.
Experience the Best Beach Towns in Rhode Island
As you can see, each of the best beach towns in Rhode Island has something different to offer. Some bring a day soaking in pristine nature while others offer heaps of fun for the family.
You will have a lovely time whether you decide to sail, surf, or sun!