Small towns in the smallest state pack a punch with important American historic sites, scenic seaside towns, and quaint villages.
Jamestown is the quiet neighbor of Newport. Away from the bustling tourists, Jamestown has a perfectly quaint downtown. The outskirts of the village are surrounded by Narragansett Bay and several state parks. Jamestown is on Conanicut Island and encompasses two smaller islands, Dutch Island and Gould Island.
The beautiful Beavertail State Park on the southern end of Conanicut Island is home to the Beavertail Lighthouse. Drive or hike through Beavertail; you will enjoy the panoramic coastal vistas, perfect for snapping the ultimate seaside vacation photo.
Fort Wetherill State Park is perched on granite cliffs overlooking the bay and mainland. Popular with scuba divers due to the protective cove, you can also enjoy hiking and fishing. Pack a blanket and a picnic hamper because it has the perfect views for an alfresco meal.
For your takeout picnic lunch, try a Slice of Heaven. The cafe offers stepped-up classic sandwiches like roast beef Agro e Dolce (adding goat cheese and red pepper jelly) and beer-battered fish and chips with spicy Cajun fries.
If you have time, visit Newport. Here are our tips on how to spend a perfect weekend in beautiful Newport.
2. New Shoreham
New Shoreham on Block Island is just a ferry ride away from either Point Judith, Newport, or Fall River.
The ferry dock is in the center of town, and if you are visiting for an afternoon, you can walk to all the shops and restaurants. It is a lovely little town offering views of the harbor while you sip your favorite beverage and people watch.
If you wish to explore further, there is an abundance of taxis available for your convenience. There are a number of beautiful beaches on the island, but most will require a car or taxi ride. To explore more about New Shoreham, check out “The Best Things To Do During A Block Island Getaway: Where To Eat, Stay, And Play.”
Queue up for the return ferry early as many tickets returning from the island are first-come, first-serve.
DeWolf Tavern’s staff offers contemporary American cuisine served in the old DeWolf Rum Distillery for your dining pleasure. Situated on Thames Street Landing waterfront, their seasonal cocktail menus include refreshing summer delights like a Hibiscus Margarita and a Cheeky Negroni. Dinner options include classic seafood dishes like Stuffed Lobster, sandwiches, fun appetizers, and a la carte options.
The Herreshoff Marine Museum is home to America’s Cup Hall of Fame. The museum showcases the work of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company. The collection includes over 500 intricate ship models, and you can view over 60 boats. A private tour is the best way to experience these majestic ships.
Blithewold Mansion is an English Country Manor and was the summer home for the Van Wickle family. The Heritage Trust of Rhode Island are caretakers of this gorgeous mansion. It is a delightful spot to spend a sunny afternoon. The grounds boast a variety of gardens that include panoramic vistas of Narragansett Bay and secret, contemplative spaces.
Bristol is just north of Newport. Hop on the Mount Hope Bridge to experience the grandeur of Newport and her opulent past.
Narragansett has historically been one of Rhode Island’s summer hot spots. It still attracts many locals and visitors who want to enjoy the beautiful beaches, great food, and summer fun.
The beach is the place to be in ’Gansett, and there are several great options.
Narragansett Town Beach offers prime beach real estate in the center of the action. There are lots of great eating establishments within walking distance of the beach. Try the Coast Guard House for a beachside cocktail paired with a selection of seaside appetizers like lobster corn tamales, chilled octopus, mussels, or ceviche.
Other beach options include North Scarborough State Beach, South Scarborough State Beach, Roger Wheeler State Beach, and Salty Brine State Beach.
If you have time to spend in Narragansett, check out “9 Things To Do In Charming Narragansett” to get you started on your getaway plans.
Westerly is a popular coastal town and home to Misquamicut State Beach. Misquamicut is the beach where everyone wants to be in the summer, and the parking lots fill up quickly. A concession stand, comfort stations, outside showers, and shade pavilions make it a desirable spot for families to come and stay for the day.
Check out the lineup at the Misquamicut Drive-In for some throwback entertainment. Pack up a cooler with libations, snacks, and, of course, popcorn. Then, recline your seats and enjoy a movie in the comfort of your car. Most ticket prices are per carload -- no need to hide anyone in the trunk.
6. Watch Hill
Watch Hill is a gorgeous seaside village in the town of Westerly. Boasting a harbor, a main street full of shops and restaurants, and cottages on the water, Watch Hill has it all, including a famous resident: Taylor Swift. Swift purchased the infamous Holiday House on the Hill in 2013. “The Last Great American Dynasty,” a song on her new album Folklore, is based on Holiday House and a previous owner.
Visit Watch Hill Point and Watch Hill Cove on Little Narragansett Bay for beautiful views, boating, and fishing. This is the perfect spot to just enjoy a beautiful day.
Synonymous with oceanfront luxury, Ocean House is a stay you will remember. Unparalleled bay views and posh guest suites will turn your Watch Hill getaway from fabulous to exceptional. The hotel boasts a first-class spa for luxury relaxation. Activities like art classes, cultural events, and croquet clinics are offered daily. Additionally, their Center for Wine and Culinary Arts offers an array of food- and wine-focused classes and events. The onsite Coast Restaurant presents a seasonal, prix-fixe four-course menu for your dining adventure. This resort is a sensational spot for a weekend getaway.
Watch Hill Beach is a beautiful public beach that offers day and season passes.
Lincoln Woods State Park is a fun playground for locals and visitors. The center of the park is Olney Pond, which has a beach, picnic tables, and comfort stations. Boating and fishing are also popular activities in the park. There are several trails to explore the park’s natural beauty. The Lincoln Woods Trail is an easy walk. The trail is 3.1 miles but connects to several other trails making it an exploration through the woods.
Constructed in 1693, the Arnold House deserves a visit by anyone interested in the history of architecture. Originally built for Arnold and his family, it also served as a tavern. The house is a testament to the years it has stood and will take you on a journey over the centuries. Be sure to check the website for visiting hours.
A stop at the 1810 Hearthside House will transport you back in time. Your costumed docent will entertain you with stories of the home's former owners. The tour will take you through three floors of historically preserved rooms that highlight accents from several periods. They offer many special exhibits like the Home for the Holidays Guided Candlelight Tour and Victorian dinner parties.
Fisherville Brook Wildlife Refuge is Audubon’s largest public property at 1,010 acres. There are five different trails in the refuge where you can search for beavers, otters, fox, and deer. Birders may spot owls, ducks, woodpeckers, warblers, and more.
Celebrating the indigenous history and culture of Rhode Island, the Tomaquag Museum offers a variety of tour options. The Art Tour is a hands-on, traditional two-hour craft class. The Nature Tour takes you out on a guided hike through the Arcadia Management Area to explore indigenous plants and how they were used. The Cultural Education Tour brings to life traditional foods and medicines, native arts, and more. It is an educational experience that explores Rhode Island’s history.
Prescott Farm is a beautifully maintained garden and grounds drawing you in for a quiet walk. The gardens are maintained for your enjoyment, and the produce is donated to a local women’s shelter. If you are an avid gardener, a visit to Prescott Farm may inspire elements for your own garden.
Newport Vineyards features beer, wine, and great food. Enjoy a flight of their finely crafted beer and wine in the tank room or on the patio. Pair your favorite libations with some simple noshes from their onsite Brix Restaurant. If you visit on the weekend, their outdoor grill options include ginger lemongrass grilled scallops and a slow-cooked Blackbird Farm pork sandwich. Reservations are required.
Norman Bird Sanctuary is a migratory stop for several bird species. The 325-acre site offers seven miles of hiking trails. The sanctuary staff offers free, guided bird walks during which you can learn more about the aviary population and their migratory guests.
If you are searching for a unique location for your next family gathering or a group retreat, book a stay at the Paradise Farmhouse. Located on the sanctuary property, the farmhouse sleeps 16 guests. The quiet, relaxing sanctuary surrounds the farmhouse, immersing you in Mother Nature’s gifts.