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South County, Rhode Island | When You Go

Our best picks for where to stay, where to eat, and what to do (this includes the beach!) in beautiful, coastal South County, Rhode Island.

Here’s a sampling of South County beaches and activities, west to east. For fees, seasonal schedules, and other details, visit park and venue Web sites, listed below. For more on South County, see our feature story The Beaches of South County.

Watch Hill Harbor
Photo/Art by Nat Rea
Watch Hill Harbor

WATCH HILL BEACHES (a village of Westerly)

NAPATREE POINT CONSERVATION AREA. Hidden like a secret, with two miles of beach, plus meandering trails and birding.

EAST BEACH. Brilliant and expansive, with views of Watch Hill Lighthouse.

plus …

FLYING HORSE CAROUSEL. At Watch Hill Beach, a vintage herd of tiny horses dangling on chains; costs a pittance to fly. 401-348-6007;

THE BOOK & TACKLE SHOP. The smell of 50,000 old volumes mingles with the sea. 401-315-2424;

COMINA. Beautiful beach-themed furnishings and accessories. 401-315-0335;

OCEAN HOUSE. Sets a high bar for elegance, with expansive views of East Beach. 401-584-7000;

OLYMPIA TEA ROOM. Pull up a seat outside, order up a plate of mussels, and gaze out at the harbor. 401-348-8211;

ST. CLAIR ANNEX. Favorite spot for homemade ice cream and lobster rolls. 401-348-8407

South County, Rhode Island
Photo/Art by Nat Rea


MISQUAMICUT BEACH. Seven miles of family fun, with water slides, carousel, free Tuesday movies, concerts, and bonfires.,,

WEEKAPAUG BEACH. Where the sea meets the sky, a private bit of paradise, more accessible if you’re renting a cottage in the off season.

plus …

SHELTER HARBOR INN. Comfy 19th-century converted farmhouse with rights to a private stretch of sand on Weekapaug Beach. 800-468-8883, 401-322-8883;

South County, Rhode Island
Photo/Art by Nat Rea
Chair on the Beach


QUONOCHONTAUG. A.k.a. “Quonnie,” an undeveloped, privately owned barrier beach. Trails allow public access at specified times.

NINIGRET CONSERVATION AREA/EAST BEACH. East of Blue Shutters Town Beach, pick your parking lot and find a patch of sand.

CHARLESTOWN BREACHWAY. Fishermen cast off here, at this beautiful channel between the ocean and Ninigret Pond.

plus …

THE FANTASTIC UMBRELLA FACTORY. International bazaar with a ’60s vibe, set in a 19th-century farmyard. 401-364-6616

VINTAGE EYEWEAR. A don’t-miss shop at The Fantastic Umbrella Factory. 401-213-6870

NINIGRET NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE & KETTLE POND VISITOR CENTER. Kids and windsurfers love the gentle salt pond.

WILCOX TAVERN. Revolutionary general Joseph Stanton’s birthplace serves calamari and stuffed quahogs in an elegant but casual colonial setting. 401-322-1829;

RAMBLIN’ ROSE. Jammed with appealing vintage items for your beach cottage. 401-322-1111;

South County, Rhode Island
Photo/Art by Nat Rea
Stacked Boats


EAST MATUNUCK STATE BEACH. Strong surf, picnicking, pavilion, and concessions.

plus …

TRUSTOM POND NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE. 787 acres open year-round, with visitor center, trail info, and RI’s only undeveloped salt-pond shoreline.

LIGHTHOUSE CRUISE. Hits a bit of the South County coast, and then goes all around Narragansett Bay, past 10 different lighthouses in 90 minutes. 401-295-4040;

MATANUCK OYSTER FARM. In East Matunuck, take a guided tour of oyster beds and belly up to the oyster bar. 401-783-4202;

WILLIAM C. O’NEILL BIKE PATH. A six-mile ride from Kingston Station to South County Museum in Narragansett. 401-783-8886;

Point Judith
Photo/Art by Annie Graves
Point Judith Lighthouse.


SALTY BRINE (GALILEE) & ROGER WHEELER (SAND HILL COVE) STATE BEACHES. Fine sand, gentle surf, great views, picnicking.,

SCARBOROUGH NORTH & SOUTH STATE BEACHES. A long, popular stretch with moderate surf, picnic tables, boardwalk, and pavilions.

NARRAGANSETT TOWN BEACH. Surfing paradise (sign up for lessons), with a sand, concerts, and a kite festival.

plus …

CAMP CRONIN FISHING AREA. Great angling along the rocky shoreline and breakwater, plus hiking and birdwatching.

POINT JUDITH. A stoic old lighthouse looms over one of New England’s own “graveyards of the Atlantic” and a wild, stony shore, home to surfers and fishermen.

BLACK POINT CLIFF WALK. Hugs the coast off Ocean Road, with paths to boulders by the water, a top fishing area.

CHAMPLIN’S SEAFOOD, GEORGE’S, AUNT CARRIE’S, IGGY’S. In Galilee and Point Judith, the big-cahuna seafood shacks; don’t miss the “stuffies” (stuffed clams).,,,

THE RICHARDS B&B. A romantic stone house, built in 1884, with meandering garden paths. 401-789-7746;

CRAZY BURGER. A hint of Key West, with tropical outdoor seating. 401-783-1810;

Blue skies over Wickford Harbor Blue skies over Wickford Harbor

WICKFORD (a village of North Kingstown)

“Ten Best Main Streets USA” designation;

THE KAYAK CENTRE OF RHODE ISLAND. Flagship store and paddling instruction; head out into Wickford Harbor. 888-732-5292, 401-295-4400;

TAVERN BY THE SEA. Dine indoors or on the deck, overlooking Wickford Cove. 401-294-5771;

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Updated Monday, June 20th, 2011

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One Response to South County, Rhode Island | When You Go

  1. jonibee July 25, 2016 at 9:17 am #

    I thouroughly enjoyed your tour of the beaches and out of the way places that are in Rhode Island. From time to time we have taken drives to this state and stopped in Tiverton which has a lovely restaurant twhere we like to dine at (one of many) . The New England charm doesn’t evade this town either. But I was unaware that there are others just as beautiful quaint towns that open our eyes to what they too have to offer. These will be put on my “bucket list” to visit them when time allows..

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