Rhode Island’s Best Beaches
Friday, July 27, 2012
It's worth getting up early and making the long (in RI terms) drive to Watch Hill to score some good parking and get onto this gorgeous beach (free admission). The farther you walk from the entry point by the famous carousel, the narrower, more peacefully remote your day will be. It's a half mile of bliss.
Best for: Unspoiled beach lovers
You want to: Check out the Sunday local bike tours from 4-5:30pm with Napatree Bikes (401-348-6317).
Eat at: The Verandah at the Ocean House around on the other side of Watch Hill for the best views, seating, and great lighter fare (do bring a decent set of resort wear, though, to be seated).
Narragansett Town Beach
This is pretty much a perfect beach for sun-and-surf lovers. The southern end hosts surfers and the attendant hang-out culture (not to mention there are daily surfing lessons), while the center stretch near the pavilions and to-go grill are just broad enough for families to spread out without being miles from the surfline. To the north, the strand opens up for quiet walking toward the private beaches, making it a perfect couples spot as well.
Best for: Surf lovers of all ages
You want to: Schedule a surfing lesson through Narragansett Surf and Skate shop.
Eat at: Crazy Burger, a bona fide California-style, vegan-friendly eatery, makes the post-beach scene ideal.
Narragansett beachgoers definitely divide into two camps: you're either a Town Beach person or a Scarborough person. The demographic definitely skews to the teenager/20s at this popular spot with great sand, great surf, and great people watching.
Best for: Suntan oil and flirting
You want to: Give into the culture and just enjoy yourself. This is a piece of Rhode Island. It's also a beach most states would kill for.
Eat at: Iggy's Doughboys. It's another classic clamshack and a rite of summer. Take the ride down Ocean Rd toward Point Judith. Get a fritter.
Fred Benson Town Beach
It's worth it. Worth the drive through beach traffic peeling off to Narragansett, worth the search for parking in Pt. Judith, worth the ferry ride, and worth the walk up the sand. The former Crescent Beach was just named by Coastal Living Magazine as one of the nation's best beaches, and they're right. Benson Beach has a perfect pavillion area with just enough amenities, great sand, varied surf, and a sense of happiness among its many users who manage to spread out along its crescent and find their spots. The only problem? You won't want to take that boat home at the end of the day. So stay.
Best for: Island lovers and boogie boarders
You want to: Take a break from the surf and stroll around town. It's one of the best shore towns anywhere.
Eat at: Eli's, which has been turning out creatively low-key cuisine, and has just been touted by Yankee Magazine as a top spot.
Yes, Fred Benson Town Beach was just named one of the Best Beaches in the US (and the honor is well-deserved), but for real beach afficianados, there is nothing quite like this small, tucked-away cove considerably north. Maybe it's the name, or maybe it's the ruins of an enormous island mansion amid the scrub bordering the beach, but nothing in Rhode Island feels as proprietary as this beautiful stretch of sand.
Easily reached by bicycle from the ferry, Mansion Beach carries the memories of ruins and has the pristine quality of the private beach released back to the wild. In a word, it's perfect. No services, so be prepared. A few parking spots, but only for the sharp-eyed early riser.
Best for: Private beach lovers
You want to: Schedule a fishing expedition with Block Island Fishworks, or just stop in to pick up some tackle if you're already outfitted. 466-5392.
Eat at: Any of the fun and tasty restaurants on the island.
It kind of goes with the territory in this pristine, remote-in-every-way Rhode Island enclave. Goosewing is not for anyone who wants a Beach Boys experience... this is more like camping, but with superb ocean views.
Even CNN caught wind of the extremely low-impact, high-beauty factor here, naming Goosewing one of the best beaches in the world (along with strands in Brazil and Costa Rica) It's not great for kids or teens ("boring!"), but for lovers of unadulterated New England shoreline, it's, well, world-class.
Best for: The happily anti-social beachgoer
You want: To do nothing. That's why you came here.
Eat at: The finest, most relaxed and welcoming resort in the state (and perhaps New England): the Stone House Inn. The Taproom 1854 has everything you need and there's a perfect fire pit for post-dusk lingering. And drinking.
Otherwise known as First Beach, this popular Newport spot is a hit with families for good reason--most notably, Save The Bay's fantastic beachside Exploration Center & Aquarium. Then there's that great snack bar above it. And a skate park, boogie boards for rent, a children's playground, and even a beach store because someone left the sunscreen on the kitchen table.
And the beach itself got a whole lot better this year after a seaweed eradication program eliminated much of the pesky red weed that used to torment toddlers (and their mothers). In a word, it's perfect now.
Best for: Families
You want: To check out the Exploration Center... and say hi to more than 50 species of local marine critters.
Sachuest Town Beach
There's a fierce back and forth between Newport's First Beach and next-door Middletown's Second (Sachuest Town) Beach, but if you're not serving the needs of the under 10 crowd, the vote has to go to the just plain beautiful Sachuest. The strand arcs gracefully all the way to a rocky promontory, and there's great tidepools and scrambling to be had. Bonus: Drop-dead views of the Gothic spires of St. George's School. You don't find that every day.
Best for: Beach purists
You want: to take the wee ones up to the excellent visitor's center at the Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge.
Eat at: Flo's. Where else you going to eat?
Yes, you read that right. For the beach purist, this densely packed beach that brings Rhode Island as close to New Jersey's shore as possible may sit at the bottom of the best beaches list, but for many, this spot is full of old-fashioned, unpretentious fun. From its open ocean big surf, to waterslides and boardwalk attractions, to outdoor movies on the beach and summer concerts, you'll wear yourself out at Misquamicut, and be the happier for it.
Best for: Kids at heart
You want: To take advantage of those hot showers and transition right to the honky-tonk bar scene... if that's your scene.
Eat at: Maria's Seaside Cafe and grab some fresh lobster.
This pristine beach in the embrace of Charlestown's Ninigret Conservation Area holds its own against the Eastern Seaboard's finest barrier beaches, from Fire Island to Sanibel. This is three miles of undeveloped beach frontage right on the Atlantic. One of the great bonuses of East Beach is that if you plan it right, you can wake up here. With the right permits, you can camp in one of 50 spots. Talk about heaven.
Best for: Get-away beachgoers
You want: To take advantage of this long, unspoiled stretch of white sand. Walk it.
Eat at: Your campsite. Smart provisioners will hit the Charlestown Farmers Market on summer Fridays from 9-noon. (Church of the Holy Spirit
4150 Old Post Rd, Charlestown)
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