Each summer, locals and residents flock to the expansive stretches of sandy shores to escape the heat, play in the waves and relax in the sunshine. Boasting over 400 miles of coastline, Rhode Island has over 100 glistening beaches to choose from. Whether travelers are seeking seclusion, socializing or family-friendly fun, this small state is big on beaches – and offers something for everyone. Every beach is distinctive in Rhode Island – from deserted dune-encircled sands only accessible by foot, to multi-acres of beachfront parks, with plenty amenities and easy, ample parking. And here are a few favorite summertime Rhode Island beach spots.
Narragansett Town Beach
Location, location, location! Smack in the center of all the action, Narragansett Town Beach offers something for everyone. In fact, it’s visitor-friendly and also considered a surfer’s paradise. Featuring plenty of parking, ocean activities, an assortment of snack shops and gourmet food trucks filled with tasty treats, this convenient beach is an ideal place to spend the day with the kids. This beach has lifeguards and all the comforts of home, with rentals available for chairs and umbrellas, and changing rooms, too. In addition, Narragansett is the go-to spot for New England surfing (especially in the early morning), as the swells here can be up to four feet in height — depending on the time of year. For those who wish to give surfing a whirl, local shops rent boards and offer surfing lessons for all levels. And with over 80 restaurants to choose from, visitors have plenty of great dining options. One legendary favorite is Monahan’s Clam Shack by the Sea, offering ocean views and a casual seafood menu, featuring their famously inexpensive lobster roll special. Narragansett has earned a reputation beyond Rhode Island for having four of the most beautiful beaches in the state, including Roger Wheeler State Beach and Salty Brine State Beach.
Watch Hill, RI
Napatree Point, a crescent-shaped sandy beach on the southwestern tip of Rhode Island, is more than just a place to sit on a blanket and watch the waves roll in. As the southernmost (and westernmost) point of Rhode Island, this remote area is considered a hidden gem and features a meandering coastline stroll that starts from the village of Watch Hill winds along the coast, offering rustic seascape views of Fishers Island, New York as well as Connecticut. While sauntering along, walkers can spot colorful sailboats in the ocean, and enjoy plenty of wild bird watching, such as ospreys and seagulls. And for those who love classic New England architecture, this beach walk also takes visitors past an array of traditional Victorian houses that are situated atop the bluffs of Watch Hill. Nearby, visitors can stop by the village of Watch Hill, check out the lighthouse and take a ride on historic merry-go-round, dating back to 1876. After burning off calories crossing the dunes, locals love the Cooked Goose for breakfast or lunch.
As one of the largest and most popular beaches in Rhode Island, Scarborough State beach has been a long-time favorite among tourists and locals throughout the years, as it features over 25 acres of fun in Narragansett. Featuring a newly expanded beach area and a recently renovated pavilion, Scarborough is perfect for beach-loving families, as it has on-duty lifeguards throughout the summer, and offers a wide range of amenities and activities, including food concessions, a lively seaside boardwalk and an observation tower with panoramic views of the seascape. The beach also has hassle-free parking, picnicking facilities, with 75 tables and lots of shade, along with changing facilities, hot and cold showers and restrooms as well. The Narragansett Grill is a casual nearby restaurant, with contemporary fare featuring seafood, steaks and pasta.
Easton’s Beach (“First Beach”)
Easton’s Beach is the town of Newport’s only ocean beach, and it’s ideal for sun-seeking day-trippers. It features all the makings of a perfect New England shore escape, with easy and convenient parking nearby and all amenities readily available — such as rentals for cabanas, beach chairs, umbrellas, boogie boards and more. Younger beachgoers always have a blast at this guarded beach, and love the adjacent playground, carousel and the Save the Bay Exploration Center. Hungry? This beach also offers an array of options throughout the day, such as the Easton’s Beach Snack Shop, where locals adore their famous twin lobster roll special. When you're looking to relax, take advantage of Newport's famous spas like the Newport Spa Escape.
Just a short distance from the Rhode Island coast, Block Island has 17 miles of free public beaches that are always welcoming to guests. One of the largest, Crescent beach, is a narrow, sandy stretch on the island’s eastern shore. With the most amenities, this beach has lifeguards and all the facilities that beachgoers can ever need: including refreshments, chair and umbrella rentals as well as changing rooms and restrooms. While not on the mainland, most visitors agree that Block Island is worth the extra effort to reach, most commonly via the Block Island ferry from Point Judith. Other options to reach Block Island include chartering a boat or a quick flight from the Westerly airport. For lunch or dinner, visitors flock to The Beachhead, a casual, iconic local haunt with a fun outdoor patio and a menu that features wide array selection.
Other Rhode Island beach spots to check out:
While Newport is popular, it isn't the only option for great beach getaways to Rhode Island. Another great destination is South Kingstown. This relaxed destination offers gorgeous oceanfront rentals in a more affordable price range than Newport. Properties here are perfect for romantic retreats or family reunions. There are some large rentals with four bedrooms or more to accommodate large groups. Keep busy during the day with a long list of activities, including scuba diving, boating, hiking, or building sand castles. In addition to these activities, more amenities in South Kingstown include a scenic boardwalk, volleyball court, playground area for kids, and great picnic area .
This beautiful beach town is known for its range of vacation rentals, from the uber luxurious to the cute and quaint. Here travelers will find miles of unspoiled beaches for relaxing days full of canoeing, hiking, or taking tours of local wildlife refuges. Charlestown is also a very popular spot for people interested in bird watching. This town is home to a great seafood festival held every August.
If the perfect Rhode Island beach is one where you can find peace and quiet, head to Westerly. In exchange for the glamour of other seaside resorts, you will have miles of serene beaches to enjoy. This family-friendly destination offers plenty of water sports as well, from boating to sailing to fishing . You won't be isolated in Westerly either; this Rhode Island destination is known for its restaurants, art galleries, and annual Shakespeare in the Park series every summer.