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Why Watch Hill, RI Makes for a Dreamy Summer Vacation

Today, I’m dreaming of Watch Hill, Rhode Island.

This elegant New England beach village has been drawing vacationers since the mid-19th century. Its ample supply of Victorian-era homes, ranging from oceanside mansions to prim cottages, make it easy to imagine life before 24-hour news cycles, social media, and deadlines. The thought of replacing my cell phone and laptop with a book, sunscreen, and a towel makes me very happy.

What To Do:

Napatree Point Beach

Start each day with a stroll to the public beach at Napatree Point. This is a pristine stretch of sand with few amenities and is only accessible by foot, so the farther you walk, the more quiet and private the beach becomes. Walk until you can’t hear civilization anymore, stake out a piece of the beach and enjoy the luxury of nothing more than warm sand to lie on, a cool ocean to swim in, and the company of a few seagulls.

There is a fee for entry, which includes nearby parking, umbrellas, and chairs to rent, and has lifeguards during the season.

Napatree Point Beach near Watch Hill, Rhode Island
Napatree Point Beach near Watch Hill, RI

Lunch at Olympia Tea Room

Generations of vacationers have been eating there since it opened its doors in 1916. Even though the dining room has been updated over the years, it still retains enough of its original character to be a link to Watch Hill’s past. Grab a table outside so you can people watch and contemplate what makes a perfect club sandwich. More information can be found on their website.


The Flying Horse Carousel

Reputed to be the second oldest carousel in the US.  This 19th-century amusement has been thrilling children since it opened in 1879 and even the most 21st century 10-year-old are going to do their best to collect metal rings from the dispenser each time they go around the circle.  The rider who is lucky enough to wind up with the single “Brass Ring” hidden amongst the iron ones gets another free ride on the carousel and bragging rights amongst their friends and family.


Where to Stay

Ocean House (1868) and (2010)

A salty yet pristine Grande Dame, The Ocean House stands where the original hotel entertained visitors from 1868 to 2005.  In the early 2000 the hotel’s original wood frame construction was no longer safe to meet 21st  Century fire codes so it was closed and torn down.  In 2010 the “new” hotel opened, retaining much of the charm of the old hotel (it’s a near-perfect copy of the original when viewed from the street) while still having luxurious modern amenities.  Stop in the lobby to admire the grand stone fireplace that remains from the previous structure and hotel employees will proudly point out some of the design elements that were repurposed for the new building to maintain its soul.

Dining there is also quite a treat, especially at the main restaurant Seasons, just make sure you make dinner reservations in advance. Visit the Ocean House website for more info.

The iconic Ocean House Hotel in Watch Hill, RI
The iconic Ocean House Hotel in Watch Hill, RI

Watch Hill is located in southern Rhode Island and is a 3 hours drive from NY and 2 hours drive from Boston.

What’s your favorite coastal getaway?  Share your favorite in the comments section below…



This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Right now, my wife and I are celebrating our 5th anniversary at Rum Point, Grand Cayman. Because it is the low time in the tourist season, plus not a huge attraction to the cruise ships, it is pretty quiet and secluded and that is perfectly fine with us! Warm water, friendly locals (and some not-local seasonal employees), and great food is pretty good. Being able to share it with my wife is making this spot just perfect to me.

    1. I grew up in Stonington CT. We’d often go swimming at a private beach near the carousel in Watch Hill, RI. During the time, not many people new about the lovely beach. My first grade teacher ran the ice cream store there. I worry that Watch Hill isn’t as private anymore.

  2. I grew up in Stonington CT. We often swam at a private beach near the carousel. I have a truly lovely memory of it.

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