Narragansett, RI: A seaside destination you won’t want to leave

Narragansett, RI: A seaside destination you won’t want to leave

  • Travel
  • January 2, 2023
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Surfers in Narragansett

Visitors have flocked to the special coastal charms of Narragansett, Rhode Island since America’s Golden Age. The community’s distinctive stone towers, reminiscent of castle towers, span Ocean Road and symbolize the enduring appeal of this welcoming city. (In fact, the city’s Welcome Center is located in one of the towers.)

As you cruise the Ocean Road, your constant companion is the West Passage of Narragansett Bay, a continuous Instagram-worthy vista that flows into the Atlantic. Along the way are restaurants loved by locals, most of them family-owned, serving not only great food but a taste of the city’s neighborhoods. Visitors quickly discover that Narragansett is a vacation spot with local charm.

In the quaint fishing village of Galilee, George’s and Champlin’s serve clam cakes, chowder (say “chowdah” and order the Rhode Island clear broth version) and world-famous Point Judith calamari, all to the sound of the foghorn at Point Judith Hell. Further north is Monahan’s Clam Shack, where the line for seared clams (whole bellies) and lobster rolls often leads to the adjacent fishing dock. It’s alfresco dining only, and there’s no extra charge for the million-dollar view of the bay with the Newport Bridge in the distance. On the north end of Narragansett is Twin Willows, the kind of friendly burger-and-bar destination that would make Cheers’ Sam Malone jealous. You can eat inside, but order those generous Bill Burgers and Mert Burgers on the patio for another swoon-worthy view of the ocean.

Narragansett SeawallNarragansett Lighthouse Narragansett surfers

These are just a few of the places where budget meets family-friendly, in coastal settings like those that the Gilded Age group paid a fortune to enjoy. In Narragansett, everyone can participate.

For slightly more upscale dining along Ocean Road, check out Spain Restaurant, also family-owned, and Chair 5, the restaurant at The Break, Narragansett’s only boutique hotel. Head up to The Rooftop for an enviable bird’s-eye view. Walk a few blocks from the beach for Italian fare, another Rhode Island staple, at Arturo Joe’s and in Narragansett’s historic and increasingly bohemian Boon Street neighborhood at PJ’s Pub.

Right next to the towers is the Coast Guard House Restaurant, literally perched on the edge of the rocky shoreline. Head for lunch and a glass of wine from the knowledgeable sommelier who will be happy to help you choose. Stay for moonlit dinners and late night specialty cocktails. You’ll swear you can hear the heartbeat of the city along with the lapping waves that lure surfers almost daily.

This is the heart of Narragansett: the pier, as locals call it. On one side is Narragansett’s signature Seawall for All, a year-round boardwalk for all ages that attracts sunrise joggers and evening strollers alike. On the other side is Town Beach, a sort of sandy town square that hosts children’s movie nights in the summer, as well as fireworks, punctuated by the sounds of the Rhode Island Philharmonic’s annual Surfside concert in July. Just beyond is access to the Narrow River, which despite its name is suitable for boating, paddleboarding and kayaking enthusiasts.

Cross the street and straight ahead are specialty shops including Nana’s Ice Cream and Gelato Café. Like Brickley’s in the north end, it’s one of several places in Narragansett that proudly serves homemade ice cream that, as Rhode Islanders would say, is incredibly good.

A few steps away is a village green with a gazebo that hosts local bands and sing-alongs in the summer. Grab a lounge chair and you’re all set. Just don’t be surprised when you join the other kids of all ages on the grassy dance floor, with the rhythm of the waves just a few steps away.

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