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20 Best Rhode Island Beaches

Rhode Island has nearly 400 miles of coastline, studded with spectacular beaches. Here are just a few of the best.

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Rhode Island is most famous for the sailing capital of Newport, where some of the country’s wealthiest families have built opulent summer homes for centuries. But it’s only one of a few places around the state where you can find spectacular beaches, fresh local seafood and a quiet escape from the crowds — if you know where to look.

If you’ve ever met a Rhode Islander who hasn’t told you that Taylor Swift owns a house on Watch Hill in Westerly (more on this later), not far from this beach, you should ask them if they were secretly born in Massachusetts. State pride runs deep, and Misquamicut State Beach (shown here) is a local favorite.

1. Easton’s Beach, Newport

That said, no trip to Rhode Island is complete without a trip down Newport’s 3.5-mile Cliff Walk, where you can get a gander at some of those grand estates to one side and a view of the ocean to your other. The walk runs from here at Easton’s Beach south toward Bailey’s Beach. Many of the mansions you’ll see along the way, like The Breakers, of the Vanderbilt family, now operate as museums.

2. Napa Tree Point Conservation Area, Westerly

Perhaps the state’s most tucked-away beach is Napa Tree Point, a narrow and curvy beach that juts out from the coast of Westerly. You’ll have to climb a sandy path winding between fragile dunes to get out to it. The view is astonishing, especially at sunset.

3. West Beach, Block Island

Block Island’s West Beach is a great place to watch sailboats congregating offshore and to beachcomb for treasures washing in from afar. If you’ve got high hopes for finding a souvenir, keep your eyes peeled all around the island for orbs from the Glass Float Project. Every year, artist Eben Horton makes glass orbs and collaborates with the town to hide hundreds of them around the island’s pathways for people to find. Since it’s 2021, all but 21 of the 550 hidden this summer will be clear glass, and the rest will be colorful orbs. If you find one, register it online and either keep it as a treasure or rehide it to make someone else’s day later on.

4. Mohegan Bluffs, Block Island

The Mohegan Bluffs of Block Island are easily the state’s most surreal landscape. Take the stairs down to the beach on a foggy day, and you’d be excused for mistaking the dramatic cliffs for a tropical island far, far away. Make sure to check out the Southeast Light just atop the Bluffs, a stunning historic lighthouse built in 1875 and moved inland in 1993 to protect it from an eroding coast. From there, you can see stunning views of the coastline and horizon, including the Block Island Wind Farm, which was the country’s first offshore wind farm when it was built in 2016.

19. Town Way Beach, Little Compton

For a secluded place to sit and watch sailboats coming in and out of Narragansett Bay, drive to the end of Town Way Road in Little Compton and set up a picnic blanket on the shore. There’s no formal beach infrastructure here — you won’t find bathrooms or lifeguards — but you will find peace, quiet and lovely views on a sunny day.

20. Goosewing Beach Preserve, Little Compton

Rhode Island’s East Bay is a bit of a locals’ secret. A “far” drive from Newport and the beaches of Narragansett (by local standards, anyway), the town of Little Compton is tucked away in wilder surroundings. The small but pristine Goosewing Beach Preserve here is owned by The Nature Conservancy, which protects breeding birds like the piping plover and least tern. You can access the 75-acre preserve through South Shore Beach. While you’re in town, hop over to Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards, which has beautiful grounds to enjoy a wine tasting.

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