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New England by Heart

South County

Spotlight map of South County region Rhode Island

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Tichnor Brothers postcard of Watch Hill RI

Say South County and you might get asked which beach is your favorite. Because South County is all about the beaches. With its east and south borders being all coastline, it’s no wonder. 

Starting at the northeastern point in North Kingstown is the Town Beach on Narragansett Bay. While this requires a town sticker, and there are more enticing beaches further south, it’s worth stopping at Wickford Village, originally settled by Roger Williams and Richard Smith. Beginning as two trading posts on the natural harbor, today it’s a delightful village full of boutique shops, art galleries and restaurants. Also in North Kingstown are the historic sites of Smith Castle (not a castle, but a historic colonial home dating to 1678) and the Gilbert Stuart Museum. You can also catch the fast ferry to Martha’s Vineyard from Quonset Point.

Moving on down the bay to Narragansett is the Narragansett Town Beach with a surfing area, and popular, beautiful Scarborough State Beach. When you tire of swimming and sunbathing, head further down to Point Judith to check out the Point Judith Lighthouse and Fisherman’s Memorial, then swing over to Galilee to nosh on seafood and end the day on the beaches there. 

There’s no continuing the journey along the coast here without heading back north to skirt Point Judith Pond. But once you’re back down, you have a nonstop series of beaches, including the popular Misquamicut, ending at Watch Hill in Westerly, a wealthy area with lovely beachside boutiques and the iconic Flying Carousel. Up on the hill, the historic, grand Ocean House hotel makes you want to sit on its wide porches and never leave. 

Westerly ends at the Pawcatuck River, which must be crossed to access Connecticut. And while there’s plenty to see there, it’s hard to pull away from South County.

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