The 15 Most Charming Small Towns in Rhode Island

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Most Charming Small Towns in Rhode Island Universal
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When you feel the itch to flee the big city (or even the suburbs), nothing beats a little ocean air. Enter: the most charming small towns in Rhode Island. The Ocean State might be small, but this mid-Atlantic destination proves it’s a mighty nice place to vacation—particularly if you’re seeking a quiet coastal retreat, replete with natural beauty and as much fresh seafood as you can put away. From the quiet landscapes Foster and Middletown to coastal living in (Taylor Swift-approved) Watch Hill and Narragansett, check out our list of the most charming small towns in Rhode Island and get ready to pack your bags

The 12 Most Charming Small Towns in New Jersey

Charming Small Towns in Rhode Island
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1. Westerly 

Located on Rhode Island’s southwestern shore, Westerly boasts impeccably clean, sandy beaches and a more homegrown vibe than some of the better-known beach towns in the state. In fact, throngs of tourists are the only thing you’ll be missing out on when you pay a visit to Westerly, since there is an abundance of water activities on offer (sailing, surfing and fishing, to name a few). And the kids are guaranteed to love romping through Napatree Point Conservation Area and Atlantic Beach Park. 

Charming Small Towns in Rhode Island Narragansett
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2. Narragansett 

This historic seaside village is easy to recognize by its two iconic, castle-like towers, which originally served as a casino in the 19th century and continue to draw tourists from near and far. Stunning architecture isn’t the only thing you’ll find in Narragansett, though. There are also a number of pristine beaches—including Roger Wheeler and Scarborough state beaches—where visitors can soak up the sun. You’ll also want to catch the views at Point Judith Lighthouse and the Coast Guard House. The latter is known for its stunning views and classic Rhode Island fare.  

Charming Small Towns in Rhode Island Tiverton
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3. Tiverton 

This quaint farm town on the Sakonnet River is home to a host of historic buildings and just a stone’s throw away from some of the state’s most beautiful hiking spots, including the Audobon Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge and Weetamoo Woods, where the trails wind through a stunning landscape of wildflowers and oak-holly forests. In town, there are charming cafes and art galleries galore, including Four Corners, which features paintings, ceramics, jewelry and photography. As for those who seek a supernatural thrill, you can tour (and stay at) the Lizzie Borden House, considered by some as the most haunted bed and breakfast. 

Charming Small Towns in Rhode Island New Shoreham
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4. New Shoreham 

When it comes to picking a destination for a peaceful seaside escape, New Shoreham is hard to beat. New Shoreham is the smallest town in the smallest state; it’s also the only town on Block Island—a 700-acre swath of land just 12 miles from the Rhode Island coastline. If you hop a ferry to this picturesque town, we suggest you visit the Mohegan Bluffs for stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, stroll the scenic nature trails, tour the historic lighthouses and lounge on one of the many pristine beaches. And the trip isn’t complete without a meal at the local favorite Poor People’s Pub, where both the food and atmosphere are lively.  

Charming Small Towns in Rhode Island Hopkinton

5. Hopkinton 

Located in the southwest corner of the state, recognized on the National Register of Historic Places and prized for its proximity to major natural attractions—this Washington County gem will make nature lovers swoon. Scenic day hikes are on offer at the nearby Narragansett Trail or Ell Pond Trailhead, water activities abound at the freshwater ponds in the area, and there are memorable backpacking and camping experiences to be had at the Yawgoog Scout Reservation. When you’re done with your outdoor adventure, be sure to check out the art galleries, food shops and restaurants in town—all of which are easily accessible on foot. 

Charming Small Towns in Rhode Island Foster
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6. Foster 

The atmosphere is peaceful, the locals are oh-so welcoming, and the town is so quaint, you’ll feel like you died and went to postcard heaven. For these reasons and more, Foster ranks high on our list of places to go for an authentic small town experience—and though it might be on the sleepy side, there’s still plenty to do in this rural Providence County town. For starters, Swamp Meadow Bridge and Jerimoth Hill are ideal places to take a romantic walk in a picturesque setting, Killingly Pond is a popular spot for fishing and kayaking, and the local wines served up at Nickle Creek Vineyard can’t be missed. Basically, a stay in Foster is like chicken soup for the city dweller’s soul. 

7. Glocester 

Glocester is yet another Providence County spot with a vibrant personality and plenty to offer. Once you’ve scored something unique at one of the impressive antique stores (Old Post Office Antiques is a must) in town, head to the outskirts of town for a taste of the outdoors at the nearby lakes, ponds and hiking trails. (We recommend Pulaski State Park with its 13-acre pond and paved trails.) Finish up with a visit to the Purple Cat Winery—a quirky and unpretentious place to taste top-notch vino—and you’ve got yourself a small-town success story in the making. 

Charming Small Towns in Rhode Island Middletown
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8. Middletown 

Presenting a Newport County town that’s decidedly cooler than the (namesake) resort destination next door. Skip Newport and head to Middletown instead for historic architecture, unspoiled beaches and nature preserves. We suggest starting with a jaunt through Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge for serene ocean views. Then, Head to the Whitehall Museum House and dive into colonial history through the farmhouse of Dean George Berkeley. Cap everything off with a stop at Sweet Berry Farm, a beloved outpost for local provisions and a U-pick fruit season.  

Charming Small Towns in Rhode Island Lincoln
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9. Lincoln 

Lincoln is best known as the home of Lincoln Woods State Park, a 627-acre woodland treasure that nature enthusiasts flock to for hiking, swimming, horseback riding and just about every other form of outdoor recreation you can think of. That said, history buffs might want to stick around town, where attractions like the well-preserved Arnold House and the Hearthside House Museum promise to give visitors a taste of the town’s rich past. Traveling with kids in tow? No problem: Between paintball wars at BattlegroundZ and an interactive gaming experience at TimeMission, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained. 

10. Warren 

Here, a tiny Bristol County town with a little bit of everything. It’s easy enough to spend a day wandering streets of Warren, dipping into Alfred’s Consignments and Carmen & Ginger for vintage treasures, and picking up a new read at Ink Fish Books. But there’s also a beautiful beach for swimming and lounging, and opportunities for bird and animal watching at the Audubon Society of Rhode Island and the Touisset Marsh Wildlife Refuge. Hint: We suggest you set aside a full weekend for this one. 

Charming Small Towns in Rhode Island East Greenwich
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11. East Greenwich 

For a swankier small town experience, head to East Greenwich—one of the state’s most well-to-do communities and a paradise for foodies and shopaholics alike. That said, East Greenwich is more than just first rate waterfront restaurants, craft cocktails and bougie boutiques. You can also get some education at the Varnum Armory Museum and the New England Wireless and Steam Museum and view some wildlife in an idyllic natural setting at Frenchtown Park, which is just a hop, skip and jump away. 

Charming Small Towns in Rhode Island Little Compton
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12. Little Compton 

Not to be confused with the Compton on the other coast, Little Compton is a serene seaside town that has, against all odds, fought the commercial-powers-that-be and won. You won’t find any big box stores spoiling the natural beauty of the town, or its two gorgeous beaches (South Shore Beach and Goosewing Beach Preserve). Plus, when you’re done with the sun and sand, this little oasis on the peninsula has plenty of art galleries to explore and is just a short drive away from Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyards, an oh-so pretty 150-acre property where award-winning wine is always on the menu. 

Charming Small Towns in Rhode Island Bristol
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13. Bristol 

  • Why We Recommend It: scenic, great of easy hiking, 4th of July destination 

Calling all patriots: The folks of Bristol love the red, white and blue…and there’s a good chance you will, too, if your visit coincides with the town’s annual Independence Day bash—a full weekend affair featuring parades, fireworks and lots of enthusiastic locals. The charming mom-and-pop stores and cute cafes that line the streets of town are open year-round, though, and the same goes for the 464-acre Colt State Park and 14.5-mile East Bay Bike Path. But if sports aren’t your thing, don’t fret: You can pass a sublime afternoon at the Blithewold Mansion and Gardens. Suffice it to say, there’s no wrong time to visit Bristol. 

Charming Small Towns in Rhode Island Jamestown
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14. Jamestown 

It might be best known as the starting point of the Conanicut Sailing Around the World Competition, but Jamestown has plenty to offer folks interested in land activities, too. Enjoy a scenic coastal hike at Beavertail State Park or head to the lighthouse for the spectacular views of the Naragansett bay before browsing the many shops on Main Street and digging into a delicious seafood dinner at a local restaurant. (You definintely want a lobster roll at JB’s.) 

Charming Small Towns in Rhode Island Watch Hill
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15. Watch Hill 

Maybe its the town’s flying horse carousel and waterfront boutiques, or perhaps it’s just the breathtaking coastal views and gleaming beaches. All we know is that Watch Hill is so wonderful that not even Taylor Swift could resist its charm. (Seriously, she has a house there.) We recommend trekking out the Watch Hill Lighthouse for some peaceful ocean views, then heading into town for a bite at the legendary (and 100-year-old) Olympia Tea Room.  

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