When you think “summer in Rhode Island,” chances are you’re picturing yourself in a beach chair somewhere in Narragansett, clam cakes and a Del’s in hand. This season, make it a point to venture away from your old summer habits and try something new in this quintessentially seaside town.
Beach And More Beach
Just as we all have our staunch beliefs that our favorite clam shack is the very best clam shack, we’re creatures of habit when it comes to our go-to beaches. Narragansett is home to four drive-worthy ones: Narragansett Town Beach, and Scarborough, Wheeler and Salty Brine state beaches. Town Beach is more expensive – you have to pay to park and get on the beach – but it has the most going for it, from surfing lessons to proximity to shopping at Pier Marketplace (Facebook: Narragansett Pier Marketplace) and Coast Guard House, which is fine dining downstairs and bathing-suit-friendly on the roof deck. Scarborough tends to be the most crowded and draws heavily from Providence and North Providence. Wheeler is full of families. Salty Brine – and its parking lot – are tiny, but the beach has plenty of room to spread out once you find a parking space.
The Great Clam Shack Debate
The question isn’t whether you’re going to a clam shack when you visit Narragansett; it’s which one you’re going to visit. The closest to Town Beach is Monahan’s, but just a couple of minutes further down Ocean Road are Aunt Carrie’s and Iggy’s Doughboys and Clam Shack, which are right across the street from each other. There’s a similar rivalry in Galilee: Rhody food icons George’s of Galilee and Champlin’s Seafood, are so close together they share a parking lot. Every Rhode Islander has a preference, and every Rhode Islander is sure everyone else’s is wrong.
Beyond the Beach
South County Museum is a summer-only attraction that features a living history farm (including a flock of heritage Rhode Island Red chickens, the state bird), maritime gallery, print shop, one-room schoolhouse, blacksmith shop and more. Their collection comprises more than 20,000 objects, from pre-European settlement to the 1950s.
Casey Farm, a mid-18th-century homestead, is still a working organic farm and hosts one of the area’s largest farmers markets on Saturday mornings in the summer. They offer guided tours of the property during the warm weather.
Most Friday evenings throughout the summer, Narragansett hosts Gazebo Summer Concerts. Here’s your game plan: Call in sick to work on Friday, spend the day at Town Beach, and then move your chair over by the sea wall for the 6pm show.
With its super fresh seafood and its views for days, Coast Guard House is a must-taste at least once. Away from the beach, there are tons of other delicious options, like the creative cocktails and fusion cuisine at Chair 5, the paella and sangria at Spain of Narragansett and the waterfront classics at 1230 Ocean Bistro.