7 Most Scenic Small Towns in Rhode Island

A state full of farms and green space bounded by the ocean, Rhode Island is a perfect escape next door that feels far away in a different country. These are the most picturesque towns inside and out; to begin exploring the immense beauty that Rhode Island has in store.

Bristol

Historic Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum in Bristol, Rhode Island. Editorial credit: Faina Gurevich / Shutterstock.com

Bristol is a small community of diverse landscapes that offers a taste of small-town life where every corner offers a new photo opportunity. The ancient deep-sea seaport named after the city in the United Kingdom is accompanied by endless wandering on its picturesque waterfront, reminiscent of the past. Delving deeper into the town reveals the wonderful history of the ancient architecture that lines the streets, including the fairytale-worthy Blithewold Mansion. The astonishingly magnificent structure is further embellished by the immaculate arboretum with moss-strewn oval entrances and an ornate display of rainbow flowers. Colt State Park offers a dazzling landscape of waves crashing on the shores and boats on the horizon, while the soothing sounds of the sea induce a magical sense of tranquility. After an active day of boating, kayaking, park visits and shopping, the famous food scene awaits you in town with the best restaurants offering the best dining experiences anywhere in the world. During the year there is the popular British Motorcar Festival, as well as one of the country’s most popular 4th of July parades, dating back to 1785.

jamestown

Aerial view of Jamestown, Rhode Island
Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge over Narragansett Bay and an aerial view of the city of Jamestown in summer.

Located within easy reach of Newport, Jamestown is the small town filled with all the modern conveniences and scenic water views in a small town atmosphere that the heart desires from a Rhode Island getaway. The town is picturesquely located on Conanicut Island, surrounding Narragansett Bay and several state parks, including the beautiful Beavertail State Park on the south end, including a scenic lighthouse of Beavertail. The perfectly picturesque downtown is dotted with shops, great waterfront restaurants, and plenty of National Historic Sites, museums, and other notable landmarks that provide insight into the city’s history. Beautiful Fort Wetherill State Park, perched on the granite rock face, overlooks the mainland and bay where divers come to explore the protective cove below. Hikers delight in the park’s trails overlooking the dramatic ocean, while anglers find respite in the cliff-shaded shallows. The scenic cityscape spans two small islands of Dutch Island and Gould Island for more adventures with scenic coastal views. With all the scenery around, one should grab a packed lunch and start exploring, with the A piece of paradise offering the perfect take-out menu, including platters likee Beer-battered fish and chips with spicy Cajun fries.

Little Compton

Sakonnet Lighthouse, Little Compton, Rhode Island
Sakonnet Lighthouse, Little Compton, Rhode Island.

Located southeast between the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border and the Sakonnet River, beautiful Little Compton offers big attractions in a small-town setting. Its beautiful coastal location encompasses diverse landscapes, popular with nature photographers, adventurers and picnickers. Surrounded by farmland and surrounding coastlines, the landscape changes from breathtaking ocean views to beautiful green forests in just minutes. The famous rocky enclave of South Shore Beach is bounded by some of the best waters for sports in the region and the vastness of the ocean on the other side. The quaint town calls for a relaxing walk in the great outdoors followed by a picnic with a bottle of wine chosen earlier from the unique and delicious collection at the hugely popular Carolyn’s Sakonnet Vineyard. Back in town, the quaint and relaxed center features a real treat of walkable streets lined with beautiful 17th century houses and buildings.

Narragansett

Black Point Ruins on Scarborough Beach in Narragansett, Rhode Island
Black Point Ruins on Scarborough Beach in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

Located south of South Kingstown, the hidden gem affectionately known as “Gansette” is known for its fascinating and unique architecture unlike anywhere else in the country. Tens of thousands of tourists come to little Narragansett each year to drive or stroll beneath the 19th century old casino, now the biggest attraction in the storied area. The towers that stand at the entrance are surrounded by an intricate cityscape with the dazzling landscape of endless waters behind. The breathtaking scenery is made all the more overwhelming by the air over the premises that still rings of Narragansett’s bygone years. The city acts as an irresistible magnet to explore every corner, including the many lovely shops and cafes. After spending the morning alone with the gentle sea on the sand, the historic seaside town awaits with more discoveries and an atmosphere where time seems to stand still. One must visit the Pier Casino towers, now used to host various social events, followed by a return to the waters to catch that timeless sunset.

New Shoreham

View of the Southeast Lighthouse from New Shoreham, Rhode Island
View of the Southeast Lighthouse from New Shoreham, Rhode Island.

New Shoreham is the only town on the beautiful Block Island, with a year-round population of 1,000. Best known for its beautiful beaches and plentiful restaurants, it’s the ideal travel destination offering a scenic respite for all the senses. Accessible via a ferry from Point Judith in Newport, or Fall River, the city charms from the moment you land on its central wharf. Feeling at home in no time, the city evokes a sense of tranquility and anticipation. There are plenty of shops to browse and restaurants to dine in or sip a drink and people watch before heading out to relax on the sands that fringe the island. The myriad of scenic activities for all tastes and ages include water sports, boating, and oceanside relaxation. One will be lulled by the soothing sounds of the ocean and greeted by striking morning sunrises that beckon to step out into the coolest of salty mist. Founded in the 18th century, the rich history of New Shoreham resonates in the streets full of architectural and artistic installations, telling the creative story of the past of the inhabitants of the area. There are also plenty of state-of-the-art museums and art exhibits to browse for more eye candy. One can also hike, cycle and walk the coastal paths to spot and visit historic lighthouses, such as the Southeast Lighthouse, renowned for its breathtaking views. Accessible via boat, it offers endless views of the sea on one side and a bustling little town on the other.

Tiverton

View of the Sakonnet River and a small residential neighborhood in Tiverton, Rhode Island
View of the Sakonnet River and a small residential neighborhood in Tiverton, Rhode Island.

Located in the East Bay section of the state, the town harkens back to the slower days of a crowdless cityscape filled with mom and pop stores and stalls selling local produce. In town, one will find many cool galleries with real works of art, as well as various fun and artistic activities throughout the year. An ideal getaway from the city, beautiful and cozy Tiverton is blessed with huge farmland criss-crossed by the perfect cycle route calling for daily jaunts or exercise to soak up the surrounding scenery. Abundant with green space overlooking stunning ocean views, one will feel compelled to arrange a scenic photoshoot or a picnic on the soft grasses. The city also has renowned restaurants serving incredibly delicious and unique dishes at a fair price. The best dining experience unmatched anywhere else is guaranteed to satisfy all palettes in the surroundings of Rhode Island’s beauty.

West

The Ocean House in Westerly, Rhode Island
The Ocean House in Westerly, Rhode Island. Editorial credit: Allard One / Shutterstock.com

Located on the state’s south shore, Westerly is a quaint beachfront community full of authentic Rhode Island charm, renowned for its foodie scene, outdoor attractions, and scenic getaways. The town’s relaxed atmosphere is filled with a soothing buzz of nature rather than the overwhelming sense of tourism found in many other coastal locations. As well as relaxing on the sands and cooling off in the waters, one can stroll along the lovely main street lined with various shops, cafes and breweries, including the Advantages and stoppersThe great martinis of Corks. Must also visit the popular local Junk n Java coffee for the famous iced caramel latte on a hot afternoon or to start an adventurous morning. Wilcox Park is located in the heart of the city for a convenient downtown respite to stroll in the shade or relax with a picnic on the hillsides that become sledding aplenty in winter. One must try to attend the community event “Summer of Pops – Chorus of Westerly” to see the true spirit of Westerly come out in an atmospheric evening full of music and fun.

Rhode Island offers endless recreation and relaxation among its immense natural beauty, ranging from farmlands and forests to rugged cliffs and ocean views. These perfect cities are just as rich on the inside as the landscapes that surround them. You’ll have endless photo opportunities while feeling enveloped in a small-town atmosphere on the most scenic getaway of your life.

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