The Most Beautiful Towns in Rhode Island

The historic Beavertail Lighthouse lies on the rocky coastline of Jamestown
The historic Beavertail Lighthouse lies on the rocky coastline of Jamestown | © Zoonar GmbH / Alamy
Photo of Rachel Nipper
29 July 2021

Rhode Island, part of America’s New England region, is the smallest state in America. But what it lacks in land size, it makes up for with scenery and farms in Little Compton, waterfronts at Block Island and Bristol and sunsets at Newport. Here is our guide to the best spots in the state.

Little Compton

Architectural Landmark
Map View
Rhode Island, Little Compton, Sakonnet River. Sakonnet Point Light aka West Island Light.
© Cindy Hopkins / Alamy

Little Compton, in southeast Rhode Island, sits between the Massachusetts-Rhode Island border and the Sakonnet River, and is believed to be home to the Rhode Island Red chicken. Some of the homes and buildings here date back to the 17th century. This small, quaint, relaxed town makes up part of a group on Rhode Island and neighboring Massachusetts where farms and coastline combine to create spectacular scenery and landscapes.

Providence

Architectural Landmark
Map View

Providence is both the capital and the largest city in the state of Rhode Island. Nicknamed the Creative Capital and the Divine City, Providence was founded in 1636, making it one of the oldest cites in the nation. Roger Williams, an exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony, founded the city in the name of the sanctuary he found, a gift from “God’s merciful Providence”. The city is home to Brown University, the Roger Williams Zoo, the Rhode Island School of Design’s Museum of Art and much more.

Newport

Museum
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Cliff Walk mansions, Newport, Rhode Island, USA
© Mira / Alamy

With nicknames including the City by the Sea and the Sailing Capital of the World, Newport appears in many respects to be one of the most beautiful places in the state. This delightful seaside city, on Aquidneck Island, is renowned for the Newport Mansions, quaint buildings and glorious views of the Atlantic Ocean. Upholding the authentic, enchanting New England tradition, Newport proffers fresh, delicious seafood, historical interests, magnificent architecture, unbelievable sunsets and amazing sailing opportunities. Walk along Newport’s pretty streets and take in the beautiful homes – Newport possesses one of the largest collections of colonial homes in the United States – or enjoy the idyllic coastline.

Block Island

Natural Feature
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Block Island, 13mi (21km) south from the Rhode Island Coast in the Atlantic, is a popular summer destination, with outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, sailing, biking, swimming and relaxing on its fabulous beaches. With almost half the island preserved for conservation, Block Island retains much of its natural beauty, and the Nature Conservancy includes the island in its list of the Last Great Places in the western hemisphere. A great location for local shopping and adventure, Block Island is the perfect travel destination. Be sure to catch the Block Island Race – an exhilarating five-day sailboat race.

Bristol

Historical Landmark
Map View
USA, New England, Rhode Island, Bristol. East Bay Bike Path along Narragansette Bay.
© Danita Delimont / Alamy

Bristol, a deep-water seaport in Bristol County and named after the city in the UK, is a fantastic location for foodies. It offers charming, historic architecture, top restaurants and a picturesque waterfront. Boating, kayaking, visiting parks, shopping and dining are some of the main attractions. It is also home to the British Motorcar Festival and one of the oldest and best regarded Fourth of July parades in the country, dating back to 1785.

Jamestown

Natural Feature
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Jamestown, near Newport, is a charming town with a sprinkling of restaurants and shops and incredible waterfront views. With many National Historic Places, museums and other noteworthy locations, it is definitely worth a visit. Take a boat to see the sights, or stroll through fantastic parks; there are also some delicious seafood options.

Tiverton

Natural Feature
Map View

Tiverton, a small town on the eastern shore of Narragansett Bay, belonged to the Province of Massachusetts Bay from 1694 until 1747, when it became part of Rhode Island. Tiverton boasts incredible beaches along the Sakonnet River: Grinnell’s is well-known for its spectacular scenery and top windsurfing conditions, while Fogland draws fishermen and hikers.

Westerly

Architectural Landmark
Map View
The Ocean House Hotel sits atop Watch Hill Beach in Westerly, Rhode Island, USA
© Amy Cicconi / Alamy

Founded in 1669, Westerly is a beachfront community on the southwestern shoreline of Rhode Island. Named due to it being the westernmost Rhode Island town, Westerly is a popular tourist destination, complete with sweeping, sandy beaches, family parks, boating, camping, fishing, golfing, shopping, sailing, surfing and swimming. In the summertime, Westerly’s population nearly doubles in summer as visitors flock to its beaches and ponds.

South Kingstown

Natural Feature
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South Kingstown, the largest land-and-water area in the state of Rhode Island, sits along a narrow area alongside Narragansett Bay and the eastern bank of the Pettaquamscutt River. South Kingstown was formed in 1722 when former Kings Towne split; creating South Kingstown – named after King Charles II of England – and North Kingstown. Known for its arts and culture, natural shoreline, farmlands and quaint, historic villages, South Kingstown has more than 10mi (16km) of fabulous beaches, as well as parks and camps.

Middletown

Natural Feature
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Scenic coastal town of Middletown, Rhode Island, USA.
© Mira / Alamy

Middletown possesses 2mi (3km) of waterfront, several idyllic beaches and numerous historic sites. Because the coast has been subject to years of severe oceanic weathering, the Middletown’s Atlantic Coast displays magnificent geological creations. Another popular visitor destination, Prescott Farm displays an unspoilt history of the buildings and lifestyle of Middletown and the surrounding areas.

These recommendations were updated on July 29, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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