Posted by: Jack Spratt | April 3, 2009

Watch Hill, Rhode Island – A Day at the Seaside

If you travel as far west as you can along the coast in Rhode Island just before you trip into Connecticut you’ll hit Watch Hill. As delightful a place on the New England map as you can find.

Actually, you have to drive a little out of your way from Westerly to visit it – but it is worth it.

Watch Hill is what travel writers call a secluded seaside town, although on a hot summer’s day good luck finding somewhere to put down your towel on the beaches – or a parking spot in town.

The day I visited was a warm summer’s day that had been spent mostly on the crowded Misquamicut Beach and I stumbled across watch Hill and it was refreshing distraction from the carnival atmosphere of the Misquamicut area.
Watch Hill is a place to walk around and browse.

Park in one of the lots in town and venture out with camera to the historic Watch Hill Lighthouse.  You can’t go inside but the lighthouse is well kept and its location offers great views over the ocean and back into the beaches of the town.

The main beach stretches out to Naptree Point where you can hike out to see the remains of an old fort built in the late nineteenth century.

Other attractions to see include an antique flying horse carousel – somebody told me it was the oldest in the country, but it seems everywhere I go with a carousel lays claim to that distinction. Nonetheless, the hand-carved horses are distinctive and well maintained and it could be the oldest.

The harbor area is reminiscent of Newport, albeit on a smaller scale, with its assortment of boats, and its alleys of shops along Bay Street and Fort Road.

If you can linger for a sunset like I did then you’ll catch one of the few spots on the East Coast where you can view an ocean sunset.

Watch Hill is in South County, Rhode Island, and located about 80 miles southwest of Boston. If you live in southern New England it’s a perfect day trip and one of Rhode Island’s best kept secrets.




  1. I was told that the carousel in Watch Hill was left by a carnival that went bankrupt and was left to gather dust for many years until it was rescued and renovated to its present condition.

    Whether this is all true and it is indeed the oldest surviving carousel is probably neither here nor there. The fact is it gives tremendous amount of enjoyment to young and old alike and I think it looks beautiful.

    Kudos to whomever maintains it at Watch Hill.

    Thank you for the post.

  2. […] Rhode Island on a Bike and Foot. In an earlier post my travel journal took me to Watch Hill in Rhode Island. Today my journal discusses Newport, RI. – a place I visit regularly and here’s […]

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