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9 Picture-Perfect Towns in Rhode Island

by Staff

The “Ocean State” of Rhode Island first entered the Union in 1790, and today, it continues to be a most important feature of the New England region. America’s smallest State by area, what Rhode Island may lack in size it compensates for with truly majestic natural surroundings and vistas, and fascinating colonial history. Through an exploration of its smaller towns, these treasures and more can be discovered firsthand giving visitors truly memorable experience. Whether its seaside views or simple small town American charm, these picture perfect Rhode Island towns are ideal ways to discover New England and all its natural and cultural splendor.

Warren

The library and town hall in Warren, Rhode Island.

Founded in the 1740s, the town of Warren is situated on the eastern banks of the Warren River. Home to a population of just over 11,000 inhabitants, this Bristol County town is a great place for quiet reflection where beautiful natural surroundings and intriguing local history can be found in abundance. Spend time at the Waterfront Historic District where an assortment of preserved 18th and 19th century buildings continue to stand, while an afternoon at the Touisset Marsh Wildlife Refuge is the ideal place to see tranquil views of the Kickemuit River and such animals like foxes, deer, and birds. And do not forget Warren’s cute and inviting selection of local businesses, which offer a most welcoming slice of small town USA all within the confines of a most beautiful coastal setting.

Foster

Foster public library in Rhode Island
Foster public library in Rhode Island

Settled by British colonists in the 17th century, Foster is a small town in Providence County where today just under 4,500 residents call home. An ideal weekend getaway for those in the area of the State capital Providence, Foster offers guests plenty of welcoming hospitality, historic allure, and wonderful natural settings. Visit the lovely Killingly Pond or walk and drive across the Swamp Meadow Covered Bridge for a most pretty afternoon outing. Meanwhile the Clayville Historic District remains a most fascinating place to experience, and a special snapshot of the United States’ colonial history can be appreciated. Stop by such landmarks like the Mount Vernon Tavern (constructed in 1761) or the Captain George Dorrance House (1720) amongst others for a sense of what living was like in the 18th century.

Jamestown

Beavertail Lighthouse in Beavertail State Park in Jamestown.
Beavertail Lighthouse in Beavertail State Park in Jamestown.

Jamestown was founded in the mid 17th century, making it one of Rhode Island’s oldest non indigenous settlements. Indeed this historic town remains a most fascinating locale where intriguing history and stunning natural beauty come together. Situated on Conanicut Island (a part of Narragansett Bay) and including the small island of Gould and Dutch respectively, visitors can expect to find a most charming community full of special landmarks. Stop by the Windmill Hill Historic District, the Jamestown Archeological District, the Beavertail Lighthouse, Fort Getty, the Conanicut Battery, and many more sites that will truly transport one back in time! And of course with its island setting, Jamestown offers breathtaking Atlantic Ocean panoramas while welcoming local restaurants and novelty shops ensure that one’s visit will surely not be forgotten any time soon.

Narragansett

Homes along the coastline in Narragansett, Rhode Island.
Homes along the coastline in Narragansett, Rhode Island.

The town of Narragansett is uniquely located along a narrow strip of the Pettaquamscutt River, where today nearly 14,500 people reside. A popular summer tourist destination, Narragansett is noted for its splendid golden beaches and beautiful seaside views that attracts thousands of guests annually. From sunbathing, to swimming, and sailing, this beach town is indeed one of Rhode Island’s most welcoming and pretty places. In addition, guests can marvel at such man made landmarks like The Towers (a castle gate built in 1883) and the Point Judith Lighthouse (1857), which are both included on the National Register of Historic Places. And do not forget about the Fishermen’s Memorial State Park for a relaxing outdoors retreat that is great for the entire family and the solo traveller alike.

Richmond

Richmond Historical Society, Bell School, Richmond, Rhode Island.
Richmond Historical Society, Bell School, Richmond, Rhode Island.

Located in Washington County, Richmond is located just some 35 miles from the State Capital Providence. A quiet and peaceful destination of some 8,000 inhabitants, there are many opportunities to enjoy the peace of nature and wonder of American history while in this town. Explore the historic villages of Arcadia, Tug Hollow, and Hillsdale for a quaint look at life in the 19th and early 20th centuries, while the area’s forested surroundings create a charming rustic ambience. Indeed for a cute little slice of Americana, Richmond and its welcoming collection of local businesses, restaurants, galleries, and historic landmarks, is a great way to experience a wholesome Rhode Island getaway for the young and old.

Harrisville

The quaint town of Harrisville, Rhode Island.
The quaint town of Harrisville, Rhode Island.

Home to a humble population of just under 1,800 residents, the entirety of Harrisville is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. For an authentic look at life in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, a voyage through Harrisville’s historic architecture is a great way to see the evolution of America through the years. And with its genuine and quaint small town atmosphere, visiting Harrisville is indeed like experiencing some of the best of quintessential Americana. From welcoming locally run restaurants, cute novelty shops, and interesting regional museums, Harrisville and its assortment of historic buildings comes to life like a pretty postcard. And do not forget to stop by the Blackstone Heritage Corridor, where exciting opportunities for cycling and hiking can be enjoyed by the active outdoors person or even the casual tourist.

New Shoreham

Block Island North Light Lighthouse in New Shoreham Rhode Island
Block Island North Light Lighthouse in New Shoreham Rhode Island

Situated on Block Island, the humble town of New Shoreham can trace its foundational history way back to the year 1672. Today the home of just under 1,500 inhabitants, New Shoreham is Rhode Island’s southernmost settlement. For some of the State’s most stunning ocean views, then this town is indeed the place to be. Add in beautiful rolling green hills and shining blue Atlantic Ocean waters, and a picturesque delight is sure to be experienced by the young and old. Stop by the Mohegan Bluffs lookout or simply spend an afternoon along the beachside, there is never a shortage of stunning scenery to enjoy in New Shoreham. And with fun activities like swimming and sailing always popular, New Shoreham maintains itself as one of the most welcoming places in Rhode Island.

Hopkinton

Hopkinton City Historic District in Ashaway, Rhode Island.
Hopkinton City Historic District in Ashaway, Rhode Island. Image credit: Swampyank via Wikimedia Commons.

Established in 1757, the town of Hopkinton is home to a number of historically important landmarks listed on the National Register. Situated in Washington County, this scenic town mixes its inviting natural surroundings with fascinating American history for a unique experience for any visitor. Visit the 18th century Black Farm or spend a day at the Bradford Village Historic District and Hope Valley Historic District for authentic slices of life in the tumultuous two centuries after America’s birth. Meanwhile for the outdoors minded visitor, a day at the Narragansett Trail Trailhead and the Arcadia Management Area State Park offer splendid opportunities for biking, hiking, and camping, all amidst the untouched nature.

Bristol

The Port at Bristol, Rhode Island.
The Port at Bristol, Rhode Island.

First settled back in the 1680s, the town of Bristol (named after the British city) is a most charming and welcoming locale where fascinating history, scenic nature, and friendly community spirit all populate the area. Home to a population of nearly 23,000 inhabitants, a number of landmarks on the National Register of Historic Places can be found here including the County Jail (1828), the Waterfront Historic District, the Bristol Ferry Lighthouse (1855), and Mount Hope Farm (1745) amongst many others. Meanwhile with great ocean views never in shortage, outdoors minded tourists can enjoy sailing, swimming, and kayaking, while a number of beautiful park areas are great places to hike and ride a bicycle. Bristol is also known for its annual Fourth of July parade, which is the oldest running event of its kind in the nation first being held in 1785.

Rhode Island is one of America’s most historic centres and it forms an integral part of the nation’s New England geographic region. Though it is the country’s smallest State, the “Ocean State” compensates with loads of natural beauty, historic intrigue, and welcoming hospitality that have made it a favorite destination for all those in the Northeast. Indeed an exploration of some of its picturesque small towns reveals exactly why Rhode Island is such a cherished part of the country. From the historic districts of Jamestown to the island beauty of New Shoreham, these and other Rhode Island towns are awesome ways to get acquainted with the State outside of its larger cities. So do not wait, hit the road, and see these Rhode Island treasures first hand!

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