In every nook and cranny, the sea
Beaches, bivalves, surfing, fishing all spell ‘summer’
NARRAGANSETT, R.I. - While this South County town lacks the cachet of Martha’s Vineyard or Newport, its tony Rhode Island neighbor across the bay, the summertime haven rarely fails to charm. Often boisterous, especially on azure beach days, Narragansett still retains a laid-back, feel-the-sand-between-your-toes attitude that has kept visitors returning for generations. The community’s expansive front on the Atlantic Ocean remains the main draw, but there is plenty more to do than sit under an umbrella and watch the tide roll in. Many families list Narragansett among their favorites, but couples, too, will find it a fun escape.
Motels can be hit-or-miss at most seaside locales, and shrewd visitors opt for one of the many bed-and-breakfasts that dot the town. Located in the central “Pier’’ neighborhood, The 1900 House (59 Kingstown Road, 401-789-7971, www.1900houseri.com, $135-$170) is easy walking distance to the beach. Rooms come nicely appointed with country antiques, and guests are treated to a freshly prepared breakfast each morning. Among the specialties are homemade Belgian waffles and croissants stuffed with ham and cheese. Those desiring a bit more seclusion will appreciate Tower House B&B (46 Earles Court, 401-783-3787, www.towerhousebandb.com, $150-$215), a Narragansett favorite that offers four suites in a renovated Victorian home where the owners take pleasure in spoiling their guests. The Richards (144 Gibson Ave., 401-789-7746, www.therichardsbnb.com, $150-$200) is also located on a quiet street away from the summer bustle and evokes an English country manor. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the inn is ideal for couples on a romantic getaway.
Narragansett is chockablock with seafood restaurants, and one of the most recognizable is the Coast Guard House (40 Ocean Road, 401-789-0700, www.thecoastguardhouse.com, lunch entrees $7-$16). Located next to the town’s iconic Towers, the restaurant offers a raw bar, salads, sandwiches, pasta, and creative entrees as well as unimpeded views of the Atlantic from both its main dining room and rooftop deck. Another haven for bivalve aficionados is George’s of Galilee (250 Sand Hill Cove Road, 401-783-2306, www.georgesofgalilee.com, entrees $7.99-$24.99). Dive into the local clear broth chowder, filled to the brim with clams and potatoes, and don’t forget the requisite clam cakes, fried golden brown but still chewy on the inside. Or stop by the side of the road at Iggy’s Doughboys & Chowder House (1157 Point Judith Road, 401-783-5608, www.iggysdoughboys.com, sandwiches and entrees $2.50-$17.99) for a quintessential clam shack experience Outdoors or in the sleek dining room, Trio (15 Kingstown Road, 401-792-4333, www.trio-ri.com, entrees $14.50-$34.95) perfectly balances seafood with artisanal pizza, pasta, and chops.
DURING THE DAY
A great way for first-timers to get a feel for Narragansett is by bicycle. You can rent some pedal-powered transportation at NBX Bikes (1153 Boston Neck Road, 401-782-4444, www.nbxbikes.com, $25 full day), which offers round-trip delivery and pickup for a little extra. From the town center, take the 8-mile spin down picturesque Ocean Road to the village of Galilee, where the ferry departs for Block Island. Then kick back to watch the fishing boats and explore the many beach-themed shops and restaurants. Of course, Narragansett is renowned for its beaches, and Scarborough State Beach (870 Ocean Road, 401-789-2324, www.riparks.com/scarborough.htm, free entrance, $28 weekend parking) offers natural beauty along with showers, concessions, and a boardwalk featuring gazebos and an observation tower. Narragansett Town Beach (39 Boston Neck Road, 401-783-6430, www.narragansettri.gov, $6 entrance fee, $15 weekend parking) is a short walk from anywhere downtown and is a prime surfing spot. If you are inspired to catch a wave, head to Warm Winds (26 Kingstown Road, 401-789-9040, www.warmwinds.com, private lessons $65, group lessons $50, including board). The surf shop’s friendly instructors are available seven days a week, but if you would rather ride on your own, board rentals run $40 a day. In need of something more serene? Seek out Narrow River Kayaks (94B Middlebridge Road, 401-789-0334, www.narrowriverkayaks.com, $59-$79 per person) for their specialty paddles along Narragansett’s waterways; options include eco-friendly, photography, and bird lovers’ tours. Anglers can cast their lines at Camp Cronin Fishing Area (1399 Ocean Road, free), home to a prominent breakwater that curls into Block Island Sound and is perfect for picnics and snapping stunning views of nearby Point Judith Lighthouse.
Those craving more salt air can take a short drive up the coast to Rhode Island Bay Cruises (1347 Roger Williams Way, North Kingstown, 401-295-4040, www.rhodeislandbaycruises.com, $25 per person) for a two-hour, sunset version of their classic lighthouse cruise, which ferries sightseers past 10 beacons and sails through Newport Harbor. Landlubbers can dance weekend nights away to a live DJ at the Coast Guard House (see Dine) while The Towers (35 Ocean Road, 401-782-2597, www.thetowersri.com), once part of an elegant turn-of-the-century casino, offers weeknight diversions before Labor Day, with Latin and tango lessons ($12 for a class) on Wednesdays and live blues and Cajun bands ($15-$20) on Thursdays.
Matthew Bellico can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.