So Summer

Get to Know: Westerly

A classic beach town with so much more than sun and sand


Known for: beaches, music, restaurants and bars, historic downtown, Italian food, beach houses

Good for: families, singles, foodies, surfers and other water sports enthusiasts, fishermen

Running along the southwestern shoreline of Rhode Island up to neighboring Connecticut, Westerly is one of the state’s true summer boom-towns, with a population that increases dramatically in the hotter months. Like many Southern Rhode Island towns, it incorporates several smaller villages, including Watch Hill, Dunn’s Corners, Bradford, Misquamicut and Weekapaug.

Though it’s known primarily as a beach town, Westerly’s formerly industrial town center is undergoing revitalization, making it an increasingly popular home for the arts. The Artists Cooperative Gallery of Westerly, a 50-member, artist owned and operated organization, the famous Chorus of Westerly, the Granite Theater and the Colonial Theater (which presents Shakespeare in the Park during the summer) are all in the vicinity. There is also a free Westerly Art Stroll the first Wednesday of each month from 5-8pm.

Westerly is home to a large Italian-American community, and as such, the town is known for its Italian food. It is even home to its own unique type of Italian sausage, known as a “soupy,” a dry-cured pork sausage that can be traced back to many residents’ Calabrian ancestry. Italian restaurants such as Vetrano’s, Fra’s Italian Gourmet, Ella’s Fine Food and Drink and Venice are popular dining destinations.

The live music scene in Westerly is probably the best in the area. Perennially touring, multiple Grammy-nominated band Roomful of Blues was founded here in the 1960s and continues to be a popular live act, both locally and around the country. The Knickerbocker Cafe, a venue that was often synonymous with Roomful, remains the epicenter of the town’s music scene, hosting regional and national touring acts. Paddy’s, a Misquamicut beach bar, is another hot spot for music fans throughout the summer.

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