Known for: seclusion, natural beauty, historic charm
Good for: couples, nature-lovers, bird-watchers
The beautiful seaside town of Watch Hill is actually a part of Westerly, but it’s a destination unto itself, offering pristine beaches, dining, shopping and a taste of old New England charm. It’s also a popular escape for celebrities, like Taylor Swift, who recently bought a $17 million mansion here... in cash.
Napatree Point is a half-mile long public beach that separates Little Narragansett Bay from the Block Island Sound. It’s a popular spot for beach-goers, hikers and bird watchers.
Sandy Point, a 35-acre island, was once attached to Napatree Point, but was separated from the mainland by the Hurricane of 1938. Today, it’s a nature preserve with public access and a beach.
The Watch Hill Lighthouse is about a 15-minute walk from town at the east approach of Fishers Island Sound. The lighthouse dates back to 1856, though the site has been in operation since 1808. The lighthouse itself is closed to the public, but the grounds and a museum are open after July 1.
Stay in Luxury
A grand Victorian hotel, The Ocean House was meticulously renovated in 2010 and is now a high-end resort frequented by celebrities like Regis Philbin and Jessica Simpson. Fortunately for the rest of us, its restaurants and events are open to the public. The Seasons is a fine dining restaurant serving New American cuisine, and has a dessert bar with house-made macarons and gourmet chocolates. The Bistro is a more casual lunch and dinner restaurant serving farm-to-table New England favorites. The Verandah, with its expansive ocean views, is a great place to enjoy a cocktail. The Ocean House also hosts regular events like clam bakes and foodie getaway weekends. 1 Bluff Ave. 401-584-7000.
Downtown Watch Hill
Watch Hill’s commercial district is an easily strollable area centered on Bay Street, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. There are numerous clothing boutiques for kids and adults, home décor and antiques stores and gift shops.
The Flying Horse Carousel is the oldest continuously operating carousel in the country. It’s also the only remaining one of its kind, with the horses suspended from a center frame instead of attached to the floor. At the end of Bay St.
St. Clair Annex is Watch Hill’s iconic ice cream parlor and clam shack. Locals say they have the best homemade ice cream around. 141 Bay St. 401-348-8407.
Contrary to its name, Olympia Tea Room is a full-service restaurant and bar serving fresh, local seafood and creative cocktails. The outdoor tables fill up early. 74 Bay St. 401-348-8211.
A visit to Watch Hill is the perfect opportunity to break out those Nantucket reds and Sperry Topsiders. In a humorous turn, Lisa Birnbach, author of 1980’s The Official Preppy Handbook, cited the town as acceptable summer destination in her 2010 follow-up, True Prep.
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