Narragansett in the Summer
What’s there to do in the oceanside town of Narragansett — that narrow strip of land running along the eastern bank of the Pettaquamscutt River to the shore of Narragansett Bay? There’s plenty – for young and old, singles, couples, family and date nights, rich or not so rich.
For years, Narragansett attracted the monied, well-to-do in-crowd — 169 years to be exact — since Joseph Heatly Dulles of Philadelphia, a cotton broker, met with Rowland G. Hazard, a textile mill owner from Peace Dale to talk shop and do some business. Dulles was so taken with the beauty of the landscape that he brought all his family and friends back the following summer. The rich and powerful came from all over to partake of sporting, culinary and cultural events, and at the center of their action was the historic Narragansett Pier Casino. It burnt to the ground in 1900, but was rebuilt and resumed operations 10 years later.
Oh, but the beach — the beach was the thing. It still is.
Today, Narragansett Beach is the playground of the ocean lovers. There are no boring spots on this span of sand, no sir. Even if you’re not a beach goer, Narragansett offers numerous ways to while away your summertime hours in this quaint little bustling community.
Here’s how I like to spend a day in Narragansett, or a few days. I’m an outdoor girl with a penchant for beautiful scenery, so it would go something like this:
All Aboard! ‘Gansett now has a trolley service and you can park, hop on and tour the whole town if you want to. Find info for the red and green lines here: nstsri.com/schedule-info
You have to eat, right? So, get over to Crazy Burger at 144 Boon Street. Besides the best damn burger you’ve ever had and the most creative menu you’ve ever experienced, they serve one of the most delicious breakfasts on the planet. They also do mouthwatering smoothies, frozen lemonade and milkshakes. Their dinners are to die for, so please go back for those! Their eclectic feel and outdoor seating under the greenery and lights is reason enough to go back.
Want to work off some of that breakfast? Try hiking the Black Point Trail. It offers stunning ocean vistas as it winds around the dirt trail in a southerly direction. You can wander from the trail and explore the huge granite boulders or find some tide pools to examine. The trails ends at Scarborough State Beach where the coolest old stone foundation can also be explored (be careful here though — people have slipped off the black rocks and drowned). There’s excellent fishing in this area for striped bass, blue fish and Scup. Point Judith Lighthouse is just a few miles to the south, so you’ll want to get a glimpse of her statuesque beauty.
If you want to catch some rays, get onto the Town Beach (yep, that one). Hit the sand early as it does fill up. You can’t go to Narragansett Beach without seeing the famous “Wall.” It runs a length of Ocean Road starting near the old town Well at So. Pier Road and Ocean Road, and culminates at this interesting and always busy crescent of sand. Sit and watch the surfers do their thing, swim or take in the scenery. It attracts all manner of people – bikers, sun bathers, bikini watchers, people driving by to see or be seen, or just those sitting on the wall eating lunch. On the sand, join the local crowd at Chair 5. If the crowds are not your thing – here’s a list of other beaches to suit your fancy:
Capt. Roger Wheeler State Beach – calm water, great playground, good for families
Sand Hill Cove – a great family beach closer to the shops and eateries in Galillee
Scarborough State Beach – this beach sees a lot of action with great waves and surfers everywhere
Maybe next you’d like to sip on cool summertime drinks. Head over to Turtle Soup, right across from the beach. There’s lawn seating with a bar outside and great ocean views. Turtle Soup is at 113 Ocean Blvd. They’re open from 11:30am to 1am.
A snack might be in order (or a whole lunch). Trek over to Monahans – the Clam Shack is back. It’s “unfussy” and it’s right on the seawall, so go get your food and enjoy sitting outside under the umbrellas. Not fancy at all, no reservations needed, and it’s dog friendly. It’s located at South Pier and Ocean Roads.
If it happens to be a Friday eve, catch the music under the gazebo in the center of town. Grab a blanket or a chair, listen to some great music and enjoy the scenery and people watching. The concerts are free and open to the public, and they start at 6pm. narragansettri.gov/546/Gazebo-SummerFall-Concerts
Now, you can’t leave Narragansett without going to The Towers, those beautiful iconic structures of stone at 35 Ocean Road. They once functioned as the entrance to the Casino. Lots of things happen here, from great bands on Thursday nights to ballroom dancing lessons on Wednesday nights. They give free tours by appointment. thetowersri.com/events
For a daytime excursion, try kayaking the Narrow River – it’s a blast! You can bring your own kayak like I do, or rent one from them. There’s a cool sand bar there, where you can pull up with your picnic lunch and just relax. Take in the scenery of the ever-changing mouth of the river. On a hot day it’s wonderful! (Be careful if you do go beyond the mouth. It’s open water and if you’re not an experienced sea kayaker, it can be dangerous). You can even walk across the dunes to the beach, or paddle up to the general store at Middlebridge Road for a treat. You can bring/rent canoes and paddleboards, too. narrowriverkayaks.com/id17.html
Spend a day in Galillee. It‘s a beautiful little fishing village overlooking the Block Island Sound and has some of the best food, the coolest little shops and some great music. Salty Brine State Beach is here, too. It’s one of the best beaches for kids because it’s calm and protected by jetties all around, and it’s tucked right next to the Pt. Judith Waterway. Watch the boats go in and out of Rhody’s largest fishing port and see the Block Island Ferry making her daily trips. You can even hop on the ferry and take a day trip to the Block, which offers great biking, eateries, beaches, boating and more. If you do, make sure you stop at the Yellow Kittens, a great bar at 214 Corn Neck Road, or at the Oar, 221 Jobs Hill Road. They’re two of my faves.
If getting’ happy and listening to jams is your thing, try the upstairs deck at George’s of Galillee. This place is rockin’ with music on weekends and half price bottles of wine on Thursdays. Or you can try any one of six different dining rooms on two floors, al fresco dining or a take-out window. georgesofgalilee.com/events/.to
Over the bridge from Galillee, there’s a great place to take a stroll by the small hills while looking out at the water. It’s peaceful here and people are friendly. This is Great Island, and it’s quiet and beautiful. You can always get a little crazy afterward at Buster Krab’s, a stress-free zone with bright colors, good food and fun drinks. It’s good for kids, too. Sit outside and enjoy the view at 265 Great Island Road.
If you feel like a daredevil, go to Adventureland! Try their newest attraction, Big Air Jumping (suitable for all ages and abilities) or try Go-karts, Batting Cages, Mini Golf or Bumper Boats. It’s loads of fun and you can stuff yourself with ice cream after. What’s better than that? adventurelandri.com/attractions
One of the most beautiful things I have seen in Narragansett is the silver moonlight on the water, from the vantage point of the Coast Guard House, right next to the Towers. Sip on a hot Irish coffee with your fisherman sweater on (it can get real cool at night there). The view is gorgeous and the warmth feels good.
Whatever vantage point you have, you can indulge all of your senses in this town, from food to excursions to great hangouts. This is only a small sampling, so come down and sea for yourself all it has to offer.