A brief glance at a map of Rhode Island makes it quite clear where the nickname “The Ocean State” came from. With more than 100 public beaches dotting the state’s 400-plus miles of coastline, the ocean has long established itself as an integral part of the state’s geographical, historical, and cultural fabric. Its significance comes into even clearer view when you consider that the nation’s smallest state has about 30% of its total area comprised of several large bays and inlets. The largest of these is Narragansett Bay, which divides the state roughly in half. The coastal areas of the state can be broken down as follows:
- South County – The coastal area comprising the southwest part of the state
- Newport County – The southeast portion of the state, which consists of three islands and the easternmost portion of the Rhode Island mainland
- Block Island
- Providence Harbor
Attractions / Things to Do
Some of the beautiful and popular attractions you will find in these coastal regions include the following:
- Literally dozens of beaches, including Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly, Scarborough Beach in Narragansett, Easton’s Beach (referred to locally as “First Beach”) in Newport, Goosewing Beach in Little Compton, and Ballard’s Beach in Block Island.
- The Mansions of Newport, which offer a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Gilded Age. Prominent among these are The Breakers and Astors Beechwood Mansion.
- Providence’s WaterFire, an evening event where dozens of flaming bonfires burn brightly just above the surface of the Providence River.
- The Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport.
- Wineries, including Sakonnet Vineyards in Little Compton and Greenvale Vineyard in Portsmouth.
- 21 lighthouses, including the Beavertail Lighthouse. Located at the mouth of Narragansett Bay, Beavertail is the third oldest lighthouse in the country.
- Coggeshall Farm Museum (Bristol), the only living history farm in Southern New England, a 48-acre site which depicts the region’s late 18th-century agrarian life.
- Maritime museums such as the Herreshoff Marine Museum (Bristol), the Naval War College Museum (Newport), and the Museum of Yachting (Fort Adams State Park in Newport).
- The elegant summer resorts of Newport and Narragansett.
- Fort Adams (Newport), the largest coastal fortification in the United States.
The coastal areas of Rhode Island are also replete with many other attractions of all types. Outstanding dining options, entertainment venues, nature trails, historic sites, and many other delights are ready and waiting to be enjoyed along the coast of the Ocean State.