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Rhode Island’s 7 Most Underrated Cities to Visit in 2024

Home to some of the most vibrant attractions in New England, the Atlantic Ocean State is one of the less visited in the region. However, it is also one of the most pristine, often overlooked by Maine and Massachusetts, the region’s tourism stars. And we haven’t even mentioned the smallest towns: the coastal gems along Rhode Island’s rugged coastline.

But, rich in a crowdless landscape, from beaches to nature reserves, gastronomic delights and seaside shopping opportunities, there are many small towns that beckon travelers with unseen possibilities. Whether it’s embracing Wickford’s Cove, with its collection of Federal and Colonial homes, or attending the Seafood Festival in Charlestown, Rhode Island’s underrated towns are perfect for a 2024 vacation.

Charlestown

Aerial view of the beach in Charlestown, Rhode Island.
Aerial view of the beach in Charlestown, Rhode Island.

One of Rhode Island’s most underrated towns, Charlestown epitomizes the Ocean State’s excellent beach scene with its East Beach, Blue Shutters Beach, and Charlestown Beach. On the streets, the quiet town comes alive during regular festivals, such as the Charlestown Seafood Festival, Rhythm & Roots Festival and Charlestown Holiday Ramble. Home to the Fantastic Umbrella Factory, Charlestown has been a destination for this quirky market since 1968, with everything from independent shops to unique boutiques and local cafes set in a cool 19th-century farmyard.

An ideal destination for beachside relaxation without crowds, nestled between beautiful countryside on one side and golf courses and hiking trails on the other. The Nnigret National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to connect with local wildlife, while the Black Farm trail, just 15 minutes north, meanders past lake views, wildflowers and other flora. After exploring, visitors can book a room at the General Stanton Inn, which is a great stay for any group at one of the oldest inns in the country.

Jamestown

The Beavertail Lighthouse in Jamestown, Rhode Island.
The Beavertail Lighthouse in Jamestown, Rhode Island.

A small town of less than 6,000 residents, Jamestown is often overlooked in Newport County. In the secluded atmosphere that permeates Narragansett Bay’s second largest island, Conanicut Island, the small-town charms are maximized and every attraction shines without the hordes of tourists. From untouched heritage buildings to ferry rides and lighthouses, nature speaks loudly through the vast parks, quiet beaches and crashing waves. The countless Poplar Point Lighthouse, Castle Hill Lighthouse and Beavertail Lighthouse wink under the sun and compete for your attention. Each room houses a new old story and a vantage point to witness flowing water.

Authentic New England, the East Ferry Market & Deli is a great place to start with a delicious breakfast overlooking the water. Whether you’re looking for the countless shops and dining options of Narragansett Avenue or the World War II sites along the winding trails through Fort Wetherill State Park, don’t miss the local wildlife at Beavertail State Park. Speaking of flora and fauna, the Conanicut Island Sanctuary and the Marsh Meadows Wildlife Preserve are both amazing places, with acres of pristine wilderness to explore.

New Shoreham

Scenic coastal viewpoint in New Shoreham, Rhode Island.
Stairs leading to the Mohegan Bluffs and beach in New Shoreham, Rhode Island. Editorial credit: quiggyt4 / Shutterstock.com

Sadly underrated, New Shoreham is a real seaside beauty, with some of the most pristine beaches and whitest sands in the state. The town, home to historic lighthouses and well-traversed 30 miles of hiking and biking trails as well as historic buildings, was founded in the mid-17th century. It stands the test of time in more ways than just these elements, retaining an old-school mood that feels like a blast from the past. Inspire a seven-minute heavenly feeling that can last an entire weekend out of the city and combine it with the elegance of the Spring House Hotel: the perfect stay seven minutes away on Block Island, overlooking the Mohegan Bluffs.

Back in New Shoreham, visitors love North Mansion Beach, the Sacred Labyrinth and the Clay Head Nature Trail as they feel like they are on the edge of the world. You can also expect great weather and dramatic scenery around this remarkable four-season city with unparalleled ocean views from its towering cliffs, more than 17 miles of sandy beaches and 300 nearby freshwater ponds.

Newport

Historic buildings along a street in Newport, Rhode Island.
Historic buildings and businesses line a street in Newport, Rhode Island. Editorial credit: George Wirt / Shutterstock.com

The legendary city of Newport, once a pirate paradise, offers you the opportunity to share its charming downtown and love of sailing. This delightful part of the Rhode Island coast flies under the radar and boasts a fascinating heritage along its streets and architecture. Touro Park is a beautiful place to start your morning with a brisk walk or enjoy a nice afternoon picnic, while the Redwood Library and Athenaeum are home to a world of browseable literature. The amazing “Waves” beckon to discover the next scenic view in the sea breeze on the bumpy path between the oceanfront mansions and the thundering waves against the rocks.

This coastal gem was once a favorite escape for the legendary Kennedy family, an ode to the iconic landscape. From the Cliff Walk to the iconic Breakers mansion, many places offer a heavenly retreat. Meanwhile, history buffs shouldn’t miss beautiful buildings and churches, such as Old Colony House and Trinity Church, before dining at Bowen’s Wharf to end a fun day in Rhode Island.

Prudence Island

The Prudence Island Lighthouse in Rhode Island.
The Prudence Island Lighthouse along the coast of Prudence Island, Rhode Island.

A whole 360 ​​degrees away from Newport, Prudence Island promises plenty of space to wander, paddle and enjoy sunsets on a stroll or picnic. One of the best destinations in New England, Prudence Island is home to fewer than 300 people, a few churches and a nature preserve and is accessible by ferry on a day trip with a picnic or longer if you pack provisions and camp on the barren place. sand. From the island’s pristine nature trails, through local fauna and flora, don’t miss Prudence Island Lighthouse at sunset; not so lonely with a few boats and cruise ships nearby. Make more memories while serenely rowing, or explore the nooks and crannies of Coggeshall Cove in a kayak for thrills. There are also regular farmers’ markets and sailing regattas, lively local events. Steeped in peace, Prudence may be off the beaten track, but the Prudence Ferry runs daily and the beautiful beaches beckon with 360-degree water views.

Tiverton

The shoreline of the Sakonnet River in Tiverton, Rhode Island.
Waterfront homes along the Sakonnet River in Tiverton, Rhode Island.

Tiverton is part of Newport County, right next to the Massachusetts border, and often overlooked in Eastern Rhode Island, where the Sakonnet River meets Mount Hope Bay. Wrapped in natural splendor, this small town is an authentic slice of New England, along its stone walls and quaint storefronts, as if frozen in time. Home to the impressive Four Corners Historic District, where visitors can browse boutiques, shops, art galleries, and a dozen locally owned restaurants among the 18th and early 19th century landmarks. For example, the First Baptist Church is a prime location, nicknamed the ‘Old Stone Church’ for its rustic charm. Additionally, visitors should be sure to visit the Thomas Bennett Homestead in the Osborn-Bennett Historic District for a glimpse into the past.

The picture-perfect town in the East Bay, between Acquidneck Island and the Fall River, was founded by the British and incorporated in the late 17th century. It is surrounded by rich agricultural lands, nature reserves and nature reserves such as swamps and beaches. The idyllic beach of Fogland remains ready for windsurfing and kayaking in the pristine waters. Inside, the Longplex Family and Sports Center is a popular rainy day venue, so the fun never stops. After a day outdoors, head to Barn Restaurant for some waffles before retiring to this peaceful retreat.

Wickford

Boats along Wickford Harbor in Rhode Island.
Dozens of boats enter Wickford Harbor in Wickford, Rhode Island.

Wickford is a beautiful town in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. This historic town on the west side of Narragansett Bay inspires a time warp. Home to a vast collection of preserved buildings from the Colonial and Federal periods in Wickford Village. Visitors can browse boutiques, home decor, antiques and galleries in the air, steeped in the history of restored 19th-century buildings like Narragansett Church. A trip to the Poplar Point Lighthouse will put you in the mood for seafood served fresh from the water in one of the best-protected natural harbors on the East Coast, so don’t miss Gardner’s Wharf Seafood for dinner.

The waterfront streets, with the ocean glistening between some beautiful homes, inspire a nautical fairytale. Visitors can take a historic walking tour, take a carriage ride, or stroll past notable storefronts, restaurants, old colonial homes, and churches. The harbor, lined with boats, is quite picturesque to enjoy in your favorite way, such as an insightful seal tour with Fish n Tales Adventures. Adventurers can navigate the bay on their own by kayak, enjoy paddle boarding or simply relax on North Kingstown Town Beach. The relaxed feeling permeates the air in Wickford, where the hustle and bustle of the city sounds like foreign lore, and hundreds of leading artists converge on the annual Wickford Art Festival in July.

From New Shoreham to Tiverton: Rhode Island is a must-visit state in 2024. Whether it’s the daily ferry connections from Prudence Island, the miles of arid beaches and friendly locals or the historic houses and arts festival in Wickford, there’s something for everyone in these towns. Plus, these underrated destinations offer geographic diversity, seafood, and historic streets surrounded by New England charm and coastal Rhode Island nature, for an enchanting getaway in serene bliss.