Known for: dining, shopping, historical charm, bustling Main Street
Good for: couples, families, singles, boaters, sight-seers
East Greenwich is the northernmost town in what is generally considered South County; it is also probably the least “beachy” of South County’s waterfront communities. Its location on Greenwich Cove, however, makes it a popular place for boaters.
The town is rich with history, boasting some particularly lovely examples of early New England architecture. It is the eighth oldest municipality in the state, acquired from the Pequot Indians in 1644 and incorporated by the Rhode Island General Assembly in 1677. Up until 1854, it was one of five state capitals. East Greenwich also claims to be the birthplace of the US Navy, as a June 1775 resolution by the General Assembly, convening in the town courthouse (now Town Hall), passed a resolution creating the first formal, governmentally sanctioned navy in the western hemisphere. Several other towns claim to be the birthplace of the Navy, but East Greenwich’s claim is the earliest and the only one to involve specific governmental authorization.
Main Street, the town’s bustling thoroughfare, is the center of commercial and cultural activity in East Greenwich. It is packed with independently owned shops, restaurants, cafes and salons, maintaining small town charm while providing a lively and modern atmosphere for entertainment seekers. The town’s center offers unparalleled shopping, from designer dresses to hand-crafted jewelry and gifts, and is perfect for strolling and window shopping. Some of South County’s most sophisticated, urban-style dining is to be found here, from a gourmet tea house to sophisticated Italian fare to New American cuisine, which is a contrast to the more casual clam shacks and family seafood restaurants for which most of South County is known. There is also some nightlife, both on Main Street, which has everything from an Irish pub to a sleek martini bar, and down by the waterfront, where you can enjoy a cocktail on scenic outdoor patios; the bars generally close at 1am.
Boaters will find ample boat parking and a public dock in Greenwich Cove. There is fishing, in addition to the many restaurants along the waterfront. Just across the cove there is easy access to Goddard State Memorial Park in neighboring Warwick, which features a beach, picnic sites and nine-hole golf course.