Places We Love

Outdoor spaces that are quintessentially ours


51. We have our share of wildlife in Southern Rhode Island, and it’s generally pretty easy to find – but unless you’ve made the trek out to Rome Point to see the winter seals, you’re missing out. In the colder months, hundreds upon hundreds of seals dot the rocks off the coast of North Kingstown, swimming, playing and generally being their jovial selves. The spot is widely recognized as one of the best seal watching spots in all of New England.

52. South County’s answer to Boston’s perfectly manicured Public Garden (you know, the one with all the duck boats next to Boston Common) is Wilcox Park, arguably the biggest and most beautifully maintained outdoor space in Southern Rhode Island. The Westerly oasis boasts sculpted English gardens, a river running through it, old-growth trees and lush grassy spaces – not to mention gazebos (which have undoubtedly seen a fair amount of marriage proposals), fitness classes and performances, like Colonial Theatre’s annual Shakespeare in the Park.

53. We were as surprised as anyone to discover the Desert of Rhode Island in West Greenwich. Drive carefully down Division Road and eventually you’ll see breaks in the trees with sand dunes behind them. Popular with riders of all kinds – when we visited there had been some organized offroad racing earlier in the day – and those looking for a miniature adventure, the desert is little known and definitely worth seeing.

54. With over 400 miles of coastline in Rhode Island, you’d think the last thing we really need is more access to salt water. But the bodies of water comprising the Salt Ponds Region are a welcome addition to the local landscape, producing Salt Pond Oysters, more ocean access for boats, and even more homes with breathtaking water views (so even if you’re not lucky enough to own one of them, you’re probably still close enough friends with someone who does that you get to spend plenty of weekends taking in the scenery).

55. It’s always a little strange to travel away from Rhode Island and see reminders of home. It happens a lot, especially in the other New England states, with Point Judith calamari. What we take for granted as a ubiquitous staple (albeit a delicious one) on restaurant menus is a regional delicacy to other parts of the country – and is a reminder, to those of us not directly involved with the local fishing industry, of just how far-reaching the work is that happens at the Port of Galilee.

56. It’s easy to group Conanicut and Aquidneck islands together in your mind. Hey, they both require bridges to get to, right? But unlike Newport and Middletown, Jamestown is one of the last (largely) untouched coastal places, and there’s no better place to appreciate that than Beavertail State Park. The rocky coastline is perfect for fishing; the hiking trails wind through the park; the aquarium brings countless families on tidal pool excursions. And then there’s always Beavertail Light, which is actually a museum.

57. The 3100 acres of pristine nature that comprise Burlingame State Management Area in Charlestown are largely untouched by civilization – that is, unless you count a handful of rustic log cabins and some campsite markers as civilized. The area, surrounding Watchaug Pond, was actually the state’s first campground, established in 1934 (and used to house naval personnel during World War II). Now the massive area is primarily known as a great hunting and fishing spot to locals and a memorable vacation destination for tourists.

58. It might not be open to the public, but the iconic Point Judith Light plays an important role in the community. The first lighthouse was built in 1810 to help sailors navigate the treacherous waters around the point. Now, the Narragansett lighthouse is still in use, but as an aid to Coast Guard navigation. All of the postcards people send with the light on them? Those are just a bonus.

59. We’re all for the beauty and serenity of nature, but sometimes, we just need to have a little fun. Ninigret Park in Charlestown is as much entertainment complex as it is beautiful natural landscape. Besides hosting several major South County festivals throughout the summer, Ninigret also offers a salt pond beach, a huge playground, sports facilities (including the new Frisbee disc golf course) and special events pavilions. Ninigret also houses Frosty Drew Observatory, which offers year-round stargazing on Friday nights.

60. Those of us lucky enough to travel by boat for leisure have opportunities the rest of us landlubbers don’t – like the ability to head to Block Island for dinner without a ferry reservation, or Long Island for a weekend of wine tasting without a hotel room. But once you’ve picked a destination, you’re pretty much committed, while those of us on land have the flexibility to hit two or three places on a night out. The East Greenwich waterfront is the exception. With longtime favorites like Harbourside Lobstermania and EG Yacht Club interspersed (and within walking distance) of new hotspots like Blu, it’s easy to moor your boat in one spot and spend the day or evening exploring. Most of the restaurants offer public docks.

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