Watch Hill, Rhode Island Travel Guide
This little corner of the world, known as Watch Hill, Rhode Island, holds the most special place in my heart. If it wasn't for this tiny little part of the tiniest state in the country, a little girl from Tennessee would never have met her New England match. It's because of this sweet little stretch of sand that I met Andrew. It's where we had our first date, it's where we got married. It's where we'll go for the rest of our life to have endless "remember when" conversations. It's beyond special to us.
It helps that it's also beyond beautiful. What I loved most about it for the longest time was that it felt like a secret. A spot where even New Englanders (heck, even Rhode Islanders!) didn't really frequent. It's always felt frozen in time to me, and almost sacred in a sense. A certain singer by the name of Taylor Swift put it on the map a few years ago when she bought a place here, but thankfully, it's kept it's charm in a way only Watch Hill can.
If you are planning a trip to this magical little area, keep in mind that you are here to embrace the slow. Plan your day around sunsets, not dinner reservations. Spend that extra hour walking the beach or strolling through town. Watch the little kids taking sailing lessons in the harbor (why is this so cute?!). Wait in line for an ice cream at St. Clair's with kids celebrating getting to stay up past their bedtimes. To me, these are the little things that truly help you get in the Watch Hill spirit.
The Ocean House: The grand dame of the entire state of Rhode Island (in my humble opinion), this beautiful hotel is such a statement in this small coastal town. Every little detail has been thought about and mastered, and the grounds (and views) are unlike any other. Special doesn't really even cover it, this hotel is magic. If you have the privilege of staying here, soak up every minute of their gorgeous hotel rooms with the comfiest beds (and linens) on the planet, amazing dining options and sweeping vistas. And please, please, please don't miss a chance to go to the spa. Their relaxation room is what dreams are made of. Oh! And their Sunday brunch? Don't even get me started.
The Weekapaug Inn: Down the road a bit in the oh-so-charming community of Weekapaug, walking into the old school Weekapaug Inn is like taking the loveliest steps back in time (yet complete with every modern amenity you can think of). This is a place to truly let go of the hustle and bustle. Set on one of the most beautiful salt ponds in the world (ok, a little biased here) with the ocean just steps away, it's hard not to take deeper breaths when strolling their gorgeous lawn (the cocktails help too!). Don't miss one of their weekly lobster bakes!
Ten Sandwiches: There was a day over the Fourth of July I ate three meals here. I probably shouldn't admit that, but it was delicious. In the morning, go for a dynamite breakfast sandwich and coffee. At lunch, pick from one of their ten (obvi) amazing and fresh sandwich options and finish it off with a Del's (a true Rhode Island tradition). Then come back for happy hour at the bar with yummy flatbreads, toasts and oysters.
Sift Bake Shop: A newcomer to the Watch Hill scene, Sift Bakery is what this little town needed all along. The owners are the sweetest people around (and one just happens to be Food Network's "Best Baker in America") and they really put so much love in opening this location. Grab a coffee and a scone and a cookie and a macaroon and a.....(you get the idea, it's all amazing) - and then head for a stroll around the village. Everything is calorie free (kidding, obvi - but calories don't count in Watch Hill), and baked that day - so make sure to get there early if you have something in particular in mind! They close when they run out!
The Olympia Tea Room: A proud Watch Hill institution since 1919 this sweet little family-run restaurant is elegant yet comfortable with the best seats in the house for those legendary Watch Hill sunsets. Belly up to the bar for one of their amazing cocktails or snag a seat outside before the sun goes down for the best show in town.
St. Clair Annex: You can't mention Watch Hill without a nod to the sweetest little establishment on the block. Another family-run (since 1887!) must-visit on your tour of Watch Hill, you simply can't stroll down main street or watch your kiddos on the carousel without involving their ice cream in some fashion. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner too!
The Cooked Goose: Our go-to brunch spot for years, this lovely little spot just a quick drive from Watch Hill village is a fan fav in the area. If you do go for brunch, don't be surprised if you have to wait a bit - it's worth it!
It's hard to spend time on Bay Street without popping into all the darling shops that call this seaside town home. Here are a few of my must-visits every time I'm in the area:
J. McLaughlin: You can never go wrong with J. McLaughlin's classic and sophisticated style. I love their Watch Hill location because it's just so darling, but it's always packed with one million things I want to take home. They always leave a water bowl out for the puppies, and you know that wins me over.
Island Outfitters: A great place for all your summer apparel needs, and the perfect place to pick up one of their Watch Hill sweaters.
High Point Home: I'm such a sucker for a good home decor shop, and this is where I get my fix in Watch Hill.
The Summer House: Looking for a little piece of Watch Hill to take home? This is your spot.
Bay Breeze Interiors: Another great store for coastal knick knacks - Andrew always makes sure we pop in here on our visits.
Napatree Beach: A beautiful stretch of sand just a short stroll from the Watch Hill Yacht Club - it also happens to be a gorgeous conservation area. The climb up the dunes to reach this beautiful beach is well worth it. With views at the top of both Little Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, I always have to stop and take it all in (and perhaps catch my breath). A great beach for morning walks (they allow dogs before 8AM!).
East Beach: Take a right immediately after our friend Taylor Swift's house and walk down the winding hedge path to this beautiful beach that is also shared with our friends at the Ocean House. An amazing beach for just about everything and stretches for miles. Don't miss The Ocean House Beach Polo Classic on the East Beach if you get a chance to go!
Carousel Beach: Also known as Watch Hill beach, this is a family-friendly beach right behind the legendary carousel. It's always a go-to for those with kiddos thanks to it's access to bathrooms and other amenities. Just FYI, it is the only beach that does charge a small fee!
Sometimes I struggle when I write these guides because more than just giving people my recommendations, what I really want is for people to experience those magic moments that make these places special to me. I want you to get the same feeling I get when I first see the harbor. Or walk the beach. Or drive down Ocean Highway.
So if you get the chance to visit this beautiful corner of the world, skip the local celebrity stalking (her house is hard to miss anyway) and instead try to experience all the truly lovely things about this area. If you love dogs, wake up a tad early (grab a coffee at Sift Bake Shop after!) and take a morning stroll on Napatree Beach. So many locals bring their dogs for their morning swim, and it really feels like heaven on earth for the pups and owners alike. Then, while your pups dry off, take a stroll on the winding avenue through the stately homes to Watch Hill's Lighthouse.
If you have kiddos, give them the challenge of catching one of the brass rings on Watch Hill's carousel (the oldest operating carousel in the United States) before spending the day soaking up the sun on one of the beautiful beaches. Pull yourself off in time to catch one of the amazing sunsets over Little Narragansett Bay. Then cap off the day with an ice cream at St. Clair's feeling lucky you get to soak up such a magical little spot.
Thank you for letting me share it with you...xo, Abby
This post was sponsored by J.McLaughin, however all suggestions are my own! Thank you for your support!