Five Places to Visit in Rhode Island This Summer
Rhode Island, nicknamed the Ocean State, is known for a lot of things: for being the smallest state (Big Bend National Park is bigger than RI!), for Newport’s mansions and annual folk festival, for quahogs, pisser clams (soft-shelled clams), a state bird you can eat (the Rhode Island Red hen), for jewelry manufacturing and for its beautiful coastline. It is the state I grew up in. I lived in North Kingstown and spent most of my recreational time closer to Narragansett than to Providence. The state has so many great spots including Providence, Jamestown and Matunuck, too many to share them all here. When you visit Rhode Island, make sure to try a quahog (a large hardshell clam), steamed clams, RI clam chowder (clear broth) and a stuffie (a quahog shell stuffed with clam stuffing and baked). Words to know: a bubbler is a water fountain and a cabinet is a thick milkshake. Here are my five Rhode Island go-to recommendations.
#1 Galilee, RI
Galilee on Point Judith is the quintessential New England fishing village and is the largest working fishing village in Rhode Island. It is also one of the most picturesque places in RI. This is the place to go for the freshest fish around, fresh from the boat. Get there early and buy directly from a boat captain. Or, if you’d rather watch the boats from afar while drinking a cold beer and slurping oysters or enjoying a succulent fresh lobster at George’s of Galilee, you can purchase your “catch” from any of several retail fish shops. If you have time, visit the Point Judith Lighthouse. This is where you can catch the Block Island Ferry but plan to spend the day on Block Island.
1240 Ocean Rd, Narragansett, RI
Aunt Carrie’s Clam Shack in Narragansett, one of the original Rhode Island clam shacks, has been serving up traditional seafood since the 1920s and is still family owned. It has gotten a little fancy over the years with a dine-in restaurant but still has a takeout window with picnic tables. If you go, clam cakes are a must. The Shore Dinner gets you a true taste of Rhode Island: RI chowder (clear broth with milk or plain), clam cakes, steamers and local fried flounder. Or try their fried whole-belly clams or lobster rolls. Local tip: Go at off-peak times to avoid the long lines. Open Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Wickford is a historical fishing village that has quaint houses, fun shops, a fishing port and great spots to eat. You can walk to the pier and watch fishing boats come in. Visit the Old Narragansett Church—one of the oldest churches in the state (built in 1707). There are wonderful one-of-a-kind shops offering everything from antiques to artisan made housewares. My favorite shops are The Different Drummer, where both my mom and I worked, and Green Ink for great clothes. And you can buy fresh fish and lobsters from local fishermen, a damn good lobster roll, fried clams and RI Chowda from Garder's Wharf Seafood located at Wickford Pier.
#4 Duffy’s Tavern (temporarily closed due to COVID)
235 Tower Hill Rd, North Kingstown, RI
Officially established in 1933, Duffy’s Tavern (lobster and clams) has a long and tasty history. Ted Williams, beloved player of the Boston Red Sox, was a patron and allowed the owners to use his name to raise funds for various charities over the years. Duffy’s is truly a local hangout where most people know each other. It is not fancy but serves some of the freshest seafood around at reasonable prices. Order steamed clams, lobster and Quahog Chili. Wash it down with a pitcher of cold beer and you’ll be eating like a local. Local tip: Be nice to the wait staff or your food could take a long time.
3661 Quaker Ln, North Kingstown, RI
Just thinking about this small, local joint serving warm, fresh donuts is making me hungry. I worked at Allie’s for years and always get my fix when we visit. Jelly stick, maple glazed, chocolate frosted, chocolate chocolate frosted, coconut cake, frosted with jimmies, glazed donuts … the list goes on. My top choices: Boston cream, chocolate coconut cake, sugar raspberry jelly, crueller and raised chocolate frosted. The lines are long, especially on the weekends, but they do move quickly. Local tip: If you order a “regular” coffee, it will come light (lots of cream) with two spoonfuls of sugar.