Blake Walsh

16 Best Things to Do in Watch Hill, RI

  • Published 2022/08/03

Watch Hill is one of the coastal neighborhoods in the quiet and less crowded streets of Westerly in Rhode Island.

This bayside locale in the southernmost part of Westerly adopted the nickname “old-money summer colony” because of its Victorian summer houses and tight-knit wealthy community.

Known for its affluence, Watch Hill lends its silent charms to some notable artists.

Names like Taylor Swift and Conan O’Brien come up in association with this coast, and this is due, in part, because of the allure of privacy that the area holds.

Despite its peacefulness, it can still transform simple outings into memorable ones with its ocean-based attractions.

To keep you ready for your planned trip, here is a list of the best things to do in Watch Hill, RI:

Enjoy Luxurious Relaxation at Ocean House

Exterior of the Ocean House

Allard One /

A mix of history and luxury, Ocean House offers the perfect stay for new travelers in Watch Hill.

Its rooms and suites take inspiration from New England’s seaside and beachfront landscapes.

Along with its in-house facilities, it also takes the private hotel experience to the next level with beach cabanas and private spas.

View of Ocean House's entrance

EQRoy /

This place has various dining spots, including the Verandah Raw Bar, Secret Garden Crêperie, and Below Deck.

You’ll never get bored wherever you go in this fantastical hotel.

Quench your cravings for upper-class living with its premier amenities and services.

It’s never too late to feel like royalty with Ocean House on Bluff Avenue.

Ocean view from Ocean House

EQRoy /

Find Inspiration in the Paintings at Lily Pad Gallery

For a dose of artistic inspiration, find it at Lily Pad Gallery.

Lily Pad Gallery resides at Bay Street and faces the Sunset Avenue intersection.

The owner, Wivi-Anne Weber, Ph.D., has actualized her vision of gathering full-time painters together and forming a creative faction.

Her gallery explodes with an array of art styles, including realism, naturalism, and abstract form.

Your personalized art needs can be fulfilled with her comprehensive insight and expertise.

Explore the white walls of the gallery and the colorful artworks arranged methodically.

You never know when you might need to purchase a painting for your home or as a gift to someone dear.

Embark on a Boat Adventure at Sail Trim Again

Sail Trim Again is one of the local points of pride at Watch Hill because of its fantastic sailing capabilities.

If you’d like a more traditional aquatic trip, opt for Trim Again’s wooden yacht, which has been slowly gaining popularity.

This yacht offers morning, afternoon, and evening trips and even features a romantic charter for couples.

Their encore experience allows guests to dig deeper into bayside history.

Put on your soft boat shoes and prepare yourself to ride, learn, and enjoy with style.

Onboard this yacht, there’s so much to wonder about within the waters of Watch Hill.

You can find Sail Trim Again on Bay Street before you reach the waterfront park.

Enjoy a Golf Day at The Misquamicut Club

Turning left on Golf Club Road, you can find yourself in the secluded premises of The Misquamicut Club.

Looking from above, this private club offers a panoramic view of well-cut lawns and shrubbery.

The club’s primary purpose is to provide a golfing oasis for members, and they didn’t fail.

Their golf courses bring about some friendly competition along the paved fields.

If you bring a kid with you, The Misquamicut Club has specialized programs for their leisure.

Their breezy beach pavilion takes refuge within its multi-windowed walls and classy furniture.

Take a Picture of the Ruins at Fort Mansfield

Before reaching Napatree Point, you will come across Fort Mansfield.

Historically, Fort Mansfield served as a military fort in the 1900s before being abandoned in 1917.

Before long, the harsh storms rendered the strong fortress less than its purpose.

If you go down by the beach, you’ll see remnants of dock pilings.

The Battery Wooster, which has been the main quarters for military personnel, remains standing.

Throughout this building, amaze yourself with the evidence of ruin and the colorful graffiti that keeps it unique and edgy.

Feel the Ocean Breeze at the Watch Hill Lighthouse

Scenic view of Watch Hill Lighthouse

EQRoy /

The Watch Hill Lighthouse is one of the oldest historical landmarks of the famous beach town in Rhode Island.

With strict orders from the United States Coast Guard, the Watch Hill Lighthouse Keepers Association manages the lighthouse and its surrounding properties.

The beaming light from this lighthouse has helped man avoid maritime accidents in the past.

Now, as history goes, it continues to serve as a beacon of comfort for many seafarers.

Part of the Watch Hill Lighthouse

Mary Terriberry /

While the lighthouse itself is not open to the public, you can still take a walk outside its borders.

The magnificent view of the ocean from here can make for the best landscape photography.

Jagged rocks protrude from the beach, making a sharp contrast to the ocean’s blue hues.

Nothing can top the breeze on the hill outside the Watch Hill Lighthouse.

Go on a Carousel Ride at Watch Hill Merry-Go-Round and Beach

Watch Hill Merry-Go-Round and Beach is located in downtown Watch Hill, continuing its legacy of having the oldest living carousel in the US.

The walkway by the pier of this seaside spot is a must-see for first-time and even returning travelers.

Indulge in your kid’s simple pleasures and watch as they go for a slow ride at the prominent merry-go-round.

The carousel is a prime mixture of ancient and new with its scenery and character themes.

Further south, you’ll find the beach in its picturesque glow.

Visiting Watch Hill Merry-Go-Round and Beach can make anyone feel like summer stays all year long.

Surf around the Waves of East Beach

Prepare your beach-ready outfits when you explore East Beach on Ocean View Highway.

This three-mile stretch of sand and shore is an important choice for beach lovers.

Far across the ocean, you can spot the Watch Hill Lighthouse sitting daintily on its designated hill.

Feel the sand in your toes as you walk around the shore or go for a swim.

Surfing is possible here but only during certain times of the year.

This is why if you’re planning to show off your surfing skills, it’s best to go in a month that’s not from June to October.

Nevertheless, the serene surroundings at East Beach can serve as a de-stressing experience.

Travel Back in Time as You Dine at the Olympia Tea Room

The Olympia Tea Room is a Victorian wonderland with classical themes set in the 1900s.

Set on Bay Street, this restaurant depicts a linear bar, checkered tiles, and large ceiling fans.

One of the highlights of this bistro-style restaurant is its wine offerings.

It also offers a romantic sidewalk and bay view perfect for people-watching.

Taste classy dishes with a serving of cocktails.

Watch the sunset at its peak and feel the ambiance of Watch Hill through your glass of award-winning wine.

Ultimately, the Olympia Tea Room has been in service since 1916 and consistently exceeds every traveler’s expectations.

Drive to Bay Street to see this provocative restaurant in person.

Experience Modern Residential Accommodations at Watch Hill Inn

Watch Hill Inn is the cinematic equivalent of New England living with a dash of modern and minimalistic perspective.

Established in 1845, this building offers an opulent residential-style charm that has worked wonders for locals and visitors.

This downtown hotel is near famous restaurants and hole-in-wall eateries.

So, guests don’t have to travel far to experience the beauty of Watch Hill through its food.

The categorized suites at Watch Hill Inn offer a refreshing take on what home feels like when you’re by the sea.

Lounge around the terrace of your room and watch the breathtaking sea view.

In summer, bask in the sunlight streaming on your balcony.

Take a Refreshing Walk at the Napatree Point Conservation Area

People walking along Napatree Point Conservation Area

Rhododendrites, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re the type to include trails in your trip plans, don’t forget to jot down the Napatree Point Conservation Area on your Watch Hill itinerary.

This nature preserve is an extension of Watch Hill village that’s famous among visitors and rightfully so.

Its trail ends on a 3.2-mile loop ideal for birdwatching and hiking.

A bird on Napatree Point Conservation Area's rocky shore

Rhododendrites, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

They don’t just entice common birds; some of the visiting fowl are exotic.

The spotted endangered species include Piping Plovers, Least Terns, Osprey, and American Oystercatchers.

The Napatree Point Conservation Area traces back its origins to 1945.

Landscape of Napatree Point Conservation Area

Rhododendrites, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Other Things to Do Nearby

Start a Picturesque Hike at Lantern Hill Trail

Scenic view from Lantern Hill Trail

Isabel Eve /

For more physical activity in your itinerary, go for a hike at Lantern Hill Trail.

This loop trail extending 2.4 kilometers is the perfect excuse to get in touch with nature while caring for your health.

The surrounding forest provides a tranquil place for some birdwatching and running.

Beautiful trees at Lantern Hill Trail

Isabel Eve /

Take pictures of wildflowers in bloom, scattered around the greenery of the walkway.

It also offers a moderately challenging route for hiking risk takers and experts.

This trail is 25 minutes from the small village of Watch Hill, in the rural street of North Stonington.

Enjoy a Day of Swimming at Blue Shutters Beach

Seventeen mins east of Watch Hill, you’ll find Blue Shutters Town Beach in Charlestown.

This family-oriented beach takes you on a simple yet meaningful sea adventure with loved ones.

It also features Block Island Sound in all its glory around the open beach.

This beach may be the best for you if you’re looking for beaches with large expanses of sand and a never-ending shore.

Take a lovely walk with your bare feet around the splashing waves of the sea.

You can also build sandcastles to complete a family bonding experience with your little ones.

Study the Stars at Frosty Drew Observatory and Science Center

In Ninigret Park, Frosty Drew Observatory and Science Center is the leading source of astronomical expertise and experience.

This observatory officially started because of the donations, sponsorships, and many others, to The Frosty Drew Memorial Fund, Inc.

For people looking for an out-of-this-world educational and immersive travel, this is it—literally!

Covering the observatory is a vast dome, which surrounds a lawn with platforms for telescopes.

The science center houses an exhibit room and a deck leading to a memorial patio.

Go stargazing or learn interesting facts about the planets and skies.

This center is only a short 19-minute drive from Watch Hill.

Learn More about Maritime and Ship History at Mystic Seaport Museum Adventure

Take a trip down history lane Mystic-style at Mystic Seaport Museum Adventure.

Unlike the classic historical museum, this one keeps you on your toes for boat and sea knowledge.

This maritime historical center covers a whopping 19 acres of the Mystic River.

Inside, it holds the Collections Research Center, offering a generous display of seafaring artifacts.

Mystic Seaport Museum Adventure also hosts exhibitions, recreated 19th-century villages, and workshops for kids and teens.

It only takes 25 minutes to reach this historical site west of Watch Hill.

Discover Shark Facts at Living Sharks Museum

The shortest route from Watch Hill to Living Sharks Museum is only 11 minutes away—perfect for a quick visit.

Dubbed America’s first Shark History Museum, this museum showcases a unique perspective on shark history.

Its comprehensive working knowledge of all things sharks, including fossil records, cultural pieces, and other collections.

Living Sharks Museum’s preservation efforts keep people intrigued to learn more through visual stimulation.

Take a picture at the Jaws Photobooth to look back on as you go home.

Meet filmmakers and go on a day-long program of screenings and lectures at the Living Sharks Filmfest.

Final Thoughts

Watch Hill, with its luxurious and private atmosphere, becomes the perfect getaway for people with Victorian travel tastes.

Seeing this neighborhood in full bloom takes you to another dimension of simplified lavishness.

Did you take note of the best things to do in Watch Hill, Rhode Island?

Use this list to guide your visit to this Rhode Island neighborhood!

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