Narragansett is a picture-perfect town on the Rhode Island shore that is so popular in the summer months, you may find lodging hard to come by. So, plan ahead because you don't want to miss out on all of the fun things to do in Narragansett.
Famous for "The Towers"—the architectural landmark that is all that remains of the once glorious Narragansett Pier Casino designed by McKim, Mead & White—Narragansett makes an ideal home base from which to explore not only these local attractions but the entire Ocean State. My family and I rented a Narragansett beach house for a week, and we immersed ourselves in all of the town's best pursuits. Here are our picks for the top 10 things to do in Narragansett, RI:
01 of 10
Head to a Beach
The Narragansett Town Beach is a gem, with soft sand, views of The Towers and vigorous waves perfect for surfing or boogie boarding. Restaurants are within walking distance, and the daily non-resident fee is a small price to pay for access to a beach that evokes all of the Rhode Island shore's beauty and history. It's far from your only option, though. Scarborough State Beach in Narragansett is one of the state's most popular destinations, and Roger Wheeler State Beach and Salty Brine State Beach both offer a quieter vibe and calmer surf, so they're well-suited for families with young children.
02 of 10
Learn to Surf
For my daughter, the highlight of our stay in Narragansett was her one-hour private surfing lesson at Narragansett Town Beach with Peter Pan Surfing and SUP Academy. Peter Pan offers both one-on-one and group lessons for beginners and more experienced surfers, plus all of the gear you'll need to give surfing a go. After a short introduction on the beach, my daughter's instructor took her out into the water, and she caught the first wave she tried to ride! Her exhilaration at mastering a new skill made it totally worthwhile.
03 of 10
My favorite Narragansett activity required backbreaking labor! Chasing your own clams may seem like the antithesis of being on vacation, but if you sit at a desk all day like me, you may also relish the chance to spend time digging instead of thinking. For $11, you can obtain a RI Tourist Shellfishing License that's valid for two weeks. And the clams you harvest at Point Judith Salt Pond in Galilee will be fresher and sweeter than any you've tasted.
04 of 10
The grounds of Narragansett's famous lighthouse are open to the public by day. Point Judith Light (1470 Ocean Road, Narragansett) is still an active Coast Guard station, and you'll be chased away as the sun sinks, so arrive about an hour before sunset to see the beacon as the sky begins to color. The lighting at this time of day makes the cairns visitors build using the rocks below the light appear even more magical.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
The deck at the Coast Guard House (40 Ocean Road, Narragansett) is as close as you can get to dining on the water without chartering a boat! Bring a jacket because it's often breezy near the ocean, and kick back and enjoy cocktails made with local spirits. The deck menu features raw bar selections, burgers, paninis, simply prepared seafood and a handful of choices for kids. Fish tacos were some of the best we've ever had.
06 of 10
Hike to Black Point
The real estate agent for our rental property told us the one thing we should do before we left Narragansett was to hike out to Black Point. We're so glad we did! My daughter had fun searching for crabs and other sea life in tidal pools, and the views from this spot made us feel as if we'd left Rhode Island behind. There is a small parking area at the trailhead on Ocean Road, about 3 miles south of Narragansett Town Beach. An easy hike of less than a mile leads to this rocky spot on the coast, where you can fish or picnic.
07 of 10
Bananas Foster artisanal granola from the Providence Granola Project! That was my big score at the Coastal Growers' Market when we visited on a summer Saturday. The market is held weekly from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at historic Casey Farm in Saunderstown, a village just about a 12-minute drive north of the Narragansett Town Beach. Sample gourmet food items made in Rhode Island, shop for fresh produce and even have lunch!
08 of 10
Celebrity Chef Guy Fieri helped put Crazy Burger (144 Boon Street, Narragansett) on the map, and we're crazy about the eclectic menu at this compact eatery, too. How often do you find vegan options at a burger joint? Or breakfast selections available until 4 p.m.? Our favorite surprise was the delightful courtyard—outdoors, yet protected—where we were seated. Overwhelmed by the delicious choices? You won't go wrong with a Whassupy Burger and basil lime lemonade. Crazy Burger is BYOBBAM (Bring Your Own Booze, By All Means!) and also serves dinner, which means you'll actually be tempted to dine here three times a day.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Take the Ferry to Block Island
Just a 30-minute trip away aboard the Block Island Hi-Speed Ferry from Point Judith, Block Island is an enchanting place to spend a day while you're vacationing in Narragansett. Known for its beaches, lighthouses, hiking trails and fishing charters, Block Island has retained its Victorian-era charm. Traditional ferry service also connects Narragansett and this throwback isle: It's cheaper, and the voyage takes 55 minutes each way.
10 of 10
Aunt Carrie's (1240 Ocean Road, Narragansett) has been owned by the same family since 1920, when Carrie and Ulysses Cooper decided they needed a permanent stand where they could meet the demands of campers and fishermen for her chowder and clam cakes. A fourth generation still uses Carrie's corn fritter recipe as the basis for these famous clam cakes, which you can savor indoors or out.