210701scl beach

The South Pavilion at Narragansett Town Beach has attracted generations of local residents from South County and is best known for its great location, clear water and soft sand.

While small in stature, the Narragansett Town Beach has been a beloved vacation destination since the 1800s.

An excerpt from Harper’s Weekly, circa July 7, 1906, by Brander Matthews, reads, “It is the beach, which is the center of life at Narragansett, its reason for existence, its title to supremacy — the splendid beach, a mile long, with its firm sand, with its freedom from seaweed, its gentle shelving slope, and with its surf, rolling in superbly from the ocean… It is the beach, first of all, which has given Narragansett its fame throughout the United States…” The sentiment of South County’s premiere beach and its impact on generations cannot be more aptly described than by these words written by a prolific author and educator who spent his summers in Narragansett.   

In 1848 Joseph Dulles arrived in Narragansett and fell in love with the beach. From this love began the series of events that would lead to the Narragansett Town Beach as we know it today. Over the next 50 years development of the area around the beach exploded and led to the construction of bathhouses on the beach, 17 hotels (as of 1873), Canonchet Mansion (1866-1865), Ocean Road (1884), The Coast Guard House (1888), The Towers (1886) and so much more.

It was in 1939, after the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, that the Town of Narragansett purchased the beach and salvaged the beloved destination from the devastation of the storm.

The Towers, an RI Icon

Other than the spectacular ocean views, probably the most prominent feature of the Narragansett coastline is the structure known as The Towers. Today locals know this landmark as a coveted event venue as well as the home of the Narragansett Chamber of Commerce and the closest neighbor of the Coast Guard House restaurant, but The Towers have a colorful history.

The following excerpt is courtesy of The Narragansett Historical Society: “The stone porte-cochere that spans Ocean Road in the Pier area of Narragansett has become known simply as The Towers. The Towers is what remains of the Narragansett Pier Casino…The Casino was one of America’s most prestigious resorts in its heyday — the 1890s. During a time when 19 resorts graced Narragansett, the Casino was considered to be the center of social life…A fire that began at the nearby Rockingham Hotel on Sept.12, 1900, destroyed the Casino, with only the granite portion of The Towers remaining. The reconstruction of the Towers was completed in 1910.”

After accumulating damage from the Hurricane of 1938, and another fire in 1965, the State of Rhode Island acquired and gifted The Towers to the Town of Narragansett and the structure was restored. The Towers were entered into the National Register of Historic Places on Nov. 25, 1969.

Present Day

Today the Narragansett Town Beach is still a favorite vacation spot for countless people and was recently named one of the top three coastal towns in the country.

Narragansett Town Council President Pro Tem, Susan Cicilline Buonanno, is considered the most frequent and steady beach visitor and has been going for 40 years. As an elementary school principal, Susan is able to spend every day during summer vacation there — she even keeps her beach clothes and accessories in her car so she can head there right after church.

Because Narragansett is a smaller community and Susan is an involved member of the town council, she knows most everyone on the beach. “I like to swim, but I really love to socialize with the people on the beach,” she said.

A self-proclaimed “expert chair sitter,” Susan loves relaxing with her sister and enjoying the beautiful views, a cool breeze and good conversation. “[Narragansett Town Beach] is a great beach, it’s safe, the water is clean, it’s just a beautiful beach. I’m glad people take the opportunity to enjoy it. It’s my happy place.”

The Narragansett Town Beach has so much to offer those who visit its shore. From traditional seaside activities to the best local seafood and a true sense of community, a day on the Narragansett Town Beach will provide visitors memories that will last a lifetime.

Special Beach Events:

Foodies can enjoy a variety of food trucks at the beach on Mondays and Wednesdays in the North Lot from 6 to 10 p.m.

Families can watch movies on the beach in the Cabana Horseshoe every Wednesday at dusk.

Music Concerts take place at the beach on Mondays live from the North Beach Clubhouse Deck at 6:30 p.m.

Surfing Camps happen at the south end of the beach near the Seawall.

The Junior Lifeguard Program is happening during July.

The 10th annual Waterman ECO Challenge and the 17th annual Environmental Awareness Day both take place on July 10.

The Newport Volleyball Doubles League runs through mid-August from 6 to 8 p.m.

Beach Yoga runs until Sept. 6.

The biggest day of the beach season is July 4, when the United States Coast Guard Band performs at the North Beach Clubhouse Deck from 6:30 to 8 p.m., and then the annual fireworks show happens at dusk.

The RI Philharmonic Orchestra performs on Friday, July 17, from 8 to 9 p.m. on the North Beach Clubhouse Deck.

Beach Day Tips

Parking: Daily parking is available at the beach’s West Lot on a first-come, first-served basis from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays for $15 per vehicle and from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays, for $10 per vehicle Monday through Friday. Payments are cash only. This lot is open to residents and non-residents for no fee from 5 to 8 p.m.

The South Lot is only available to residents with a valid seasonal parking pass from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends and holidays and from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. This lot is open to residents or non-residents for no fee from 5 to 8 p.m.

The North Lot is open for residents only from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a valid seasonal parking pass on weekends and holidays and from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the same group on weekdays. This lot is open from 5 to 8 p.m. for residents only for no fee.

The Cabana Lot is open for residents only from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a valid cabana parking pass on weekends and holidays and from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the same group on weekdays. This lot is open from 5 to 8 p.m. for residents only for no fee.

Seasonal parking passes are $50 for Narragansett residents. Please visit narragansettri.gov for more details.

Beach Passes: Daily admission to the beach is $12 per person per day and is non-transferable. Cash only. Children 11 and under are free. You may also purchase a season pass for $25/resident, $10/youth 12-17 years of age, free for seniors 65 years of age and older, or $100 for a resident transferable beach pass. Commercial transferable passes are also available, and Narragansett residents who are disabled veterans or active-duty military admitted for free.

Where to eat:

In addition to the food trucks that visit the North Lot on Mondays and Wednesdays from 6 to 10 p.m., visitors have many local options for a beach day meal.

Nana’s Ice Cream and Gelato: Nana’s Ice Cream and Gelato has locally sourced gelato, hard ice cream, soft serve and frozen yogurts in their adorable shop that has walls of nostalgic candy and fudge. Their menu boasts 50 flavors and 50 toppings for the ultimate sweet treat. Gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan flavors are also available.

Coast Guard House: For a more upscale dining experience, look no further than the Coast Guard House. Located right next to The Towers, this historic restaurant is known for its fresh, local seafood.

Trio: Another local spot for a delectable meal is Trio. Trio prides themselves on their “local and regional flavors complemented by a global wine list, regional draft beers and one-of-a-kind cocktails.”

Cool Beans Café: If you want a quick bite and a caffeine fix, look no further than Cool Beans Café, located across from Trio restaurant.

Pj’s Pub: In the heart of Narragansett’s historic district lies PJ’s Pub. Pj’s is about three blocks from the Sea Wall, and they are known for their pub atmosphere and for serving Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Crazy Burger: In downtown Narragansett lies a restaurant serving up just about anything you can imagine, from vegan bites to buffalo burgers, breakfast, fresh juice and homemade desserts. If you have a large group to feed and no one can decide what they are in the mood for, then Crazy Burger is the place for you.

Monahan’s Clam Shack: Monahan’s Clam Shack is a Narragansett staple. There you can grab a sweet treat or a delicious seafood meal. Plus, it is conveniently located at the end of the Sea Wall and is a quick walk from the beach.

New Dragon Chinese Restaurant: Just a short drive from the beach is Narragansett’s favorite Chinese food, New Dragon Chinese Restaurant. Available for delivery or pick-up, New Dragon offers all your traditional Chinese favorites.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.