Watch Hill is a district in Westerly, which is a town in Rhode Island. Watch Hill is a wealthy, summer tourist district comprised of two main streets. Most of the homes are summer mansions. In the winter, almost all of Watch Hill shuts down, apart from two stores.
If you're not planning on staying in Watch Hill, the district makes a perfect day trip with shopping, restaurants, beaches, and the historic carousel. Many people from Florida to North Carolina take their yacht to Watch Hill and sleep on their yacht, rather than staying in a hotel in town.
Located at the most southwestern point of Washington County/Rhode Island, Watch Hill is a village in the town of Westerly. Situated on a peninsula that stretches out into Block Island sound, Watch Hill forms with Napatree Point to create ‘little Narragansett Bay’. This small bay offers excellent protection from strong currents, and provides a harbor where many sailboats and yachts moor and dock. On clear days, both Fishers Island and Long Island NY, can be seen to the South of Napatree Point. Watch Hill was occupied in the seventeenth century by the Nianticks, a part of the Narragansett Native American tribe. The area we now call Watch Hill was used as a watch point in the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War by Europeans. This is how Watch Hill got its name! In fact, Napatree Point was once used as a military installation by the U.S. Military, and an abandoned cement fort can be found at the end of Napatree. In 1882 the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations purchased Watch Hill from the remaining Nianticks for $5,000. In 1901, Watch Hill was authorized as a fire-district, therefore, residents of Watch Hill fund their own volunteer department. However, non-fire related taxes are paid to the town of Westerly, because Watch Hill is a Westerly village. Primarily, a summer vacation area, due to the pristine beaches, Watch Hill is known for its mansions. At one time, the most expensive residential home was located off of Yosemite Valley Road in Watch Hill. Aside from the breathtaking scenery, Watch Hill was once a hideout for Albert Einstein and Isadora Duncan.
The New York Times states that Watch Hill has been historically home to "a select group of wealthy families." These same families built cottages with a clear Victorian concept to the peninsula, making it more of a family-oriented community. Between 1980 and 1990, many of the cottages were sold because a the families that owned them could no longer afford to keep them. Now, many wealthy people keep Watch Hill popular, with plenty of ways to spend your time. Notably, Taylor Swift bought a house in the area.
During the 20th century, hurricanes and storms destroyed many of the old style hotels that once existed in Watch Hill. The Ocean House and the Watch Hill Inn are two remaining hotels that are considered luxurious. The Ocean House,originally opened in 1868, was torn down in 2005, until it was reopened in 2010 after major renovations.
Westerly Airport, 56 Airport Road, (401) 596-2357, Even though it does have its own airport code, don't expect flights to leave from this airport to leave for big cities like Las Vegas any time soon. It's more of a private airport, with scheduled trips to Block Island as well as avionic related sales and maintenance. It also has it's own association which is dedicated to the preservation and development of the airport as a resource to the community as well as the region.
Amtrak, 14 Railroad Avenue, Westerly, RI, (401) 596-2335, Unfortunately for travelers, the train station is not located near any bus stops. Due to this, upon arrival one must either wait to get picked up, take a taxi to get around, or just walk to their desired location.
Parking in Watch Hill, particularly in the summer, can be very difficult. Considering the amount of tourists/visitors, parking can be filled easily. Along Bay Street, there is a small selection of two-hour parking spaces that are often taken. Unfortunately, there are no other streets that offer free parking to non-Rhode Island residents. As a result, there are parking lots that require a fee that varies depending on the time of the week. It is typically $10 during the week, although it is usually $20 on the weekend.
Watch Hill Light House, 14 Lighthouse Road, (401) 596-7761, This is a beautiful place to visit! Be aware that there is no parking at the light house. Parking is located in town, and there is a 15 minute walk. Bring comfortable shoes! The light house is a nice place to visit in the winter, too. There is a great view of all three Watch Hill beaches and a view of the Connecticut coastline. If you don't mind breaking a few rules, you can risk driving on the private road to the light house, which passes through a small neighborhood of mansions. Drive slowly on this road, however, because it is only one lane and residents and visitors often walk here.
The lighthouse in Watch Hill was built not to guide ships at sea, but to warn residents of a naval attack. The original lighthouse was operational through the French and Indian war, and it is believed that the main tower was destroyed in a storm in 1781. The 35 foot tall light tower was rebuilt as an order of congress and its operation began again in 1808. By the 1850s much of the wooden structure of both the lighthouse and innkeepers residence were rotting away. It was decided that repairs of the old lighthouse would be too expensive, so the current lighthouse was constructed in 1856. The new structure is built of granite and brick. The light keeper’s house now contains 3 bedrooms, a sitting room, a dining room, a kitchen, a maintenance room and a cellar. The lighthouse has survived many storms including the Great New England Hurricane of September 21st, 1938 where waves were breaking over the top of the tower. The lighthouse was automated in 1986 and now serves as a museum. It can be found on the National Register of Historic Places.
Additional Lighthouse information: The station is open to the public year round, and offers great views of the ocean and Fishers Sound. A museum located in the fog signal building contains the fourth-order Fresnel lens used in the tower, but it is only open during the summer months.
Watch Hill Yacht Club, 1 Ford Road, (401) 596-4986, This is an exclusive club, but you can definitely take a walk along the water to look at all the beautiful yachts docked there. The yachts travel up to Watch Hill from as far as Florida! Many weddings are also held here, too.
'Watch Hill Merry-Go-Round, 151 Bay Street, (401) 348-6007, Back in the village is one of the nation’s oldest Merry-Go- Rounds called The Flying Horse Merry-Go-Round. Back around 1876, the Charles W. Dare Company, a traveling carnival, came and built the Merry-Go-Round and around 1879, the traveling carnival company left, leaving the Merry-Go-Round as a gift to the village of Watch Hill. Over 100 years later the Merry-Go-Round is considered a United States Historic landmark and is on the United States National historic register of historic places. The Merry-Go-Round is located on the bend of Bay Street, under a wooden gazebo that has big, stone columns. Inside of the gazebo is the Merry-Go-Round. The reason why this Merry-Go-Round is called the flying horse Merry-Go-Round is because horses are suspended by chains and not fastened to poles, so when the Merry-Go-Round spins, it appears that the children are flying on horses through the air. There are two rows of horses; a set of smaller horses in the inside and a set of larger horses on the outside. All of the horses were carved by hand out of a single piece of wood. The horses are simple, complete with a cracked leather saddle, reins, mane and tail. Each winter the horses are stored and restored after the exposure to the summer weather. The horses’ manes were real horsehair. Legend has it that back in 1879 when the Merry-Go-Round was permanently placed in Watch Hill, the horse of the caravan when he died, his mane was placed into one of the horses. The eyes of the horses are the original agate eyes from 1879.
In 1993, a local woodcarver named Gary Anderson from Pawcatuck, CT, cleaned the horses of fifty years worth of paint. Upon stripping the horses from the paint, he uncovered horses are actually hollow, like rocking horses. From, 1993 on, the Watch Hill Improvement Society has worked hard to keep the Merry-Go-Round's appearance pristine. Aside from the Merry-Go-Round's beauty the one thing that attracts many children to the horses is the brass ring game. Riding on the outside horses, youngsters can reach out and grab rings and collect them on the horse’s ears. However, there is one special ring, the brass ring, and to the person who attains it, they get a free ride on the Merry-Go-Round.
The Flying Horse Merry-Go-Round is a staple of the Watch Hill village and is also the inspiration behind two children’s books: The Brass Ring by Nancy Tafuri and The Flying Horses by Lynn Anderson.
Watch Hill Beach You have to pay to use this beach. Watch Hill Beach is exclusive. Payment gets you an umbrella, parking, restaurant, and cabana use. Also, placed in the water is a black "dock" where people can swim to and play on. It is a big hit for the children.
East Beach This is a public beach with no fee. Located near the top of Watch Hill, this beach is pretty hidden. You have to walk on a sandy path from the road to get to it. This beach has great waves and attracts many surfers. If you are interested in a long walk, Misquamicut Beach, located in Westerly, is about a 30 minute walk to the right.
Napatree Point This is also a public beach, located right next to Watch Hill Beach. Napatree Point is an official Conservation Area, protecting endangered species that inhabit the dunes, such as the Roaseate Tern, Piping Plover, Osprey, and American Beach grass. Be aware that no dogs are allowed on this beach May 2 through Labor Day, from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. This rule is strictly enforced by beach patrol. After Labor Day, however, leashed dogs are allowed on the beach. Napatree is great for a casual jog--the length of the strip is about 1 mile.Napatree Point is the long stretch of beach and dune grass that help form ‘little Narragansett Bay’. The long stretch of beach is approximately 1.5 miles long. The term Napatree can be broken down into ‘nap’ (neck) of trees. The point was heavily wooded until 1815, when a large hurricane came and wiped out the trees. At the end of the point is Fort Mansfield, an abandoned military fort. It was built as part of several other forts on the Atlantic coast to protect New York City. Fort Mansfield was operational 1901 to 1909, then in 1926 the land was sold, and the military deserted the fort. In 1926, residential homes were built on the beach. When the Hurricane of 1938 came, the hurricane decimated the properties on the point, including the road that ran along the point. Only 15 out of the 42 people who were in their homes when the hurricane struck died. Presently, there are no homes or roads on the point. Napatree Point is a nature preserves that is an excellent place to bird watch, collect seashells, swim, walk, or enjoy nature. Parts of the beach are closed in the spring, so the Piping Plover Birds’ nests are not disturbed; after all piping plovers are federally endangered. Napatree point is also home to ospreys. The Watch Hill Conservancy works with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect the plovers and the rest of the wildlife.
Sport fishing on the Bonita II, Captain Tim Terranova, (401) 596-6433, For those hardcore fishers out there, take a trip on the Bonita II! Catch bass, blue fish, marlin, tuna, swordfish offshore. This activity is sponsored by Watch Hill Outfitters. The dock is located to the right of Watch Hill Yacht Club.
Sunfire, 95 Watch Hill Road, (401) 596-8464, A five- mile radius from Down Town Watch Hill is a very small hole in the wall pottery painting studio. Sunfire has many different ceramic pieces to choose from. Especially for younger children. The prices are not as high as one would expect. The sit down fee is $7.00 and the prices of the pieces vary depending on which you pick. Most are affordable. The shop offers a relaxing experience with a view of the water. Summer Hours: Monday - Sunday 10am - 3pm. Closed occasionally for special events.
Lilly Pad Gallery, 1 Bay Street, (401) 596-3426, This art gallery features landscape, still life, figure, marine, and abstract art. Local art and artists are also featured in the annual "Local Color" exhibit. Lilly Pad also has family activities, too, with summer art classes for children.
Also one should the newly completed Ocean House (1 Bluff Ave.).
Most of the stores located in Watch Hill are in a shopping plaza called Larkin Square, comprised of Bay Street and a tiny street called Fort Road. Along with the stores listed below, there is Comina, Island Outfitters, The Sunglasses Shop, Elle Summers Shoes, Hall Marine Supply, Coppola's, Kisses, Yvonne's, J.C.'s of Watch Hill, Aqua Shop, and Seaport Next Door. Note that there is 2 hour parking located along both Bay Street and Fort Road. Larkin Square is a great place to grab a cool drink, buy a Watch Hill sweatshirt, or enjoy an upscale dining experience.
T.L. Keller Jewelers of Watch Hill, 58 Bay Street, (401) 348-0306
James Gerrad Estate Jewelry, 92 Bay Street, (401) 596-6530, James The Jeweler has been a staple in Watch Hill for many years. James hand makes his jewelry and accepts requests for custom orders on anything you can think of. He has an impressive collection of work and is truly a seasoned expert. There is a lot of time and work that goes into each piece of jewelry, so nothing in the store is of cheap quality, the price equally matches the workmanship that goes into each piece. James Gerrad also carries jewelry that is symbolic of Watch Hill. There are ornaments of the Ocean House, Watch Hill Chapel, Watch Hill Lighthouse, and the Watch Hill Carousel. A new concept from James is “The I love Watch Hill Bracelet” in 14 kt gold. Customers can design their own bracelets or use his ‘add a charm plan’. There is usually a $99 sale on particular items throughout the course of the summer; definitely be on the look out for this sale- I purchased a silver gold platted bracelet last summer when the sale was going on!
Small Axe Productions, Bay Street, (401) 348-5967, Small shop located in the Bay area. Another location at the Umbrella Factory in Charlestown, RI (A must see and do if you're in RI). Mostly jewelry but you can find small trinkets. Almost all the jewelry is custom made and lasts for a very long time. They have a very bohemian style and sell apparel. The store provides a very relaxing environment and the workers don't mind browsers.
Christina's Limited, 14 Bay Street, (401) 348-9041, Only open in the summer through September. There is usually an annual sale at the end of the summer, in preparation for the off-season. Christina’s carries the line Free People and Lily Pulitzer. This is a relatively expensive shop carrying preppy and conservative clothing. The clothing is usually very bright with over the top prints. This shop definitely has a specific audience it is targeting. The clothing is very reminiscent of the vibe that Watch Hill gives off. Collared shirts and respectfully lengths skirts and dresses compose a good percentage of Christina’s. Christina’s has many loyal customers and clothing that is of very good quality. You get what you pay for and many of the pieces can be considered timeless (if this is your style), so if you choose well you can definitely get your moneys worth!
Jan's Boutique, 2 Fort Road, (401) 348-8306, Jan's is one of only two stores open in Watch Hill during the winter. You can buy jewelry, kid's clothing, and beach wear here. The apparel is on the expensive side, but worth it if you want a Watch Hill memento! Walk right across the street to see the Watch Hill Yacht club and a little further for Napatree Point!
Rochelle's, 114 Bay Street #3, (401) 596-1035, Rochelle’s is located next door to Bay Street Deli. Rochelle’s is a high-end boutique carrying lines that are mostly out of the West Coast. Most of the clothing is out of LA, Miami, and New York. Rochelle’s has a variety of shoes ranging from flats to stilettos. Some of the shoe brands are Poetic License, which is out of London, Klub Nico that are handmade leather shoes out of Brazil, and some of the Steven Madden Collection. The brand Sky is a huge seller in this store. Sky is out of LA and everything is 100% silk, these tops and mini dresses are pricey but well worth it. This line is not sold in many other places in RI besides Nordstrom’s in Providence. Rochelle’s also carries a line of jewelry by Zoe and Sage. All of the jewelry is handmade with semi precious stones all dipped in 24 karat gold. The interesting part about the jewelry is that the jeweler takes actual leaves and coins from all over the world and dips them in gold, they truly are very creative and unique pieces. Seasonal Whispers is a jewelry company out of New York that carries a wide range of bracelets, necklaces and rings. All of the jewelry contains Swarovski crystals and made of stainless steel so that they never tarnish. The jewelry can be described as very fun and hip. Rochelle’s has a very pleasant feel to it and you feel as though you are entering a dance club in LA. The floors are painted gold and dance music is always playing with cutting edge trendy clothing, and very pleasant sales associate waiting to greet you and help you with your purchase. Rochelle’s is not for the faint of heart, it is a high fashion store with edge. Rochelle's Beach is the sister store of Rochelle’s and it is located next door to Bruno’s café. This store has something for everyone and of range of age groups shop here. This store is a blend of bathing suits, sandals, inexpensive jewelry and sunglasses, hats, women and men’s Sperry’s, Pure Sweaters, Watch Hill tee shirts and sweatshirts, casual dresses, printed tanks, shorts, and tee shirts. The Pure Sweaters are hand knit one of a kind shawls and sweaters with the trademark big buttons that Pure is known for. These shawls and sweaters come in a variety of colors ranging from pastels to bright shades of red and blue. The extensive range of bathing suits in Rochelle’s Beach is all mix and match. This is a very nice feature because most women are not the same size on the top and bottom and this has proven to be a very successful tactic when selling bathing suits. Rochelle’s has a very friendly and helpful staff that is always ready to lead a helping hand when trying to find the perfect swimsuit or dress.
Seaport Surf, Bathing suits are sold here and the primarily brands are Hurley and Billabong. The suits are not mix and match, which is definitely problematic if your top and bottom size don’t match in six. This is a definite downfall because most of the bathing suits are skimpy and in reality most people need to be able to mix and match suits so that they can have the right fit. This store also sells Reefs, which are a staple in a summer wardrobe due to the comfort of the sandal and its versatility in matching with many different outfits, its makes a very casual vibe for strolling around the village. Seaport Surf is targeted towards a younger audience
Gabrielle's Originals, 4 Fort Road, (401) 348-8986, Gabrielle's only sells infant and children's clothing. High in price, but really cute!
Special T Etc, 66 Bay Street,Special Tees is a great place to get cheap, reasonable souvenirs from Watch Hill, a nice memorabilia from a day in Watch Hill. The sweatshirts and tee shirts make for nice gifts and most of the store has very practical clothing that will not go to waste. A sweatshirt is great for the cool nights in Watch Hill while enjoying popcorn from St Claire’s Annex and checking out the magnificent sunsets.
Monelle, 6 Fort Road, Monelle is one of only two stores open during the winter. This is a tiny, up-scale boutique, offering designers such as Juicy Couture, Molly B, and Kate Spade. If you're looking for a prom dress, you might want to try this store for a unique find. Monelle is right across the street from the Watch Hill Yacht Club, and a stone's throw from Napatree Point.
Book and Tackle Shop, 122 Bay Street, (401) 596-0051, Open May through October. This is a great used book store offering antique books, especially about fishing and boating. Book and Tackle also carries postcards with local images, which are great for tourists visiting Watch Hill. There is a wide variety of children's books sold here, too.
Bay Breeze Interiors, 84 Bay Street, (401) 348-0722
Old Firehouse Antiques, 31 Bay Street, (401) 596-5650
The Basket Shop and More, 12 Fort Road, (401) 596-8140
Cafe Espresso II, 98 Bay Street, (401) 348-0103, Gelato is a popular seller at Cafe Espresso. There are tons of different flavors that all taste amazing; mango is a favorite. They also sell all different types of coffee and flavored drinks, including classic Italian pastries. The strawberry-banana smoothie is to die for!
Olympia Tea Room, 74 Bay Street, (401) 348-8211, Olympia is open seasonally in the Spring and Summer. The menu often changes, as the Olympia Tea Room supports the local fishing industry. It is also known for a wide selection of wines. Be sure to try the uniquely designed ice cream swan dessert; it's actually in the shape of a swan!
Bay Street Deli, 112 Bay Street, (401) 596-6606, The best place in town to get a New England favorite, Bay Street Deli’s lobster roles are a must eat. Served either hot or cold fresh lobster meat is mixed with mayo and butter and served on a roll. The deli is always packed in the summer and is situated in a tiny space that can get very hot, but rest assured the wait is worth it. Everything is made fresh and this place definitely gives that mom and pop feel that really makes a lunch special.
Seaside Cafe - Watch Hill Inn & Restaurants, 38 Bay Street, (401) 348-6333, Seaside is open from June 20th to September 7th. Seaside Cafe offers indoor and outdoor dining. Eat out on the sunset deck for a beautiful view, opening right up to the water. Be aware that the menu is limited and it is considered "high end" dining.
St. Clair Annex, 141 Bay Street, (401) 348-8407, While not always located in its current location, St. Claire’s Annex has a history that spans five generations. This is the first spot most people hit up due to the enticing assortments of ice cream that hit the spot on a sunny day. This is a true family run business whose owner’s take pride in their food (especially their ice cream). Visitors are also familiar with the friendly woman who runs the popcorn cart. Visitors know they’ll always get a smile with their bag of popcorn.
The Candy Box, 14 Fort Road, (401) 596-3325, Known for their amazing fudge and chocolate selection, The Candy Box is definitely a popular pit stop for the locals and also the tourists. They sell sugar free chocolates and fudge for those of you looking to watch your weight. Along with delicious chocolates, The Candy Box sells a variety of sour and sweet candies sold in little plastic baggies that are perfect for the beach. The prices aren't too bad, either. They have the best flavored Mentos! On your way out of The Candy Box, take a casual stroll on Napatree Point beach.
Maria's Seaside Cafe,132 Atlantic Avenue, 401-596-6886,Maria’s Seaside Café is a Mediterranean restaurant and cocktail bar located in the summer resort village of Misquamicut Beach in the town of Westerly, Rhode Island Maris is located five minutes away from Watch Hill and offers an alternative place to eat since Watch Hill has a limited amount of places to dine. Olympia Tea Room is the only fine dining, sit down restaurant in Watch Hill, so it fills up very quick and people often ask where else they can eat that is close to Watch Hill. Marias has amazing salads and pasta dishes. The “Maria’s” salad and the spinach salad with chicken are great. Maria’s has an extensive menu ranging from seafood to pasta dishes. Maria’s is a great place to dine while on vacation, and the prices are very reasonable and the atmosphere is very calm and mellow making for a perfect venue to settle down and eat after a long day of touring the sites of Watch Hill!
The Cooked Goose, 92 Watch Hill Road. The Cooked Goose is an excellent restaurant. The breakfasts are all generously portioned, made with the freshest ingredients, and the coffee is fair-trade, this is by far the best coffee in the Watch Hill area. The chef and owner of The Gooked Goose previously worked in a restaurant in Paris, he is very experienced and I have never come across a disappointing breakfast or lunch. The Cooked Goose is a Must See and a staple for the Watch Hill community especially for breakfast! Get your day started off right and you will leave with a full stomach energized for the rest of the day. edit
One of the greatest things about sleeping at Watch Hill is the fact that there is more than one inn that doubles up as a restaurant. A convenience for those who may be on vacation and need a place to eat and sleep that is close to the beach.
The Inn At Watch Hill, 118 Bay Street, ☎ (401) 596-0665. edit, Located near the end of Bay Street where it becomes Fort Road, it has an amazing view of the ocean from the front.
Watch Hill Court, 20 Bay Street,, ☎ (401) 348-8273. edit
Watch Hill Harbor House, 5 Bay Street, ☎ (401) 596-7500. edit
Watch Hill Inn & Annex, 38 Bay Street, ☎ (401) 348-6300. edit, This inn actually offers year-round accommodations. The annex is separate from the inn and includes the studios and townhouses whereas the inn itself is the main building. Don't worry, the whole annex faces the ocean and it has a closer view than most other inns located within the Watch Hill area.
Breezeway Resort, 70 Winnapaug Road. Located within walking distance of Misquamicut Beach in the town of Westerly, Rhode Island, The Breezeway Resort neighbors the Victorian era seaside village of Watch Hill, and is central to the mansions of Newport, the seaport of Mystic and the marvel of Connecticut’s two casinos. The Breezeway is known for its modern, immaculate accommodations, its peaceful, park like setting and the personalized service provided by The Bellone Family and staff. The Breezeway is very accommodating and most people say that they feel like they are at home when they are there. The staff is very friendly and the guests have access to a pool and their own personal beach! This is definitely a plus because the beaches are always crowded in Watch Hill and to have a space of your own is a treat!edit
Pleasant View Inn, 72 Atlantic Avenue. The Pleasant View Inn is located in the Watch Hill end of Misquamitcut Beach. The Inn is located directly on the water, making for amazing waterfront views. There is a very nice bar atmosphere that attracts locals and the guests of the hotel making for a diverse, fun crowd. Next door to the Inn is The Andrea, which is an outside bar and oasis on the waterfront for vacationers and locals. The Andrea is always very busy and definitely not a quiet spot, but if you are looking for some entertainment and feel like mingling The Andrea is a great place to go. edit
The Ocean House, 1 Bluff Avenue, ☎ (401) 315-0579, . Located on the beach. Beach maintains it's own bar and cafe. The hotel itself has an indoor pool area for winter guests. Every restaurant has seating available outside in view of Watch Hill's famous sunsets. Services range from room service to spa appointments. The Ocean House is also known for its spa. Prices are stated in the website. Along with pampering activities the hotel does hold games and entertainment for guests. Each room is equipped with a full tub and shower, bar, mini refrigerator, flat screen TV, and desks. Down the hill is the Watch Hill Down Town area. A long strip of stores and other restaurants to fill every guest needs.edit