A walkable, eclectic downtown full of independent shops and restaurants help make downtown Westerly a great spot to stroll on a laid-back afternoon. But the jewel of the westernmost town on the Rhode Island shore might be Wilcox Park, a 16-acre oasis that forms the grounds of the local library.
Harriet Wilcox donated the land in 1898 in memory of her husband, Stephen Wilcox. She wanted the space to be a “walking park” for local residents. Today it is a perfect place to walk or rest, with paths that wind past notable trees, gardens, monuments, and charming fountains and statues. Special events like fairs and concerts are also held in the park.
These days it’s famous because pop star Taylor Swift has a house on the beach here, but Watch Hill, located on a scenic peninsula in the town of Westerly, has been an exclusive summer resort for over a century.
Despite its past and present affluence, there’s plenty for regular people to appreciate about this waterfront village. Watch Hill Beach is home to the Flying Horse Carousel, sometimes called the oldest carousel in the country, Bay Street is lined with shops and restaurants, and the Watch Hill Lighthouse is a short walk from town. For history lovers, there’s a small but striking statue of Ninigret, the Niantic Sachem who ruled this place when the English arrived in the 1600s. Then there’s Napatree Point, a 1.5 mile spit of sand where houses stood until the great hurricane of 1938 rendered it an unspoiled haven for seabirds and wanderers. At its tip can be found the remains of Fort Mansfield, dating from the Spanish-American War.
The Watch Hill Lighthouse is a beautiful spot for a great view in downtown Watch Hill, Rhode Island. It is a classic-looking New England lighthouse with a white house and a stone lighthouse. It is great to walk here in the evening after a day at the beach (I’d suggest Napatree Point), or after taking your kids on the old-fashioned Carousel in downtown Watch Hill. The lighthouse is surrounded by large historic homes, and recently, the pop-star Taylor Swift even bought a home nearby. Maybe you’ll spot her or her entourage on your walk to the Watch Hill Lighthouse!
Napatree Point is a long, sandy beach located in Westerly, Rhode Island. It is a beautiful place for a long walk to watch the sunset, go for a swim, or to walk your dogs. Napatree Point is one of my favorite places to go for a long walk on the beach, especially on hot summer evenings. Napatree Point is also a great place to bird watch or check out local flora on the sand dunes. Just keep in mind that you can't walk on the sand dunes and should keep your dogs and children off of them as well. However, parking in the area can be problematic, so I suggest coming in the evening to avoid expensive metered parking and searching endlessly for a space.