The town of Narragansett only has a full-time population of about 15,000 people, but it is home to four of the most notable beaches in the state of Rhode Island. The best-known, and busiest, beach in the area is Narragansett Town Beach, a mile-long stretch of sand that features perhaps the best surfing in all of New England.
Narragansett Town Beach offers more than surf, however, as swimming, boating, and sunbathing opportunities are abundant. The park is also home to snack bars, washrooms, and two pavilions that hosts a variety of events throughout the summer, so there is no shortage of amenities available for those who stop by.
On some days, as many of 10,000 people spend time at the beach daily, making it essential to get there early to find the best possible spot. Or, if you buy a home in Narragansett, you can rent a reserved parking space for the year. Reserved spaces come with a storage locker, but there is a significant waiting list that you’ll have to deal with first.
If you're vacationing in Narragansett, town council has limited parking at the beach to specific lots. This decision is good news for those looking to purchase real estate in Narragansett, as the limited nonresident parking policy frees up additional parking spots for beach-goers who live in the town, even if you aren’t able to rent a reserved space.
Season's admission passes for unlimited beach access are also available for permanent Narragansett residents, allowing you to enjoy the surf and sand daily without having to pay the inflated daily rate charged to tourists.
A History of Narragansett Town Beach
Narragansett has a long and compelling history that is well worth exploring. Both town and beach are named after the Narragansett Native American tribe, a ruling group led by the great chief Canonicus in the early to mid 1600s. European settlement on Rhode Island commenced in 1636 when Roger Williams fled Massachusetts because of religious persecution and bought the land that is now Providence from Canonicus.
In the coming years, European settlers would purchase more land in the territory, including what would later become the town of Narragansett. Originally, the township was an overlooked part of a larger colony, and its population grew slowly, with mills, plantations, and a shipping pier keeping the economy afloat.
An 1848 visit by businessman Joseph Heatly Dulles changed everything for Narragansett, however, as he immediately fell in love with the area's beauty, especially the beach. From there, the region’s popularity as a tourist destination exploded, with the first hotel opening in 1856.
While the Civil War slowed the area's growth temporarily, ten new hotels were constructed between 1866 and 1871, marking Narragansett's most considerable period of growth to date. From there, a new pier and railroad expansion came to the area, forever making Narragansett a popular vacation destination.
A number of mansions, referred to as cottages, started appearing in beachfront regions in the late 1800s, as affluent individuals wanted permanent homes in the district. The influx of wealthy homeowners continues to this day, especially for those who want to spend their summers near the warm coastal waters.
Fires and hurricanes have hit Narragansett Town Beach over the years, ruining hotels, casinos, and other structures, but the area lives on and is one of the most popular resort towns on the country's east coast.
Where is Narragansett Town Beach?
Narragansett Town Beach is actually located in the village of Narragansett Pier, which is part of the larger municipality of Narragansett. Other communities that are part of the town include Bonnet Shores, Galilee, Great Island, Mettatuxet, Point Judith, Salt Pond, and South Ferry. The village of Jerusalem is partially in Narragansett and shared with neighboring South Kingstown, while Saunderstown is shared with North Kingstown.
The beach is significant in size, as extends in the north from the mouth of the Pettaquamscutt River to the Canochet Memorial and Ocean Road in the south part of town. It takes up about 19 acres of space in total. Narragansett Town Beach sits right along Boston Neck Road and is lined with parking areas, with additional parking area found across the road.
Since the beach enjoys such a central location, many homes in Narragansett Pier are within walking distance, so residents can avoid the parking situation altogether after purchasing property in town.
In addition to the water, many people relocate here for the climate. The town is on the country's east coast, so it enjoys a temperate oceanic climate with warm summers and mild winters. In July, temperatures average 79 degrees Fahrenheit, while January temperatures average 21 degrees.
Events at Narragansett Town Beach
As you'd expect with a popular destination like Narragansett Town Beach, plenty of events take place here throughout the year. If you plan on buying a home and becoming a permanent resident, these festivals are sure to become part of your daily life and are worth checking out.
The Gazebo Summer Concert Series takes place every Friday evening between the middle of June and early September. The family-friendly concerts are free, so all you have to do is bring a chair or blanket to enjoy the music. The performances take place at Gazebo Park, which overlooks the beach.
Summer in Narragansett also means the return of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra to the town’s main beach. The concert takes place at the North Beach Clubhouse and regularly draws between 7,000 and 10,000 music lovers. While the show is free, there is a paid cocktail reception that you can buy tickets for, if desired. The 2018 rendition of the concert will mark the 42nd time it has been held.
Wednesdays between late June and the middle of August bring the Movies on the Beach Series. This free event involves family-friendly films shown on a big screen on the beach, and food trucks are available in the North Lot.
Another popular event is Family Beach Day and July 4th Celebration, which, as you might have guessed, takes place on Independence Day. This event at the North Beach Clubhouse includes a concert and other activities, with a fireworks display ending the evening.
Just because summer is over doesn’t mean Narragansett Town Beach shuts down. The Narragansett Festival of Lights is an annual event held at the beginning of December that marks the unofficial kick-off to the Christmas season. Festivities take place all over town, but the beach area hosts concerts and the lighting of the seawall, with other happenings, including fireworks and the tree lighting, taking place at The Towers, a historical landmark just south of the beach.
Spending Your Summer at Narragansett Town Beach
Very few locations provide the same quality of life as Narragansett and its scenic beach. If you’re considering buying a home in Narragansett, you can expect summers full of family-friendly activities and non-stop beach action.
Taking the time to get to know the area before buying is always a good idea, but you should know by now that the weather, location, and activities at Narragansett Town Beach make it a second-to-none spot along the United States’ east coast.