Oakland Beach has had a tortured history, including devastation by a pair of hurricanes just 16 years apart. While it’s often overlooked in favor of more upscale coastal areas, it’s a great spots for families, for coastal snacks, and for kayaking in lesser-known coves.
Iggy’s Oakland Beach
As a native Rhode Islander, I can attest that the claim about calamari being the “state appetizer” is malarkey. When we transplanted natives pay a visit, we head straight for the clam cakes. Iggy’s, on Oakland Beach, is the current clam cake champion. Top it off with Del’s lemonade, another of Little Rhody’s inimitable snacks.
Quahogs, hard-shell clams that bury themselves along estuaries all over the Atlantic coast, are practically Rhode Island’s state mascot. Though the industry has shrunk in recent decades, the mollusks are still popular all over the state, in dishes like stuffies (stuffed clams), clams casino, and clam chowder.
The mansions of Newport might get all the glory, but this Victorian manor, built in the 1870s, is nothing to sneeze at. Built as a wedding gift from one wealthy resident to another, it’s now a museum that boasts period architectural details and furnishing, textiles, and porcelain, plus a small but charming arboretum.
Noon gift shop
Compact, walkable, and full of old-school New England charm, Pawtuxet Village is something of a best-kept secret. You’ll find few tourists, but plenty of locals in this tiny town with pretty water views and fun shops. Noon, pictured here, is a gift and design store that stocks a variety of home and personal products, many made locally.
Italian-Americans, rejoice. Antonio’s is the real deal, a place to pick up authentic cannoli, sfogliatelle, zeppole, and other we-really-shouldn’t-eat-these-but-OMG-are-they-worth-it Italian pastry. Don’t leave without the “party pizza” an inexplicably delicious baked crust topped with fresh tomato sauce and herbs, and nothing else.
Rocky Point State Park
Opened in the late 1840s, Rocky Point was a regionally famous amusement park that became the photographic fodder of “urban explorers” after it went belly-up in 1995. In the early 2000s, the state of Rhode Island and the City of Warwick purchased the property, which has some of the most expansive coastal views in the state, and overhauled it. Rocky Point State Park emerged, with walking and biking trails, a fishing pier, and two small beaches. The arch was imported from the 1964/1965 World’s Fair, and has been at the park since 1966.
Conimicut Point Beach
You’ll find lots of whining on TripAdvisor about this small beach, by folks who come here expecting a pristine, sandy shore. Me? I love Conimicut Point Beach for its rough-hewn character, complete with vacant shells of clams, mussels, snails, and the occasional horseshoe crab, like this one. Over the tip of its arrowhead-shaped sandbar, which looks toward Conimicut Light, the water flows in two directions. Don’t venture onto it during high tide; more than one reckless beachcomber has been swept into the water.
Harbor Lights Marina
Located on Warwick Neck, a largely untouristed area on Greenwich Bay, Harbor Lights Marina is the place where the well-heeled dock their pricey cabin cruisers and yachts. The marina also has a restaurant, bar, and pool, plus a grassy area that hosts events and summer concerts. It’s a great place for watching egrets fish as the sun sets.