Coastal Rhode Island Favorites

by Liz Dowling

I grew up going to Charlestown, Rhode Island every summer until I was about fifteen.  My grandparents, Grace and Howard Sweet, had a beautiful home near East Beach and Shelter Harbor.  They hosted extended family and friends almost constantly during July and August.  I loved these summers.  I really miss spending time in Charlestown and the surrounding area, but still try to hit some of my favorite places each season.  Here are my top picks:

Henry’s Fruit Center

5319 Old Post Road ~ Charlestown


Henry’s has been around forever, but was just purchased and torn down this year. It makes me so sad. My little brother and I used to walk here to get ice cold Coke bottles out of the metal cooler and peaches for my grandmother.

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It was so old fashioned and had hardly changed a bit in 50 years. Boo Hoo.


Dave’s Coffee

5193 Old Post Road ~ Charlestown


Dave’s Coffee is a new addition to the Charlestown area, at least in my book.


Dave’s is a family owned craft coffee business, right here in little Rhody.

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Stop in and have their fresh baked goods and amazing coffee, which they roast by hand.  Totally worth it.

East Beach

East Beach Road ~ Charlestown


How many hours of my life did I spent on East Beach?  It was an all day affair for the Sweet family.  We were packed for the beach and out of the house by 10 am.

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Trudging up the boardwalk with all of our umbrellas, rafts and coolers.


The three miles of East Beach on Quonochontaug Neck are gorgeous. On a clear day, you can see the outline of Block Island from your towel.  Bonus.

The Hitching Post

5402 Post Road ~ Charlestown


No day at the beach is complete without clam fritters from the Hitching Post.


My father would drop everyone at my grandparent’s after the beach and head to the Hitching Post.  He would buy dozens of clam fritters for the gang.  Hot, salty and delicious.

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This little red building has been around since 1950 and is still going strong.  Don’t miss it.

Shelter Harbor Inn

10 Wagner Road ~ Westerly


There are a lot of beautiful place to stay in South County, Rhode Island.  But I am loyal to the Shelter Harbor Inn.


My family has celebrated many, many events here.  Definitely one of my favorite places to stay, complete with a divine complimentary breakfast. It is under new ownership now and re-opens in August 2019. The new owners have updated with a nod to the history of the Inn and its musical past. Cannot wait to see the changes!


Sandy’s Fine Food Emporium

15 Post Road ~ Westerly


When I was a kid, Sandy’s was just a fruit and vegetable stand.  I used to head there on Saturday morning with my grandmother to buy all of the produce she needed for the weekend to feed the piles of people at her house.


Sandy’s is MUCH more than a fruit and vegetable stand now.


They carry specialty foods, gourmet groceries, freshly made soups, salads and entrees.


But my absolute favorite thing at Sandy’s is their fresh Strawberry Rhubarb pie…….

Flying Horse Carousel

151 Bay Street ~ Watch Hill

Grace, age 10, on the Merry-Go-Round

Grace, age 10, on the Merry-Go-Round

The Watch Hill Merry-Go-Round is a classic.  Built in 1867 and left behind in Watch Hill by a traveling carnival in 1883, it is the only continuously operating and surviving flying horse Merry-Go-Round in the country.

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I have been going to Flying Horses my whole life.  First as a child and then with my two children.  A gem.

St. Clair Annex

141 Bay Street ~ Watch Hill


What is summer without ice cream?


Head to the St Clair Annex for their amazing homemade ice cream.  My favorite flavor, Black Raspberry.  Oh, and the lobster roll here is to die for!

The Candy Box

14 Fort Road ~ Watch Hill

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Another stop on my hit parade, The Candy Box.  The sweetest little candy store you have ever seen.

Watch Hill Harbor


Come and sit in the park by the Harbor and gaze at all the beautiful scenery.  So pretty.

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Whaley Farm

2 Jerry Brown Road ~ South Kingston


These days, I am usually racing to get to the Block Island ferry and don’t have time to shop at my favorite places.  Luckily, we have discovered Whaley Farm.  A quick jog off of Route 1 on the way to the boat.

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I love this little place.  It opened in 1940 and is still run by the Whaley family.  Stock up on everything fresh, including flowers, eggs, homemade jams, pesto, local cheeses – the absolute BEST!


And, of course, local Rhode Island Yacht Club Soda!!!

East Beach Memories

Grandma Grace holding me at her house in Charlestown

Grandma Grace holding me at her home in Charlestown

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Mom and I (left) and little brother at the helm.

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The gang post-beach (left) and burying some small child with my friend Charlie.


the wry home

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Amy Harden July 31, 2019 - 7:22 am

Another gem and charming walk down memory lane! Happy to report that I have ticked a few of these off my list when I visited there w you and your Dad 😍. Later toasting his life at The Shelter Harbor Inn – am i right? Rhode Island certainly has its charms!♥️

Elizabeth Dowling July 31, 2019 - 12:49 pm

We were at the Old Wilcox Tavern for my dad, but I am sure you have been to Shelter Harbor. The greatest state!

Melinda Sweet July 31, 2019 - 9:56 am

LIz, this homage to “our” part of Rhode Island is wonderful. So many memories of our life there, and the pictures, too! It made me cry to remember all the happy times we had at your darling ,grandmother, Grace’s home and our little Cape next door. It was a wonderful life at the beach…
Thank you.

Elizabeth Dowling July 31, 2019 - 11:03 am

Yes, so many wonderful memories! Miss it xo

Anonymous July 31, 2019 - 10:26 am

Great photo spread of R.I. You have good taste.
Long time, no see.

Elizabeth Dowling July 31, 2019 - 11:03 am

We need to come back and see you in France – soon! xo

Mary Capaldi July 31, 2019 - 11:29 am

Liz- love this post and hearing about all of your wonderful memories! I have similar childhood memories of Cape Cod. Also, absolutely loved Shelter Harbor Inn…yummy brunch there! Xo, Mary

Elizabeth Dowling July 31, 2019 - 12:50 pm

Love the Shelter Harbor too – can’t wait to see how they have updated it!

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