Best Things to Do in Misquamicut, RI - Complete Guide from a Local

Best Things to Do in Misquamicut, RI - Complete Guide from a Local

Are you thinking of planning a summer trip to Misquamicut in Westerly, RI? Take this as your sign! This family-friendly state beach is located in southern Rhode Island. Beach days are part of the quintessential New England summer experience! So it’s a must for anyone who comes through this neck of the woods during the warmer months.

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If you’re not already familiar, Misquamicut is actually not a town, but a state beach located within the town of Westerly. It’s funded by the state, so it’s open to the public and inexpensive to get in and enjoy the whole day. It’s one of the biggest and most popular beaches in Rhode Island.

It’s definitely got old school vibes, and not so much of a ‘sexy’ beach as it is for families and local sun worshippers. But if you’re in New England and looking for a day of fun in the sun, it’s a great hidden gem and the perfect way to get your vitamin D fix!

I decided to write this article because I grew up going to this beach every single summer! And it would never cease to amaze me how many out-of-town license plates I’d see from all over the country, coming here for a little summer getaway. 

I’d think “How the heck to people know about my small town?” Turns out it’s one of those ‘if you know… you know’ kinda things.

I cherished my beach time so much when I was a kid, and was so lucky to grow up here. I’m happy to share with you all that I know about the best spots to go!

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1. Visit Atlantic Beach Park

Located directly off the beach, this is a small, old-school park that been around since 1921! The park has lots of of activities, including
  • A vintage carousel, made in 1915
  • An arcade with classic games (tokens are $2 each, 5 for $10)
  • Bumper cars (!!!)
  • Carnival-style rides meant for small children
To be clear… these are kiddie rides, and are not the most modern and updated. However, the vintage charm more than makes up for it, especially the carousel. And if nothing else, it’s a cute place to walk around when you want a break from sunbathing.

2. Have drinks at Paddy’s or the Windjammer

It’s always nice to break up your day with a trip to the bar! What the heck… you’re on vacation, and won’t be driving for several hours right?

I love these spots because they’re beachside, and are frequented by out-of-towners and locals alike, and they’ve been around for decades. They’ve survived hurricanes and harsh New England winters. The Windjammer is well known for its live music as well (my uncle’s band used to play here all the time!)

3. Walk around and visit shops

Another lazy beach-day activity that will keep you occupied! I have to say, it was a favorite pastime for me and my friends when I was a teenager.

Checking out some shops will be a great opportunity to pick up some postcards or local jewelry for souvenirs. My favorite is a shop located right across from Atlantic Beach Park (the place with the carousels, rides) It's called  Horse of a Different Color gift shop. 

You can also check out the Pavillion, or Alfies Surf shop.

4. Hang out on the Pavillion

Put up in 1999, this Pavillion is a structure with a bathhouse, gift shop, playground, and gazebos for catching some shade. It’s a great place to come get out of the sun for a bit to break up your day. 

Equipped with outdoor showers, you can rinse off after your dip in the ocean. There are also restrooms here because let’s face it… after a few drinks at Paddy’s, you might need them!

5. Sunbathe

This is the whole reason for coming here after all!

Here’s what you do- start the day early by staking out your spot around 8 or 9am. You can come later, but Misquamicut gets SUPER crowded. 

Just be aware- if you come in the late morning or early afternoon, you’ll have to squeeze your beach blankets in between everyone else’s. It’s doable, but not ideal.

Don’t forget to bring snacks, beach games, sunscreen, plenty of water, and an umbrella! Also, bring some cash for the concession stand. And if you don't plan to eat at one of the restaurants, pack a lunch.

It’s traditional to stay until about 3pm or so. But you can always stay later if you want to see the sunset!

6. Come to the beach at sunset

Most underrated Misquamicut activity ever! If you’re looking for a less time-intensive and less expensive beach experience, this is it! 

Wait until 5pm, and there is no fee to get in. There will be zero crowds, and you’ll be rewarded with unbelievable New England sunsets.

My family would come after work with a carload of kids. We’d bring sweatshirts, frisbees, footballs, and kites. Then we’d all go for sunset walk, and it was just magical!

7. Grab a Del’s

Have you heard of Del's Lemonade? If not, they're a pleasure to have on a hot Rhode Island summer day! Everyone and I mean EVERYONE in Rhode Island loves Del’s. Narragansett Beer (which is also based in RI) even did a drink collaboration with them- it's called the Del’s Shandy.

A classic New England summer drink, Del's is a slushy lemonade made with real lemons, with lemon rind pieces in it. Believe me, it's a must-try!

There's usually a truck that comes around near the parking lot. So if you see it, don't hesitate... just order! 

8. Eat clam cakes

Also called clam fritters, they're a New England beach delicacy. Basically, they're little balls of fried dough made with clams and clam juice. Trust me... they're worth breaking your diet for!

I'll be honest, I haven't seen these in many other places than Rhode Island... I've looked! That's why I recommend trying them while you're in Misquamicut. 

They serve them at Two Little Fish. Or if you are okay with taking a drive down the beach closer to Weekapaug, I also recommend Salty's Clam Shack!

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  • Two Little Fish This is a great little ‘clam shack’ right across from the beach. Fish and chips, lobster rolls, and clam cakes among other specialties, at very reasonable prices, too!
  • Salty's Clam Shack- My top clam cake recommendation! It's not technically in Misquamicut, but is great nonetheless. I just love sitting outside here on the picnic benches with a paper basket full of fried goodness. 
  • Paddy’s- I mentioned Paddy’s before for drinks, and it’s a great place to eat too! The main reason for it’s popularity is its prime location. Located right in the middle of the beach, you can dine ocean side and watch the waves. Or you can choose to sit inside for a more formal dining environment.
  • Maria’s Seaside Cafe- A casual dining option, right across from the beaches. Attached to the Maria Hotel, they serve mostly standard Italian fare, although the website describes it as “Mediterranean-inspired.” Get the fried calamari.
  • Little Mermaid’s- Located in behind Alfie's Surf Shop- this is a great place for breakfast or lunch, and thye also have ice cream!
  • Windjammer Surf Bar This place is a Westerly staple. Aside from being a great live music venue and bar, it’s a great spot to get food, because it’s located right next to other beach attractions like the bumper cars, carousel, and arcade.
  • Andrea Beach Bar- Located inside the Andrea Hotel, this is another beachside option that’s especially convenient if you’re staying right inside the hotel!

Hotels in Misquamicut Beach

The options for places to stay right on Misquamicut are a little bit limited. (And if you're looking for luxury options, I'd head to Watch Hill just a few more minutes away.) But these are some classic family-friendly places that are right on the beach-
  • Pleasant View Inn
  • Sandy Shore
  • Andrea Hotel
  • Sand Castle Inn
  • Hotel Maria

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