The best part about summer in Westerly is the beach. The worst part about summer are the crowds and the nightmare that is parking. So the key to a successful summer is either to simply make peace with the fact that dealing with parking fees and crowds is awful, or to find the “secret” beaches and parking spots that not many people know about.
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They aren’t secret in the literal sense but they are less frequented by out-of-towners and tend to be less crowded. Generally this also means that there’s a few free parking spots. Westerly truly has some of the best beaches in New England. Beautiful sand, amazing waves, pristine water: we’ve got it all.
So first off, let’s lay some ground rules. If you want to find a great, hidden beach, you have to commit. There might be more walking, extra driving around to find an open parking spot, few to no lifeguards, and you might be the only person on the beach. So…if those things are okay with you, keep reading…
1. Napatree Point, off Fort Road, Watch Hill
Parking can be tricky as you’ll have to find something on Bay Street, which is usually limited to two hours so you might have to move your car to another spot if you plan to stay longer. I’ve been there before and I just drove around and around ’til I found something. Trust me, Napatree Point is worth it! Once you find a spot to park, walk down Fort Road. The Watch Hill Yacht Club will be on your right and some beach cabanas will be on your left. Keep going and you’ll end up on the sand, climbing up some dunes. As you come over the hill, you’ll see the expansive Napatree Point beach, which is perfect for young children as the waves don’t get too big.
2. Weekapaug Lookout, along Spray Rock Road in Weekapaug
Parking is super limited but the beach is still easily accessible. It’s not an official, spread-out-your-blankets-for-a-day-at-the-beach kind of beach, but it’s a great spot to take a walk, climb on the rocks, enjoy a picnic, watch the sunset. I often see a lot of people just park the car, open their windows and enjoy a cup of coffee seaside. It’s beautiful. Sometimes you’ll see people doing family photos or engagement shoots on the rocks, which makes for a lovely people watching session.
3. East Beach, off of Bluff Avenue, Watch Hill
This beach has been under scrutiny for a while now because of the drop off zone (or lack thereof), but it’s definitely one of the best beaches in Westerly. Parking is difficult unless you know someone who lives locally or can find a spot on Bay Street. If you’re a Westerly taxpayer, you can get a Larkin Road parking pass from town hall and try for one of the 13 spaces. It’s hard but if you’re willing to go early in the day or later in the afternoon/early evening, you might snag a spot. The path to the beach, winds through some shrubs and beach roses before popping out onto a glorious beach. You’ll be in good company as Taylor Swift’s expansive abode looms overhead on the right and the Ocean House sits off to the left.
4. Dunes Park Beach at 665 Atlantic Beach Road, Misquamicut
You have to pay a little bit to park at this one but it’s a good place to go if everywhere else is full and you and the family are just itching for an afternoon at the beach. It’s perfect for small children and is close to the Weekapaug breach way. It’s also just a short drive away from Water Wizz and Atlantic Beach Park.
For a truly unforgettable beach day, don’t forget sunscreen, water and a picnic lunch. Happy beaching!