Best Things to do in Charlestown, RI
Charlestown is a small coastal town in South County RI and is ideal for those who like to get outdoors, whether it’s on the beach or on a hiking trail. We’ve got the best of the best things to do here!
East Beach is Charlestown’s state beach and stretches across three miles of shoreline and is a beautiful spot to spend your day in town – if you can find parking, that is. One of the least developed state beaches, the limited parking options should encourage you to wake up early and beat the traffic. Securing your place in the sun and on the sand will set a good tone for the rest of your day, however you choose to spend it! If you’re a day late and a dollar short, don’t worry – there’s still plenty of other great outdoorsy things to do in Charlestown!
The Fantastic Umbrella Factory is a 19th-century farmyard turned shopper’s paradise. A Rhode Island landmark since the late 1960s, today you can find a cafe and eight shops filled with unique hand-crafted wares, jewelry, clothing, musical instruments, candles, tapestries, and trinkets. Take a stroll along the paths between the shops and enjoy the perennial flower gardens, the bamboo patches, and the animals – including goats, chickens, ducks, and the infamous emus!
Ninigret Park is comprised of 227 acres of land on Old Post Road. Originally developed as a naval air training base where former president George H.W. Bush once learned piloting techniques, the park is now a recreation destination for residents and tourists alike. Here you’ll find lovely areas for a picnic, tennis courts, a great little beach for swimming, gentle walking trails, a multi-mile bike path, basketball courts, a playground, a dog park, a disc golf course, athletic fields, the Naval Air Memorial, and the Frosty Drew Nature Center and Observatory (more on that in a minute!). It also serves as the location of the Ocean State Reggae Festival, Charlestown Seafood Festival, and Rhythm and Roots Festival.
Frosty Drew Nature Center and Observatory, situated within Ninigret Park, has a mission to enlighten, discover, and inspire visitors through education and research about science, the night sky, and the universe beyond. Overlooking a freshwater pond and surrounded by shady, flowering trees, it stands as a memorial to the dedication, enthusiasm, and hard work of Edwin F. “Frosty” Drew, a young Rhode Island environmentalist who passed away in the 1970s. Established in the 1980s with the help of local businesses and volunteers, the Nature Center and its grounds have been continuously improved upon over the years and now includes a Sky Theatre, perfect for anyone who enjoys astronomy. Their high-powered telescope can precisely position and track over 80,000 deep-space objects, and over 200,000,000 stars, all of which can be viewed with the touch of a button. A critical element of the Observatory site is the extraordinarily dark sky above, one of the darkest between Boston and New York. The combination of the dark sky and the capabilities of the observatory allow both astronomers and visitors alike to observe the rings of Saturn, the Galilean moons of Jupiter, Lunar geography, star clusters, nebulae, galaxies, and thousands of astronomical objects.
Burlingame State Park is a spacious state park featuring 20 cabins and 700 rustic campsites situated next to Watchaug Pond in Charlestown. If you’re looking to hunker down and really immerse yourself in outdoor life for a day or two, this is the place to do it! Activities, amenities, and features of the grounds include bird watching, canoeing, fishing, hiking, freshwater swimming, biking, a playground, a boat ramp, and shower facilities, and a store which carries a variety of necessities and souvenirs.