Tour Rhode Island’s Lovely Lighthouses
- Rhode Island
They don’t call Rhode Island the Ocean State for nothing.
This small but superlative state flanked by Connecticut and Massachusetts has a spectacular southern coastline, comprised of Rhode Island Sound, Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and — no surprise — some of the most storied lighthouses in the country.
It’s easy to cover a lot of ground during a few short days in the USA’s smallest state — Rhode Island is just 77 kilometers from north to south and 60 kilometers from east to west.
Plum Beach Lighthouse
To visit some of the lighthouses, start your tour in Boston, Massachusetts, and drive about 130 kilometers south along the West Bay (mainland) side of Rhode Island through Providence to reach Conanicut Island and Jamestown. On the way, as you cross the Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge from the mainland to Conanicut, you’ll catch a glimpse of the Plum Beach Lighthouse, built in 1897. (For a closer look, you’ll need to charter a private boat or hop on a sightseeing cruise from Jamestown or Newport.)
You’ll spot the Plum Beach Lighthouse as you head across the Jamestown Verrazzano Bridge, which connects the town of Jamestown to the western coast of the Narragansett Bay.
Once you get to Jamestown, a quaint island town in the middle of the Narragansett Bay, continue to southern tip of the island. Here, the Beavertail Lighthouse sits in a dramatic setting, with waves crashing on the rocks overlooking the bay. The historic landmark has a keeper’s house that dates to 1856, making it the third-oldest lighthouse in the USA. The museum is worth visiting, and there are scheduled visits to the top of the tower, too. If you visit the Beavertail Lighthouse at low tide, you may be able to catch a glimpse of the foundation of the nearby Whale Rock Lighthouse, which was almost completely destroyed by a hurricane in 1938.
Before leaving Jamestown, sit down for some fresh seafood at a local hotspot like Jamestown Fish or Chopmist Charlie’s. Or grab a lobster roll to go from the East Ferry Deli before heading 8 kilometers east across the Newport Bridge to Newport, an atmospheric seaside city known as the “sailing capital of the world.”
The Beavertail Lighthouse offers beautiful views of the Narragansett Bay from its perch on the southern tip of Conanicut Island.
Dutch Island and Rose Island Lighthouses
As you cross the bridge you’ll spot Dutch Island Lighthouse, a nearly 13-meter-high rectangular brick tower. You’ll also see the Rose Island Lighthouse, a working lighthouse that dates to 1869 and sits on a 7-hectare island accessible by ferry from Newport during the summer months. To truly experience the lighthouse, you can stay overnight in the first-floor museum or play keeper for a week during a stay in the second-floor keeper’s quarters. (Your duties would include raising and lowering the flag each day, listening to marine weather and welcoming day and overnight visitors.)
Dutch Island Lighthouse
Ida Lewis Rock Lighthouse
In Newport, head to the Ida Lewis Rock Lighthouse. Formerly called the Lime Rock Lighthouse, it was built in the mid-19th century atop Lime Rock on the south side of Newport Harbor. The lighthouse now serves as the clubhouse for the Ida Lewis Yacht Club and is within walking distance of downtown.
The Rose Island Lighthouse has been guiding ships since the late 1800s. You can see the lighthouse in action if you choose to stay there overnight.
Castle Hill Lighthouse
Finish your Rhode Island lighthouse tour with beautiful views of the Narragansett Bay from the Castle Hill Lighthouse, on the grounds of the luxurious Castle Hill Inn. Completed in 1890 on the cliff face, the lighthouse is particularly beautiful to photograph at sunrise or sunset. After visiting the grounds, enjoy a handcrafted cocktail on an Adirondack chair at the inn and toast Rhode Island’s good life.
The Castle Hill Lighthouse in Newport provides beautiful views and easy access to the historic Castle Hill Inn.