Beautiful Jamestown, Rhode Island is located on Conanicut Island and is accessible via bridge or ferry. This island town features some of the best ocean and seaside scenery in all of Rhode Island. Dotted with local shops, boutiques, great seafood and many a restaurant, Jamestown, RI is the perfect getaway.
Over the Bridge
It was a long drive down to Jamestown on that warm day in September. Route 24 South took us down through Newport and onto the Newport Bridge. It’s the kind of bridge that will aggravate anyone’s fear of heights…it’s a long way down. It’s a toll bridge and the first sign you pass on the bridge says “$2″ but as you get closer it’s suddenly “$4″, so make sure you’ve packed some extra cash and don’t trust the signs!
Beavertail State Park
Past the toll, we headed straight towards Beavertail State Park at the southern edge of the island. Once inside the state park, the road winds as it passes each of the four parking lots, eventually ending at the Beavertail Lighthouse. Entrance and parking is free and open to the public.
We parked in the first lot, farthest away from the lighthouse. We wanted to go for maximum trailblazing and that’s what we got (it is a bit of a hike from the first lot to the lighthouse). There are actually 4 parking lots at various spots along the reserve; if you don’t feel like hiking the length of the reserve, there is a parking lot right next to the lighthouse. This is where we parked:
From the lot we parked in, paths branched out into the forest and toward the cliffs. At the entrance was a big warning sign about the high tick risk. Take the usual precautions: wear pants, cover your shoulders and wear a hat. There were no ticks on us by the end, but it can’t hurt to be cautious.
Inside of the Park
One of the first things you’ll notice is the butterflies. They were everywhere, at times it was breathtaking. Mixed in with all the shrubs and low-reaching greenery were these yellow flowers. The butterflies loved them and would dance from flower to flower.
I took some footage of the butterfly activities while I was there:
On this side of the island, instead of beaches, the edges are jutting rock cliffs that meet the ocean. The paths through the reserve branch out towards the cliffs every so often. You can actually climb down them and get close enough to the water to go fishing. The cliffs on the western side offer amazing views of the ocean and the beachfront Narragansett houses.
I stupidly wore flip-flops that day. Since I didn’t wear the right kind of footwear, climbing the uneven cliffs proved to be difficult and there were many paths that I had to regrettably pass up. If you plan on going out on the cliffs, wear shoes that will give you a decent grip on the slippery, rocky coast.
Eventually the paths winded out to Beavertail Lighthouse. There are Porta Potties located near the lighthouse if you need to do your business. I always like to know where the closest restrooms/facilities are whenever I go anywhere, I have this unnatural compulsion to drink vast quantities of water. I get so grumpy when I’m thirsty!
The Beavertail Lighthouse also has stunning ocean views. There’s a military base nearby and during our visit, we could see planes circling around and running drills. Attached to the lighthouse is the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum and the Beavertail Aquarium. All three of these attractions are open to the public. See links below for the schedule.
After we had our fill of the lighthouse, we made our way back towards the car and set out into town.
We snagged free parking in a lot on Conanicus Ave. It’s a small lot for a strip mall so it had only a 2 hour limit. 2 hours was more than enough time though for us to wander the tourist area and grab some food.
This lot gave us extraordinary views of the harbor and Newport Bridge. If you can’t find parking in this lot, there is a ton of street parking along Narragansett Ave. Like Tiverton, much of the downtown action takes place on 2 streets: Conanicus Ave and Naragansett Ave; so you should try to park on either of those for an easier stroll downtown.
After pacing the streets and checking out the local shops and eateries, we decided to grab lunch at Chopmist Charlie’s. This nautical themed restaurant seemed perfectly inline with the vibe of this coastal community.
The interior decor is as you’d expect: fish and fisherman garb and paraphernalia hung in no particular order. My only complaint was that it was really dark inside, as in dark enough that it caused a young guy with near-perfect vision to have trouble reading the menu.
While I’m on the topic of menus, I was disappointed by their selection. The lunch menu was underwhelming with regards to their fish and seafood selection. I found it pretty unusual for a nautical themed restaurant to have so few aquatic options. We did end up choosing from the few seafood options on their limited menu. For appetizers we ordered muscles, I ordered the rib-eye steak sandwich for my entree and Matt got the tuna 50-50 (tuna salad sandwich).
The muscles were average, they were bland and on the small side. The entree however fared much better. My rib-eye was too thick to treat it as a sandwich, so I used a fork and knife. It was cooked well and had a great flame-broiled taste. Matt’s tuna tasted fresh and he loved his clam chowder (he inhaled it in seconds).
The lunch menu was fairly priced, but their dinner menu looked a lot more expensive. Dinner plates averaged around $20 while our lunch portions were around $8.
Sluggish from eating a little too much, we took to the streets to find some coffee.
A Coffee Break
We stumbled across “Slice of Heaven”, a fantastic little coffee and pastry shop on Narragansett Ave. With lots of seating both indoor and outdoor, this shop would be a great place to sit and do some work or reading. We ordered 2 iced coffees and picked up a couple of cannolis and it came to only $8 (very cheap).
As the day wound down and the caffeine kicked in, we were sad to leave Jamestown behind us. It’s one of the few relaxing, small town places that bestows an inner calm and takes away your worries.
And that, my friends, is the story of a Lighthouse, cliffs, a coffee shop and a restaurant in Jamestown, RI.