It’s not for nothing that Rhode Island is nicknamed the Ocean State. It is known for its pristine sandy beaches and ocean-front colonial towns. It is also home to several large cities, including its capital Providence, and Newport, famed for its Gilded Age mansions.
Welcome to Charlestown, RI
Named after King Charles II, Charlestown was incorporated in 1738. Prior to this time, it was known as a section of Westerly. Charlestown covers just under 60 square miles, about 37 percent of which is water. The town is bordered by South Kingstown on the east, Richmond on the north, Westerly on the west, and Hopkinton on the northwest.
Charlestown gained a little notoriety in 2011 when it became the first American town to ban both personal and commercial wind turbines. The purpose of the temporary ban was to allow the creation of an ordinance to provide for small residential and agricultural turbines but to prohibit large commercial ones. The move was made in order to preserve the historical integrity of the town.
Things to See and Do in Charlestown, RI
Whatever time of year you find yourself in Charlestown, you and your family will never be short of places to see and things to do. Here is a rundown on some of the favorites.
Also known as Whistling Chimneys, Babcock House is situated in the Quonochontaug region of Charlestown, on Main Street. The one-and-a-half story wood-framed house was built somewhere around the 1720s. Babcock House is thought to have been built by the Stanton. This family also constructed the Sheffield House, another historic home located on Charlestown’s Beach Road. Babcock House is renowned for its lop-sided façade, which is the result of several alterations over time. Some of the most recent additions have also added rooms to the back of the house.
Charlestown’s historic fort is located at Fort Neck Road. It was constructed and operated by European settlers around 1880, possibly the Dutch West India Company. Before being settled by Europeans, the area was the home of the Niantic Indians, after whom the fort was named. In 1922 several European artifacts were found at a nearby Indian cemetery, these include a cannon and sword.
Umbrella Factory Gardens
Take a step back in time with a visit to Charlestown’s Umbrella Factory Gardens where you will find an international bazaar and 19th-century shopper’s paradise. This Rhode Island landmark was established in 1968 and is open all year round. You’ll find an eclectic range of stores thereincluding fancy plants, jewelry, musical instruments, candy, toys, vintage fashion, and henna body art.
The Charlestown Rathskeller
This unique bar has a long history of being a speakeasy. It has been resurrected to bring back that culture to Charlestown’s present day. The building has been lovingly restored, and the walls of the comfortable dining room are hung with 80-year old murals. As well as a range of cold beers, the venue offers delicious meals including steak, sandwiches, seafood, and the renowned Rathskeller fries.
The Worm Ladies of Charlestown
Whether you’re a vermiculture novice or an old hand, you will be delighted by the Worm Ladies. It all began in the early 1990’s when educator and gardener Nancy was trying to find a better way to deal with the manure from her Angora rabbits. When she discovered worm composting, her problem was solved. Today, the Worm Ladies offer red wigglers for sale, as well as accessories for starting up and maintaining a worm farm for composting. They also teach workshops on vermicomposting with Master Gardener or composting credits. You can also consult the team for advice on how to raise worms.
Enjoy a day with the family outdoors at Ninigret Park. The park sprawls over 227 acres of lush land and features a ten-speed bike course, ball fields, basketball and tennis courts, a fantastic playground, and a freshwater swimming pond complete with a public beach. It is also home to many great events throughout the year, such as Wickford Art Festival and Newport Jazz Festival.
Fishermen’s Memorial State Park and Campground
With its smooth grassy fields and tree-lined walkways, Fishermen’s State Park and Campground have everything campers need, along with a seaside atmosphere. There are plenty of activities for the whole family. It’s the perfect spot to pitch your tent and enjoy a barbeque or campfire. What’s more, it’s only a stone’s throw from state beach areas such as Salty Brine, Roger Wheeler, and Scarborough.
Old Mill Diner
If you’re in the mood for some traditional American home cooking, you’ll find the Old Mill Diner on South Country Trail. This venue is renowned for its great service and delicious food. Some of the menu favorites include all-day breakfast, club sandwich, clam cakes and chowder, and their famous house burger and fries.
C-Devil II Sportfishing Inc
Just six miles away in Narragansett, you can enjoy all the thrills of a full day of sportfishing with C-Devil II Sportfishing Inc. Come aboard with Captain Kelly Smith and the crew of the C-Devil II. This professional charter fishing team has more than 30 years’ experience and will not disappoint. You can choose from off-shore or in-shore and half or full-day fishing.
Simple Pleasures offer 8,000 square feet of destination shopping. This amazing retail store specializes in home décor with a coastal lifestyle theme. There are many other things on offer from women’s clothes and jewelry to unique gifts that are crafted in New England and are not available anywhere else. Visitors rave about the vast assortment of treasures to be found as well as their friendly service.
Whether you are relocating to Charlestown or taking a well-earned vacation, you will find plenty to do in your spare time. It is a friendly town which welcomes newcomers, and you will be made to feel right at home. If it’s your first time in Charlestown, a great way to familiarize yourself with the area is by taking a helicopter tour.