How to Spend a Beautiful Summer Weekend in Charlestown, Rhode Island

Beaches and hiking trails await, not to mention a unique shopping destination, award-winning Indigenous cuisine, and an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet—just a short road trip from Boston.

Waves foam at the shore of a beach at sunset.

The view from a Charlestown, Rhode Island, beach. / Photo by Patrick Lienin via Getty Images

The wonderful thing about Charlestown, Rhode Island, is that it doesn’t need to decide between coastline and country. Sure, Newport and Narragansett have gorgeous beaches, but where else in Little Rhody can you hit up miles of secluded hiking trails and then relocate to the fine, golden sand of a quiet beach a 20-minute drive away? From exploring a quirky shopping complex to eating your way through a recently crowned James Beard Award-winning chef’s bountiful menu, here’s how to savor a weekend at this southern Rhode Island haven, just a 90-minute ride from Boston.

This guide was originally published on June 7, 2023; stay tuned for periodic updates.


With all the sightseeing (and eating) on the agenda, start with a coffee fuel-up at Jitter’s Café, which debuted in fall 2022. It opens at 6:30 a.m., easing early-bird trips to the beach with iced coffees and lattes—plus, flavored Red Bull “infusions” if you really need to rev up. Grab some sweet or savory bagels and breakfast sandwiches for the road.

4 Charlestown Beach Rd., Charlestown, RI,



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A post shared by Sly Fox Denn Too (@sly_fox_den_too_charlestown)

Sly Fox Den Too chef and owner Sherry Pocknett just made history as the first Indigenous woman to get a James Beard Award for her win in the Best Chef: Northeast category. Thankfully, the culinary world is catching on to what Charlestown locals already know: Pocknett’s food is stellar and destination-worthy.

Pocknett, only the third Rhode Islander to win the Best Chef: Northeast Beard award, opened her 30-seat Charlestown restaurant in 2020; it’s a space she’s renting until she’s ready to open a permanent restaurant, living museum, and oyster farm in Connecticut. The current spot serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and it’s tempting to stay all day to savor the comfort-food spins and Indigenous cuisine crafted by Pocknett, who grew up on Cape Cod as part of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe.

For breakfast, try the Sly Fox Benedict, which features venison sausage, or enjoy local seafood with the generous fisherman plate—breaded and fried fish of the day, served with nausamp, a porridge made from yellow cornmeal. The menu is also stacked with hearty egg sandwiches; don’t miss the one dubbed “The Indigenous,” with eggs, home fries, and venison served on traditional fry bread.

The appreciation for local ingredients and bold flavors flow through the lunch and dinner menus, too. Must-tries include the quahog “chowdah”—a Mashpee Wampanoag recipe brimming with fresh quahogs, potatoes, and onions in a creamy base that’s dashed with black pepper—and the cakes of hand-picked juicy crab meat.

A shiny red whole lobster and crab legs sit on a plate on a wooden restaurant table.

The Nordic’s buffet features copious seafood options (and more). / Courtesy photo

Nearby at the Nordic, a local legend since 1963, bring a Viking-sized appetite for an all-you-can-eat, seafood-heavy buffet on the shore of Pasquiset Pond. Here, diners drop in on the weekends and pay a flat fee ($135 for adults, $60 for children ages 8-12, $35 for children ages 3-7) to enjoy as much food as they can for up to two hours, choosing from a veritable bounty within the indoor dining room. Graze through fish fare—shrimp scampi, fried scallops, stuffed sole—plus prime rib, chicken wings, tenderloin tips, and a decadent dessert bar.

But perhaps the most filling part of the experience is strolling the grounds, drinking in the pond views in a hammock, or relaxing by the fireside. And at the outdoor bar and patio, you can toss back piña coladas and savor bites from the à la carte menu, where highlights include bacon-wrapped scallops and lobster fritters with a side of bisque for dipping.

Check the website for tips on when to go as the grub—yes, there’s even all-you-can-eat lobster at the buffet—and grounds both draw a crowd. (For indoor dining, Fridays and Saturdays are walk-in only for groups under 20 people, while reservations are required on Sundays.)

Sly Fox Den Too, 4349 S. County Trail, Charlestown, RI, 401-642-7350,

The Nordic, 178 Nordic Trail, Charlestown, RI,



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Set aside time to explore the Fantastic Umbrella Factory, a quirky shopping complex with an upbeat spirit. Once a farming homestead built in 1910, the place is now a collection of stores, plus perennial gardens dotted along the landscape—which is also home to two emus and a handful of chickens. Green thumbs can swing by the Rustic Garden plant nursery to pick up some blooming beauties, then hit up the Block Prints Graphics T-shirt shack for original designs and get lit at the WICK-ed Candle Co. (get it?), which also stocks Grateful Dead and Phish merchandise. By the fountain, the complex’s main store, Small Axe Productions, features local and global crafts, from stained glass and pottery to turquoise jewelry and breezy dresses to bring some Boho style into your life.

A quick five-minute drive down the road, stop by Dave’s Coffee to stock up on a few bottles of coffee milk syrup—trust us, it’s an Ocean State delicacy.

The Fantastic Umbrella Factory, 4820 Old Post Rd., Charlestown, RI, 401-364-1060,

Dave’s Coffee, 5193 Old Post Rd., Charlestown, RI, 401-315-2160,


Charlestown’s location dances between land and sea. If you favor terra firma, you can find a well-marked, forested 1.9-mile hiking trail looping through the Charlestown Moraine Preserve. There, ferns, tree-dappled ridges, and groves of mountain laurels fill the landscape, while a 15-spot parking lot is downright civilized. An easier and quieter trek off the beaten path, the Tucker Woods Preserve was once private family farmland until it saw new life a public preserve, spanning over 66 acres, last year. Two trails—a 1-mile loop and a .3-mile trail—offer sights of streams and old farm fields for a welcome disconnect from the grind.

The town’s unique landscape—its lower section a thin tendril of land between the Ninigret and Quonochontaug Ponds and the Block Island Sound—offers surprisingly secluded and undeveloped stretches of shoreline. East Beach boasts enough room that you can spread out in relative privacy away from blaring stereos, though the small parking lot fills up quickly. Charlestown Town Beach is popular for families, with hot dog and frozen lemonade vendors shilling summer snack faves, plus showers and restrooms at a nearby pavilion. Hit the surf at Blue Shutters Beach, where the waves tend to be bigger than other nearby spots. Don’t forget to trek over the dunes to the pond side of the beach, where you might catch sight of the shorebirds as you explore the sandy trails.

Charlestown Moraine Preserve, BIA Route 411, Charlestown, RI,

Tucker Woods Preserve, 674 Alton Carolina Rd., Charlestown, RI,

East Beach, E. Beach Rd., Charlestown, RI,

Charlestown Town Beach, 557 Charlestown Beach Rd., Charlestown, RI,

Blue Shutters Beach, E. Beach Rd., Charlestown, RI,


A hunting rifle is displayed above a stone fireplace in a dimly lit, tavern-like restaurant.

A fireplace at the tavern at the General Stanton Inn. / Courtesy photo

Sleep at the General Stanton Inn and you’re in good—and historic—company. The Niantic people settled the land long before the inn’s 1740 construction. Among the highlights of General Stanton’s long history: Its tavern was a meeting place for spies during the Revolutionary War, an illegal gambling house, and a stop on the Underground Railroad. After shuttering for ten years, the tavern reopened last summer, and the rooms are scheduled to reopen in mid-June 2023 after renovations. With just seven guest rooms and a separate guest house—including a separate eat-in kitchen and living room—a stay here is a blend of colonial charm and modern comfort. Before tucking in for the night, hit up the tavern for craft beers and cocktails, plus hearty helpings of Berkshire pork chops with brown butter sauce, seared scallops, and more upscale pub eats.

The General Stanton Inn, 4115 Old Post Rd., Charlestown, RI, (401) 364-8888,     


Charlestown is a quick 90-minute jaunt from Boston, heading down I-95 much of the way. The trek cuts right through Providence, in case you need a pit stop—which is also the perfect opportunity to savor the city’s powerhouse dining scene, too.