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One Traveller's Opinion: Watch Hill, R.I.

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If you're planning a trip to New England this summer or fall, think about making Watch Hill, RI part of your itinerary. I just spent five very wonderful days there. Herewith are some travel notes for anyone who is interested. You have to work at it to get to Watch Hill: its's a small village on the ocean, cut off from the rest of the world by the Pawcatuck River. I-95 passes within perhaps 15 miles; US 1, which hugs the coast through Connecticut, inexplicably veers inland as it crosses into Rhode Island. Even scenic route 1A comes no closer than a few miles from Watch Hill. This introduction is by way of saying that you can't stumble onto Watch Hill on your way to somewhere else – you have to be headed there. Watch Hill is vintage New England resort architecture, and looking at the houses is part of the fun of being in Watch Hill. Mostly massive, shingle "piles" dating from 1880-1920, there's also the odd castle with crenellated turrets, a genuine, ersatz Norman chateau, and even a pink Georgian house looking as though it was plucked intact from Bermuda. The centerpiece of Watch Hill is the Flying Horse Carousel, now generally considered to be the oldest operating carousel in America. Its use is restricted to young children, but it is a pleasure to watch, especially with an ice cream cone in hand. There is a modest resort-oriented shopping area. Mostly, however, the glory of Watch Hill is the beach: four miles of pristine, dune-backed beach. The beach is glorious, perfect for long walks, and is postcard-picturesque. Watch Hill parking for day-trippers is virtually non-existent: there is no on-street parking (it is heavily patrolled) and the handful of parking lots charge $10 a day; $15 on weekends. Accommodations are scant: the Inn at Watch Hill and the Ocean Inn. Both are older, rambling structures, but both have the kinds of views that give seaside inns a good name. Dining: not much. Maria's and Fra's in nearby Misciquamit Beach are best.

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