So CNBC thinks Rhode Island is a rotten place to do business … well at least Yankee Magazine recognized that the Ocean State has some of the coolest coastal communities in the region. In its annual ranking of the best beach towns in New England, editors ranked five Rhode Island municipalities among the 25 best in New England.
Newport and Block Island, ranked fourth and fifth respectively, were the top local towns. Watch Hill squeaked into the top 10 and Narragansett was named number 15. Little Compton, 21. It’s hard to argue with many of the towns the esteemed editorial staff included, but Jamestown and Charlestown – and maybe even South Kingstown – certainly deserved spots as well.
Here’s the full list, with my commentary in italics:
- Ogunquit, Maine: The water is way too cold to be the best beach town in New England. Sorry, Maine but stick to lobsters.
- Provincetown, Massachusetts The queer capital of New England!
- Nantucket, Massachusetts Beach towns should be accessible and egalitarian, not ritzy and rarefied.
- Newport, Rhode Island The nightlife more than makes up for the red tide, but as a point of fact many of the best beaches are in Middletown.
- Block Island, Rhode Island God made this patch of sand some 13 miles off the coast of the Ocean State to cater to beach bums. It is not only the best beach town in New England, it is the best beach town this side of Hawaii. Take that Santa Cruz and Laguna Beach.
- Edgartown, Massachusetts The set of the mythical Amity Island in Jaws.
- Kennebunkport, Maine No beach is worth risking potentially seeing George W. Bush sunbathing.
- Rockport, Massachusetts I feel like the Yankee Magazine felt like they had to include a North Shore community in the top 10, but I’ll know more after my cousins vacation here this summer.
- Chatham, Massachusetts How can you argue with where Sandra Day O’Connor spends her summers?
- Watch Hill, Rhode Island When I die, I’m certain that downtown heaven will resemble Watch Hill, Rhode Island.
- York Beach, Maine The saltwater taffy capital of New England, and everyone knows the Cape Neddick Lighthouse.
- Falmouth, Massachusetts Woods Hole, the southwestern most point of Cape Cod.
- Wellfleet, Massachusetts Famous for its oysters, some 70 percent of this town is protected parkland.
- Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts
- Narragansett, Rhode Island Imagine how high Narragansett would rank if it wasn’t the site of one of this state’s greatest ever waterfront redevelopment projects…
- Newburyport, Massachusetts More of a little beach city than a beach town.
- Orleans, Massachusetts Best place on the inner arm.
- Ipswich, Massachusetts John Updike and Dennis Eckersley called this sort-of suburban beach town home.
- Madison, Connecticut They had to give Connecticut at least one slot, I suppose.
- Old Orchard Beach, Maine Where Portland goes to play.
- Little Compton, Rhode Island What Vermont would be like if it had beaches and billionaires.
- Plymouth, Massachusetts I’ll take Scituate or Marshfield over Plymouth in the summer. November, on the other hand…
- Hampton Beach, New Hampshire The Coney Island of New England. Pretty fun here.
- Hull, Massachusetts Best beaches near Boston.
- Brewster, Massachusetts Yeah, we get it … Yankee Magazine really likes Cape Cod…
Just as they do in education metrics, Massachusetts cleaned our clock; the Bay State claimed 14 of the top 25 spots. On the other hand the tiny Ocean State eked out second place from the comparatively giant Vacationland; Maine took only four of the slots.
But why compare beach communities to business climates? They are both important components of our economic success, but as a culture we spend far too much time bemoaning the latter and not nearly enough capitalizing on the former. It is our tourist towns that endow Rhode Island with much of its fantastic quality of life and while they may not garner much attention at the State House or in stump speeches, our beaches and coastal communities are the best tool we have at our disposal to attract either new businesses and/or residents. To that end, beach towns can be said to be the Ocean State’s strongest economic asset.