Jamestown and Conanicut Island 
A Brief Introduction
Jamestown, Rhode Island is located twenty-five miles south of Providence and a mile west of Newport, on Conanicut Island, in Narragansett Bay. It is both a summer destination and a year-round community with a population is about 6,000.

Conanicut Island is nine miles long by one mile wide. Its highest elevation is 135 feet. Sheep grazing and farming began in the sixteen-thirties. For well over two hundred years the island remained mostly agricultural.

Even today, there is a quiet rural character to much of the island and Jamestown's commercial center has the feel of a traditional village. A few farms remain, older neighborhoods are intact and historic properties, including lighthouses, windmills and the remains of old military fortifications, offer connection to the past.

With its abundance of open space, lightly traveled roadways and pleasant views, the island is an excellent locale for walking and riding bicycles.

Ferry service provided the primary link between Jamestown, the western mainland and Newport for three and a half centuries. The commercial area that developed near the East Ferry Landing, near the intersection of Connanicus and Narragansett Avenues, continues to be the focus of the village center.

Enjoy a sandwich on the patio in front of the East Ferry Deli or some delicious ice cream from Spinnaker's Cafe as you explore the town and take in the sights. Many civic buildings, shops and restaurants are close by.  Narragansett Avenue was the cross-island connection between the east and west ferry landings until bridges linked Jamestown to the western mainland (in 1940) and to Newport (in 1969). If you wish, you can still take a ferry boat to Newport - but you'll have to leave your car behind - today's Jamestown to Newport service is for passengers only.

The Newport (Pell) Bridge, featured on the Rhode Island commemorative quarters, is more than two miles long with towers that rise 400 feet above the water. It's opening made Route 138 into a through road joining the western and eastern portions of Rhode Island.  

In 1992, the western highway approach to Jamestown was upgraded to a four-lane bridge; replacing the two-lane bridge that served the island for more than fifty years.

Despite easy road access, Conanicut Island has remained lightly developed; allowing it to maintain a distinctive island identity. A pleasant sense of tranquility prevails, due to the uncrowded mix of historic and modern buildings, farms, parks and docks; and a high proportion of still-natural areas.

View a short, informative video of the island and its environs, produced by Lila Delman Real Estate.

Interesting Conanicut Island sites include historic Beavertail lighthouse and park; 280 acre Watson Farm, with its cattle, sheep, horses, gardens and miles of picturesque trails; historic Forts Wetherill and Getty (now recreational areas); a more than two hundred year old windmill; sandy Mackeral Cove Beach; the Conanicut Island Bird Sanctuary; a fire fighting museum that includes a 1894 horse-drawn steam engine; the Jamestown Museum collection of ferry system memorabilia; and the Sydney Wright Museum of locally-collected Indian and Colonial artifacts. (Click here for much more information on things to do.)

Newport, with its historic homes, museums, shopping and night life, is just minutes from Jamestown, on the east side of the bay. To the west is Rhode Island's South County area, with beaches, fishing, farms and historic buildings.

The town of Wickford, ten miles to the northwest, is a charming harbor-side village that was established in 1665.  Wickford offers restaurants, art, collectibles, fine clothing stores and pleasant views of its harbor. Click here for a photographic preview.

More Information on Jamestown and things to do


Jamestown RI - Rhode Island Visitor Information Home Page

Updated January 2, 2009. Direct questions and comments on this site to Webmaster