Would Taylor Swift steer you wrong? The pop legend picked this Rhode Island village for her home away from home in 2012 when she paid $17 million for a local mansion. But elegantly low-key Watch Hill, with its sprawling Victorian "cottages" (in the understated parlance here), has taken it all in stride.
With a tiny population—just about 200 year-round residents—Watch Hill exudes a relaxed feel that makes it an enviable escape for any lucky visitor. Set on a peninsula in Westerly, Rhode Island, this tiny community boasts three beaches, but the centerpiece is Napatree Point. The two-mile spit of New England sand is backed by gentle dunes and arcs gracefully into the Atlantic. A favorite spot for yachts to anchor, Napatree is full of hustle and bustle at its origin, but empties out to blissful solitude for those beach lovers who invest in a good walk along its length.
Watch Hill's quaint downtown is pure New England summer pleasure. Families return each season to ride the chain-hung steeds and compete to grab the brass ring on the Flying Horse Carousel, one of the nation's oldest. And the historic Olympia Tea Room, known for its old-fashioned Yankee fare (and swan-shaped cream puffs, in honor of the feathered residents), has updated to a locavore's hangout with an extensive wine list, artisan cocktails, and "complimentary sunsets."
Where to Stay: An impeccably renovated Victorian seaside hotel, Ocean House is a prime New England coastal destination with broad verandas, exquisite amenities, excellent restaurants, and an award-winning spa. Rates start at $390; 888-552-2588 or oceanhouseri.com.