Along the coast of Westerly lie salt ponds which serve as shallow reeflike pools whose outer walls form the long, white beaches for which the town became renowned. From west to east, these ponds are called Maschaug Pond, Winnapaug Pond, and Quonochontaug Pond. The town also has the fresh water lake Chapman’s Pond which is undergoing revitalization. A type of granite known as Westerly granite has long been quarried here. Westerly granite is ideal for statuary and has been used in numerous government buildings of several states along the eastern seaboard. The Westerly area was known for its granite and stone-cutting industry.
Westerly becomes a large tourist attraction during the summer months, during which the population nearly doubles. From east to west, well-known beaches include Weekapaug Beach, Westerly Town Beach, Misquamicut State Beach, East Beach, and Watch Hill Beach.
Westerly’s primary industries today are textiles and tourism, but the town was historically famous for its granite, quarried in at least two locations in Westerly: in Bradford and in Potter Hill.
The town holds a number of annual events such as the Pawcatuck River Duck Race in April, Virtu Art Festival in May, Shakespeare in the Park and The Summer Pops (hosted by the Chorus of Westerly) in June, and Riverglow in July. In recent years, the Westerly-Pawcatuck Chamber of Commerce’s events have attracted many visitors, including Big Screen Movies on the Beach through July and August, Westerly’s Columbus Day Parade in October, and several beachfront events.