The village received its name in 1902, the story goes, Thomas Mann a fisherman from Nova Scotia who had settled here, felt the village that had sprung up with its fishing shacks should be called Galilee, after the fishing village of biblical times. One day, an old timer sat on the docks repairing his nets when a stranger called out to him, "Where am I". The answer was "Galilee". "And what is that?" the stranger asked pointing to the other side of the channel. The old timer thought for a minute, nodded his head and replied, "must be Jerusalem". And so the name of Galilee and Jerusalem have been used since to denote a most picturesque part of Rhode Island.

Today Galilee remains home to the largest fishing fleet in Rhode Island with commercial fisherman and lobstermen as well as deep sea fish cruises. Due to the high volume of fisherman, it is often easy to find fresh lobster and fish to purchase off the dock directly from boats, as well as in shops and restaurants.[6] There are over 10 seafood restaurants in the village of Galilee including Champlins, George's of Galilee, Clam Jammers, and Buster Krab's Beach Bar & Grill. George's of Galilee is one of area's central landmarks and has access to the Salty Brine State Beach.

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