10 Favorite Summer Days in Rhode Island

My surfboard on the sand

My surfboard on the sand

Ah, summer. Finally, we’re together again.

Although I do enjoy ice skating and skiing, for me, they just don’t compare to lying on a warm beach, swimming, and surfing. And in Rhode Island, we’re lucky to find everything we need to enjoy summer right here in the Ocean State.

This list is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather a list of ten of my favorite ways to spend a day during the summer in Rhode Island. I’d love to hear yours too, so post in the comments below!

1.  Surf, Beach, and Mini-Amusement Park in Narragansett

Photo by Dee and Tula Monstah.

Narragansett Town Beach. Photo: Dee and Tula Monstah.

For more low-key (read: novice) surfers like myself, Narragansett Town Beach generally offers small (one to three foot) waves, and the water tends to be freer of seaweed than some other local surf beaches. You can set up a surf lesson in Narragansett or rent a board with Warm Winds Surf Shop or Narragansett Surf & Skate, or just head out with your own board. The beach is separated by a surf side and a swim side, so if you’re only up for swimming, you can head to the other side of the beach. Note that Narragansett Town Beach has a fee both for parking and for entrance on the beach.

Prepare to get wet on the bumper boats...

The bumper boats at Adventureland.

For lunch, I love Crazy Burger, which has a great selection of burgers, salads and sandwiches for vegetarians and omnivores alike.

If that’s not enough action for the day, then we’ll stop at Adventureland, a miniature amusement park with a carousel, bumper boats and a kids’ raceway.

We usually like to pick up some local seafood at Champlin’s to cook at home later (likely stopping for some ice cream at the Sweet Spot while we’re there), and picking up some local corn at Sunsets Farm on the way home.

2. Bike Ride and Lunch Along the Bay

Stopping along the East Bay  Bike Path.

Stopping along the East Bay Bike Path.

If it’s not too hot, one of my favorite things to do is take a bike ride along the East Bay Bike Path, which follows the coastline of the bay between East Providence down to Bristol, Rhode Island. The ride isn’t terribly hilly, and it’s so peaceful to ride along the water.

I like to stop along the way at the Audubon Society in Bristol to explore their outdoor grounds or indoor museum.

A cup of coffee chip at Gray's Ice Cream.

A cup of coffee chip at Gray’s Ice Cream.

Although the food is underwhelming, it’s hard to beat the view at Agave in Bristol. Save room for ice cream at Gray’s Ice Cream, which is one of my favorites.

3. Rocky Coast Hike and View of the Bay in Jamestown

The view from Fort Wetherill State Park in Jamestown.

The view from Fort Wetherill State Park.

When I’m up for a more adventurous activity, I love to hike up Fort Wetherill in Jamestown. It’s a fairly easy walk, even with children, and the views of Narragansett Bay are fantastic. If you think ahead, you can pack a picnic lunch. Or, you can make your way into the town of Jamestown to pick a spot along the water.

There’s also the Jamestown Community Playground for kids that need to let off steam before or after their meal.

4. Beach, Boats, Kites and Seafood in Newport and Middletown

Second Beach in Middletown, RI.

Second Beach in Middletown, RI.

I usually skip Newport’s Easton’s Beach (“First Beach”) in Newport, and head to Sachuest Beach (“Second Beach”) in Middletown, Rhode Island. The water tends to be freer of seaweed, although the seagulls remain as aggressive as ever here, which is why I don’t recommend lunch on the beach. Plus, who needs lunch when you can go straight from the beach to Frosty Freez for delicious soft-serve.

Kite flying in Brenton State Park along the water in Newport.

Kite flying in Brenton State Park along the water in Newport.

We always like to try to make time to take a drive along the coast on Ocean Drive, stopping at Brenton Point State Park, which typically makes for a great kite-flying spot.

We’ve also spent many pleasant hours over the years in the rental boats available at Sail Newport in Fort Adams State Park.

For dinner, I usually head to Flo’s Clam Shack for my favorite lobster roll and clamcakes. Or if I’m in the mood for a more relaxing sit-down dinner, then I head to  Scales & Shells for local seafood or Mamma Luisa for homemade Italian, both favorites that have stood the test of time.

5. Pool, Cake and a Drive-in Movie



Although I do love the ocean, swimming in a pool can often be much easier–no waves and sea creatures to contend with.

If you don’t have access to a pool, see if you can find a friend and get invited by someone with a membership to one (guest fees tend to be about $5-10 per person at local clubs).

Wrights Dairy Farm

Wrights Dairy Farm

After swimming (I like to do laps), I like a treat (shocking, I know). Depending on where I am, I might drive to Eskimo King.

Another one of my favorites is an excursion to Wrights Dairy Farm for some coffee milk and strawberry shortcake.

And what better way to finish a summer evening than with an outdoor movie at the Rustic Tri-View Drive-In?

6. Fishing, Baseball and Fireworks

I love to sit on the grassy field by the outfield at McCoy Stadium.

I love to sit on the grassy field by the outfield at McCoy Stadium.

What could be more American? Start with fishing and a ride on the carousel at Slater Memorial Park.

Then head to a Paw Sox game at McCoy Stadium, where you can grab some beers and a Super Pretzel, some shelled peanuts, or hot dog, and spread out on the lawn to watch the game. If you pick a night with fireworks after, then you can end the night with a close-up show.

7. Beach, Cocktails and Oysters

One of my favorite state beaches is East Matunuck Beach–it’s a bit rockier than some, but it’s has a great atmosphere for children. Plus, you can eat at the waterfront Matunuck Oyster Bar before or after. Am I the only one who finds the beach makes them hungry?

If I’m looking for a more lively beach day, I might head down to Misquamicut Beach in Westerly, RI and have cocktails and lunch at The Andrea’s newly restored bar, right on the beach.

8. An All-Providence Summer Day

Breakfast sandwich from Pat's Pastured.

Breakfast sandwich from Pat’s Pastured.

On Saturday mornings, you’ll typically find us at the Hope Street Farmers’ Market in Lippitt Park, Providence. There are dozens of farm vendors from Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and throughout the summer, the produce increases in variety. You’ll also find the Pat’s Pastured Pork stand for breakfast sandwiches, or Tallulah Tacos for lunch. There’s even a series of local craft vendors if you want to do additional shopping.

DePasquale Square on Atwells Ave.

DePasquale Square on Atwells Ave.

On other days of the week, I might head to Venda Ravioli, where you can eat outside in DePasquale Square on Atwells Avenue.

You might not think of the zoo as too appealing on a hot summer day, but the Roger Williams Park Zoo now has Hasbro’s Big Backyard with sprinklers and water play for the kids (and I suppose, over-heated adults). Don’t forget to squeeze in a few minutes to see some elephants, giraffes and gorillas while you’re there.

Sparks fly on a windy night.

Sparks fly on a windy night.

Then, it’s hard to deny the tourist appeal of Providence’s Waterfire. It was the first event that brought us into Providence before we moved here, and its success has led to its adoption in other small cities. It’s one of the only times you’ll see actual traffic in downtown Providence, as a novelty, I appreciate it, especially since I don’t have to drive.

In my ideal day, I’d begin with watching them light the fires, then enjoy a meal at Figidini or Gracie’s, and finish off with a concert at Lupo’s.

9. Berry Picking and Wine Tasting on Aquidneck Island

Newport Vineyards tables overlooking the grapevines.

Newport Vineyards tables overlooking the grapevines.

When I get sick of the beach (it takes a lot of beach days in a row for this to happen), I love going to Sweet Berry Farm in Middletown for berry picking. They also have a small gourmet grocery shop with other tasty treats.

Then, I’d enjoy a relaxing snack and glass of wine at Newport Vineyards at their outdoor seating overlooking their rows of grapevines.

10. Biking and Surfing on Block Island

Ok, this one is actually on my ‘to do’ list.

It’s a bit absurd to admit, but even after living in Providence several years, I have failed to make the short ferry ride to Block Island. But I’m determined that this will be the year.

List of Places Mentioned (without links):

Narragansett Town Beach
39 Boston Neck Rd.
Narragansett, RI

Crazy Burger
144 Boon St.
Narragansett, RI

Sunsets Farm

Audubon Society of RI
1401 Hope St
Bristol, RI

805 Hope Street
Bristol, RI

Jamestown Community Playground
41 Conanicus Ave.
Jamestown, RI

Sachuest Beach
474 Sachuest Point Rd.
Middletown, RI

Brenton Point State Park
Ocean Drive
Newport, RI

Sail Newport
60 Fort Adams Dr.
Newport, RI

Scales & Shells
527 Thames St.
Newport, RI

Mamma Luisa
673 Thames St.
Newport, RI

The Andrea
89 Atlantic Ave.
Westerly, RI

Hope Street Farmers’ Market
Lippitt Park
1059 Hope Street
Providence, RI

Venda Ravioli
265 Atwells Ave.
Providence, RI

194 Washington St.
Providence, RI

79 Washington St.
Providence, RI

Newport Vineyards
909 E Main Rd.
Middletown, RI

Online New England Film Festival: Films from Rhode Island International Film Festival

Image from Fight.

Image from Fight.

Now in its 5th year, the Online New England Film Festival has grown to feature 33 local films from 12 regional film festivals from September 1 through October 15. Part of my site NewEnglandFilm.com, this year’s festival brings together a curated selection of short films from film festivals around New England, including these from the Rhode Island International Film Festival:

Still from "Fallout"

Still from “Fallout”


Two brothers hide for their lives in an old family fallout shelter.

Director Derek Dubois is an award-winning independent Rhode Island filmmaker. He also teaches in the Film Studies program at Rhode Island College. Currently, he is promoting his latest short film Lucid.


A showdown between two motley characters.

Director Steven Subotnick is an animator and artist living in Providence, RI. His films have received international awards, and his work has been included in competitive and curated shows at festivals, museums, and galleries around the world. He is currently teaching at Rhode Island School of Design, Brown University, and Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

The Perfect Day for a Picnic

Howard, a factory worker, returns home each evening to find that his bed-ridden wife is changing.

Director Bob Lewis has lived in the US for 20 years and in Providence for nine years. Eager to connect with local filmmakers in Rhode Island, he quickly became involved with The Rhode Island Film Collaborative. His first introduction to the local film making community was working as Assistant Camera on a local feature Sleather.

For more information and to view all the films, visit www.newenglandfilm.com/festival.

48 Hour Film Project Providence, RI

Write what you know. Use who you’ve got. A still from our new short Bubble Gum Ice Cream screening this week as part of the 48 Hour Film Project Providence.

You might think it’s insane to sign up to write, direct and edit a film in 48 hours when you’ve got a five-year-old and a one-year-old. We did too, but we did it anyway. The result is the short film Bubble Gum Ice Cream, which will screen this week in Lincoln, RI along with dozens of other films also made in and around Providence, RI this past weekend.

The 48 Hour Film Project began in 2001 and now (in 2012) will inspire thousands of filmmakers to produce nearly 4,000 films in 120 cities on 6 continents. This happens to be our third time participating in the project — the first time was in 2004 in New York City (that film has been forever archived), the second time in Boston in 2008 (which you can watch online), and now here in Providence in 2012. I wonder where we’ll be producing our next film in 2016?

Bubble Gum Ice Cream screens with Group B on Tuesday night at 9:30pm.

48 Hour Film Project, Providence 2012
Date: July 17, 18, 19
Time: 7pm & 9:30pm
Place: Cinema World, 622 George Washington Hwy #321 Lincoln, RI 02865

Providence Children’s Film Festival

Madeline was the star of her own movie flipbook this morning at the RISD Auditorium.

It’s nice to see some things continue to flourish in Providence.

This weekend, we attended a few of the films as part of the 3rd Annual Providence Children’s Film Festival. The all-volunteer festival staff puts together an extraordinary event with a collection of children-friendly shorts and features from all over the world. Whether your kids watch too much TV or you’ve avoided TV altogether (or somewhere in between), this festival introduces children to the artof film — and in my opinion, nothing could be better than that.

Photo by Frank Mullin

The festival’s films, events and workshops continue through Tuesday, February 21 at venues throughout Providence. See their website for a complete schedule of events and to purchase advance tickets.

Ten Most Endangered Properties

The Columbus Theatre makes the list of the one of the most endangered properties in Providence this year. Trigphotography image taken by Frank C. Grace.

The exact month we moved to Providence (August 2009), the Columbus Theatre on Broadway was ordered closed by city inspectors. Apparently the theatre was overdue for fire code upgrades that would cost over $100,000, which owner Jon Berberian couldn’t afford. As one of the few independent theatres in the city, they had hosted the Rhode Island International Film Festival and Picture Start Film Series. Ever since its closing, the theatre has sat dark with an “opening soon” sign hanging outside.

This past week, the Providence Preservation Society released its annual “Ten Most Endangered Properties” list and included the Columbus Theatre. The purpose of the list is to generate a priority list of historic structures in jeopardy and to work with property owners, developers and other interested parties to effect a positive change in the building’s status. Some of the properties featured on past lists have been saved, such as The Foundry, now the apartment building The Promenade, or the Shepard Building, now home to URI’s Providence campus.

The Providence Preservation Society welcomes members and accepts donations to support their preservation advocacy work. Let’s hope this is the year for these buildings to be revitalized. I can’t wait to start shopping in The Arcade on Westminister Street…

Providence Preservation Society
21 Meeting Street
Providence, RI

Rustic Tri-View Drive-in: A Step Back in Time

Arriving at the Rustic Tri-View Drive-in.

Until last night, my impression of drive-ins derived largely from a few scenes from Grease. As it turns out, it wasn’t quite like that — it was better. Currently the only active drive-in theater in Rhode Island, the Rustic Tri-View houses a triangular design of three screens and fits over 500 cars. Despite the line to get in, there was plenty of space to park (even when we had to get back in our car and move because we wound up facing the wrong screen showing a Samuel L. Jackson shoot-fest instead of the animated Despicable Me).

Waiting for dusk at the drive-in.

Even though drive-ins weren’t part of my childhood, I found there’s something charmingly nostalgic about driving your car into the movies. It only took us about 20 minutes from Providence to arrive at theater in the ‘rural’ town of North Smithfield, but it felt like another world. We brought some beach chairs and blankets so we could sit outside next to the car on the cool night (blasting the car radio so we could hear the dialogue). Some people even lounged on airbeds. It’s a popular outing with kids, and for good reason — with people more spread out, talking during the film (or getting up to go the bathroom or snack bar) doesn’t disturb other viewers.

As a summer outing, their peak schedule is in July and August, but they continue to show films on Friday and Saturday nights through September 25. For $20 per car, you can watch two films back-to-back. I’m hoping they start screening a new kid-friendly film before the season ends, but I might be willing to see Despicable Me again.  And movie snob that I am, that’s saying a lot.

Rustic Tri-Vew Drive-in
showings continue Friday & Saturday nights through September 25, 2010
Route 146
North Smithfield, RI

Photo Journal: Saving the Rhode Island Film Tax Credit

Dozens of filmmakers, actors, and other industry professionals gathered at the Rhode Island State House to protest the elimination of the film tax credit from the state budget. Actor James Woods who grew up in RI was one of many who spoke in favor of the tax credit; he hopes to film An American Girl here in Rhode Island.

Actor James Woods and others wait their turn to speak.

Michael Corrente, James Woods and Steven Feinberg spoke out in favor of the tax credit.

Without enough seats in the room, people overflowed into the hallway and watched on monitors.

House Finance Committee Chairman Steven M. Costantino listens to industry representatives.

For more information, visit the Facebook group Save the RI Film Tax Credit.

Related Stories:
RI film tax credit gains star supportThe Providence Journal
Lawmakers consider future of film tax credit – NBC 10 News

Cable Car Cinema: Academy Award Nominated Live Action Shorts

"The New Tenants" is one of the short live action films nominated for an Academy Award.

There are quite a few things to love about the Cable Car Cinema — all-you-can-eat popcorn, several large cushy chairs for two, and a theatre small enough to share a more intimate movie experience. But perhaps the best reason is for its lack of Hollywood fare in favor of the sometimes weird and wonderful world of independent film.

This weekend, I stopped in for a packed screening of the Academy Award nominated short live action films presented by Shorts International. These shorts created without the muscle of Hollywood portray stories not often found on the big screen and offer an oft unseen side of the Academy Awards. And this year, one of the films The New Tenants, was co-produced by Cumberland, RI native Erika Hampson.

You can get free popcorn refills at the quaint candy counter at Cable Car Cinema.

Cable Car Cinema
204 South Main Street
Providence, RI

Shorts International
(list of screenings worldwide)

2009 Live Action Shorts Nominees for the Academy Awards
The Door Juanita Wilson and James Flynn
Instead of Abracadabra Patrik Eklund and Mathias Fjellström
Kavi Gregg Helvey
Miracle Fish Luke Doolan and Drew Bailey
The New Tenants Joachim Back and Tivi Magnusson

Complete list of Oscar nominees at www.oscars.org

Children and the Cinema: Watching and Making Local Films

Check out my article on KidoInfo Children and the Cinema: Watching and Making Local Films, which features film festivals and filmmaking workshops for children. And buy your tickets for the first-ever Providence Children’s Film Festival coming to RI next week. They have put together an impressive line-up, including the New England premiere of the Oscar-nominated film The Secret of Kells.

Providence Children’s Film Festival
February 12-15, 2010

The Secret of Kells