Archive for the ‘Sports & Recreation’ Category

Watching the game, changing seats, and picking their favorite players.

Watching the game, changing seats, and picking their favorite players.

We’re not big sports fans in our house. So the first day my older daughter played Little League, I realized that it might help her to know the rules by actually watching a few games (we then discovered the Paw Sox). Now with our younger daughter playing ice hockey, a friend suggested that we join them for one of the Brown women’s hockey games.

Waiting to give high-fives to the players as they re-enter the rink.

Waiting to give high-fives to the players as they re-enter the rink.

This weekend, we attended our first game. The women’s hockey games at Brown are thinly attended, despite being free to the public. When my older daughter asked if we had bought the seats we were in, our friend joked that we had bought the whole section. But the low attendance makes it easy to change your vantage point, mid-game. And when the team lined up to re-enter the rink, our girls would run to greet them and lean over to give each player a high-five as she entered.

We found the game packed with plenty of action, and the fans in attendance enthusiastic. There’s also a well-stocked snack bar, which came in handy since my younger daughter was hungry even though we had just eaten dinner. The girls even chose their favorite player — Conway because she was ‘so fast’ — although she was briefly displaced by Najjar when she scored.

And as if that wasn’t exciting enough, they even ‘caught’ an errant puck to bring home as a souvenir.

Our own little hockey player.

Our own little hockey player.

Meehan Auditorium
235 Hope Street
Providence, RI
www.brownbears.com/sports/w-hockey (find the remaining home games in the 2016 schedule)

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A still from the film Imagine Kolle 37, shot in Providence, RI and Berlin.

A still from the film Imagine Kolle 37, shot in Providence, RI and Berlin.

I always thought Providence had pretty cool playgrounds. But then we spent four months in Berlin, where we lived across the street from an “adventure playground” called Kolle 37. And then I realized, Providence could be a lot cooler.

For those who are unfamiliar, adventure playgrounds are areas for children to play with fire, hammers, saws, and other tools. Parents are not permitted. Rather, play workers monitor the area to maintain safety, while allowing children the freedom to enjoy what some call ‘risky play.’

Fortunately, there is already a movement in Providence to try to bring an adventure playground to the city.

This Thursday October 22 at 6:30 pm at the Providence Children’s Museum, there will be a screening of the short documentary The Land as well as a screening of the trailer of my film Imagine Kolle 37, followed by a conversation with The Land filmmaker Erin Davis, Providence PlayCorps Director Janice O’Donnell, and myself. I hope you’ll join us

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After living in Providence nearly six years, we finally made the day trip to Block Island. I’m not sure what took us so long exactly, but now I know what we’ve been missing.

Not surprisingly, the first thing we sought to do was eat – although the smell of bacon and long line at Ernie’s suggested it would be worth the wait, we decided to go somewhere we could eat outside without a wait, which turned out to be the Surf Hotel. Breakfast turned out to be perfectly fine (egg sandwiches on brioche, and reasonable kids’ meals).

We decided to rent a car so we could more easily explore. With six of us in our party, we opted for the circa 1980s minivan on the lot, which was offered to us for an absurd fee — oh but don’t worry, it hasn’t been cleaned, it’s on ‘E’ and it may not start. I’m not kidding – the agent actually had trouble starting the car.

With our cool ride, we drove across the entire island (it didn’t take long). We drove past rolling hills with cows and horses and impressive ocean views around nearly every corner. We parked by Settler’s Rock and walked the rocky beach over to the lighthouse.

I’d say the highlight was Mohegan Bluffs, where you climb down a winding staircase of over 100 stairs down to the water. As if that’s not enough of a barrier, the stairway ends abruptly at a treacherous cliff with a sketchy rope to ‘help’ you make your final leg down to the beach. It is quite beautiful once you make it down – with the ocean up against an enormous cliff, and it’s impressive how many people of all ages actually seemed to be able to make it down and back up without harm (including our four-year-old, although I’ll admit to not being very ‘relaxed’ about the whole experience at the time).

After we returned the car, we walked over to Ballard’s Beach, where we sat on the beach, got a snack, and enjoyed our last ocean swim of the season.

I can’t wait to go back (and I definitely can’t wait for it to be summer again). The only thing that’s missing seems to be great ice cream (and no, Turkey Hill ice cream at the Ice Cream Palace does not count, in my opinion), so next time, I’ll plan to stop at the Sweet Spot in Narragansett when I get off the ferry.

Ernie’s
212 Water Street
New Shoreham, Block Island, RI

Surf Hotel
32 Dodge Street
New Shoreham, RI
www.thesurfhotelbi.com

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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

Pool-time.

Pool-time.

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
www.narragansettri.gov

Crazy Burger
144 Boon St.
Narragansett, RI
www.crazyburger.com

Sunsets Farm
www.farmfresh.org

Audubon Society of RI
1401 Hope St
Bristol, RI
www.asri.org

Agave
805 Hope Street
Bristol, RI
www.agavebristol.com

Jamestown Community Playground
41 Conanicus Ave.
Jamestown, RI

Sachuest Beach
474 Sachuest Point Rd.
Middletown, RI
www.visitrhodeisland.com

Brenton Point State Park
Ocean Drive
Newport, RI
www.riparks.com

Sail Newport
60 Fort Adams Dr.
Newport, RI
www.sailnewport.org

Scales & Shells
527 Thames St.
Newport, RI
www.scalesandshells.com

Mamma Luisa
673 Thames St.
Newport, RI
www.mammaluisa.com

The Andrea
89 Atlantic Ave.
Westerly, RI
www.andreabeachbar.com

Hope Street Farmers’ Market
Lippitt Park
1059 Hope Street
Providence, RI
www.farmfresh.org

Venda Ravioli
265 Atwells Ave.
Providence, RI
www.vendaravioli.com

Gracie’s
194 Washington St.
Providence, RI
www.graciesprov.com

Lupo’s
79 Washington St.
Providence, RI
www.lupos.com

Newport Vineyards
909 E Main Rd.
Middletown, RI
www.newportvineyards.com

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The Wintertime Farmers’ Market remains one of my favorite things about Providence (even though it’s actually in Pawtucket). And it keeps getting better. Last year, the market expanded into another hall of Hope Artiste Village to allow for the growing demand for both more vendors and shoppers, which made it a much more pleasant (and less crowded) shopping experience.

And now, you can take a break from the market with ‘Brunch and Bowl’ at Breaktime Bowl & Bar right upstairs in the Hope Artiste Village. The half dozen lanes feature duckpin bowling, but it’s even more offbeat than that. Here, there is no automatic pin-resetting; there’s actually a person who sets up your pins after each turn.

Plus, the drink menu features some great beers on tap, and the food menu is notches above any bowling alley that I’ve been to: my favorite was the spinach and artichoke dip with parmesan crusted toasts.

And if you miss brunch, they’re open for lunch and dinner with bowling too.

Breaktime Bowl & Bar
999 Main Street
Hope Artiste Village
3rd Floor
Pawtucket, RI
www.breaktimebowlandbar.com or find them on Facebook

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It starts out as a bus...

It starts out as a bus…

...and turns into a boat.

…and turns into a boat.

For a year, I lived directly across the street from one of the boarding locations for the Boston Duck Tours. I lost count of how many times tourists waved and quacked at me.

But that fact made me no less excited when we discovered one of the amphibious WWII vehicles boarding passengers at the Roger Williams Park Zoo.

The vehicle tours around the scenic drive of the park, then dives into Cunliff Lake for a boat ride. And they let both my daughters take turns driving the boat, which most certainly never happened in Boston.

Roger Williams Duck Boat Tours
https://www.providenceri.com/parks-and-rec/boating

 

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Geoff and I both grew up with the tradition of Christmas and have continued it with our girls despite the fact that we are not religious. Although our daughters know that Santa Claus isn’t real, we all love pretending during the holiday season. Here are some ways we’ve celebrated Christmas in Rhode Island…

1. Pick Your Own Christmas Tree

It’s the ultimate ‘paper versus plastic’ debate — we’ve chosen a real tree because ultimately it’s more sustainable (another tree can be grown) and so much more festive to have the smell of pine in the air. This year, we once again got our tree from Lockwood Tree Farm. Trees get collected after the holidays in Providence — don’t make the mistake of one over-eager dad who tried to burn his tree in the fireplace and nearly set his house on fire.

2. ‘Christmas’ Waterfire

Tonight (December 13), there will be a special (and as always, free) WaterFire lighting to enjoy. It really is much warmer by the glowing fires, although you’ll still need a coat, and a hat, and gloves, and a scarf.

3. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

The Providence Ballet also will put on a performance tonight (December 13) at Rhode Island College of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

4. Christmas at a Mansion

Somehow seeing someone else’s house decked out in holiday spirit can be as satisfying (and a lot easier) than your own. Christmas at The Newport Mansions continues through January 5. I personally love to visit Blithewold, a 45-room English style manor house adorned with holiday decorations. Don’t forget to stop in the Carriage House where the “Gingerbread Wonderland” features mini-gingerbread houses of all styles made by area children. And right in Providence, you can visit the John Brown House Museum‘s Home for the Holidays.

5. A Christmas Carol

The Trinity Repertory Theater has certainly perfected its performance of the classic Dickens tale. The show has moments that can be scarier for children, although of course we were brave (or stupid) enough to bring our two-year-old one year. Let’s just say, it was a good thing we packed plenty of lollipops. Anyway, the show kept all of us mesmerized. I also recently discovered there’s another production of A Christmas Carol featuring Big Nazo puppets, which is definitely on my list to check out.

6. The Nutcracker

Festival Ballet's Nutcracker

Festival Ballet’s Nutcracker

Festival Ballet puts on a stellar performance of The Nutcracker at the Providence Performing Arts Center. For next year, you might also consider the Island Moving Co.‘s performance at one of the Newport Mansions, Rosecliff.

7. Gingerbread Houses and Holiday Cookies

Of course, a great way to celebrate is to make your own or build a gingerbread house (or village as the girls did this year) at home. There are also several decorating events and contests (everything’s a contest apparently) throughout the state. Check out the Decorate Your Own Gingerbread Man event on December 21, 2013 at the Smith-Abbleby House Museum in Smithfield, RI. The Ocean House in Westerly also hosts a Gingerbread Village Competition and Reception on December 16, 2013.

8. Ski, Skate and Sled

There are plenty of indoor and outdoor skating options throughout the state, including the Kennedy Plaza rink in Providence. If we actually get enough snow, you’ll probably find us sledding on the East Side. We still haven’t been, but there’s kid-friendly skiing in Yawgoo Valley Ski and Sports Area in Exeter, RI.

9. Shop Local

Two years ago, I came up with a list of great places to shop locally for children’s gifts. There are also guides to Shop Downcity and the Shops at Hope Street, which includes stores like Kreatelier which has wonderful hand-made items for adults and children.

While you’re shopping, get into the spirit by donating gifts at any one of the local toy drives: Children’s Friend or Toys for Tots (Whisky Republic in Providence is accepting gift donations today December 13), for instance.

10. Holiday Pops

Last but not least, tonight the Boston Pops comes down to Providence Performing Arts Center for a special local performance. We went years ago without children when we were living in Boston. I think older children (especially aspiring musicians) certainly would appreciate the performance.

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