Rock Spot Climbing: Rock climbing for all levels (and almost all ages)

Rock climbing–it’s for kids too.

It was as if she’d been rock climbing her whole life. That said, she is only five. Today, my daughter kept up with the best adult climbers as she adeptly made her way up the 30-foot climbing wall at Rock Spot Climbing in Lincoln over half a dozen times. Using top roped climbing, she was harnessed into a belay device to protect against a sudden fall and create a smooth, slow (and apparently fun) ride down.

When my husband asked her before bed if she’d like to go back, she said yes, she’d love to go back tomorrow.

Rock Spot Climbing
100 Higginson Ave
Lincoln, RI

1174 Kingstown Rd
South Kingstown, RI

www.RockSpotClimbing.com

They also have the largest indoor bouldering facility in New England at:
67 Sprague St
Boston, MA

 

A View from Fort Wetherill State Park

Perched on the rocks overlooking Narragansett Bay.

Not everyone may think it’s a wise idea to drag their one- and five-year-olds up a jagged cliff overlooking a 100-foot drop to the ocean, and I can’t disagree. Nonetheless, we did exactly that yesterday at Forth Wetherill State Park in Jamestown, RI. Here, there are no fences or barriers to rely on, just common sense. Geoff liked that — it’s very European, he said.

The view from Fort Wetherill State Park in Jamestown.

From the peak, you can see a wide expanse of Narragansett Bay and Newport Harbor — yesterday the water shimmered so beautifully that our five-year-old said “I wish I could paint that.” As for our one-year-old, it took a good deal of cajoling and wrestling to keep her from careening over the edge. No wonder my back hurts today. Still, you can’t beat the view.

Fort Wetherill State Park
Jamestown, RI
http://www.riparks.com/fortweth.htm 

Hasbro’s Our Big Backyard at Roger Williams Park Zoo

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On a hot city day, there’s nothing quite like a mini water park. Now, in addition to a handful of others in Providence, we’ve got one at the zoo.

I’ve typically steered clear of the zoo in the summer, but the addition of Hasbro’s Our Big Backyard at Roger Williams Park Zoo has definitely changed that. Kids can cool off in a variety of sprinklers, ponds and other water play, making the zoo a much less oppressive experience.  

One tip — when you plan your visit, check the zoo hours. We didn’t and arrived only 40 minutes before the 4 pm closing. When you visit the zoo, it’s nice to have time to see some animals too.

Roger Williams Park Zoo
1000 Elmwood Avenue
Providence, RI
www.rwpzoo.org
(first Saturday of every month free to Providence residents)

East Bay Bike Path: A Family Ride

Getting ready for a ride on the trailer bike.

As you may have guessed from the ratio of blog posts on restaurants versus sports and recreation, we are not the most athletic of families. But inspired by a recent “bike to school” day, we decided to purchase a trailer bike, which enables our 5-year-old to feel like she’s riding a regular bike (and can even help peddle) but leaves the steering and the braking to the adult rider.

Early Sunday morning, we loaded the bikes on the car rack, ate some oatmeal while wearing our helmets (I’m not kidding, although our 18-month-old Lucy refused to wear hers), and then drove to Warren to park the car and get on our bikes. Of course, you can bike fairly easily to the path from Providence, but we wanted to make our first family ride low-stress by starting directly on the path itself.

There was just one small problem, and her name was Lucy. She screamed, kicked and swung her arms as Geoff attempted to get her into the baby seat on the back of his bike. I didn’t have any more luck than he when I tried, although as it turned out I had less sympathy. Determined to at least attempt a ride on the path, I wrestled her into the seat, got on Geoff’s bike, and rode around the parking lot — and incredibly, she quieted down. So we decided we would switch bikes for this ride — I’d ride Geoff’s and he’d ride mine. More screaming as we strapped on her helmet and locked down her feet,  but again once we started riding, there was complete silence.

After our ride on the East Bay Bike Path.

We kept our first attempt short, but it was nonetheless a peaceful and scenic ride along the water — we started in Warren and rode into Bristol and then headed back. It wasn’t until I was writing this that I learned that the East Bay Bike Path is just one of the paths in the East Coast Greenway’s plan to “create a contiguous bike path from Maine to Florida”. Well, we’re not quite ready for that yet, but you never know…

Greenways Alliance of RI
www.rigreenways.org

East Coast Greenway, RI
www.greenway.org/ri.aspx

East Bay Greenway map in RI
http://www.greenway.org/pdf/RI.pdf

East Providence Bicycle
414 Warren Ave.
East Providence, RI
http://eastprovidencecycle.com/

Adventureland: The Mini Amusement Park

The bumper boats are equipped with water guns for maximum soaking.

Apparently it takes a few friends from France and Germany on holiday to help me find the only amusement park in Rhode Island. Granted, it is small — I’ve passed it dozens of times and never even noticed the sign. That, and I’ve never gone looking for go-karts, although having since ridden one, I can tell you that’s no longer true.

Go-karts speed around the track.

At Adventureland, there are batting cages, go-karts, bumper boats, a carousel, and a 18-hole mini-golf course. Madeline and I rode a go-kart together since she’s too short (under 44 inches) to ride herself. We picked a car with two steering wheels, and I double-checked to make sure mine was the working one before getting started. I did notice that the double go-karts appeared rigged to go a slower — even though we started in the front and had petal to the metal, some over 44-inch tall kids traveling alone passed us.

Madeline equally enjoyed the carousel and the bumper boats. It’s not exactly the full-day event that many amusement parks are, but it may actually be just enough…

Adventureland
112 Point Judith Road (Route 108)
Narragansett, RI
www.adventurelandri.com

Imagine Gift Store: Candy, Chotchkes, and Games

One of the several candy aisles at Imagine Gift Store.

It’s always a bit sad to see a theatre converted into some other use, although when that happens,  I am in favor of it becoming a extra-large candy store. Imagine Gift Store, located in the restored Lyric Theatre in Warren, RI, can probably satisfy whatever sweet craving you’ve got — including candy cigarettes.

Madonna in your cup.

Here, you might also stock up on your chotchkes, such as the iPlunge (a mini plunger to use as an iPhone/iTouch stand) or a mug in which the Madonna materializes from a remaining coffee stain (my mother-in-law bought this).

We also left with Bananagrams, a word game created here in Rhode Island, which as it turns out, may be as addictive as candy.

Like Scrabble, Bananagrams enables you to build and connect words, however, the board isn’t fixed so you can change and move words as you see fit. Even better, there’s no taking turns, which means I don’t have to wait a half hour while Geoff patiently contrives a way of using all of his letters. And although this isn’t a win-win situation, it means I win more of the time, which is just fine with me.

Bananagrams, a word game created in Rhode Island.

Imagine Gift Store
5 Miller Street
Warren, RI
www.imaginegiftstores.com

Bananagrams
www.bananagrams.com

Sledding at Moses Brown in Providence, RI

Madeline on one of the novice hills


Although I grew up in New York City, our building in Riverdale happened to be perched atop a hill making sledding at least feasible, if a bit dangerous (your ride ended with a tree or in the road). But it’s hard to imagine a more perfect sledding spot than the one at Moses Brown School. With over a foot of snow in the Providence area today, we joined dozens of kids and adults with an array of brightly colored sleds and tubes who arrived there for sled rides down a variety of hills – some short, subtle ones for beginners and two steep ones for the more adventurous. All of them end in a nice flat field of snow making it fairly safe, except for the occasional collision (like the one when Madeline crashed into me as I stood in her riding path to take an action shot).

The hills at Moses Brown make a great sledding spot.

For our first time out, we stuck to the novice hills and gave the two sleds we bought yesterday at Benny’s a couple of good runs. I’m just glad that I bought two sleds, so when Madeline wanted to go by herself, there was still another sled for me.

Oh, and if you were out there, we were the (only) ones carrying an infant bundled in a car seat.

Duckpin Bowling in Rhode Island

Bowling for a three-year-old warrants even more enthusiasm than the average adult.

On a recent vacation in France, we made the mistake of promising to take Madeline bowling. After trekking out to the outskirts of Nice, we found the Acropolis only to learn that at age three and shoe size seven, she was much too young and too small to bowl. Somehow that never occurred to us.

To give the kids an advantage, they have a plastic ramp to roll the ball down the center of the lane.

So when we decided to take her duckpin bowling in Rhode Island, we called ahead to confirm their available shoe sizes, operating hours, and bumpers. Satisfied that this might actually work, we headed out to The Bowling Academy in East Providence, RI for an early Saturday night bowl (after 8pm, it’s Rock N’ Bowl).

Duckpin bowling, for those who don’t know, is a variation of bowling with smaller, lighter balls and shorter, fatter pins.  The Bowling Academy is one of a handful of alleys in the state that offer duckpin bowling (see list below).  The place is nothing fancy, but the lanes are gleaming and the employees spray disinfectant in the shoes after people leave, which I personally appreciate. Of course, for a three-year-old, none of that matters. Rather, the easy-to-handle balls; bumpers to keep them in the lane; and even a plastic ramp to slide a ball down the lane more centrally are the things that make duckpin bowling a surefire kid-pleaser.  So, it wasn’t at all a surprise that the next morning, she was already asking to go back.

Duckpin Bowling Alleys in Rhode Island

The Bowling Academy
354 Taunton Avenue
East Providence, RI
(401) 434-5839
www.bowlingacademyinc.com

Dudek Lanes
409 Child Street
Warren, RI
(401) 245-9471
www.dudekbowling.com

Legion Bowl & Billiards
661 Park Avenue
Cranston, RI
(401) 781-8888
www.legionbowlinc.com

Meadowbrook Lanes
2530 Warwick Ave.
Warwick, RI
(401) 737-5402
www.ridba.net/Meadowbrook%20Page.htm

Mac’s Bowlaway
890 Main Street
West Warwick, RI
(401) 828-3279

Town Hall Lanes
1463 Atwood Avenue
Johnston, RI 02919
(401) 831-6940

Wickford Lanes
7665 Post Road
North Kingstown, RI 02852
(401) 294-9886
www.ridba.net/Wickford%20Page.htm

Also see the Rhode Island Duckpin Bowlers Association at www.ridba.net.

Rhode Island Summer: Beaches and Ice Cream

This little ice cream shop on Succotash Road is the perfect post-beach stop.

Basically in my opinion any day is a “10” if it involves swimming and ice cream.  Happily this weekend consisted of quite a lot of both.  (Note: I’m not opposed to more than one ice cream in a day if there’s also more than one swim in a day).  But the most pleasant surprise was the soft serve at the new ice cream shop at Lockwoods Marina where we stopped after a few hours at the East Matunuck State Beach in South Kingston.

Of course, it’s hard to imagine a soft serve that tops Frosty Freez in Middletown, RI, and this one certainly doesn’t. Still most soft serve is simply terrible, tasting more like dyed ice than something deserving of the name ice cream.  But the soft serve at this new little shop, located on Succotash Road next to Capt’n Jack’s, had a surprisingly creamy, smooth consistency with good flavor.  If you’re not into soft serve, they also serve up homemade hard ice cream and yogurt, many with cryptic names like Mushy’s Monsta Mix and Mo’s Moose Tracks, but the cheerful staff can offer an explanation or even a taste.  They also have a man-made fish pond outside over which the kids love to dangle their dripping cones.  It’s the perfect treat, and if you’ve just come from a swim at the beach, you’ll have earned the calories.

Scarborough State Beach drew crowds as early as Memorial Day this year.

Rhode Island State Beaches

In 2010, the annual parking pass inclusive for all seven of the RI state beaches costs $30 for residents.  Day rates for residents run $6-7/day.

East Matunuck State Beach (mentioned above)
The walk into the water is a tad rocky and the sand isn’t as soft as some of the other state beaches, but it’s quite popular with families and is an easy walk to the beach from the parking lot.
950 Succotash Road
South Kingston, Rhode Island
www.riparks.com/eastmatunuck.htm

Burlingame State Park & Beach
Sanctuary RD. (Route 1)
Charlestown, Rhode Island
www.riparks.com/burlingastatepark.htm

Charlestown Beach & Camp
Charlestown, Rhode Island
www.riparks.com/charlesbreach.htm

Fort Adams State Park & Beach
I guess this is technically a beach but it’s so tiny it doesn’t really feel like one. Most of Fort Adams State Park, which is gorgeous, dangles over rocky cliffs. You can also rent a boat from Sail Newport here. As for the beach part, there’s a small roped off area that has calm water for swimming. It’s definitely popular with families.
Harrison Avenue
Newport, RI, 02840
www.riparks.com/fortadams.htm

Goddard Memorial State Park & Beach
1095 Ives Road
Warwick, Rhode Island
www.riparks.com/goddard.htm

Misquamicut State Beach
Arguably, Westerly boasts some of the best beaches in the state. This one has over a half mile of coast. Hence, it’s one of the most popular and tends to fill up on nice weekends.
257 Atlantic Avenue
Westerly, Rhode Island
www.riparks.com/misquamicut.htm

Roger Wheeler State Beach
This beach (known to locals as Sand Hill Cove Beach) has calmer waves due to the breakwaters that protect it from the open ocean. Not surprisingly, it’s more popular with families or anyone looking for a more relaxed ocean swim. You certainly won’t see any surfers here, although there are still a few eager boogie-boarders.
100 Sand Hill Cove Road
Narragansett, Rhode Island
www.riparks.com/wheeler.htm

Salty Brine State Beach
On the same strip of land as Roger Wheeler, the Salty Brine is also protected by the breakwaters. The downsides: it’s a smaller beach than Roger Wheeler and is closer to the boats at Galilee (and thus any oil or other substances that might come with them). The upside: the town of Galilee is only a few steps away, which means a much tastier lunch or dinner than the typical greasy beach stand.
254 Great Road
Narragansett, Rhode Island
www.riparks.com/saltybrine.htm

Scarborough State Beach – North & South
This is a picture-perfect beach with soft sand across a wide beach and clear water. It definitely gets crowded and is quite popular with the youts (i.e. teenagers) so it’s a bit harder to keep track of kids especially when you nod off. On one visit, we heard three announcements for lost kids in a two-hour period. There is abundant parking at these beaches, so on a crowded day you’ll still find a spot in the auxiliary lot but it’s quite a hike.
870 and 970 Ocean Road
Narragansett, Rhode Island
www.riparks.com/scarborough.htm