Archive for the ‘Narragansett’ Category

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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Summer = ice cream

Summer = ice cream

It has long been no mystery to my friends that any day that includes both swimming and ice cream is a ’10’ in my assessment. Maybe that’s why The Sweet Spot in Narragansett remains one of my favorite ice cream shops in the state — I don’t think I have ever been there without having first spent the day swimming at the beach. Although I usually come from one of the many beaches within a short driving distance, Sweet Spot happens to be located directly on the water, in front of Salty Brine State Beach, so close that it may even be possible to be swimming while eating ice cream.

They have the usual flavors — vanilla, chocolate, strawberry — and all are homemade, but I usually go for their Black Raspberry Chip (yogurt or ice cream) or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough or, my favorite, Coconut Chip.

The Sweet Spot
256 Great Island Rd.
Narragansett, RI

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We’ve now lived in Providence for over four years, and it would be hard to fit in one blog post all my thoughts about that. So instead, I thought I’d describe an eventful, but fairly typical Saturday, which as it turns out, might be a perfect way to highlight our life in Providence.

8:28 am – We woke up “late” for us, which meant we had to rush to get the girls ready for gymnastics and ballet at Aim High Academy, where dozens of gymnasts were already hard at work.

10:00 am – We head to Allie’s Donuts–an institution for good reason. A donut cake (exactly what it sounds like) has been ordered for one of our daughter’s birthday this month.

11:15 am – We make our way to the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers’ Market opening day. This year’s market has more than doubled, and it is every bit better. We all sit in the courtyard and have Tallulah’s Tacos for lunch. The girls make a basket at ACKpack Basket Studio. Michele buys a giant stalk of brussels sprouts, freshly dug potatoes, onions, and parsnips from the market, along with apples from Barden Family Orchard. Our daughter insists we buy more pickles from Harmony Hill Farm. We get dessert–an almond croissant and an apricot financier–from the French Tarte. On our way out, we discover a new store, Sassy Mama Cuisine, that has rows upon rows of hot sauces. I’m looking for one made with Bhut jolokia, and pick from more than a dozen.

2:00 pm – I nap.

3:30 pm – I take my six-year-old daughter to Cirque Éloize, one of the first shows in this year’s FirstWorks Festival at the Providence Performing Arts Center, while Michele takes our two-year old to the Providence Children’s Museum.

6:00 pm – At home,  I make the kids a pizza with dough from Olga’s and cheese from Narragansett Creamery.

7:30 pm – Michele and I walk downtown to the Brown University/Trinity Repertory Theatre, to see a production of Twelfth Night, or What You Will. Since we didn’t buy tickets in advance, we wait standby and luckily get seats from a few no-shows. Even after four years of shows, it’s my first time in the Pell Chafee Performance Center.

9:30 pm – We get drinks and appetizers at Gracie’s, which turned out to be a meal that would rival the best in recent memory: a sherry-roasted beet salad with Cloumage cheese, pistachio nougatine, wild rice crispies, sour apple, and Aquidneck honey; Hudson Valley foie gras with fennel dusted brioche donuts, roasted peach, pistachio, raspberry gelee; russet potato gnocchi with house cured ham, broccoli, cauliflower, cheddar, buttery herb crumb; and crispy veal sweetbreads with sunny side quail’s egg, parmesan spinach, potato fondue, pickled ramps (this one was a standout).

10:30 pm – Our babysitter needs to leave early tonight, so Michele grabs a cab home. I stay on, for a show at AS220.

12:00 am – The band Melt Banana plays in AS220’s tiny venue, where you can get up close and mingle with the bands.

1:00 am – I take an UberX ride home! Just 2 minutes after calling…

I’ve always thought that a perfect city is one that you can “use” to its fullest regularly. And with that as my definition, I’m in the right place for now…

For more information:

Aim High Academy
3355 S County Trail
East Greenwich, RI
http://www.aimhighacademy.com/

Allie’s Donuts
3661 Quaker Lane
North Kingstown, RI
https://www.facebook.com/AlliesDonuts

Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers’ Market (Saturdays 9 am-1pm and Wednesdays 4-7pm through May 17, 2014)
at Hope Artiste Village
1005 Main St.
Pawtucket, RI
http://www.farmfresh.org/winter

Tallulah on Thames
464 Thames Street
Newport, RI
http://www.tallulahonthames.com/

Sassy Mama Cuisine
at Hope Artiste Village
1005 Main St.
Pawtucket, RI

The French Tarte
at Hope Artiste Village
1005 Main St.
Pawtucket, RI
http://www.frenchtarte.com/

ACKpack Basket Studio
at Hope Artiste Village
1005 Main St.
Pawtucket, RI
https://www.facebook.com/pages/ACKpack-Basket-Studio/467747816608744

Barden Family Orchard
56 Elmdale Rd
North Scituate, RI
http://www.bardenfamilyorchard.com/

Harmony Hill Farm
Barrington, RI
http://harmonyhill-farm.com/

Providence Performing Arts Center
220 Weybosset Street
Providence, RI
http://www.ppacri.org/

FirstWorks
http://first-works.org/

Providence Children’s Museum
100 South Street
Providence, RI
www.childrenmuseum.org

Olga’s Cup & Saucer
103 Point Street
Providence, RI
www.olgascupandsaucer.com

Narragansett Creamery
www.richeeses.com

Brown University/Trinity Repertory Theatre
www.browntrinity.com

Gracie’s
194 Washington Street
Providence, RI
graciesprovidence.com

AS220
115 Empire Street
Providence, RI
www.as220.org

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The waves at Narragansett Town Beach.

The waves at Narragansett Town Beach.

I have been surfing for eight years. I’ve surfed in Miami, Hawaii, Cape Code and Rhode Island. Yet if I counted up the hours I’ve spent surfing, it wouldn’t match even one summer for a dedicated surfer. That’s what happens when you learn to surf while going to graduate school, raising two children, and running a business (not to mention, writing this blog). Consequently, there seems to be no end to the amount of surfing lessons that I need.

Plus, the truth is that I’m terrified of surfing. And I am absolutely addicted to it.

So, yesterday, I joined a group lesson with Narragansett Surf & Skate instructor Mike. I had been watching the water for the previous two hours so I had seen surfers of every age, gender, shape and size paddle out and catch some waves, with or without an instructor.  I met a family visiting from Quebec, and all three daughters (the youngest of which was only six-years-old) started with a group lesson, but afterwards stayed in the water with their rented boards catching their own waves. Their father even wound up renting a board to get in on the action.

At Narragansett Town Beach, the waves are clean, modest (1-4 feet) and consistent for beginners. And even though I’ve been surfing for years, I still consider myself  a beginner. Mike pushed me into a few waves, but I also caught some on my own (and missed some on my own). And next time maybe, I’ll even venture out without an instructor — maybe.

Narragansett Surf & Skate
74 Narragansett Ave
Narragansett, RI
(401) 789-7890
www.narragansettsurfandskate.com

Warm Winds Surf Shop
26 Kingstown Rd
Narragansett, RI
(401) 789-9040
www.warmwinds.com

Peter Pan Surfing and SUP Academy
(401) 575-0003
http://peterpansurfingacademy.vpweb.com/

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Jerry and Rose take the bus to Foxwoods Casino when they're in Rhode Island.

My step-mother’s parents, Rose and Jerry (aka Bubbie and Zadie), retired to Florida over 17 years ago. Every year, they return to Rhode Island — the state in which they were born, raised their children, and lived most of their lives.

Of course, they come to visit family, but their journey has also become a pilgrimage to their old favorite restaurants and sights. Their carefully culled picks have nothing to do with hot spots that may rise and fall from the Best of Rhode Island lists. Instead, these are the places that have persisted through the generations and have come to represent a moment in time in Rhode Island.

1. At Twin Oaks in Cranston, they always order the baked stuffed shrimp. They say the shrimp are “scrawny” in Florida compared with the five jumbo shrimps at Twin Oaks. But it’s the stuffing they crave. They also like that when you order a cocktail, like a Black Russian, you get “a drink and a half.” Other favorites here include the house salad dressing and the homemade chocolate pudding.

2. Florida may be the “Sunshine State,” but Rhode Island is still the “Ocean State.” Every year, they plan a beach day at either Narragansett Town Beach or Sand Hill Cove (Roger Wheeler). They love the way the land gradually slopes out to the ocean rather than the abrupt way the land drops at the Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale beaches. (Although they admit the Gulf waters on the west coast of Florida are warm, and the beaches have a more gradual dip.) Still, nothing is better than sitting on the sea wall in Narragansett as the sun is rising or setting. Clam cakes and chowder (which they call chowda) are a must at either Aunt Carrie’s, Champlin’s, or George’s of Galilee.

3. At Crow’s Nest in Warwick, they enjoy the lobster salad sandwiches and their sugar-free blueberry pie.

4. Chello’s by the water in Warwick is a must for the Jim Dandy Burger and the banana berry pie, served only in season.

5. Their trip to Rhode Island is not complete without a Conway Bus day trip to Foxwood Casinos in Connecticut. For 24 dollars a ticket, you get bus service to and from the hotel along with food and gambling vouchers. They give you more in vouchers than the price of the ticket expecting that visitors will wind up spending more gambling. But for Rose and Jerry, it’s a deal.

6. They adore the chocolate walnut ice cream from Brickley’s in Narragansett on route 1A. You can also get Brickley’s in Wickford served in the former Ryan’s market.

7. They love to quench their thirst on a hot beach day with a classic Del’s lemonade. Now with locations in over a dozen states, Del’s started in Cranston. Rose still remembers the owner, Mr. Delucia.

8. They love events like the East Greenwich Main Street stroll; concerts in Wickford and Cranston’s Garden City; and tours in Newport, RI and Mystic, Connecticut.

9. They can’t resist the coffee “cabinets” from Newport Creamery.

10. And no trip is complete without some Walt’s roast beef sandwiches.

Twin Oaks (since 1933)
100 Sabra Street
Cranston, RI
www.twinoaksrest.com

Aunt Carrie’s Seafood (since 1920)
1240 Ocean Road
Narragansett, RI
www.auntcarriesri.com

Champlin’s Seafood (since 1932)
See previous post

George’s of Galilee (since 1948)
250 Sand Hill Cove Road
Narragansett, RI
www.georgesofgalilee.com

Crow’s Nest (since 1966)
288 Arnolds Neck Drive
Warwick, RI
www.crowsnestri.com

Chelo’s on the Waterfront (since 1955)
1 Masthead Drive
Warwick, RI
www.chelos.com

Foxwoods Resort Casinos (since 1986)
www.foxwoods.com

Brickley’s (since 1995)
See previous post.

Del’s Lemonade (since 1948)
www.dels.com

Newport Creamery (since 1940)
See previous post.

Walt’s Roast Beef (since 1957)
www.waltsroastbeef.net

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A lobster roll at Champlin's.

In my experience, there are no two lobster rolls created equally.  Sometimes they have mayo, sometimes they have butter, and other times, neither. I’m willing to try them all, but I only like a few.

In Rhode Island, my favorite remains Flo’s Clam Shack, which makes the plainest lobster roll I’ve ever had — unadorned lobster meat on a hot dog bun with lettuce. You can add the mayo yourself (I don’t).  Knowing that dessert at Frosty Freez is not far away, makes it even better.

Recently, I tried the lobster roll at Champlin’s Seafood, where they mix the lobster meat with mayo and celery. Of course, you can’t beat the location — as my out-of-town friends gazed at the boats in the water at Galilee, they said, “This is exactly what you think of when you think of New England.” I also had them order one of my local favorites — clam cakes (think hushpuppies with clams mixed in) — which were a huge hit as well.

As a local, perhaps my favorite part of Champlin’s is the seafood store downstairs, where you can buy fresh scallops, tuna, swordfish, shrimp, etc. to cook at home. And if you pick up some fresh-picked corn at a farm on your way home, you’ll really have the perfect summer meal.

Flo’s Clam Shack
4 Wave Ave
Middletown, RI

Park Avenue
Portsmouth, RI 02871
www.flosclamshack.net

Champlin’s Seafood
256 Great Island Road
Narragansett, RI
www.champlins.com

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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

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