Archive for the ‘North Smithfield’ 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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Bucket Brewery's Thirteenth Original Maple Stout combines a complex malt base, a healthy dose of maple syrup and an unusual blend of hops.

Bucket Brewery’s Thirteenth Original Maple Stout combines a complex malt base, a healthy dose of maple syrup and an unusual blend of hops.

On our weekly trips to the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers’ Market, we often stop by Bucket Brewery to pick up a “growler,” which is a 64-ounce sample of one of their beers. There’s no storefront, rather you walk right into their facility where they brew and bottle all their beers. If you show up on a Saturday between 11 am and 5 pm, you can do a tasting ($2) or take a tour ($10).

They also host Sound Check events on the first and third Fridays of the month with free admission and music, and an optional ‘generous’ tasting for $10. On Saturday April 19, Bucket Brewery will also be at the Pawtucket Farmers’ Market to introduce a special orange-cranberry beer made with local farm ingredients. And if you’re the athletic type (or want to become the athletic type), you can join them for Team Bucket, their running team for the Providence Craft Brew 5K.

And even when you’re not in Pawtucket, you can find their beers throughout Rhode Island at local bars (e.g. Aidan’s Pub, Ivy Tavern, Wild Colonial Tavern, etc.), restaurants (e.g. Chez Pascal, Farmstead, Figidini, Flatbread Company, Garden Grille), and liquor stores (e.g. Bottles).

Bucket Brewery
545 Pawtucket Ave.
Pawtucket, RI
http://bucketbrewery.com

See a complete list of the bars, restaurants and liquor stores that offer Bucket beers at http://bucketbrewery.com/whos-serving-bucket-beer/pg/1/.

Also mentioned in this post:

Aidan’s Pub
5 John Street
Bristol RI
http://aidanspub.com

Bottles
141 Pitman Street
Providence RI
www.bottlesfinewine.com

Ivy Tavern
758 Hope Street
Providence RI
www.ivytavernri.com

Wild Colonial Tavern
1250 Water Street
Providence RI
http://wildcolonial.com

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See the cows being milked, then enjoy some of that milk (plain, chocolate or coffee milk) at one of their picnic tables.

This may seem strange, but I don’t like cake. I do make an exception for a perfectly conceived cupcake, but I never order it at restaurants, and I always pass on it at weddings and parties.

So recently at a 4-year-old’s birthday party, I instinctively replied “no thanks” to the offer of cake. But when I learned that it came from Wrights Dairy Farm, I immediately admitted I had made a huge mistake and got myself a slice. And yes, the cake from Wrights Dairy Farm lives up to its reputation — soft, buttery and layered with real whipped cream from their very own cows.

The cake at Wrights Dairy Farm -- I wish I were eating it right now.

A few days later, we were at the farm, admiring those cows.  At Wrights Dairy Farm, you can watch the cows being milked every day from 3-5 pm.  As we watched, I realized I’d never actually seen a cow up close being milked by a machine before, which is quite mesmerizing. Apparently, each cow provides about 5 gallons of milk during each milking — impressive output for a diet of corn and grass.

We then made our way into their bakery, which displays an array of pastries, pies, cakes, cookies and more. Ultimately, I couldn’t resist the strawberry shortcake layered with whipped cream. And as I enjoyed it with a side of their own coffee milk on a sunny day at one of their picnic tables, I decided this is definitely one of my favorite excursions in the state.

Wrights Dairy Farm
200 Woonsocket Hill Rd
North Smithfield, RI
www.wriwghtsdairyfarm.com

Note: The farm has a bakers’ vacation from July 18-25, 2011 so you might want to plan your trip before or after that…

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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
www.yourneighborhoodtheatre.com/theaters.php?ID=7312

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