Archive for the ‘Warren’ 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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Blount Clam Shack's famous clam chowder.

Blount Clam Shack’s famous clam chowder.

In an effort to try and pretend that summer is not over, I’ve continued to make regular trips to Eskimo King for soft serve (yes, it’s worth the drive from Providence). It just doesn’t get much better than their medium (okay sometimes large) coffee soft serve cone with chocolate jimmies. Sadly, they closed for their season on October 14.

Blount's seafood dinner for two, a Friday special.

Blount’s seafood dinner for two, a Friday special.

I also finally made my way over to Blount Clam Shack in Providence, which is open year round. We ordered the Saturday special “Seafood Dinner for Two” which as it turned out was plenty for all of us (two adults and two kids) with two cups of chowder, clam cakes,
haddock, scallops, whole belly clams, shrimp, french fries, cole slaw and two drinks. The clam chowder was our favorite with just the right amount of creamy with good hunks of firm potatoes and tender clams, but I definitely prefer the clam cakes at Flo’s Clam Shack. The rest seemed more like your traditional seafood shack fare, although the whole belly clams were quite unique and tasty. Next time, I’ll try the lobster bisque and a lobster roll for a taste of summer decadence in the off-season.

Eskimo King
29 Market Street
Swansea, MA
www.eskimoking.com

Blount Clam Shack and Soup Bar
371 Richmond Street
Providence, RI
http://www.blountretail.com/providence/home
Also see their list of other locations in Warren, Fall River, MA and Crescent Park (Riverside, RI) at http://www.blountretail.com/providence/other_blount_locations

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June 2014: Farmstead has been sold and will no longer be run by Chef Matt Jennings


Badge - Podcast 150x113
Recently, I was interviewed for Mystery Meet’s Find Dining Podcast to share my restaurant recommendations in Providence. To listen to the podcast, visit Mystery Meet Podcast Episode 26: Farmstead Inc. in Providence.

Also, check out some of the links to our blog posts for some of the places mentioned:

Farmstead, Inc.
Nick’s on Broadway
Plouf Plouf Food Truck
Pawtucket Winter Farmer’s Market
Waterfire
Delekta Pharmacy’s Coffee Cabinet
Diners/Delis in RI
Flo’s Clam Shack
Siena

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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/

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Baby Doll play set available on Etsy in Rhode Island: http://www.etsy.com/listing/46824903/

If you’re doing some last-minute shopping, that’s all the more reason to keep it local. Here are a few ideas (feel free to post others in the comments) for great children’s gifts that are either invented and/or made in Rhode Island.

Handmade local items at Craftland.

Craftland
Located on Westminster Street in Providence, this packed little shop sells jewelry, t-shirts, cards, puppet-making kits, toys, you name it. All the items are hand-crafted by regional artists.
www.craftlandshow.com

Seven Acre Toys
Providence, RI
Wood blocks, rattles, mobiles, teethers and more.
http://sevenacretoys.com

Pockets of Learning
Warren, RI
This children’s toy company makes unique soft toys. We still have the three little pigs set that Madeline got as a gift years ago.  I’m not sure they still make that, but they have a soft tea set that I’m sure Lucy would love.
www.pocketsoflearning.com

Etsy
Local searches in RI
On Etsy, you can find local artisans who make dolls, toys, clothes, etc. A quick search for “children” in Rhode Island brought me to this adorable mini baby set (pictured above), owl wall plaque, and toddler aviator hat. See the full list of children’s items in Rhode Island.

Mill Street Puzzle Company
Newport, RI
Located in Newport’s Historic Hill, this company creates American-made jigsaw puzzles that celebrate American heritage.
www.millstreetpuzzles.com

Bananagrams

Providence, RI
Let’s not forget one of my personal favorites — a word game for the Scrabble-obsessed.
http://bananagrams.com

Hasbro
Of course, Hasbro, the maker of Mr. Potato Head, Play-Doh and a plethora of other toys and brands is also located in Rhode Island. In fact, it’s one of the big national public companies located in the state (CVS is another), and as such is a major employer here.  Buying Play-Doh doesn’t have the same feel as buying a hand-crafted item. Still, a local job is nothing to scoff at when you’re unemployment rate still exceeds 10 percent…
www.hasbro.com

Who out there has other suggestions?

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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

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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.

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