Archive for the ‘Westerly’ 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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Madeline joins the riders on the Flying Horse Carousel in Watch Hill.

There are a handful of things that Rhode Island can claim to be the “oldest in America” — such as the oldest synagogue and the oldest lending library. Apparently, we also have the oldest carousel.

The Flying Horse Carousel in Watch Hill originated in 1876 and is named for the fact that its 20 horses are not attached to the floor but remain suspended from a center frame, swinging out or “flying” when in motion. There is an age limit — no one over 12-years-old may ride, and I particularly liked the sign recommending you re-consider if you are over 100 lbs or over 5 feet tall. Rides are $1 for an inside horse and $1.50 for an outside horse.

The Easton's Beach carousel makes for a great rainy day activity.

Madeline chose an inside horse, and after two rides appeared sufficiently mesmerized so I figured she’d had enough. Our next stop will be either the Crescent Park Carousel in East Providence or the Slater Memorial Park Carousel in Pawtucket…

Carousels in Rhode Island

Flying Horse Carousel
Westerly, RI
www.visitrhodeisland.com/what-to-do/amusements/458/flying-horse-merry-go-round/

Atlantic Beach Carousel
Westerly, RI
www.atlanticbeachpark.com/amusements

Easton’s Beach Carousel
Newport, RI
www.cityofnewport.com/departments/economic-development/beach/home.cfm

Carousel Village, Roger Williams Park
Providence, RI
www3.providenceri.com/parks-and-rec/carousel-village

Crescent Park Carousel
East Providence, RI
www.eastprovidence.com/content/668/830/834/default.aspx

Slater Memorial Park Carousel
Pawtucket, RI
www.pawtucketri.com/about/pointsofinterest.php

For more information on Rhode Island carousels, see http://sos.ri.gov/kidszone/carousels/ or KidoInfo’s list.

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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

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