Slater Memorial Park: Fishing, Swan Boats, Carousel, Playground

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Our six-year-old has been asking to go fishing since last summer, and this weekend we finally got around to it. As it turns out, Rhode Island has several waters stocked with trout exclusively for children ages 14 and under.  However, for this trip, we headed out to Slater Memorial Park in Pawtucket.

The trip began with a stop at Benny’s — Rhode Island’s answer to Wal-Mart, Benny’s is a small store that often has exactly what you’re looking for (fishing poles, kid’s bikes, school supplies, large storage bins, automotive supplies, gardening equipment and seeds, etc.) There, Geoff bought two fishing poles and some fake bait. The next stop was the R.I. Aquarium and Pet Center for some lively worms.

The reaction shot after catching the fish.

The reaction shot after catching the fish.

We then staked out our spot along the pond at Slater Memorial Park. The first few hours involved our repeatedly twisting the fishing line, twice catching our hook in some tree branches, and reeling in our line repeatedly to discover the fish had once again taken the bait and escaped unhooked. Our two-year-old seemed to think we were simply feeding the fish and exclaimed excitedly each time the hook came back from the pond emptied. Perhaps that’s what made it so surprising when we got pull on her rod and reeled in an actual bass. You can see by the photo how enthusiastically she posed with her fish.

Even without such success, it would have been a great day at the park — we also took a swan boat ride (a bit pricey at $5/person), several carousel rides (only 25 cents each), and found a large playground. The park also contains a children’s zoo at Daggett Farm, a gallery within the Rhode Island Watercolor Society, and a seafood restaurant, not to mention tennis courts, baseball fields and a bike trail. Apparently, we’ll need more than a day to complete our exploration.

Slater Memorial Park
Pawtucket, RI
www.experiencepawtucket.org/bVisitbPawtucket/Recreation/SlaterMemorialPark/tabid/216/Default.aspx

RI Trout-Stocked Waters for Children 14 and under:

  • Frosty Hollow Pond in Exeter
  • Geneva Brook & Pond in North Providence
  • Lapham Pond in Burrillville
  • Lloyd Kenney Pond in Hopkinton
  • Seidel’s Pond in Cranston
  • Silvy’s Pond in Cumberland

More information at www.dem.ri.gov/programs/bnatres/fishwild/troutwaters.htm

Benny’s 
www.hellobennys.com

RI Aquarium & Pet Center
905 North Main Street
Providence, RI
(401) 415-0455
www.riaquariumpet.com‎

RI Fishing Licenses (Note: children do not need licenses)

Rhode Island Frozen Lemonade

Del's Lemonade

The girls usually chose watermelon, although I prefer the 'real' frozen lemonade.

The girls usually choose watermelon, although I prefer the ‘real’ frozen lemonade.

There is little argument that Rhode Island has mastered the art of the frozen lemonade: New Yorkers have imported it, and Martha Stewart has copied it.

You usually don’t have to hunt for one of these sweet and sour frozen treats. In addition to physical locations throughout the state, you’ll find either a Del’s Lemonade or New England Frozen Lemonade truck or stand set up near most beaches, farmers’ markets and summer events. They even sell mixes so you can make your own at home (I’ll bet they’re good spiked).

I can’t say I have a preference between the two, although at either I choose the lemonade flavor as opposed to my daughters who always pick watermelon because it’s (sigh) pink.

Del’s Lemonade
locations in North Providence, Cranston, Johnston and East Providence
www.dels.com

New England Frozen Lemonade
locations in Providence, Cranston, Warwick
on Facebook

Lobster Rolls and Clam Cakes at Flo’s

The simply plain lobster roll at Flo’s.

‘Tis the season for the lobster roll — and I’ve started with my personal favorite from Flo’s Clam Shack in Middletown (across from Newport’s First Beach). It’s no frills — just chunks of plain lobster meat in a hot dog bun with iceberg lettuce. They serve the Hellmann’s on the side, which is perfect for those (like me) who’d rather go without.  And don’t forget to throw in a side of clam cakes — their fried cornmeal balls with clam mixed in.

Of course, this meal makes more sense when following hours of swimming or surfing, but I’ll leave that up to you.

Flo’s Clam Shack
4 Wave Avenue
Middletown, RI 02842

Park Avenue
Portsmouth, RI 02871

Champlin’s Seafood: Lobster Rolls, Clam Cakes, and Seafood to Go

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

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

Flying Horse Carousel in Watch Hill

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.

Scarborough Beach and Brickley’s Ice Cream: Summer Starts Now

A chocolate chip ice cream cone from Brickley's.

Summer hasn’t officially started, but as far as I’m concerned, summer starts the first day that I go to the beach, which happened to be today. We drove to Scarborough Beach to find a nearly empty parking lot and to buy our season parking pass before the rate hike. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a spot in the first row of the Scarborough lot — apparently that’s what a weekday in early June gets you, along with a bit of wind and icy water.  But I still loved it.

Of course, where there is a beach, ice cream can’t be far behind, so on our way back, we stopped at Brickley’s Ice Cream for a couple of homemade ice cream cones — chocolate chip for me and chocolate for Madeline.

Ah, summer in Rhode Island…

Brickley’s Ice Cream
www.brickleys.com

921 Boston Neck Road
Narragansett, RI

322 Main Street
South Kingstown, RI

Rustic Tri-View Drive-in: A Step Back in Time

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

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

Gray’s Ice Cream: Coffee Chip

A cup of coffee chip at Gray's Ice Cream.

After last fall’s botched attempt to try Gray’s Ice Cream, I decided to give it another try this spring. Their Bristol location officially opened for the season on May 8, and I arrived the next day despite the cold and windy weather. I had to sit in my car waiting for them to open for the day, since apparently they don’t expect people to want ice cream before noon.

I tried their chocolate, which was quite tasty — more of a light malt chocolate than a rich dark flavor. But I ultimately opted for their coffee chip since the coffee is their specialty, along with a scoop of regular chocolate chip for comparison. The woman working there told me they had just brought in the batch of coffee chip that day, and you could tell — the texture was perfectly soft and creamy. I guess ice cream is more like bagels than I thought — the fresher, the better. The chocolate chip was fine, but nothing special. Overall, it’s no Handel’s, but it’s a much shorter drive to Bristol than Ohio, and that’s not to be overlooked.

Gray’s Ice Cream
16 East Road
Tiverton, RI 02878

259 Thames Street
Bristol, RI 02809

www.graysicecream.com