Category Archives: Rhode Island
Here is, in no particular order, a list of my favorite spaces and places in this beautiful state.
1. The Spring House on Block Island. An old Victorian grand hotel, the front porch of the Spring House is the perfect place to while away an afternoon or evening.
2. Napatree Point, Westerly. Now a wildlife preserve, this spit of land was swept bare in the Hurricane of 1938, killing 15 people. Today it’s a peaceful beach free from the crowds that swarm other local beaches.
3. The view of Providence from Prospect Terrace Park. I love this statue of Roger Williams gazing out over the city he founded. I recently found out that H.P. Lovecraft frequently visited this park.
4. The Ocean Mist. The O’Mist is a legendary beach bar, hard by the shores of Matunuck Beach. People once played volleyball in front of the deck, but severe erosion has claimed most of this space…..pro: you feel like you’re on a poor man’s cruise ship….con: the future of the Ocean Mist is iffy. Come for live music, excellent fish tacos, and a great beer selection.
5. Diamond Hill Vineyards. Yes, a winery in Cumberland is one of my favorite spots! It’s really come a long way over the last few years, a great spot to hang out and sip wine. This picture was taken on a beautiful December day, when it warmed up to over 60 degrees!
6. The Towers, Narragansett. The entire town qualifies for my Best Of list, but the Towers are an iconic and beautiful landmark. Built as part of the Narragansett Pier Casino in the 1880s, they’re now a venue for private events.
7. Wickford Village. Shopping and dining with views like this:
8. THIS BARN. I am on a quest to get a picture of it in all seasons. Come on spring!!
9. The Pawtucket Wintertime Farmer’s Market. I can’t believe this place doesn’t get more press. It’s bigger and better than the summertime markets. I counted four vendors selling grass-fed meat. FOUR. There are fresh winter veggies, seafood & poultry, products such as herbals, honey, pickles, chocolates. My routine is to grab an insanely delicious crepe (my fave is brie, spinach & craisins), a coffee from New Harvest, and stroll around for an overview before I buy anything.
10. The Clarke Cooke House, Newport. Four stories of fun in a beautiful Colonial-era building, from the basement nightclub to fine dining on the top floor “Porch”….and five bars that I can think of.
Well, there you have it! Do you agree with my choices? Am I missing anything obvious? Be in touch and let me know!
Yes, I know how crazy that sounds on October 25th, but I had some leftover pics I needed to get out of my camera and phone. The first one is a dock at New Harbor, on the Great Salt Pond on Block Island. The one below it is the view from the outside bar at the Surf Hotel on Block. The Surf was empty and decaying for several years, up for sale with no takers. The owners chose to take it off the market and refurbish. The view of Crescent Beach from the back deck is, in my opinion, one of the best on the entire island. No small thing on an island loaded with stunning views.
When I look at this picture of the bar at The National Hotel on Block, I hear Kate Smith singing God Bless America
Coming home on the ferry the first week of September, there was no denying that summer was over:
A year or two ago I went through a phase of filtering all my photos. I assured you all that it was behind me, but I’m like a junkie, I can’t stop. The first two are a field in Tiverton, right down the road from Tiverton Four Corners:
The images below are, in order: East Sandwich Beach, Cape Cod; view from The Oar, Block Island; Hyannis Harbor, Cape Cod.
The next two are Galilee, Rhode Island:
One of the most beautiful and underrated areas of New England is the area comprised of four coastal towns, Tiverton and Little Compton RI, Westport and Dartmouth MA. It’s pretty, pastoral and quiet, but chock full of things to do ….if you happen to like food, wine and art. A real tough sell, right? Every year I swear I’m going to make it to SouthCoast Open Studios Tour, and this year I finally did. The local artists open their studios to the public twice a year, and a map is provided to drive between them all. After spending the day at the beach, I hit four or five of them. But first, lunch. A local favorite is The Bayside. You’ll never catch me sitting inside for a meal in summer, but that often means compromising on the quality of the food. Not at The Bayside! I had a salmon burger with avocado and tamari aioli, washed down with a local brew (Grey Lady from Cisco Brewers on Nantucket). I could have stayed here all day.
A hub of activity in this area is the historic district of Tiverton Four Corners….lots of cute shops, a couple of options for eating, and lots of art and antiques. The vibe here – and throughout the SouthCoast region – is understated and casual, but with a certain elegance about it.
Act like a local – buy a used book at the library’s used book sale:
Farming is a big deal here, Westport even bills itself as a “Right To Farm Community”. It’s written right into their bylaws that farms shall be allowed “to function with minimal conflict with abutters and town agencies”. It’s common to see an unattended table at the end of a driveway, with a pile of corn or other produce, and a container to leave your money. One of my favorite stops is Westport Rivers Winery, specializing in sparkling wines. Like many businesses in this region, they’re closed on Sundays so plan accordingly.
The same family owns Buzzards Bay Brewing right around the corner…..don’t miss it. If you’re looking for more to see and do in this region (as well as addresses and a map), see my Jauntful guide.
Like Newport isn’t fun enough, this year the city had the distinct honor of being a stopover for the prestigious Volvo Ocean Race. The race covers 39k nautical miles and circumnavigates the globe over nine months. The Race Village was open for about a week mid-May, and then the boats were on to Portugal. The boats are relatively tiny – can you imagine crossing the ocean in this??
The day I was there was gloomy and cool; much as I love a warm sunny day in Newport sometimes you just gotta work around other people’s schedules. Once I looked at my pictures I realized how much bright color was on display….maybe it was the contrast with the gray day?
This gloomy day morphed into a foggy low-key evening:
The Volvo Race is currently in Portugal, then onto their next stopover in Lorient, France. They’ll have a quick pit stop at The Hague, Netherlands, and the race will end in Gothenburg, Sweden at the end of June. You can download the app to follow the race here.
I just heard about hygge today and have fallen in love with the idea. It’s a Danish cultural concept that if summed up in one word would be cozy….but it’s so much more. To the Danes, hygge (pronounced sort of like ‘hoogah’) is a feeling, a concept that has elements of family & friends, camaraderie, hominess, food & drink shared with those you love, some would add safety & contentedness, and CANDLES. Apparently those short winter days close to the Arctic Circle have bred in them a deep love of candles and all manner of twinkling lights. In early January spring seems so far away but the reality is the first day of spring is only about 75 days away (even if true springlike weather won’t show its face in New England quite so soon). I’m going to fight the urge to wish winter away and will use the idea of hygge to embrace it instead. My perfect hygge day would be hanging out with a small group of my closest friends, a pot roast in the oven, sipping red wine in front of a fire. Extra points for nasty weather outside.
Another lovely Scandinavian idea is friluftsliv which translates directly from Norwegian as “free air life”. It means spending time outdoors, in all seasons, hiking, camping, or even just going for a walk or taking pictures. Since hygge comes easily to me, I will have to work at friluftsliv this winter.
If you’re looking for some motivation to get out of the house on a Saturday morning, look no further than Pawtucket, RI. Truly. Hope Artiste Village is probably my favorite repurposed mill in the area. Chock-full of artists, designers, cafes and even a coffee roaster, it hosts (every Saturday November-May, 9AM-1PM) a kick-ass wintertime farmer’s market. To give you an idea of the scope of this market, I counted four vendors selling grass-fed beef alone. There are stalls loaded with winter vegetables like kale, winter squash & potatoes….herbalists selling skincare and natural remedies, soup, freshly made cheeses, knitted alpaca mittens, local oysters….you name it. Get a coffee from New Harvest Roasters, a stuffed crepe from La Creperie, then walk around and plan out your dinner from what’s available that day. If you’re still hungry, The Bread Lab is right in the complex, interior doors open to the action, and offers brunch & live music on market days. If you want something quicker, the mill courtyard is full of food trucks. You’re having so much fun, why stop now? About a block away is Bucket Brewery, run by a great bunch of guys putting out some shockingly good beers. Walk over from the market for a tasting, they’re open 11:00AM-5:00PM on Saturdays, as well as Thursdays 1:00PM-7:30PM. After that, hop in your car for a 3 minute drive to Foolproof Brewing. According to their website Saturdays are for tours, so call ahead for a reservation (although they will accommodate walk-ins). It seems they do a ‘tasting only’ option on Thursday nights.
This first picture is McCarten Violins, one of the tenants of Hope Artiste. Aren’t they beautiful? I suspect I’m drawn to violins after my failed attempt to become a musician in 4th grade. It wasn’t bad enough my glasses made me look like Benjamin Franklin, I decided to play the violin…and failed.
I know I should just let Pawtucket bask in its glory by itself today but I have two pics of Providence I feel like throwing in here. The beautiful skyline from the Point Street Bridge:
The building in the picture below is one that I was mildly obsessed with as a child. Even driving by it scared me, I felt that you could get a shock just looking at it. Back then, it was actually producing electricity and you could somehow tell that by looking at it. It glowed brightly and just looked….electrified. According to Wikipedia:
“The South Street Station (also known as The Narragansett Electric Company Power Station or Narragansett Electric Lighting Company Power Station) is an historic electrical power generation station at 360 Eddy Street in Providence, Rhode Island. It is a massive brick and stone structure, built in stages between 1912 and 1952. Despite three major phases of construction, the 58,000 square foot building has fairly consistent Classical Revival styling. The building, an excellent example of early 20th-century power plant design, burned coal to provide electrical power to the city. It was gradually taken over by the more modern Manchester Street Station, and was decommissioned in 1995.
Narragansett Electric Company is a subsidiary of National Grid USA. The Rhode Island Historical Society was planning to build a “Heritage Harbor Museum” within the building. Construction ceased and the project was canceled in 2009 due to lack of financing.
In 2013 Brown University along with the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College announced that the vacant South Street Power Station would be a redeveloped with student housing, retail, a URI/RIC nursing school, administrative offices, a new parking structure, and additions to the adjacent riverwalk. The project is slated to also include student housing built on a parking lot along Point Street.”
That’s all for now. Happy New Year!
That’s the tagline for Rhode Island’s own Narragansett Beer. While the concept – a shandy made with Del’s Lemonade – and the can (PRETTY!) are both really cool…..true RI street cred in a beer goes to the Coffee Milk Stout from Ravenous Brewing in Woonsocket. But a picture of this can taken on Block Island is a really cool bit of Rhode Islandia.
I was beginning to think winter would never end. Not that you’d know it from these pictures but we are well and truly into spring now. My most recent pics aren’t very springlike because I lost the download cord to my camera, keep forgetting to order a new one, and have had to resort to my phone. The first two are from Providence. You know how I feel about this city. They don’t call it the Paris of New England for nothing.
They actually don’t. I just made that up. But look at these scenes of Westminster Street and tell me I’m really that far off the mark. Lots of small local businesses have sprung up, clothing, housewares, and a pair of little restaurant/bars. Flan y Ajo and Bodega Malasana are owned by a husband/wife team. Flan is an honest-to-goodness tapas bar that can accommodate about 14 people (that includes standing at the bar) and Bodega is an equally teeny wine bar, with both house wines and a small but interesting selection of tapas going for $5. Yup, you read that right.
An interesting trend is the rise of nano breweries (like a microbrewery but smaller). I guess they’ve always been around, what’s different now if they actually distribute to local bars and restaurants, and they do weekend tastings like wineries. In the past month or so I’ve been able to try brews from three different Rhode Island nanobreweries, and visit two of them. Coffee Milk Stout is a riff on coffee milk (a kid’s beverage made from coffee syrup). Most Rhode Islanders grow up on this stuff, a gateway drug to Dunkin Donuts coffee in adulthood. Coffee Milk Stout bubbles up from an industrial park in Woonsocket, courtesy of Ravenous Brewing. I’ve yet to visit them, I usually get my fill of their product at Ciro’s Tavern, right off Main Street in Woonsocket. This is an English-style pub w/great food, cool brews, trivia nights, live music….it’s basically the Cheer’s of northern RI.
Bucket Brewery is my new favorite place. Located in an old mill in Pawtucket, on the Providence line, its name comes from the disparaging nickname for Pawtucket, “the bucket”. I love when someone takes a supposed negative, owns it and runs with it. I think we tried six different beers the night we were there? And – no kidding – each was better than the last. Here is a snap of me playing barmaid. Besides the great beers, the guys who own this place couldn’t be nicer….so far this has been one of my favorite nights of 2014 (the entire group concurred).
I wanted to bring some fresh tap beer to a friend’s one evening, so I swung by Bucket Brewery. Je suis désolée! A hand-lettered sign on the door informed me they were closed to attend a beer fest. I immediately got on my Yelp app as I recalled there was yet another nanobrewery nearby, also open on weekends. Foolproof Brewing to the rescue! I fell hard for their Raincloud Porter and got a growler home safely.
This winter is kinda kicking my butt. I find myself wondering how people in Canada or Siberia survive. But I guess it’s all relative….there are probably people in Trinidad wondering how people in Rhode Island manage to get by. My last post made me remember how nice it is to spend a few hours breathing in fresh plant air at the Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park in Providence. There’s an old saying about the city: “If you don’t like Providence it’s only because you’ve never been to Providence”. OK, that isn’t really an old saying, I just made it up. But I stand by that statement. PVD rocks. The first two snaps below were taken at Roger Williams Park….it’s been a brutal winter but an undeniably pretty one. The last two pics are inside the botanical center. It’s like walking into paradise, the warm humid air hits you in the face and its instantly summer. Take a book and hang out on a bench for an hour or two. The last pic looks pretty bare because they’re exhibiting at the flower show and had moved some stuff out to the convention center.
Galilee! It’s really unique, a teeny mixed bag of a place. It’s a fishing village and a tourist trap, with our smallest state beach and a ferry boat landing (I can’t tell you where the boat goes, I promised in my last post). Full disclosure: when I commented to a friend that I love this village, she replied “it makes me want to jump out of my skin”. You just never know.
I took this picture on my phone at dusk the last time I was there. For you Stephen King fans, it was past dusk, it was actually the gloaming. If you visit, take a pass on George’s…..hit up Champlin’s for some fried seafood and a margarita.
I admit it; I have a bit of an obsession with Block Island. But….so does everyone who’s ever visited! (except for one person who shall remain nameless). There is a sense of place about Block Island. If you were ever kidnapped, and flown blindfolded to the island, you’d whip off your blindfold and look around and say “ahhhh, I’m on Block Island!” It’s something about the air, and the quality of the light….and those beautiful Victorian buildings with the red mansard roofs. There’s nowhere else like it on earth.
I was there this past weekend and besides our usual haunts, we had a mission. My friend’s co worker was a chambermaid at The Narragansett for several years in the 1960s. She’s not physically up to a visit but has never forgotten the island or her time upon it. We went to the inn and took some pictures for her; here are a couple of that beautiful place. And YES, I did get my perfect “California blue” sky!
Another random snap that I liked from this past weekend. Have I ever told you how much I hate power lines? I love electricity – am quite addicted to it actually – but HATE power lines. Why weren’t they put underground like 50 years ago? They ruin everything. Mostly my pictures.
One more….a picture not ruined by power lines:
I can see that this blog is in danger of becoming Jane’s Block Island Only Blog. I promise my next post will be a Block Island Free Zone. Promise.