Another Slocum Site

Frosty Drew Observatory

An experience that’s out of this world

By Brooke Amerantes

Last summer, a few friends and I took the first of many late night trips to the Frosty Drew Nature Center and Observatory in Ninigret Park, Charlestown. Lacking the brightly lit restaurants and shopping plazas that are scattered throughout most of the state, Ninigret Park is recognized as being one of the darkest locations in Rhode Island. While it may sound strange, no matter how many times I’ve been to the park since that first visit I never grow tired of the incredible darkness that cloaks the area. Without the artificial light of the city, the stars illuminate the sky in a way I thought was only possible with the help of Photoshop.

The observatory itself is a tiny cylindrical building lit by a dim red light that contains only a set of steps and a rather impressive telescope. Throughout the night, the telescope changes positions to focus on an assortment of astrological sights including planets, the moon and globular clusters made up of millions of stars. My personal favorite is Saturn, which is best viewed in the early summer months. I’ve seen pictures of the planet in textbooks, but looking through the powerful telescope and seeing its famous rings firsthand was remarkable. Of course, the sky changes depending on the time of year, so the sights that are visible during the summer months are drastically different from what may be visible in winter.

Not only does the observatory provide breathtaking views of our galaxy, it provides an incomparable learning opportunity. Think about it–how often do you get the chance to point to an object in the sky and have a real astronomer explain what that object is and how it was formed? I can’t count the times I’ve asked the question “Is that a planet or just a really bright star?” to my family while on our evening walks. If there were an astronomer with me, I would have all the answers I needed while subsequently saving my family from a game of twenty questions.

One of my favorite learning experiences at the observatory occurred during my most recent visit. Looking at the sky, I noticed a bright object moving incredibly fast. Upon first glance, I thought it was a highflying airplane–or a UFO, perhaps? I was planning my Nobel Prize acceptance speech for discovering alien life when an astronomer explained that I was actually looking at the International Space Station, which was orbiting Earth at a cool 17,150 miles per hour. In fact, the space station moved so incredibly fast that it flew overhead twice during the two hours I was in the park. After seeing it in person–albeit from hundreds of miles away–it was incredible to think that there are real astronauts living inside of it.

While spending a Friday night learning about outer space may not be the first thing that comes to mind when planning a weekend’s worth of activities, there’s something very comforting about setting aside a busy schedule to spend a few hours gazing at the stars. The Frosty Drew Observatory is one of my favorite places to visit, and I’m always left awestricken by the beauty of the constellations and the immense size of our universe.

Frosty Drew Nature Center and Observatory, 61 Park Ln., Charlestown, 401-364-9508, frostydrew.org

If you have a tip or think we missed something, shoot us a message, tweet us at @InsidersGuideRI or email Kaitlyn Murray at kmurray@rimonthly.com.

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Newport Cliff Walk

A Cure for the Common Sunday

By Cissy Yu

The Newport Cliff Walk opens at sunrise and closes at sunset, though it wouldn’t surprise me if generations of Newport high school seniors have been sneaking out here to party after dark. It’s that kind of place. Three-and-a-half miles of shoreline trails, hugging the back lawns of mansions to your right and a sheer rocky drop to your left, where you can watch the sea rolling up, turning white and, suddenly ended, breaking on the rocks. A lot of couples come here – to nest like plovers in the rocky alcoves hidden from the main trail – and families, too, and once in a while a jogger or someone out alone for a morning walk.

I visited Cliff Walk on a Sunday afternoon. Not cold, but not sunny either – the kind of day a weather professional or a photographer might call “brisk,” or “windless.” Actually, there was a wedding photographer on the Cliff Walk, with her bride and groom and chatty bridesmaids. They posed in a line on a stone staircase that led down to the rocks. People leaned from the railings to see them get photographed, and one little boy shouted congratulations from the stairway.

The first stretch of the Cliff Walk is well-paved and well-swept, and it was this stretch that also had the most walkers. For the first half mile, you could hear from across the bay the sound of a bass beat from a party on Easton Beach. I remember this beat, plus the sound of the ocean and the funny smell of sea water closer to the beach. Most mansions were hedged off from the path, or behind black fences (the sterner sort added barbed wire), but a few had open turfs that people could walk through. The mansions looked properly extravagant. Some had marble lion statues in the grass, or benches for the mansion guests to sit and watch the sea, along with the procession of ordinary people walking the Cliff Walk.

In the second and third miles, the path turns rocky. One section called Rough Point leads through a long patch of sandy, slabby rocks (every point of interest has a QR code on a wood post). This and other parts might be slippery in wet weather.

(And speaking of rocks, if you like geology, I did read that the rocks along this walk are very old and rarely found. They seemed good-looking to me, but I’m not a specialist.)

Walkers can leave the trail at any of the seven or so stops where a street leads away from the walk. At the Cliff Walk’s end there’s a sandy lot (QR code: “Reject’s Beach”) where the trail finally flattens out to the level of the sea. If you’re tired, you can rest there for a while. And if you like, you can photograph the beach, or the sun setting, or the shorebird floating on the sea, or the strange golden retriever who’s just run up to sniff your welcome.

Newport Cliff Walk, cliffwalk.com

If you have a tip or think we missed something, shoot us a message, tweet us at @InsidersGuideRI or email Kaitlyn Murray at kmurray@rimonthly.com.

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Tangy’s Indoor Archery Lanes

A one-of-a-kind rainy day activity

By Brooke Amerantes

There are plenty of things to do in Rhode Island on a beautiful summer day, but once the clouds roll in and the rain starts pounding down, everyone suddenly finds themselves at a loss of what to do. Sure, you could go to the movies or stay at home and play board games, but that’s pretty much the extent of rainy day activities, right? Wrong!

One dreary day not too long ago, a friend and I were brainstorming ideas that would get us out of the house for a few hours. After ten minutes of going back and forth with the classic “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” I watched as my friend stood up and instructed me to get in the car for an “adventure.”

Before I knew it we arrived at Tangy’s Indoor Archery Lanes in Warwick. I was immediately confused when we walked into a store covered wall to wall in ski and snowboard gear. Was my friend’s idea of an adventure a road trip to Northern Canada? However upon being sent to the second floor, confusion turned to wonderment as I entered a large room containing two walls stocked with archery equipment, and the rest nothing but open space. As it turns out, my Canadian road trip guess was pretty far off.

Having never even seen a bow and arrow in person before, I was understandably a bit apprehensive. The bow I was fitted with was five feet high—roughly the same size as me— and the set of bright pink arrows I was given were…sharp. While waiting for my target to be set up and properly positioned, I watched in awe as a girl who could not have been older than twelve hit bull’s-eye after bull’s-eye just a few lanes down from me. If she could do it I could do it, right?

After a quick lesson from a friendly employee and a few practice shots, my fears subsided and I was hitting targets like I was Katniss Everdeen. As someone whose only previous experience aiming a weapon at a target came in the form of shooting a squirt gun at my unsuspecting little brother, I was shocked to see how easy the sport was to pick up. The once intimidating bow seemed to become an extension of my arm, and the feeling of sending a colorful arrow flying a hundred feet in less than the time it takes to blink was powerful.

Much to my amusement, shooting at a stationary object didn’t get boring after awhile, like I would have originally assumed. On the contrary, each arrow I launched across the room brought me more delight than the last. In fact, my friend and I were so caught up in competition to see who had the better shot—I did, of course—that we were surprised to learn our hour of archery time had passed so quickly. In just one session, we had both gone from beginners to pros, while having more fun than we ever would have if we stayed home and played Scrabble until the rain subsided.

Tangy’s Indoor Archery Lanes, 200 Bald Hill Rd, Warwick 401-737-2697, tangysarchery.com

If you have a tip or think we missed something, shoot us a message, tweet us at @InsidersGuideRI or email Kaitlyn Murray at kmurray@rimonthly.com.

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Pizza at the Bike Stop Cafe

Great pizza at a homey Narragansett locale

By Allie Herrera

Based off my personal experiences, there are three things in life that can easily lead to a fun night out – good company, great drinks and some delicious pizza. The Bike Stop Cafe in Narragansett offers just that.

If there’s one thing that never disappoints me about Rhode Island, is the feeling I get when I enter most local restaurants. From the moment I stepped into the Bike Stop Cafe, I felt welcomed. Their cozy booths and personable staff made it easy for me and my friends to get comfortable from the start.

Being from Connecticut, just about an hour away from New York City, I know a good pizza when I see it. From the perfect amount of cheese-to-sauce ratio to the right number of toppings distributed on top of the pie. I’ve had my fair share of pizza delicacies. My standards are high and let me tell you, the Bike Stop did not disappoint.

As I looked through their menu, I couldn’t help but be instantly drawn to their pizza selection. The diversity of these pizza toppings was unlike anything I had ever experienced in Rhode Island. Toppings ranged from plain cheese to barbeque pulled pork and even a specialty lobster pie.

I decided to order “The Common Man” pizza and knew I was in for a treat. All I could think about was the barbeque slow cooked pulled pork covering the melted mozzarella cheese as it lay across a perfectly cooked pizza crust. The slaw would top the pie forming a perfect display of sweet and salty goodness. I have only dreamt of pizza toppings like this and getting the chance to experience it first-hand was an opportunity I was not going to pass up!

While we waited, I noticed people seated in booths and other tables nearby. Everyone seemed to feel just as cozy as we did. After a few moments, I realized a lot of people appeared to be drinking from their own wine bottles. Cups of wine were being enjoyed all around! Turns out this place is BYOB. What more could we have possibly asked for?

I spotted our waitress making her way over with a pie in each hand. If my face didn’t scream eagerness, I don’t know what else could have expressed my level of excitement. As I took my first bite, my taste buds entered pizza nirvana and the rest was history.

The Bike Stop, 148 Boon St., Narragansett, 401-284-1414

If you have a tip or think we missed something, shoot us a message, tweet us at @InsidersGuideRI or email Kaitlyn Murray at kmurray@rimonthly.com.

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Narragansett Seawall

Visit a South County fixture in Narragansett

By Allie Herrera

When I think of Rhode Island a few things come to mind: the friendly people, fresh seafood and the rich ocean smell offered by its local beaches. When I first moved to this state, I knew I was in for a treat when I was told I only lived fifteen minutes from the beach.

Growing up in Connecticut, the beach was never as available as it is here and the change in scenery definitely sparked my interest from the start. Don’t tell my mother this, but that may have been part of the reason why I ended up going to school here in the first place – shhhhh.

From day one, Rhode Island natives raved about the beauty of Narragansett. The long stretch of sand meeting the ocean made for a breathtaking view, they would say. So I decided to take a look for myself.

One July morning, as I got closer to the center of town where the Narragansett Seawall is located, I noticed the amount of people that were brought together by this beautiful attraction. From children playing nearby to couples walking hand-in-hand alongside the wall, I knew this was the place for me.

I got out of my car and was instantly greeted by the ocean breeze only offered in Rhode Island. My town back home didn’t possess anything close to this. The warm mist gently touched my face as I took in the smells of fresh seafood from surrounding restaurants. Why had I never made the time to come out here before?

As I walked closer to the seawall, I felt a sense of serenity. It seemed as if the people walking past me were welcoming me into their community. Their inviting smiles on top of the beautiful view made me feel at ease. I had always wondered if it was obvious that I wasn’t a Rhode Islander, but at that moment it didn’t even faze me; at that moment, I felt like I belonged.

Every visit after that, I would notice the various types of people who found pleasure in going to the seawall. Families would gather on the soft sand with their bright red coolers prepared for a day under the hot summer sun. Children would joyfully run up and down the beach with colorful kites high in the sky. I had never been a part of something so pleasant.

One afternoon, I had intended on walking alongside the stone wall, but I then decided a run would do me some good. I ran past people riding their bikes and others skateboarding by. It had to have been the most pleasant three miles I’ve ever run because by the end of it, I was happy to have completed it there. The Narragansett Seawall gave me that feeling of belonging; the one it had given me a few months earlier when I first moved to Rhode Island.

If you have a tip or think we missed something, shoot us a message, tweet us at @InsidersGuideRI or email Kaitlyn Murray at kmurray@rimonthly.com.

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Brickley’s Ice Cream

A Rhode Island tradition for ice cream

By Allie Herrera

What makes for the perfect ice cream? Is it the presence of rich chocolate with every bite you take? How about the crispy and crunchy sound of a waffle cone as you bite down? Or is it scoops so big, your hands can’t help but come in contact with the soft ice cream melting?

When I first moved to Rhode Island three years ago, I wanted to experience the people, the culture and most importantly the ice cream! My friends had been eagerly awaiting the opening of an ice cream shop in town. They had been counting down the days until finally on a Friday afternoon, it was time. We took a drive down to Narragansett and were greeted by an array of families and a big green sign that read, “Brickley’s Ice Cream.”

The closer I got to the door, the closer I was to the mouthwatering smell of freshly made waffle cones. I stepped foot into one of Rhode Island’s deadliest locations for a sweet tooth and there was no chance I was leaving empty handed.

Being a chocolate lover, my eyes immediately found the Oreo flavor listed on their menu. It was then that I noticed the chocolate brownie flavor listed beside it. What was I going to do now? Well, there was only one thing to do and that was order a scoop of each. Believe me; I didn’t want to indulge too much, but I simply had no other choice.

As I bit into the soft and creamy mound of ice cream, I could sense my taste buds enjoying every bite. The abundance of brownie chunks and Oreo bits made for a beautiful site. Not a single space between each scoop of ice cream lay empty. There was (chocolatey?) goodness everywhere I looked!

I haven’t even mentioned the best part yet. Brickley’s ice cream scoops are nestled in a warm and cozy shell waiting to be enjoyed. I’m talking about their famous freshly made waffle cones. You can’t find another cone like this in Rhode Island. With every bite I took, I could remember every ice cream I had and realized that nothing would ever compare to that very moment (dramatic, but true).

Their menu also includes some fruity flavors like blueberry, grapefruit, orange pineapple and peach — perfect for those hot summer days. They didn’t forget about healthy eaters, either. Brickley’s offers vanilla, coffee, maple nut and pistachio flavored ice cream with no added sugar. Bet you haven’t made decisions this hard since you last ordered ice cream out of an ice cream truck when you were a kid.

Brickley’s Ice Cream, 322 Main St., Wakefield, 401-789-1784; 921 Boston Neck Rd., Narragansett, Boston Neck Rd., 401-789-1784, brickleys.com

If you have a tip or think we missed something, shoot us a message, tweet us at @InsidersGuideRI or email Kaitlyn Murray at kmurray@rimonthly.com.

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5 Places to Get Burgers in Rhode Island

This is the bacon burger from Chomp in Warren.

Here’s The Beef, Burgers throughout the State

Chomp Kitchen and Drinks
Chomp considers itself the Bristol County burger authority, and we can see why. The house burger is topped with smoked gouda and the bacon burger is actually made of pork and bacon. What’s not to love? 440 Child St., Warren, 401-289-2324, chompri.com

Crazy Burger
Crazy Burger has every kind of burger you can imagine, and they’re all house-made. Chow down on a classic beef burger or go for something different like lamb, turkey, or even an ostrich burger. They have great vegetarian options, too. 144 Boon St., Narragansett, 401-783-1810, crazyburger.com

Harry’s Bar and Burger
Harry’s is a great, hip place to grab beers and burgers with your buddies. Every burger (all slider-style and served in pairs) is made with 100 percent Hereford beef and other fresh ingredients. 121 North Main St., Providence, 401-228-7437, harrysbarburger.com

Luxe Burger
At Luxe, burger-building is an art. Famous (and loved locally) for a build-your-own burger option and competitive trivia Thursdays, Luxe is the place to go if you’re in the market for a fun night out and some really good chow. 5 Memorial Blvd., Providence, 401-621-5893, luxeburgerbar.com

Stanley’s
Stanley’s has been in the burger business for nearly eighty years so they’re obviously doing something right. Their double burgers are colossal, our favorite being the double mushroom cheeseburger with lettuce and tomato. 535 Dexter St., Central Falls, 401-726-9689, stanleyshamburgers.com

If you have a tip or think we missed something, shoot us a message, tweet us at @InsidersGuideRI or email Kaitlyn Murray at kmurray@rimonthly.com.

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A Visit to the Skating Rink

An afternoon at the Alex and Ani City Center

By Gabrielle Lafond

Alex-and-Ani-City-CenterI’m the type of person that walks into walls and trips up the stairs, but my lack of coordination didn’t keep me from ice skating when the cold weather arrived here in Rhode Island. Ice skating is a wintertime favorite and people of all ages can enjoy gliding on the smooth ice with friends and family. If you’re like me, you need some time to slowly get used to the feeling of your skates on the ice before you can even consider picking up speed. A few weeks ago, I went skating at the Alex and Ani City Center in Kennedy Plaza in Providence.

It was a chilly day when I went to the rink but I warmed up after a few minutes. I took figure skating lessons when I was nine; however, I quickly realized the skating skills I’d developed as a child were long gone. I fell a lot when I was first learning to skate and some part of my body always hurt when I came to my lessons. After some time, I was able to glide effortlessly on the ice. When I went to the rink in Providence, I was skating horribly, but luckily there weren’t many people there to witness my clumsiness.

The traffic cones on the rink that people can utilize for extra support while they’re skating were very tempting, but I refused to use them and look even more inexperienced. Every few minutes I’d have one of those moments when I’d trip and almost fall flat on my face, my heart dropping into my stomach. But I didn’t fall once. After I got used to the feeling of the ice under my skates, I began to enjoy myself. I liked being able to look up at the tall buildings that surrounded the rink while taking in the hustle and bustle of the city. The sun shining on the rink warmed my face and gave the whole experience a magical feel.

Maybe it’s been years since you last broke out that rusty pair of skates in your basement, but don’t worry. The Alex and Ani City Center rink and most other rinks in Rhode Island allow people to rent skates as well as a locker to keep any belongings in. General admission to the rink is $4 for a child and $7 for an adult. Keep in mind: children under 12 years of age must have an adult with them at the rink.

Alex and Ani City Center, 2 Kennedy Plaza, Providence, 401-331-5544, alexandanicitycenter.com

If you have a tip or think we missed something, shoot us a message, tweet us at @InsidersGuideRI or email Kaitlyn Murray at kmurray@rimonthly.com.

 

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5 Food and Drink Staples in Rhode Island

Uniquely Rhode Island Snacks and Drinks

By Gabrielle Lafond

1. Party Pizza

People who don’t live in Rhode Island often cringe when they hear about how our state has pizza strips that are served at room temperature instead of hot out of the oven. This bakery pizza, also known as party pizza, is baked dough cut into squares and topped with just tomato sauce. Some variations can have cheese, broccoli and spinach. Party pizza is great if you’re looking for a quick snack or lunch and it can be found in most local bakeries and markets in Rhode Island.

2. Del’s Lemonade

One of the more seasonal items you can buy in Rhode Island comes in the form of a frozen drink called Del’s Lemonade. Del’s is the perfect summer refreshment, often sold at roadside carts, stands and even inside some restaurants. Del’s tastes better than your average frozen drink or slushie — it’s not overwhelmingly sweet and the added lemons give it a natural citrus taste. Del’s is the ideal cool-down drink after a long, hot summer day.

3. Coffee milk

Coffee milk is usually the drink that causes confusion among people who don’t live here. Simply put, it’s like chocolate milk, except with coffee syrup flavoring instead. Most Rhode Islanders drink coffee milk at breakfast, though it’s a great treat at any time of day.

4. Doughboys

Warm, soft, sweet and absolutely delicious — these are just a few adjectives that can be used to describe a Rhode Island doughboy. A doughboy is flat fried dough usually topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon. This mouth-watering indulgence is often served at various fairs and festivals, but a great place to buy them is at Iggy’s Doughboy and Chowder House, which has locations in Warwick and Narragansett. With both spots next to the ocean, you can soak up the sun while enjoying a fresh doughboy.

5. Clam cakes

Clam cakes are a New England favorite and they’re abundantly eaten in Rhode Island. In case you aren’t familiar with this scrumptious food, a clam cake is deep-fried batter shaped like a ball, stuffed with breading and clams. When you break apart a warm clam cake, you can see the trails of steam rise and smell the freshly fried dough. Clam cakes are usually served with chowder and they’re a favorite lunchtime food for people visiting one of the state’s beaches.

If you have a tip or think we missed something, shoot us a message, tweet us at @InsidersGuideRI or email Kaitlyn Murray at kmurray@rimonthly.com.

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Wright’s Dairy Farm and Bakery

Delicious Desserts in North Smithfield

By Gabrielle Lafond

Perhaps the most popular place in North Smithfield to buy cakes, desserts, milk and more, is at Wright’s Dairy Farm and Bakery. Established in 1914, Wright’s is family owned and operated, with many additional employees to aid in their effort to provide fresh, delicious food to their customers. Wright’s is particularly unique because the milk they use in their products comes from cows they raise directly on the premises.

People who reside in North Smithfield and those from other towns flock to Wright’s for their signature item: milk. However, with the winter months underway, you might also be interested in their egg nog, which is in season during November and December.

Wright’s recognizes that their cows are important to the success of their business and employees dedicate much of their time to making sure that they are comfortable and content. If you’re an animal lover, take comfort in knowing that at Wright’s, cows are raised solely for their milk and not for veal. Feel free to bring your children to Wright’s between 3-5 p.m. on any day to watch the cows being milked.

Now to the tasty part: pastries and desserts. According to Jen Houde, who works at Wright’s, every customer should try the magic bar, which is her favorite dessert they offer. Jen says a magic bar is a graham cracker crust with sweet and condensed milk and caramel and coconut and chocolate. When asked about the most popular pastry among customers, she tells me many people like their éclairs, which consist of boiled custard inside a shell with frosting on top. If you’re in the mood for something else, Wright’s also offers a large selection of muffins, cream pastries, cookies, individual custard pastries, brownies, flaky deserts, pies, cupcakes, individual cake slices, sweet rolls and buns, fruit pies, etc. Whenever I go to Wright’s I make sure to buy the chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies, which are always baked to perfection. From time to time I’ll also indulge in their cheesecakes, which really get those taste buds jumping.

Besides desserts, Wright’s also sells party pizza, a staple in Rhode Island. This pizza is served cold or hot and you can top it with plain sauce, cheese, spinach and cheese, broccoli and cheese, or olives and cheese. Take it from someone who has had the pizza before: it is guaranteed to satisfy. The dough is soft and the toppings are always fresh and delicious—I recommend buying the pizza for any party or event.

There aren’t many bakeries around where customers can see the cows that produce the milk they’re about to buy. That’s just one reason why Wright’s is so unique, in addition to the remarkable quality and selection of items that they offer. Whether you are in the mood for pizza or something sweet, Wright’s is the place to go!

Wright’s Dairy Farm and Bakery, 200 Woonsocket Hill Rd., North Smithfield, 401-229-4844, wrightsdairyfarm.com

If you have a tip or think we missed something, shoot us a message, tweet us at @InsidersGuideRI or email Kaitlyn Murray at kmurray@rimonthly.com.

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