We got back from vacation in Rhode Island last week and I am suffering a little bit from what is probably the post vacation blues. As some of you know, much of the Candy Shop Vintage jewelry is produced in Rhode Island. It also happens to be one of my favorite areas of New England and for such a small state has so much to offer – beach, city life, seafood, natural beauty… the list goes on. I even did an extensive mini-guide to Rhode Island on this blog last year, so I am going to try not to repeat myself too much as we discovered a few more local gems this summer. I started my trip this year attending an old friend’s wedding in East Hampton and happily found I could make my way over to Rhode Island easily via the Montauk Ferry to the The Block Island Ferry. Each ride was less than an hour and though we experienced some rain and choppy seas en route, it was a beautiful way to travel, even on a grey day and afforded me an opportunity to mediate on the traumatic events of the previous week in Charleston from afar.
For the first week we rented a house via Airbnb that is on a beautiful salt water river called the Narrow River, technically in North Kingstown but bordering the coastal sea town Narragansett. My daughter Daphne had her own little beach to play on just steps from our house… The water in Rhode Island is coooold unlike the bath-seawater on the South Carolina coast in the summer. Almost too cold for my taste but very refreshing!
We were also a short car ride to the Narragansett town beach (which is absolutely beautiful), as well as a hop skip and jump away from a walk along the Naragasett sea wall that runs along the rocky part of the coast and is considered one of the best “free attractions” in Rhode Island.
We ate dinner at one night at The Coast Guard House Restaurant which flanks the sea wall. When you are sitting inside, surrounding by windows on all sides, you feel a bit like you are on a ship. Great sea food and amazing view.
My husband took this hilarious photo of me “working” on the new deck outside the restaurant where you can relax in Adirondack chairs and take in the view on the rocks just above sea level. This was a great addition to the restaurant since last summer and a quieter option than the sometimes rowdy local bar on the roof. For the record, I was only booking our hotel in Providence for the end of the week, I do know how to shut down on vacation, even though it can be difficult : )
Probably one of the best new spots we discovered on this trip was the Matunuck Oyster Bar. For the life of me, I do not know how we missed this in the three years we came prior but it is hands down the best seafood in Rhode Island. They do not take reservations so you can often expect to wait 45 minutes to an hour to be seated, but it is absolutely worth it. The local oysters were perfection and I had some amazing grilled tuna entree both nights we ate there. You can sit outside or in and the restaurant sits on a quaint little cove where I imagine they gather most of their fish from. They bill themselves as “Pond to Table.”
After a week on the river, we spent the weekend in Watch Hill, a town I covered extensively in my post last year. One of its most charming features it it’s Flying Horse Carousel a classic, brass-ring-grabbing ride that happens to be the oldest in the country. Our daughter Daphne was simply too young to ride last year but this year could not get enough. Starting at $1 a ride you could literally spend all day there until you have to bribe you child to move on with ice cream!
Our last night in Watch Hill we went with our hosts to The Ocean House, a beautifully restored hotel above the center of town. I visited The Ocean House in high school and danced in its then dilapidated basement bar. The Ocean House 2.0, lovingly restored and brought back to its glory days by a local businessman is simply perfect. I cannot imagine a better spot to enjoy a glass of wine or lobster roll on the entire East Coast!
We ended our trip in Providence, R.I. staying at our favorite Providence Hotel, The Dean. This hip, easy hotel is centrally located and has some great features, like old school gated elevators, a lobby coffee shop and two bars and a restaurant on the ground floor. It is extremely comfortable, quiet and very well priced. They also provide valet parking if you have a car with you though you can easily walk (or Uber) to much of the city from where it is located. My white Charleston Rice Beads were the perfect go-to accessory for exploring Rhode Island this year!
Daphne and I had to take a photo in front of their painted wall. She was a great little traveler, although after a week away she informed us she was ready to “go back to my home” in Charleston.
If you have some time to kill on an afternoon in Providence, this local cafe The Duck and Bunny is one of my absolute favorites. It has a glamorous, intimate interior as well as a charming outdoor garden where you can just as easily have tea and cupcakes as you can a pre-dinner drink.
My husband and I also wanted to try our one of the true, local Italian gems that Providence has to offer that we’ve neglected on previous visits. Driving by Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen in a former 1920′s speakeasy, their neon sign caught my eye. We had a great dinner there – you cannot get more local than this place. In fact we might have been the only non Italian-Americans in there. Also, did I mention the entire interior is done in shades of pink? Enough said.
We also spent an afternoon at the RISD Museum on Benefit Street which has an incredibly well-rounded, world class art collection, from Egyptian artifacts to Matisse to neons (my personal favorite) by Alejandro Diaz (below) and Dan Flavin. Sadly, their student exhibit was closed for the summer as I would have really liked to see that work. Fun fact: legendary costume jewelry Kenneth J. Lane is a RISD graduate.
We spent one afternoon with Daphne at her own version of a museum, The Providence Zoo. She had her face painted (very artistically I thought!) as a tiger and had fun growling at everyone we passed. The Providence Zoo is a perfect size for toddlers but I wouldn’t say it has an overwhelming number of exhibits. We were in and out in under two hours, including a farm themed petting zoo. I noticed on our way out there were swan shaped paddle boats available for rent (!!!) in a nearby park – a must add to the list for next year!
We also managed to explore the quaint town of Bristol R.I. one afternoon, a short 30 minute drive from Providence. Everything was decked and ready for their famous, annual July 4th Parade, which from the looks of the preparations is pretty spectacular. We did not have nearly enough time to spend their on our last afternoon, but we were so taken with it we were thinking of renting our vacation house there next summer…
Our last night in Providence or #PVD as it is hashtagged we got a babysitter and walked around downtown. As much as I should walk more in Charleston, I just don’t. Walking is such an amazing way to appreciate a city, and you often find things you would not otherwise notice when you are driving, like this fantastic mural in the downtown Providence former “Jewelry District.”
We were even able to watch the sunset from one (possibly the only one) of Providence’s rooftop bars and it was a perfect note to end on.