Sometimes you even need a break from the Jersey Shore. Really.
It isn’t the heat or the crowds or even the sharks. We just need a change of pace now and then, and we find it on the shores of Rhode Island. They are only 3 1/2 hours away if the traffic gods are with you, and they are infinitely differently than the shores of Jersey. Colder and rockier, and with much better lobster. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
To enjoy a summer week in Rhode Island, you need to pack the three Bs: bathing suit, boogie board, bicycle. The first two are for the beach, obviously. The third is the easiest way of getting to many beaches once you are in-state and the best way to see the sights. Rhode Island is packed with bike trails, from a 50-mile chunk of the East Coast Greenway to small local paths through towns like Kingston. An ingenious little trailer called a Croozer, bolted to the back of a bike, can haul a family’s worth of beach picnic gear and more.
While the Jersey Shore seems to have back-to-back water parks now, there aren’t many to be found in Rhode Island. We spend our off-beach time wandering to local fairs and farmers’ markets, and to a few nearby attractions in Connecticut and Massachusetts. The former has the Submarine Force Museum in Groton (closed Tuesdays) and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum near Mystic. I have zero interest in the tribe’s casino, but I think they have done a great job of showing visitors what life as a Native American was like when the Pilgrims landed. Take the kids to Plimouth Plantation in to Massachusetts tp see the other side, and if you really want a different night out, book a room at the Lizzie Borden house in Fall River on the way back. No kidding, it’s a B&B now.
If you can ditch the kids for a day, there’s great antiques shopping in Rhode Island. That’s especially true for costume jewelry, which was once a thriving industry here. Poke around in the back roads southwest of Providence, but avoid the Newport side of the state unless your budget is flush. (If you want to feel as if you are a millionaire, just take the walk along the cliffs of Newport.)
No hotels to recommend on this trip because we bunk at a friend’s house near the University of Rhode Island. But we can talk food: Our friends always manage to get us to Aunt Carrie’s in Point Judith for dinner, but if we were in complete control of the week, we’d just make daily runs to Champlin’s in nearby Galilee for fish and lobster. Walk in and go straight to the tank of culls, what the locals call the lobsters that are too dinged for sale to fancier markets. We got two three-pound culls that were barely out of the ocean and paid just $5.99 a pound for them. You can’t do that back home. And despite what the Food Network says, skip the frozen lemonade at the ubiquitous Del’s stands. An Italian ice just about anyplace at the Jersey Shore is better.
Home page coastline by rprata via Flickr
Narragansett casino by svenstorm via Flickr
Point Judith fishing boats by pocius via Flickr