Ah, Cranston…… Having grown up on the other side of the Bay in Bristol, the only times I ever visited Cranston as a child were to see my great Aunt Helen in her home on Belmont Road. Cranston seemed so far away. Who would ever have thought that I’d grow up to love this city of diverse people, delicious foods, and thriving traditions? It was with great excitement that I brought the girls on a tour of some of the highlights of Cranston and the neighboring town of West Warwick.
Due to some morning commitments, our journey started after lunch. Our first stop was the DeLuise Bakery on Oaklawn Avenue, because a tour of Cranston *needs* to include a stop at an Italian Bakery. Cranston has so many delicious bakeries to choose from, but since Deluise is celebrating its 80th year, it seemed like the right choice for the day, and the pastries did not disappoint. We had a very difficult time making decisions, and ended up with a variety of tasty sweets, which were devoured in record breaking time.
Feeling satisfied, we crossed over the town line into West Warwick to visit some mills. The girls know that my love of New England mills is similar to my love of castle and monastery ruins in Ireland, and they were very polite in accompanying me and not rolling their eyes too frequently. We parked at Riverpoint Park and walked along the Washington Secondary Trail bike path to see the Bradford Soap Works, which is a functioning mill along the Blackstone River. Bradford Soap Works has been in operation since 1876 and their customers include big names such as Aveeno, Biore, Clinique, Mrs. Myers, and Dove.
The Bradford Soap mill is quite an impressive building, and is one of the only working mills we’ve seen in our travels. We could smell the soap in the air from behind the factory and could see steam rising from the towers and see and hear the operations of the factory taking place. I could have stood there for a while, but it was time to move on, so we checked out the Royal Mills which has been turned into gorgeous living spaces and is located across the street from Bradford Soap Works, and then after pausing to take a picture at the New Haven Caboose that is on display in the area, we headed back to our car. We learned that West Warwick was on the main railroad corridor for New England, making it a very desirable place for mills and factories back in the day.
Our next stop was the West Warwick Riverwalk. I had been eyeing this area for a while as we had some solved-but-not-yet-found geocache puzzles along the Riverwalk. We parked at the Youth Center on Factory Street, and Tarynn & I headed down the trail while Aemilia & Aoife opted to sit outdoors and wait for us to return. I had low expectations for the Riverwalk, as I had read that it was overgrown and filled with litter. However, it turned out to be a beautiful trail along the Blackstone, and the plentiful blackberries along the way greatly delighted Tarynn. We ended up at a rushing waterfall behind the Royal Mills complex, and then returned along the path to our car, snacking on more berries as we walked.
Our final destination in West Warwick was Station Fire Memorial Park. This park was created in memory of the 100 people who died in a fire while attending a concert by the Band Great White on February 20, 2003. It feels like nearly everyone in Rhode Island knew someone who lost their life in that fire, and it was sobering to see the individual plaques in honor of each of the 100 concert goers who lost their lives that night. The park and memorial are beautiful, and while we were there, other people came to quietly and respectfully honor the victims as well.
Now it was time to head back to Cranston for dinner. Cranston is a food Mecca, and given the ethnic diversity of the population, there are all types of restaurants. We were looking for a place with outdoor seating, and we decided to head to La Casa on Laurel Hill Avenue for Guatemalan food. La Casa is the winner of the 2019 RI Food Fight’s People’s Choice Award for Best Tacos, and it is owned by a student I knew when he was at the middle school in which I taught. The food at La Casa is some of the most amazing Latin American food we’ve ever tasted, and we were all looking forward to dinner. Brian joined us for dinner and we ordered an assortment of tacos, nachos, fried yucca, and pupusa. The service was excellent, the restaurant was clean and we enjoyed our dinner immensely.
After dinner, Brian and Tarynn headed back home, while Aoife, Aemilia & I continued exploring Cranston. We drove down Webster Ave and turned on to Bailey Street to see the house that Papa grew up in, and then we headed over to Cranston Street to see the Governor Sprague Mansion and the Cranston Print Works, which printed fabric in Cranston until 2009.
Further down Cranston Street, we stopped at Itri Square which is dedicated to the immigrants from Itri, Italy who settled in Cranston. This area is also home to many outstanding Italian restaurants.
Across the street is the West Cranston World War II Memorial which honors those from West Cranston who lost their lives, including my grandfather, Arthur J. Schattle,who was killed in the Second Battle of the Bulge.
Next, we drove over to Meshanticut Lake for an after dinner walk. We saw a family of ducks and a cute little free library on our evening lakeside stroll.
Passing by Hugh B. Bain Middle School, Cranston High School East, and City Hall, we then headed over to Edgewood to take in the beautiful view at Stillhouse Cove Park.
Finally we visited the village of Pawtuxet, starting on the Cranston side and then crossing the bridge into Warwick. We found some historical markers relating to the events surrounding the burning of the Gaspee, and we also found another creatively decorated little free library in Pawtuxet Park. Heading back to our car, we heard music and laughter coming from the many Pawtuxet cafes and dining establishments, and we enjoyed the sparkle of the lights and the relaxed atmosphere of the village. Aside from our face coverings, it felt like a normal summer night…..almost.
Other places we've enjoyed in Cranston & West Warwick:
This morning we were so excited to have a visit from Channel 10 reporter Kelly O'Neill and videographer Christian Ramirez.
Kelly and Christian were both super nice and they interviewed us about our RI summer travels.
You can watch the segment that aired on the 6:00 news here...
Thanks to Kelly, Christian, and WJAR 10 for sharing our story!
Hi Everyone, it's Aoife! Today we are going to be exploring Lincoln.
The first thing we did when we were driving through Lincoln was stop at Butterfly Pond where there is a waterfall with a bridge going across it. We stopped there because it was a pretty place that we had gone by before and my mom decided that today was a good time to stop there. While we were there my parents decided to go look for a geocache that was close by. While they were looking for the geocache we received some very weird looks from the people driving by because my parents were down by the water searching near the bridge for the geocache. They found it and we continued on our way.
The next thing we did was drive along Great Road, which is Rhode Island's oldest highway. It was built in 1683 and there are many historic sites along this road. We stopped at a historic house called Hearthside House which was built by Stephen Hopkins Smith in 1810 because he was in love with a lady from Providence who wanted to live in a fine house. However, when she saw the house, she thought it was beautiful but she didn't want to live so far out in the country. Mr. Smith was heartbroken and he never married and never lived in the house.
We also stopped at another historic house called the Arnold House and we also stopped at Gateway Park.
After we finished taking pictures at the historic sites along Great Road we continued our journey to Lincoln Woods State Park. At Lincoln Woods we saw giant glacier rocks on the side of the road. After seeing the glacier rocks we went to Olney Pond where people weren’t wearing masks or social distancing at the swimming or picnic areas! We didn't stay there, and went to find another part of the pond that was less crowded. My parents went down a trail to find another geocache while my sisters and I were watching the water to see if we could spot any fish.
Once my parents came back after finding the geocache, we went to my favorite stop on our trip to Lincoln, Lincoln Creamery. At Lincoln Creamery they had made several lines in the parking lot that you would wear your mask in and be six feet apart from the other customers. I felt very comfortable there as everyone was following social distancing guidelines. As for what to order at Lincoln Creamery, I was originally going to get chocolate ice cream in a waffle cone, but when I got to the window I changed my mind quickly because I saw that I could get a coffee shake with sprinkles and a donut on top. I was so excited because I have loved donuts since I was little and seeing the shake and donut come out made me so excited. My sisters Aemilia and Tarynn, and my Dad all got a layered ice cream with sprinkles. My mom got a waffle cone with almond joy ice cream. Our trip to Lincoln was really fun and full of delicious ice cream.
Other places we've enjoyed in Lincoln:
Hello, hello, hello and welcome to you all. Ladies, Gentlemen, and everyone, welcome to Warwick! My name is Aemila and I will be your tour guide today as we take on the city of Warwick!
I see you all have chosen the classic Rhode Island tour… excellent selection. Well, if we’re all set to begin, right this way folks. Watch your step, and we’ll be starting at Oakland Beach, so I’ll see you all there.
ALL RIGHT. If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you made it. Hopefully you didn’t get stuck in any Rhode Island traffic. My (grumpy) mother says that you can’t get anywhere in Warwick without getting stuck in traffic. Isn’t she a joy to have around? Sounds like someone didn’t eat enough clam cakes.
Speaking of clam cakes, on your right, you can see the lovely little restaurant of Iggy’s at Oakland Beach, Warwick. What would Rhode Island be without Iggy’s? Probably sad, miserable, and full of bad vibes. We wouldn’t want that, would we? Feel free to eat as many clamcakes as you like. Or doughboys, if that’s more your thing. You can’t go wrong with either, and you might want to try the chowder too. While you wait for your food, you can check out the beach. You can swim, or go over to the rocky section to look for crabs. Take your food over to a nice grassy spot on the bike path to practice social distancing. When you’re done, I’ll meet you at Rocky Point....
I see you’ve all arrived at Rocky Poi--YOU SIR, PUT ON YOUR MASK! WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
My apologies, here we are at Rocky Point State Park, site of a former amusement park also called Rocky Point. Quite the coincidence. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been an amusement park for a while, so I don’t have any stories about it. But if you go up to LITERALLY any Rhode Islander on the street, they will tell you a story about when they went to Rocky Point. They will probably point out where a lot of things used to be, which you can also do on your own if you know how to read a sign. The signs here are actually quite interesting - they include old photos of different sites around the park along with some of the history of the area.
That concludes our tour for today, unless you’ve added on the bonus stop of Ruby’s Candy Store and Gelato in the Grotto…
After our “official” Warwick Tour, we stopped by the house of some friends for a socially distanced visit. We were able to “purchase” sweets from 10 year old Ruby’s candy store on the porch, and marvel at a campfire with colorful flames alongside the brook in their backyard. We also had fun watching their dog’s antics playing in the brook and their garden and pet chicken were also very fun to see. Aside from the pleasure of getting to catch up with friends who we hadn’t seen in awhile, the other highlight of the visit was that Ruby’s family has transformed their root cellar into a grotto, and we were invited to partake of “gelato in the grotto”. It was such an enchanting visit, and we had a magical time chatting with friends and eating delicious gelato. :)
That’s it for now, see you soon!
Other places we've enjoyed in Warwick:
It's Tarynn's turn to write about our adventures...
Hello! Are you ready for another adventure? I hope so because today we are going to go and explore Narragansett and a little bit more of South Kingstown! We met a friend at Roger Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett and had a great time playing in the water and finding hermit crabs, rock crabs, and Periwinkles. Roger Wheeler is one of my favorite beaches, they have little waves that don’t knock me down, and there are lots of places to look for crabs and other sea animals.
On the way to the beach we visited many fascinating places. We visited the Hannah Robinson Tower in South Kingstown that is near the beaches and we climbed all the way to the top! There was a great view and on the way up and down I counted all of the levels on the tower. There were 6!
Another great place we visited was Kinney Azalea Gardens in Kingston. It was very beautiful. There were rhododendron and azalea bushes everywhere and it was very big. There were many different paths but we didn't have time for all of them. We went down a couple and we still saw a lot. There were bushes with flowers on them, and in the springtime, there are probably even more flowers. We saw pink ones, blue ones, purple ones, and ones with thousands of bees. I even saw a snake slither away through the garden. It was black with a white stripe going down the middle. We walked past many small bridges, took pictures under a stone moon gate, and there were a couple little fairy houses that we took pictures of. We left a rock on the stone moon gate.
After we left the garden we drove through the villages of Peacedale and Wakefield in South Kingstown, and then we went to the William C. O’Neill South County Bike Path. The bike path led us to the graffiti Tunnel Gallery. There were pictures that people had spray painted and painted on the walls, the ground and even the ceiling! I was very amazed and I wondered how people spray painted the ceiling without making a huge mess everywhere. We took so many pictures of the art and we left a painted stone by the entrance to the tunnel. Then finally after a little while we hopped in the car and headed on our way.
Soon, we arrived at the two towers in Narragansett. We saw an old fashioned clock called a sundial that tells you the time by where the shadow was and we took a picture in front of a fountain. We left another rock there on the rock wall. Then we went to the sea wall and looked at the cairns that people had made out of rocks.
After that we went to Aunt Carrie's which was like 5 minutes away from the beach we were heading to. We got some clam cakes, which were delicious, and we saw signs that let us know that Aunt Carrie’s is celebrating its 100th year! Then we headed off to meet our friends at Roger Wheeler State Beach.
At the beach we met up with our friends and carried our stuff to a spot on the beach. We set our stuff up and me and my friend and her younger brother splashed into the water. It took a little while but finally I went under the water with my friends. We found so many hermit crabs and we kept looking for more. During a little break from the water we went to the rocks and started looking for crabs. We found big crabs, little crabs, and tiny tiny crabs. When we had found over 20 crabs we went and built some mud cakes, a mud fountain, and seaweed soup. Then we went back into the water and cleaned off all the mud on ourselves and on the tools that we used. We stayed at the beach until the sun went down and then we packed up our stuff and headed to an ice cream shop called Brickleys.
At Brickley's we met up again with our friends and got ice cream. It was delicious. I got a kiddie maple walnut ice cream sundae with whipped cream, rainbow sprinkles, walnuts, and a cherry. We ate our ice cream and headed home for a good night's sleep.
Thank you for coming on this exciting adventure to Narragansett and South Kingstown. I hope you had as much fun as I did. See you on the next adventure!
Other places we've enjoyed in Narragansett:
Brian is our blogger today.....
Rhode Island has an abundance of natural spaces by the water, and North Kingstown’s coastline includes some beautiful coastline. We started our North Kingstown visit by driving down to the John H. Chafee Nature Preserve. A nice long walk to the beach on a wide path in perfect weather is about as good as it gets. Aemilia is no fan of beaches because she hates sand, but this beach seems like it was made just for her since it is covered in small stones rather than sand, and she enjoyed hanging out with Aoife at the water’s edge. Tarynn wasted no time in going to search for living creatures. She was able to find snails, small rock crabs, even tinier crabs, and fish in the water.
Heidi wanted to find a geocache that we had searched for unsuccessfully five years ago. In the previous attempt we spent a great deal of time crawling over a large rock out in the water but the geocache was not there. When you're into geocaching as much as Heidi is, a failed attempt like this (called a DNF for did-not-find) is something that haunts you in your dreams and drives you to "avenge" it when you have a chance. So Heidi and I left the kids on the beach to play while we walked a half mile north along the rocky shore to find the geocache that had eluded us years ago. I am not nearly as driven in geocaching as Heidi is but I enjoyed the walk and the company and I was the one who found the geocache in the end.
Returning back to the girls, Tarynn excitedly showed us the crabs she had found. We all picked up stones to bring home to paint, and we left a “smile” painted stone in a tree. On the way back Tarynn was very excited to find blackberries and proceeded to graze on the flora all the way back to the parking lot.
Also in North Kingstown is the birthplace of Gilbert Stuart, colonial America's foremost portrait painter. Although this historic site is closed for tours due to COVID-19, we were able to see the beauty of the house and restored water wheels from the side of the road. (Side trip down memory lane by Heidi - The last time I visited Gilbert Stuart’s birthplace was when I was on a fourth grade field trip back in the 1980’s. My mom was a chaperone and needed to use the restroom, which was an outhouse with a lock on the outside of the door. She asked me to stand guard while she used the facilities, and of course I agreed to do so. Well, 10-year-old me got distracted and ran off to play tag with my friends, leaving my mom locked in the outhouse! She had to shout and bang on the door for someone to let her out - Yikes!!!!)
We followed our view of Gilbert Stewart's birthplace with a walk through the village of Wickford. Wickford is a quaint waterside village and we enjoyed walking down the docks to the water and strolling through the historic streets. Wickford, established in the early 1700's, still has many Colonial and Federal period homes as well as the oldest Anglican Meeting House in the northeast. It's like taking a journey into in the past.
Wickford is also home to the mysterious "Narragansett rune stone". This large stone was found in Narragansett Bay, and was probably unearthed as a result of the 1938 hurricane. Early in the century people noticed runes carved in the stone but to this day no one knows for sure who did them. Some have suggested Vikings or the Knights Templar, but they could also be more recent. No one knows! We found out about the stone because there's also a geocache there and now one of our painted rocks is nestled in the stones surrounding the rune stone.
The trip to North Kingstown would not be complete without a visit to one of Rhode Island’s fine ice cream shops, The Inside Scoop. Aoife was especially delighted because she was able to get chocolate dairy-free ice cream (many places just offer sorbet as a dairy-free option). Nothing beats locally made ice cream and smiles on a beautiful RI summer day!
Other places we've enjoyed in North Kingstown:
Ahhhhh…...A Bristol 4th of July. As a proud Bristol native, there is no place I’d rather be at any time of the year, and most especially on the 4th of July. Growing up in Bristol, the 4th was the highlight of our year. It was even better than Christmas, with weeks of celebrations and events culminating with the 4th of July parade and fireworks. The small seaside town of Bristol, RI is the home of America’s oldest continuous 4th of July celebration. Starting in 1785 with Patriotic Exercises, the celebration has grown to include nightly outdoor concerts from June 14th (Flag Day) through July 3rd, the Miss & Little Miss 4th of July pageants, a week long carnival, photography & other contests, an orange crate derby, the 4th of July Ball, a drum & bugle corps competition, fireworks, and much, much more. Bristol’s 4th of July celebration is 100% volunteer run, and planning for the next year starts right away on July 5th.
This year’s COVID-19 restrictions provided the Bristol 4th of July committee with a challenge - How could they keep people safe & comply with social distancing while still carrying on traditions, especially the parade?
As someone who was born & raised in Bristol, I have only missed the parade twice in my life, and both times I was traveling out of the country. Even though it has been over 25 years since I moved out of my hometown, my family and I look forward to Bristol’s celebration, and we go every year - even in the pouring rain (My father would say that it never rains in Bristol on the 4th - anything we thought was rain was actually only sea mist).
As the pandemic progressed and we moved closer to summer, it was starting to look like the parade might not be able to take place this year.
However, the 4th of July committee came up with an amazing idea to keep the parade tradition alive. Rather than hold a large-scale parade as in past years with hundreds (maybe thousands?) of marchers and up to 200,000 spectators, the 2020 parade instead took the form of a motorcade with parade participants traveling the route in convertibles and on flatbed trucks.
Getting to Bristol on July 4th is always a challenge. Bristol has two main routes into town (Rts. 114 and 136), and traffic is awful even on a regular day. On past 4ths, we have usually avoided traveling through Bristol and instead taken Rt. 195 East to Rt. 24, and then gone over the Mount Hope Bridge. My parents live at the southern end of Bristol, so we usually park at their house, eat breakfast together, and then walk about ¾ of a mile to the parade viewing spot that my dad would have staked out at 4 AM, and sat at until 5 AM to make sure everything was all set.
This year, however, there were no crowded roads, and we cruised right down Rt. 136 at 7:30 AM. We decided to turn down Mt. Hope Ave. to check if the parade route was still open to vehicles, and to our surprise it was! We were astonished to see that there were very few parked cars on the side streets (it is not uncommon to have to park over a mile away from the parade route due to the large crowds), and we drove right up to our usual spot, unloaded our mats and chairs, and took photos of the empty area. It was surreal to see Bristol nearly empty on what is usually the most festive day of the year. The only other person around was Tommy, who is well known throughout town and has been an enthusiastic parade viewer at the same spot across from us for many years. We exchanged hellos and then drove to my parents' house.
As they are in their 70’s, my parents are considered high risk for COVID-19 complications, and they weren’t planning on attending this year’s parade. However, when we told them how sparse the route was, they felt comfortable and safe joining us at the motorcade, while still keeping their distance. We were all glad they decided to join us. My parents know nearly everyone in town, and they had the time of their lives seeing people from a distance after months of isolation.
On a normal year, the parade starts at 10:30 and the route is over 2 miles long. It takes about 1 ½ hours for the parade to reach our viewing spot, and to watch the entire parade takes about 2 hours. Depending on the section of the route, the crowds can range from 3-10 people deep along both sides of the road. This year, the motorcade parade started at 8:30 and arrived at our spot around 9. That meant that we got to watch the motorcade before the mid-day heat, and the motorcade participants were much more comfortable as well. We were on our way back to my parents’ house by 10 am.
These two photos were taken in the same spot. Left is 2020, right is 2016. Notice the difference in the size of the crowd.....
Before the start of the parade, Brian and I took a few minutes to walk into the downtown area, which is usually more crowded than where we sit, and although there were small groups of people here and there, the number of spectators was not anywhere near close to what it was in a normal year. Had she opted to participate in the motorcade parade, Governor Raimondo would have been very happy with the social distancing along the route.
Some of the sights from this year's motorcade....
I would like to give the Bristol 4th of July committee and especially the parade committee a huge shoutout for making this year's 4th amazing, memorable, and safe in spite of extremely challenging conditions.
Afterwards, we had a socially distanced backyard bbq with my parents, sister, and her family. After eating, the kids played some yard games and my mom, Brian, Tarynn (with an ear of corn, lol), and I took a walk through Blithewold Gardens and Arboretum. Blithewold is beautiful in every season, and my favorite times to visit are in the spring when there are over 50,000 daffodils in bloom, and at Christmas when the mansion is decorated. Today’s visit was peaceful and relaxing, and we even saw a deer in the wooded bosquet.
We finished out our family 4th of July celebration with the whipped cream hand flip challenge in the driveway. Aoife is our champ (I have yet to succeed), and then said our goodbyes.
To try to extend the magic of this flawless Bristol day, we visited the spectacular Colt State Park on our way home. It was an unusual Bristol 4th to be certain, but it was just perfect in its own way.
Other places in Bristol that we've enjoyed:
We've started picking up rocks in our travels around the Ocean State. We are decorating them and leaving them in the towns we visit. Please let us know if you find one...
This post is brought to you by Aoife.....
My mom and I visited East Greenwich together since Aemilia & Tarynn were busy fixing up their bedrooms, and my dad stayed home with them. (We recently switched rooms so now Aemilia & I are sharing a room and Tarynn has her own room.) It was a little bit rainy, which was nice because there weren’t many crowds around.
The first place we went to was the Briggs Boesch Farm. At the farm there were hiking trails that if you went on them you would walk by different farm animals. As we were walking to the trail we passed a field full of about 100 ducks. After we passed the ducks we went by a barn and a vegetable garden, and that was when the skies opened up and it began pouring rain. We were hoping to do a real hike there, but we decided that it would be better to come back to Briggs Boesch Farm another day. The buildings and signs around the farm were really cool, and they also had a farm stand run by Pat's Pastured. (which was closed when we were there).
Our next stop in East Greenwich was Goddard Park, and it stopped raining just a few minutes after we arrived. Goddard Park was really nice to walk around and look at the water. At Goddard Park there was a golf course, a horse barn, trails to hike on, and a beach that would be especially good for little kids since there were not big waves there. We went on a trail down near the beach. As we hiked we found some geocaches and enjoyed the view of the waves crashing up against the bank. The trails at Goddard Park are nice and wide because they are used for horses as well as hikers. One thing we noticed as we drove around the park was that there were lots of bathrooms, and they were all still open even though it was close to 7PM.
After we had hiked through Goddard Park we went to the downtown area of East Greenwich. As we walked along the town looking into the little shops we heard some music being played from the street above Main Street. We walked up a side street to find the music and saw that it was The Kentish Guards practicing. We stopped and watched them play as well as going into their armory. We talked to them for a few minutes, and learned that due to COVID-19, they were not going to be able to participate in any 4th of July celebrations since blowing into the fife is like a continuous sneeze for spreading germs. We walked back down to the town and continued going down King Street until we were at the water.
There we saw lots of sailboats at the boat yard. When we walked back up to the main street we went under a cute little bridge. When we got back up the main street we got some delicious pizza at the Frank & John from Italy Restaurant, which is a place that my mom's friend says makes the best pizza he's ever had. We got half cheese and half pepperoni and it was thin, crispy, and delicious. We sat outside on a bench at the town hall and ate our dinner. Afterwards, we walked around the town and saw paintings on the sidewalk and little breakfast shops.
Our last stop in East Greenwich was at Clementine’s Homemade Ice Cream. We waited in the short line outside of the shop because only three people are allowed inside at a time. When the man in front of us came out, he announced that Clementine’s was all out of ice cream! Fortunately, he was just joking and we were able to order waffle cones of delicious ice cream that we ate in the car as we drove home.
Other places we've enjoyed in East Greenwich:
We are a family who loves to travel and explore. Covid-19 has changed our plans for summer 2020, but we are making the best out of the situation by exploring our beautiful home state of Rhode Island. During the summer of 2020, we are hoping to visit every town in Rhode Island. Thank you for joining us on our journey!