Hi Everyone, this is Heidi. Today we are visiting Rhode Island’s capital, the great city of Providence.
Our first stop in Providence was Neutaconkanut Park. I’d always heard that the best view of the city was at the top of Neutaconkanut Hill, so we started off our day with a hike. Upon arriving at the park (at the base of the hill), we saw several skateboarders enjoying the morning. Not being a very coordinated person myself, I’ve always been in awe of skateboarders. We watched them for a few minutes, and then started up the trail in search of the view (and a few geocaches along the way).
The hike was quick and the trail was pretty easy even though there was an incline, and it was so unusual and fun to be in the woods and also in the city! Before too long we reached the top and the view was pretty incredible.
Our next stop in Providence was the Cranston Street Armory and the surrounding Dexter Park Training Grounds. Built in 1907, the Armory and Dexter Park were home to the National Guard until 1996. The impressive and castle-like building has been used for a variety of purposes since then and is currently in transition as the state of RI and a committee of community members work together to create a plan to return the armory to active use.
A tour of Providence would not be complete without a visit to Roger Williams Park and Zoo. We have been zoo members since Aemilia was born, but hadn’t visited the zoo at all this year due to COVID. This morning was the perfect time to correct that problem and go see some animals. The zoo is requiring timed tickets, so we had reserved them online the night before. I was a bit nervous being in a place with other people, but all of the zoo employees as well as everyone visiting the zoo were wearing masks and were very conscious of social distancing, and we had a great time visiting one of our favorite Providence places.
Before we entered the zoo, we stopped at a little historic cemetery next to the casino. I had never noticed this cemetery before, and it turned out to be the burial ground of the Williams family, with a large monument in honor of Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island.
While driving through beautiful Roger Williams Park and passing by the Temple of Music, The Swan boats, the Rose Garden, The Casino, and the Japanese Garden, we debated going to get Latin American takeout at La Gran Parada on Broad Street for lunch, or going to Olneyville for hot wieners at the Olneyville New York System. We couldn’t go wrong with either choice, but in the end, hot wieners won, and we washed them down with some coffee milk.
Another of our favorite places in Olneyville is La Lupita, so we followed up our hot wieners with steak tacos. So incredibly delicious. I could eat these tacos every day!!!
The day was getting really warm, so we decided to conduct our tour of Providence the same way that people do Disney vacations in the summer: Parks in the cool morning hours, take a break in the afternoon, and then head back to the parks. We decided to return to Smithfield to cool off with a swim at our favorite spot, and continue our tour of Providence in the evening. However, before heading away from the city, we needed to answer an important question: Which frozen lemonade is better - Del’s or Mr. Lemon?
In our family, no one other than me had ever tried the refreshing sweetness that is Mr. Lemon. Not only does Mr. Lemon have traditional frozen lemonade, but it also has exciting flavors such as root beer float, tutti-fruti, and purple cow! Also, the service is super friendly with a neighborhood feel. Although we do love our Del’s, Mr. Lemon brings frozen lemonade to the next level and if they opened a store in Smithfield, we would be their best customers!
Feeling refreshed after swimming, we headed back into Providence around 4:30 in the afternoon. It was at that point that I deviated from our plan of going to the Providence Pedestrian Bridge, because I remembered how interesting and unusual the view is at Collier Point Park. Again, I was the only member of our family who had been there previously. Deviating from “the plan” is not something that *some* people in our family deal well with, but it was a worthwhile stop. We got a great view of the Fox Point Hurricane Barrier, the boats at India Point Park, the three 321-foot tall smokestacks of the Manchester Street Power Station and we even were able to walk underneath the IWay Bridge.
Time to return to the plan….. Next up was the Providence Pedestrian Bridge. This bridge opened in the summer of 2019 and it is absolutely lovely. The Pedestrian Bridge connects the East Side with Downtown, and has a wide walking area with benches spaced throughout. It is perfect for strolling at any time of the day, and is a great spot of musicians. Tonight we heard a duo who played accordian and also used marionettes.
We also checked out the garden of 10,000 Suns in the same area, but the sunflower plants were still small and were not yet in bloom. Here are some photos from last year....
Next we drove along South Main Street and stopped near the courthouse to check out the monuments in that area. We saw the Gun Totem which was created in 2001 with over 1000 reclaimed guns, the World War I Memorial, the Holocaust Memorial, and the World War II Memorial. We found my grandfather’s name, Arthur J. Schattle, on the wall of the World War II Memorial that honored those Rhode Island soldiers who lost their lives in the war. We left a painted rock at this memorial, and we also walked along the river and saw the Providence Gondola out for a ride. Today we did not cross over the river to see the Irish Famine Memorial, but if you have time, it is definitely worth a visit.
Much to some people’s dismay, I thought of another must-see place which resulted in another deviation from the almighty plan. Since we were so close to Prospect Terrace Park, we needed to stop there for just a few minutes, even though we had been there a number of times in the past. This stop was met with much groaning by family members of all ages, but the views of the State House and downtown are so spectacular from Prospect Park, and really should not be missed. Besides, we all need a little spontaneity from time to time, haha....
OK - back to the plan again. For years, I have wanted to get a closer look at the Crook Point Bascule Bridge. There is a new bike path in the Fox Point neighborhood of Providence that goes from India Point Park to Waterman Street, and it goes right by the very bridge that I’ve had my sites set on seeing. Built in 1908, the Crook Point Bridge was a railroad drawbridge that was abandoned in 1976. The girls recognize this bridge because it looks very similar to the drawbridge in the movie “Annie”. Tonight, we were able to see the bridge from the road level, as well as from underneath. Check that off the list!!!
One last stop before dinner - India Point Park. This waterfront park has benches, a playground, and a community boating area, and is connected to the Fox Point neighborhood by a greenery lined pedestrian bridge. It’s really nice and worth a visit.
By this point everyone was pretty hungry, and few were even hangry. We made the short drive over to Federal Hill, which is well known for its outstanding Italian restaurants, bakeries, and grocery stores. We were lucky to find a parking spot right on Spruce Street, and got pizza from what is perhaps the most famous pizza place in Rhode Island, Caserta’s. The girls loved it, with its thick yet crispy crust, flavorful sauce & cheese, and pepperoni slices that curl up into little bowls. We ate our pizza on the benches by the Federal Hill bocce courts, and then wandered back to our car amidst the array of delicious smells and sounds emanating from the restaurants lining DePasquale Square. It was another great Rhode Island day.
Other places we've enjoyed in Providence:
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!