Bucket List

Things Every Rhode Islander Should Eat, See and Do!
Rhode Island is the smallest state in America, but it has so much to offer that many natives live their entire lives without taking advantage of all the activities, meals, sights and sounds that make the Ocean State unique. Here is the definitive list of things that make up the quintessential Rhode Island experience — from beaches to orchards, music to reality television, and hot wieners to apple pie.
 
Rent a beach house in South County
Who has the time to maintain a beach home? Instead, rent one. The first week of August is the busiest (and most expensive) time, while June and September rentals are more affordable and easier to find. Units directly on the beach aren’t leased to University of Rhode Island students, so holiday rentals are great for those who can’t take the heat. durkincottages.com
 
Snow-tube at Yawgoo Valley
Why: Speeding down a hill makes everyone feel like a kid. And the conveyor belt ferrying sledders back up the slopes prevents aches and pains.
Your gear: The tube you rent there; money for an apres-ski drink. 
For more: yawgoo.com 
 
Kayak the Great Salt Pond
Why: This calm, 800-acre body of water on Block Island is one of the most scenic in the state. In its natural habitat you get a close-up view of the island’s wildlife which includes migratory birds. 
Your gear: You can bring your own vessel to the public launch site at the corner of Ocean Avenue and West Side Road, or rent from one of the two kayak rental companies on the island. Don’t forget your life vest and a waterproof camera! 
For more:  Pond and Beyond, 466-5105; Aldo’s Boat Rentals, 466-5811
 
Find a free parking space in Providence
 
Learn to pronounce Quonochotaug
 
Harvest your own quahogs
Why: Rhode Islanders have the right to shellfish recreationally without a license. Out-of-staters must — pardon the pun — shell out $11 for a permit. Bluff Hill Cove in Galilee at low tide is a prime quahogging spot. (Just be sure to check for shellfish bed closings, especially after heavy rainfall.) 
Your gear:  A hand rake, an old pair of sneakers, or possibly gloves, though they might hinder your digging. Drag your toe along the sand. When you feel a quahog, reach down and pull up your prize. Worry about your muddy paws later.
For more: dem.ri.gov
 
Run over the Newport Bridge
Why: For the first time in the forty-two-year history of the bridge, pedestrians were allowed on the bridge for a 4.2-mile race between Jamestown and Newport last November. 
Your gear: Sneakers. Organizers hope this will become an annual tradition, so start training now. 
 
Sit on the Narragansett sea wall and watch the snow fall
 
Drive from Woonsocket to Westerly 
And time it. The trip from the northern end of the state to the southern corner isn’t easy. Google Maps estimates it will take you sixty-four minutes to make the 57.3-mile journey. Clearly, the programmers haven’t dealt with traffic at the I-95/I-295 merge. 
 
Meet a Swamp Yankee
While the etymology is unclear, South County is full of colorful characters known as Swamp Yankees — resourceful rural types. Hang out in Exeter’s Middle of Nowhere Diner, and you’re bound to see a Swamper holding court. The annual Swamp Yankee Days Festival, held in September, is another sure-fire spot. themiddleofnowherediner.com; charihorotary.org
 
Visit “the other side” of the Bay
We’ve all said it. “I’d love to check out that new place, but it’s on the other side of the Bay.” What is wrong with us? Tourists are comfortable driving over bridges to take in the entirety of the smallest state in the nation (we’re talking thirty-seven miles east to west, people!) — we locals should do the same.
 
Go Off the Beaten Path 
For such a densely populated state, Rhode Island still has gorgeous rural areas and hidden gems that some natives go their entire lives without seeing. Don’t make that mistake.
 
Paint the rock on Block Island
Vandalism is bad, except when the community endorses it. For nearly fifty years, this rock has been painted by residents and visitors with images and messages from the mundane to the profane. Residents tend to replace the dirty stuff quickly, so keep your genius G-rated. 
Find it: At the intersection of Mohegan Trail, Lakeside Drive and Snake Hole Road, Block Island.
 
Leaf-peep in Scituate 
Northern New England may get all the postcards (and the crowds), but picturesque opportunities abound in the northern corner of our state. Scituate is best known for its eponymous reservoir, which is a great place to check out fall foliage, especially if you take rural routes to get there. 
Find it:Take exit 5B off I-95 south into rural Coventry and onto Route 102 north, then into Scituate, along the north side of the reservoir. The route turns into Danielson Pike, which intersects with Route 116 south, and back into Coventry.
 
Sled Historically
Roger Williams never sped down the hills in the park that bears his name. It’s a shame, since generations of Rhode Islanders have spent chilly winter days here. The Temple to Music is a popular spot, but those who like to blaze their own trail can find knolls throughout the 435-acre park. 
 
Score your 15 minutes of fame
 
No one ever said Rhode Islanders were shy. Here’s how to put your best face forward.
Appear on a reality show: Ever since Richard Hatch strolled the beaches of Borneo nude on Survivor, Rhode Islanders have been a reality TV staple. Follow in the steps of Hatch, those cops on The Amazing Race, Johnston native and Jersey Shore superstar Paul “DJ Pauly D” DelVecchio and dozens more quirky Ocean Staters to become a stah, at least for this week! (Check out Uptown Styles, in North Providence, for a possible Pauly D sighting. We’ve heard he still gets his hair cut there.)
 
Work as an extra in a movie: If living in a house with strangers and cameras isn’t your preferred path to fame, you can always take the Tinsel Town route. The Rhode Island Film and Television Office is a great resource for upcoming projects, and LDI Casting works with Hollywood producers to fill speaking roles and background shots when a production is in town. film.ri.gov; ldicasting.net
 
Call into a talk radio show: Rhode Islanders are known as an opinionated bunch, which explains the local popularity of talk radio. Let your friends, neighbors and thousands of strangers know how you really feel about the goings-on at City Hall or the State House by venting on the air any hour of the day, from Helen Glover on WHJJ in the morning (866-920-WHJJ) to the Bud-I on WPRO during afternoon drive time (438-9776).  
 
Go to Twin Oaks for your birthday
Just as we know to buy bread and milk as a storm approaches, Rhode Islanders have an instinct that draws them to Twin Oaks for birthday celebrations. The 650-seat restaurant will hold the largest gatherings (attended by servers who memorize every order without taking notes), and its seventy-nine-year history is long enough to instill itself into our DNA. twinoaksrest.com
 
Go clamming at Potter Cove and have a real clambake 
In the shadow of the Newport Bridge lies a cove perfect for clamming. Rhode Islanders can collect a half-bushel of legal-size clams per day. Once you’ve harvested your bivalves, test drive them with a Narragansett Beer Clambake recipe (the official beer of the clam, they claim).
 
Get to Bristol by 5 a.m. and claim your primo spot for the 4th of July Parade
American independence didn’t come easy, and neither does a spot for the nation’s oldest July 4th parade. Street parking is allowed on nearby streets for those who arrive early. High Street affords great views, as well as shade from the July sun. july4thbristolri.com
 
Get announced at a Pawtucket Red Sox game 
You don’t need to work your way through the farm system to see your name on the scoreboard at McCoy. For a $25 donation to the Pawtucket Red Sox Charitable Foundation, the team allows ticket-holders to broadcast a message in the ballpark. It’s the one time everyone wins in baseball. pawsox.com
 
Drink a dark and stormy at the White Horse Tavern
What is now the oldest tavern in America, the White Horse was constructed as a private Newport residence in 1652, becoming a tavern in 1673. Skip the fancy modern spots and pair your dark rum and ginger beer concoction with some ambience. whitehorsetavern.us
 
Get a Little Culture
Stretch your mind with some of these favorites.
See — or more importantly, hear — a show at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium
Since its grand opening in 1950, “the Vets” has been known around the world for its amazing acoustics. The Rhode Island Philharmonic calls the space home, and singers from Tony Bennett to Pavarotti have also performed in the auditorium. In the midst of a $14.8 million renovation, the historic theater will soon be a treat for the eyes as well as the ears. vmari.com
 
 
 
 
Have your child appear as an extra in Trinity Rep’s A Christmas Carol 
Making the trip to Providence during the holidays to see Trinity Repertory Company’s annual production is made more special when your child or grandchild is onstage. Auditions are held in the fall, so start running lines with your future Tiny Tim now. trinityrep.com
 
Chase dolphins at the Newport Mansions
It’s easy to lose focus when taking in all the glamour of the Gilded Age vacation homes. But there’s one feature that ties these homes together: dolphins. A symbol of hospitality, you can find them on everything from doorknobs to mosaic tile ceilings throughout several of the mansions. newportmansions.org
 
Complete a transaction at the DMV in less than one business day 
Purgatory must be a lot like the Department of Motor Vehicles. Make the visit short-lived by taking advantage of the checklists and forms on the DMV’s website. When the clerk tells you you’ll need another form or document, you’ll be sure to have it ready. dmv.ri.gov
 
Eat Well: Quahogs aren’t the only ones getting stuffed here.
Rhode Islanders come from diverse ethnic backgrounds. Over the years, food was shared with neighbors, evolving into unique dishes that perplex those who aren’t from around here. It’s not all health food, but it’s all delicious.
For example:
Dubbed New York System by Greek immigrants looking to give their hot dogs an air of authenticity in the 1940s, these wieners have become a quintessentially Rhode Island food. You must eat a New York System “all the way”— covered with meat sauce, chopped raw onion, mustard and celery salt — before you shuffle off your mortal coil. Which will happen sooner than later if you develop a taste for these dogs.
 
Being religious — or Italian — isn’t a prerequisite to eat a zeppole on St. Joseph’s Day. This March holiday celebrates the Virgin Mary’s husband and is especially popular in Italian homes. The day is marked by eating zeppoli, and there are as many recipes for these fried-dough treats as there are bakeries selling them.
 
There’s nothing more American than apple pie, with the possible exception of gluttony. Show off your voracious appetite when you enter a pie-eating contest at the Washington County Fair. No hands or other body parts are allowed; you must eat the whole pie using only your mouth. This event packs enough fun for the entire family, with respective contests for kids, teenagers and adults. washingtoncountyfair-ri.com.
 
America is finally figuring out what Rhode Islanders have known for years. Chow at a food truck; it’s a great way to indulge on a budget. Haven Brothers Diner (861-7777) has been a Providence fixture since it opened in 1888 as a horse-drawn cart. Today, a diverse array of cuisines is sold out of slightly more mechanical mobile restaurants. Try fresh fruit smoothies from the PVD Juice Co. (pvdjuiceco.com), food-truck-friendly Korean BBQ from Mama Kim’s (mamakims.us) and the Billy Burger from Little Billy’s in Barrington (billysllc.com).
 
Visit a local orchard during harvest season
Living in the Ocean State also gives you the opportunity to expand your culinary repertoire. Farm Fresh Rhode Island (farmfreshri.org) has plenty of info on where to pick apples, peaches, blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. In the meantime, make these spicy red apple twists, courtesy of the the Rhode Island Fruit Growers Association.
 
2 large apples, pared and cored
1 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup water
½ cup shortening
4–5 tablespoons water
½
1–1 ½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ cup sugar
 
Slice each apple into 8 wedges. Mix flour with salt into mixing bowl. Cut in shortening. Sprinkle cold water over mixture stirring with fork until dough is just moist enough to hold together. Form into ball, then flatten to about ½ inch thickness. Roll out on a floured surface to 16-by-10-inch rectangle. Cut into 16 10-by-1-inch strips. Wrap one strip around each apple wedge. Arrange in a 13-by-9-by-2-inch pan. Brush with butter; sprinkle with mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Pour ¾ cup water around pastries. Bake at 450 degrees for 25–30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm or cold, plain or with whipped cream.
 
Work on a WaterFire boat
You don’t need to be able to draw to produce a work of art — just do some heavy lifting. Barnaby Evans’s WaterFire relies on volunteers to keep the flames roaring during the event. Adults don all black and ride along the river with experienced staff, getting up close and personal with the world-renowned sculpture. waterfire.org
 
Find a back-roads path to the beach
On sweltering summer days, Rhode Islanders are drawn to the beach like moths to a flame. In recent years, this has created massive gridlock on Route 4 and Route 1 along the south coast. Skip the main thoroughfares and take a more scenic trip to Narragansett. (Pssst…We’ve heard Route 2 south to Route 1 is an uncrowded way to get to the South County beaches.) 
 
Own a Pawtucket Red Sox “Longest Game” Commemorative Cup: 
McCoy Stadium is the home to the longest game in baseball history, and the team sold souvenir plastic cups featuring the comical thirty-three inning box score for years. They recently changed the design to one that celebrates minor leaguers who went on to superstardom, so save those longest game cups if you have them. pawsox.com
 
 
Clean the beach 
Pack in, pack out does not a clean beach make. The Audubon Society of Rhode Island partners with the Ocean Conservancy to catalog the trash found on the coast for the annual International Coastal Cleanup Day every September. Another resource is Save the Bay’s website, which posts cleanup opportunities year-round. asri.org; keepriclean.org; savebay.org
 
Dine and dash at Theatre by the Sea 
This historic barn theater has entertained generations of vacationers and residents — even before the curtain goes up. The kitchen staff must prepare and serve dinner before the players take the stage. Eat quickly, because food isn’t allowed at your seat. (What you don’t eat before the show can be held in the kitchen refrigerator.) theatrebythesea.com
 
Attend a Brown football night game 
Most college football games start in the early afternoon. Take advantage of the rare night game to see our Ivy Leaguers play under the stadium lights (and perhaps enjoy snuggling with your sweetie under a blanket). brownbears.com
 
See the next musical superstars in Providence
The Creative Capital has fostered renowned acts for decades — from 1980s new wave phenomenon Talking Heads (they met at RISD) to current alt-rock darlings Deer Tick and The Low Anthem. Venues like AS220 and Lupo’s are venerable institutions, but a new generation is launching spaces like Firehouse 13 and Fete for musicians to hone their sound before hitting it big. fetemusic.com; fh13.com
 
Take your picture with the Sentinel Dog 
Cast in 1851 to honor Black Prince, a family dog that alerted sleeping children to a fire, generations of children have come to associate the Sentinel Dog with an awkward photo-op during a trip to Roger Williams Park Zoo. Toddlers get hoisted up by parents, while older kids can climb on the faithful pup’s back unassisted. rwpzoo.org
 
Have a clambake
4 small red potatoes
½ pound chourico sausage, sliced
4 breakfast sausages
4 onions, peeled
2 ears sweet corn, shucked, broken into  
   smaller pieces
2 bay leaves
1 12-ounce can of Narragansett lager beer
salt, pepper and crushed red pepper
2 quarts steamers 
3 tablespoons chopped green onion 
3 tablespoons chopped parsley 
 
Combine potatoes, sausages, onions, corn and bay leaves in a large pot. Cover with 3 quarts cold water, beer and season to taste with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes. Add clams, cover and cook until they open, about 15 minutes. You can serve right from the pot. Garnish with green onions and parsley. For the bold, add 2 cloves of garlic to the water and substitute linguicia for chourico. Serve with melted butter for dipping the clams into or just use the broth. Left over broth and clams are a great starter for chowder.