The trees and flowers are finally budding, a sign that spring is finally coming to Rhode Island. After living here for 11 springs, I can honestly say that last year was the only time I felt like we got a real season that I’d call spring. I’m always amazed at born-and-raised Rhode Islanders who complain about a lack of spring because to me, that just seems to be the norm around here. Spring in RI means temps in the 40s to 60s. The kids all want to wear shorts, but I’m still cold and stick to my jeans and sweaters or long-sleeved shirts until almost June, when it finally gets into the 70s on a regular basis.
Now that we are seeing signs of spring, it gets me thinking about building our seasonal “Things we want to do this (insert season name)” list.
Favorite things to do in Rhode Island in Spring
- Go for a bike ride. Spring around here is still pretty windy so biking after school used to be an exercise in futility with the wind blowing my daughter backwards or the sand in the road from the snowstorms causing too many wipe outs. Luckily, she is now older and stronger so when we have a nice weekend, we like to hit the Blackstone Valley Bikeway. So far they have paved about 12 miles between Lincoln and Woonsocket on a route that follows the Blackstone river and canals, passes multiple dams, and parallels the old train tracks for a portion of the trip. Along the way, we usually spot a variety of wildlife including plenty of turtles, ducks, swans, butterflies, dragonflies, and the rare heron. Once, when my daughter was younger we also encountered a snake on the path. Luckily, she rode right over it. Unfortunately, I was jogging behind in flip flops and was paralyzed, not wanting to get too close but not wanting her to get too far, until someone kindly scared it away for me (again, my snake phobia crops up.) When we last went out on Easter Sunday, we did a total of 14.5 miles, which was pretty amazing for eight year old legs, especially since she suffered a pretty scary fall last year. Of course, I was the one sore for a week while she went right to rock climbing the next day.
- Take a walk. While evening walks around the neighborhood are nice, we also like to do a little exploring. One of our favorite places to take a walk is at The Monastery in Cumberland, which is part of the Cumberland Library. You can either take a quick loop around or wander off the path a bit to crawl over downed trees, explore fields of wildflowers, or climb over some of the crumbling remains of old buildings. You may also want to make a quick stop at the playground or visit the library. We recently stopped in for a visit with some of their baby chicks.
- Take a hike. My daughter loves to rock climb, so even without the gear we like to seek out places where we can scramble over rocks and pull ourselves to the top. Two of our favorite places for hiking and bouldering are Lincoln Woods, in Lincoln, RI, and Purgatory Chasm in nearby MA. One visit to Purgatory Chasm and you’ll get the idea of where the name came from. It is like a bunch of giants threw rocks at each other and they all landed in one valley. There is a regular hiking trail around the chasm or you can make your way up, over, around and through the rocks. If you plan on crawling into small places, be sure to bring a flashlight.
- Visit the zoo. After being cooped up all winter, the animals and the humans are ready to get outside and enjoy the warmer weather. We usually have a membership pass for Roger Williams Zoo in Providence, but sometimes also visit Capron Zoo and playground in nearby Attleboro, MA. Roger Williams Zoo has done a lot of renovation in recent years, especially with last year’s opening of the Big Backyard, geared toward the toddler and preschool set (wish it was there when my daughter was younger!) In addition to visiting the zoo, you can plan on spending the day in the park with a picnic by the lake, a possible Swan Boat ride, playing on the Hasbro playground, feeding the ducks by the temple of music, visiting the Japanese gardens, riding on the carousel, or even stopping by the Botanical Center or Natural History Museum.
- Go to a ball game. Some of you probably feel like you live at the ball field in the spring, but since I have a girl that doesn’t play team sports, going to a baseball game is a treat. In RI, we are lucky to have the Pawtucket Red Sox minor league team just minutes away. And, if you are lucky, you might even see someone making their way back to the majors.
- Visit a farm. During the winter, we like to visit the Winter Farmer’s Market for all the goodies, as well as the fresh greens, eggs, poultry, dairy, meat and shellfish (and I think my husband likes to go for the food trucks!) Starting in May, we can move outside to the Hope Street Farmer’s Market. I love the way trips to the farmer’s market opens all of us up to trying new things. This year, at a local farm we picked up the 2013 Farm Scavenger Hunt brochure and hope to start collecting our stickers or stamps as we explore some of the farms around the state.
- Play golf (mini or other). Right on cue, as we were driving past a miniature golf place recently, my daughter asked, “when can we go play miniature golf again?” Nice weather just brings to mind all sorts of outside activities. It has become a family tradition to hit the mini-links at least once or twice in the spring and summer at Mulligan’s Island in Cranston or Atlantic Golf in South Attleboro, MA. In addition, last year my daughter started taking golf lessons at Buttonhole in Johnston, RI, a course designed to teach kids how to golf. Since this year I now have my own clubs, hopefully we’ll be able to golf as a family.
- Go on a Picnic. The call of the outdoors beckons, although sometimes the buzz of the bees sends my daughter running inside. In late spring, once the weather has truly warmed up, we enjoy going on a family picnic. Our favorite picnic locale is Beavertail State Park in Jamestown, RI. At Beavertail we get to fly kites, play frisbee, climb over the rocks, play in the tide pools, and visit the small “aquarium” of local fish and shellfish.
- Have a Del’s! Each year we watch the sign on the local Del’s Lemonade stand that says “Closed Until April” and wonder…when in April will it open? What is a Del’s you ask? You clearly aren’t from RI. When I first moved here I ordered a lemonade at a restaurant and they asked me if I wanted a Del’s. I said sure, having no idea what that meant. Turns out it is pretty much like a lemonade slushie, except it comes in all types of flavors besides lemon. My personal favorite is peach mango. So when it is warm enough, after the bike path we make a pit stop at Del’s to cool off with a frozen lemonade.