After our two weeks on the Cape, we decided to keep the coastal theme going with a week long stay in Rhode Island. This state is probably most well known for its famous southern coastline and busy summer tourist season. We figured that much like Cape Cod, late fall would be a great time to avoid the crowds. For our home base we chose Fishermen’s Memorial State Park located only a few miles from several of those famous beaches. We arrived without a reservation and quickly picked out a nice spot in Area 4 where all the sites have electric and water hook-ups.
Most of the sites in this area are well spaced, and some even have a decent amount of foliage for privacy. We did notice some road noise though. Especially near the front of the loop, so if you’re reserving online be sure to choose a site away from the busy road.
The biggest downside to this section of the were the bathrooms. In our 4+ years of living in campgrounds, I can honestly say that these were some of the worst we’ve seen. To the credit of the staff, they were actually very clean smelling and kept neat, but no amount of cleaning could ever wipe away the years of accumulated mold, mildew, chipped tiles and just general grossness. We did hear a rumor that this bathroom would be getting remodeled soon. For anyone who needs to use it that day cannot come soon enough.
There are three other sections in the campground — Areas 1 and 2 that have full hook-ups, and Area 3 with smaller sites that have no hook-ups. The size of the sites in Area 3 make them best suited for tents, vans, or small campers, but a few of them could have accommodated our size trailer.
The two areas with full hook-ups were by the far the most popular in the park. While our section was practically empty throughout the week, these two areas were close to full even in the middle of the week. The site quality here varied widely, with Area 2 laid out in a grid pattern with mostly pull-thus sites (some that were ridiculously unlevel) and Area 1 spaced a bit better with a few nice sites offering a water view. I have a feeling you need to book way in advance to snag one of those.
Overall I think we made a good choice by picking a site in the electric and water loop because it offered a good deal of privacy, but had one of the water view sites been open we might have jumped on it. Aside from enjoying our peaceful site, the best thing about this campground is its proximity to the local beaches. Within a few miles of campground you will find three lovely state beaches. The closest, Roger Wheeler, is a mere mile away making it a snap to reach by bike. We visited it and the adjacent Salty Brine State Beach several times throughout the week. While not quite up to par with the endless stretches of wild and rugged beaches on the Cape Cod National Seashore, we still very much enjoyed our evening walks in the sand and surf.
In the other direction lies Scarborough State Beach. A bit longer and less built up than Roger and Salty, this beach was our destination on a blustery Saturday morning. Since the weather scrapped our plans to go kayaking in one of the nearby inlets or lakes, we decided on a beach walk instead. The fun lasted for less than an hour before the rain chased us away.
In addition to beach walking, we also found a nearby bike path. The recently expanded South Country Bike Path currently runs for 7 miles along a former railroad. Starting at the Kingston Train Sation and weaving past a natural area called the Great Swamp and then through several small towns, this paved path was the perfect way to get in some exercise while seeing some of the Rhode Island countryside.
Speaking of exercise, we also headed over to Newport for the famous Cliff Walk. Running alongside the eastern shore of Newport, this 7-mile round-trip path ambles along the scenic cliffs offering glimpses of impressive 19th-century mansions. You can access the path from several points in town, or you can park on Memorial Blvd. and jump on the path at its official starting point like we did. Since we couldn’t get there until after 4pm there wasn’t quite have enough time to complete the entire path before darkness set in — in fact, for the last 20 minutes on the way back we walked in near complete dark. This time of year is such a pain.
I expected the mansions to be the highlight of the walk. For years Newport was the summer playground of America’s wealthiest families. These high rollers had massive residences built to suit their lavish lifestyles. Today, most of the mansions are no longer owned by single families and are instead open to the public for tours (for a fee of course). We didn’t have time to tour any of these monstrosities, so we thought the Cliff Walk would be a good way to see them. Well…it turns out that the people who own giant houses boasting 70 rooms and gilded ceilings don’t want to see the general public walking through their front yards. As a result, most of the mansions are out of sight behind tall fences and we were only able to get glimpses of a few.
That’s okay, because even without the mansions we loved the cliff walk.
With a mix of paved and level path, giant uneven rocks, and hard packed dirt this trail took us along the cliffs, through fancy gates, under tunnels and even past a really cool Chinese Teahouse.
With all that walking and biking you know we had to make time for some quality drinking and eating. Luckily we had a plenty of breweries in the area to help with the first part. First, we made a quick stop at Proclamation Ale Co. to pick up a few cans. This tiny, warehouse style brewery is only open for a few hours on the weekend, so when Tim saw that it was located near the start of the bike path we had to make a stop. And then when they were offering free tastings we had to try just a few. It’s a miracle that we made it to the bike path at all.
Next, we met up with Nancy and Betsy at the Whalers Brewing Company in nearby Wakefield. We last saw these two back in Maine. At the time neither of us knew the exact route we would take south this fall so it was a welcome surprise that our times in Rhode Island overlapped. Even though it was very busy and noisy at this popular local hangout we had a great time tasting their offerings and catching up with the RV-A-GO-GO ladies. Hope to see them in Florida again next spring!
Also, while we were in Rhode Island I celebrated a birthday which naturally meant a night out. Tim found a great local restaurant in nearby Narragansett where we proceeded to stuff ourselves silly with multiple courses of deliciousness. Oh, and I got flowers too :)
Finally, while I normally write one post (or more) about each place we visit, I’m going to make just a quick mention of our few days in Connecticut instead of an entire post. Not because it wasn’t fun or memorable, but because we spent most of our short time there catching up with family which doesn’t make for a very exciting blog post. I will say that despite the closed campgrounds, colder than normal temperatures, and unexpected snowy day, we had a great time visiting with family and family friends. The best part is that the next time we see them will be in the sunny Florida Keys where the chance for snow is zero!