Summer Guide – Day Trips

Blackstone Valley: Get in Touch With Nature

Rhode Islanders tend to head to the southern part of the state in the summer - all the better for the explorers among us who want to enjoy the beauty of northern Rhode Island

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Join the Revolution
The Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor is the state’s only major national park, and starts in Massachusetts to follow 46 miles of the Blackstone River, the actual, for real birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. Attractions along the corridor highlight Little Rhody’s place in American history: Slater Mill in Pawtucket, the Captain Wilbur Kelly House Transportation Museum in Lincoln, the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket and Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence. There’s also a developing system of greenways and bikeways, along with hiking trails and self-guided paddling tours and boat cruises. BlackstoneHeritageCorridor.org

Beef It Up
The Beef Barn might not have a glamorous name, but it’s a delicious Rhode Island food tradition. The kitschy restaurant, housed in a barn filled with antiques, has been serving the same incredible roast beef sandwiches (slow roasted for eight hours) since 1969, and everything is made in-house, including the 100 pounds of roast they go through every day. The best part: everything on the menu is under $5. 1 Greenville Road, North Smithfield. 401-762-9880, TheBeefBarn.com

Explore the Valley
Continue your day of exploring Blackstone Valley by eating and drinking your way through the afternoon. In Cumberland, you’ve got a difficult choice to make: Diamond Hill Vineyards, with its charming location in an old farmhouse, or The Ice Cream Machine, which makes some of the hands-down best ice cream we’ve ever had. Better yet, do both. Once you’ve grabbed a cone, enjoy it across the street in Diamond Hill State Park, which has short, paved walking paths. Vineyard: 3145 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland. 401-333-2751, DiamondHillVineyards.com. Ice Cream: 4288 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland. 401-333-5053, IceCreamPie.com. Park: 4097 Diamond Hill Road, Cumberland

Further north, scare the pants off yourself at Hanton City, a Colonial-era ghost town in Smithfield. There, the remains of several stone foundations, a burial site and a defunct dam are the only remnants of the tiny settlement, far removed from the other citizens of Smithfield, are the only clues as to who lived there, and why. Theories abound, like that the residents were runaway slaves, were afflicted with a disease or were British loyalists during the war. GhostTowns.com/States/RI

Go Italian or Go Home

For dinner, treat yourself to something a little bit fancy. Smithfield is an up-and-coming culinary destination, but there are delicious restaurants that have been feeding hungry crowds for quite a while. Siena, an outpost of the always-packed Providence restaurant, has been drawing crowds to its Smithfield location for a few years now. Their enoteca menu, which allows you to make your own antipasto board with Italian cheeses and meats like Taleggio and Prosciutto di Parma, is enough to make a meal all on its own. Tavolo Wine Bar & Tuscan Grille serves up Italian classics like Fried Risotto Balls stuffed with parma prosciutto and mozzarella, Rigatoni Bolognese and Porcini-rubbed Filet. Siena: 400 Putnam Pike, Smithfield. 401-349-4111, SienaRI.com. Tavolo: 970 Douglas Pike, Smithfield. 401-349-4979, TavoloWineBar.com

Al Fresco Flicks
No summer is complete without a visit to the Rustic Drive-In. This blast from the past offers current movies the old fashioned way: inside your car. The state’s last standing drive-in movie theatre shows double features through September. 1195 Eddie Dowling Highway, North Smithfield. 401-769-7601, Facebook.com/RusticDriveIn