Fall is a great time to visit Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence. With cooler temperatures the animals are a little more active. And the crowds are smaller now that school summer vacation is over. In October they have their annual Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular with hundreds of hand-carved pumpkins designed by local artists and illuminated in the fall nights.
Rhode Island is home to many great farms producing fruits and vegetables year after year. And in the Fall, there are many great places to go to do some apple or pumpkin picking. Harmony Farms in North Scituate, Old Stone Orchard in Little Compton, and Pippin Orchard in Cranston, to name a few.
New England is the best place to see the foliage, especially in Rhode Island. Take a drive through the Blackstone Valley from Pawtucket to Smithfield and Woonsocket. Or down Route 1 in Westerly in the Southern Part of the State. If you prefer hiking, you could walk through the wooded areas of Roger Williams State Park in Providence or Goddard Memorial State Park in Warwick.
Rhode Island is known for its love of arts and crafts. And fall is a great time to witness some of the best works by local artists — let’s not forget the great food and entertainment! The Pawtucket Arts Festival in Downtown Pawtucket goes on for several weeks from August to September and the Scituate Art Festival attracts thousands of visitors on Columbus Day Weekend.
Every year the state comes together to celebrate Fall in festivals all across the state. One of the biggest is Autumnfest in Woonsocket. There are also special Waterfire events in downtown Providence where you can walk along the banks of the river which are lit by the flames of torches and fire structures in the river.
The Ocean State is home to a professional hockey team, The Providence Bruins, of the AHL Hockey League. They are the minor league affiliate to the Boston Bruins and they play all of their home games at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence. Their home schedule begins in early October and runs all the way into April.
Autumn is one of my favorite seasons in Rhode Island. The leaves are beautiful and there are plenty of scenic byways and wide open spaces to enjoy the outdoors. The air is crisp, the scent of woodsmoke is in the air, the red, yellow and orange leaves flutter by your face and crackle under your feet. The apples are crisp and juicy, picked right off the tree. Insidem I’m finding a myriad of ways to utilize those apples from applesauce to apple cake (see recipe at the bottom of this post), making the kitchen cozy and filling the house with the mouth-watering scents of cinnamon, pumpkin, and apples. Outside, we are raking leaves (or jumping in them!) and in the evening we are bundling up in sweatshirts and taking advantage of one last fire pit.
Fall is a time when we take a break from travel and enjoy our home state and time together as a family. And when we do, these are our favorite things to do in Rhode Island in the fall.
1. Apple picking — apple picking season comes early in RI so get out there before the orchards are all picked out. Since I’m usually defiantly clinging to the last remnants of summer and starting to embrace fall just after our local orchard, Phantom Farms in Cumberland, is picked out of their limited supply, we usually head down to Jaswell’s Farm in Smithfield where we can pick from half a dozen varieties and fill our bags faster and fuller than we need. Plus, I can load up on my favorite cider (Jaswell’s) and treat ourselves to a caramel apple at their farm stand. (See my favorite apple orchards in Rhode Island.)
Apple picking at Jaswell’s Farm
2. Visit a pumpkin patch — I have three go-to places for picking out a pumpkin and other fall decor like mums, hay, gourds and cornstalks. My favorite is Phantom Farm because each weekend they host a different activity like antique car shows, pet pictures, and local author readings. We enjoy the farm stand, outdoor sugar shack, burlap maze or taking hayride through the orchard. I also like the nearby Adam’s Farm in Cumberland. It is a very basic pumpkin field but the scenic ride past the reservoir and along the narrow, bumpy road is beautiful when the leaves are in full bloom — plus they have some farm animals to gawk at, as well as a simple corn and hay maze to blunder through. The larger, more bustling favorite is Confreda Farms in Hope. Here you will find hay rides, a corn maze, kiddie rides, a food court and even a haunted hayride. (See my favorite pumpkin patches in Rhode Island.)
3. Scituate Art Festival — Taking place each year on Columbus Day weekend, the Scituate Art Festival brings together over 200 artists and crafters in a scenic, rural setting with musical entertainment and local and festival foods. After spending the afternoon or morning browsing, it is nice to take a ride through this part of RI, down narrow country roads, and past lakes and rivers to enjoy the foliage.
The Scituate Art Festival takes place on Columbus Day Weekend
4. Jack-o-lantern Spectacular — each year the Roger Williams Zoo in Providence plays host to one of the largest jack-o-lantern displays in the Northeast with over 5,000 artistically carved pumpkins, including at least 125 carved to match the theme of the year. The only downside is the long lines so you either need to go during the week or find a suitable substitute. Phantom Farms in Cumberland offers a smaller, local version, usually accompanied with some live music, hot chocolate and warm apple cider.
Roger William’s Zoo Jack-o-lantern Spectacular
5. Enjoying the Blackstone Valley — the Blackstone Valley River and bike path is gorgeous in the fall. As you run or bike along, giant leaves the size of plates are under your feet and the sun dapples through the trees above and breathing in the crisp air invigorates you. One of these days we’ll get out on the water for a fall kayak under the trees or take the Blackstone Valley Explorer river cruise.
Bonus: Technically not in RI, but just across the border in Wrentham, MA is the Big Apple, a farm stand that is the only place I’ve been able to find freshly made apple cider donuts (plus delicious caramel apples!)
Double Bonus — My Grandmom’s Apple Cake Recipe — I’m not saying it is healthy but it is moist and delicious!
My mom always said this was such an easy recipe to remember because it is 2 of everything but I still need to consult the recipe.
How about them apples?
2 sticks of butter
2 cups of sugar
2 cups of flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp vanilla
4 tsp lemon juice
4 cups apples, peeled and finely chopped
Blend butter, sugar, and eggs. Add the rest. Pour into a pre-greased 13×9″ pan. Bake for one hour at 350 degrees in a pre-heated oven.
If you try it out, please leave me a comment and let me know how you liked it!
If you’re in New England like me, you’ve also been experiencing this week’s gloomy rainy weather. The cold nights we’ve been having remind me that summer is over and the transition into autumn has begun. Somehow we’re already only a handful of days away from the first day of fall.
While many of us herald the autumn as our favorite season, others dread these seasonal changes and the influence they have on our mental health. Folks with Seasonal Affective Disorder understand well that the transition from summer to fall to winter can be a huge hit to one’s emotional landscape.
It’s a sensitive time for many, and even if cold weather doesn’t severely agitate your mental health, it can still impact your day-to-day, slow you down, and affect your body. Fall and winter means colder weather, which means it can be tough to get out of bed or go outside, vitamin D becomes a scarcity, and even thinking about exercising in the cold is discouraging.
Through these challenges, it’s easy to lose track of our bodies and physical health, which in turn can directly affect how we’re feeling. If you anticipate struggling, this list might help you. I’ve compiled several resources that encourage physical and emotional wellness, promote accessibility via discounts and sliding scales, and could inspire you to go out on the town in the name of self-enrichment.
West Side Wellness, located on the west side of Providence, provides the community with bodywork. Bodywork is a catchall phrase for massage, and massages are often used for recovering from injury, chronic pain, reducing stress, healing from muscular spasms, and more. West Side Wellness offers a reduced price Community Clinic on specific Sundays, at a $20-$40 sliding scale for a 30-minute massage session. For the rest of 2018, these Sundays include September 16th, October 21st, November 25th, and December 16th, all from 10am-5pm.
2. Providence Community Acupuncture
The PCA offers acupuncture, a traditional Chinese practice which involves needles being inserted into the skin. Many use acupuncture to treat physical pain (for example: chronic pain, dental pain, back pain) as well as for nausea, anxiety, and more. Acupuncture focuses on stimulating certain parts of the body to promote healing and wellness. The PCA operates on a sliding scale between $15 and $35, and also offers occupational specials every month (September is Teacher’s month, which means teachers can get a session for $10! October is Food Service Worker’s month, which means all food service workers can get a session for $10!).
AS220 is a non-profit community arts organization located in downtown Providence. In addition to hosting music, theater, and dance performances and hosting art workshops, AS220 also provides dance and yoga classes at affordable prices. I’ve gone to a few of their yoga classes and found them to be rejuvenating and perfect for when you want to do something low-impact. For anyone just dropping into a class, the rates go from $5 to $13. You can see the full class list here.
If you’ve walked around Providence lately, you might have noticed the shiny red bikes parked around the city. These are called JUMP bikes, and they’re part of a city-wide electric bike share. If you don’t have a bike of your own and want to get outside and move, or have to get somewhere quick but don’t want to take an Uber, maybe renting a bike for an hour or two (at approximately $4.20 an hour) would suit you. One JUMP bike costs $2 for the first 30 minutes, and then 7 cents a minute after that. The company also offers reduced pricing if you qualify.
5. Gallery Night Providence
I recently discovered that on the third Thursday of every month, Gallery Night occurs in Providence. On these Thursdays, eighteen art spots participate in a free city-wide art tour. These spots include museums, studios, and galleries such as the Atrium Gallery, Rhode Island Center for Photographic Arts, Rhode Island College’s Bannister Gallery, the RISD Museum, and more. Gallery Night is completely free and offers bus tours to help you get to where you want to go. Here is the map of every art spot for the month of October.
In addition to participating in Gallery Night, the RISD Museum is also a great spot to go to on any given day. Youth under 18 is free, as well as students of Brown University, Bryant University, CCRI, RIC, URI, Providence College, RISD, and Roger Williams University. Go to their website for more details.
If none of these suggestions are quite your style, let me remind you that East Providence 10 Cinemas have a $2 movie day on Tuesdays and Thursdays! Sometimes we want to do something comforting like watching a movie but need to leave the house. A movie theater can be the perfect solution to that.
If you’re still searching for things to do, feel free to leave a comment below with what you’re looking for and I can try my best to help. Enjoy the upcoming weeks as we transition into fall!