location: East Bay Bike Path (14.5 miles) runs between India Point Park in Providence and Independence Park in Bristol, Rhode Island
good for: All ages
One of the most popular Rhode Island bike paths is the East Bay Bike Path. The East Bay Bike Path is 14.5 miles so depending on the age and stamina of your children the chances may be pretty slim your family can ride the path both ways. This bike path runs between India Point Park in Providence and Independence Park in Bristol, Rhode Island. There are many parking lots available to easily hop on the path. So try to pick a parking spot that is within a bike riding distance that your children can handle. There are so many wonderful places to stop and sights to see on this path. Some of my favorites are Brickyard Pond, Crescent Park Carousel, Colt State Park and the Audubon Society’s Educational Center.
Brickyard Pond is a small pond that runs alongside the path in Barrington. You can access the pond by taking your bike ride behind the Barrington YMCA. I like to ride there to explore some of the trails and maybe enjoy a little fishing with the kids. It’s usually very quiet and again it’s a cute spot to have a picnic.
The Crescent Park Carousel is located in Riverside which is a section of East Providence. It is my favorite carousel because it is the only one that gives the kids the opportunity to win a free ride by pulling a golden ring and there is just something nostalgic about the sound of carousel music.The carousel offers different discounted prices. Kiddy Day is on Thursdays and the cost is .75 cents per ride. Feel free to plan a picnic on the picnic benches next to the carousel or across the street at Rose Larisa Memorial Park. You might even get lucky and take a ride on a day where there is a band playing at the park. If any of your little ones like classic cars then be sure to take a bike ride over on classic car night. If you are in the mood for chowder, Blount’s Clam Shack which neighbors the carousel is a nice little treat.
The next must do bike path stop is the Audubon Society of Rhode Island’s Environmental Education Center in Bristol. The Center offers indoor exhibits, family programs and nature trails. It is located on the 28-acre McIntosh Wildlife Refuge. From the bike path you have two choices. Your first choice is to park your bike and take a walk on the Â¼ mile boardwalk towards the Narragansett Bay. While on the path you will see small ponds with some lily pads, flowers, and weeds. The end of the boardwalk offers a great view of the bay. Your second choice is to walk up to the Environmental Education Center and explore there. The Center is free on the first Saturday of every month. To find out more please visit their website, www.asri.org.
My FAVORITE stop off of the East Bay Bike Path is Colt State Park. I lived in a lot of places growing up but I consider myself to be a Bristolian. One of Bristols’ gems is Colt State Park– one of the best parks in Rhode Island in my opinion. It has plenty of shaded areas for a picnic and lots of sunny areas to soak up the sun. If you plan on making Colt State Park your destination be sure to bring a kite. The coastal side of the park is PERFECT for kite flying due to its open space and wind off of the bay. There are always kites on display boasting vibrant colors that pop in the sky.
From the bike path turn into the park and hop on Colt State Parks’ own path. Your first view into the park is of the trees that line the road and the bay. The parks path will cross over a stone bridge. On one side of the bridge you will see quahoggers in their boats on the bay digging and on the other side you will see the locals digging for clams knee deep in the muck. On some days you may even see a wedding taking place at the Chapel. The air is filled with the effervescence of the smells of the bay and good old fashioned BBQ. You hear the sounds of children’s laughter, music and cars cruising through the park.
One of our favorite things to do while there is to hop over the stone barrier wall to flip over the rocks to look for crabs and periwinkles. The kids could flip them over all day. There is just something so soothing about being on the shore with our toes in the edge of the water. The park also has a small wooded are that offers some nature trails. While walking through the trails you can smell the ocean while listening to the waves crash.
In the mood for a history lesson? Coggeshell Farm is located inside Colt State Park too (located via the East Bay Bike Path via Colt State Park). The farm is a living history farm which reflects the agrarian life in 1799. The people who reside on this farm live and dress accurately to the time period of 1799. It offers lots of different programs for the public to experience.
If you do go to Colt State Park make sure you bring a camera. It offers a lot of great spots for wonderful photo ops. Stay until sunset so not to miss one of the gorgeous sunsets, but don’t stay too long because you can’t ride the bike path during the dark.
If you happen to take a ride into Bristol in the summer, stop and enjoy the most patriotic town in the United States. It is a beautiful quintessial town in the East Bay. The downtown boasts views of majestic sailboats and quaint little shops. Bristol hosts the oldest Fourth of July Parade in the nation. The street lines are painted red, white and blue all year round. If you really want to have a great experience take the bike path to enjoy one of Bristol RI’s many Fourth of July Events. You can get an idea for some of the Fourth of July fun via their website here.
Photo Credit: Nicole Estrella