Looking for a restful, budget-friendly, down-to-earth, good food & good times New England escape? Consider Warwick, Rhode Island.
- Warwick, just 6 miles from downtown Providence, is the home of T.F. Greene airport and Revolutionary war hero Nathaneal Greene (who still writes a blog!)
- The city offers a plethora of accommodations for lower rates than what you’ll generally find in the heart Providence or Newport, with easy access to both. Centrally located Warwick is always a short drive away from any good time the Ocean State has to offer. “Stay in Warwick, see Rhode Island.”
- But all that jaunting out to see the rest of the state might cause you to overlook some of the tucked-away good times right here, So stay, stay, in Warwick for 45 low-cost, leisurely hours that won’t stress you or your pocket-book.
Day One: Noon–CRUSTY’S PIZZA (1331 Warwick Ave )
Get a small cheese pizza and a Greek salad to share. Add a bottle of coke to split, and you’ll be out a whopping $13 + change (yes, for BOTH of you, that’s the total bill). They also serve calzones, spinach pies, and grinders. Beefy guys swear by the steak and cheese (Rhode Island’s version of the famous Philly-style sandwich). Eat in, eavesdrop (politely, of course) and enjoy the local color (and I’m NOT talking about the hue of the booths).
1:00 pm–Bop up the street to Marty’s Liquor Store (945 Namquid Dr) in Governor Francis Shopping Center.
Buy some wine to make your get-away even more relaxing and romantic. Marty’s has a varied selection, from around the world, price ranging from budget to moderate. We haven’t found better wine-bargains anywhere else in Warwick.
- For tonight’s dinner get one red and one white (you can decide later which one to drink & save the other bottle for home). I’d choose an Italian red (Marty’s has a good selection), and if I was really watching my pennies I’d pick the Barbera D’Alba Casata Monticello 2010 ($8.99, for pairing with northern-Italian cuisine). For the white, I’d take a Oyster Bay Sauvignong Blanc 2012, from Marlborough, New Zealand ($12.99, lovely with seafood).
- For tomorrow’s dinner--a sparkler. When planning my menu I asked the extraordinary Stefano Crosio (check out his wine and photography blog) for a recommendation. From his list of awesome suggestions, I chose the one available at Marty’s, which is also the least expensive–the Freixenet Sparkling Cordon Negro Brut Cava ($9.75, from Spain)
- Avoid steep restaurant mark-ups on wine and still enjoy special evening meals (keep reading to learn where to eat).
Then stop next door at LeFavorite Bakery (949 Namquid Dr) and grab 2 cups of hot apple cider ($1.30 each) and an Apple Strudel to share ($1.50) Drive south on Warwick Avenue to enjoy your treat at Oakland Beach (one of the few RI beaches where parking is free!).
Sip and munch, then stroll. Write love letters in the sand. Look for shells, sea glass, and heart-shaped stones. Follow the boardwalk, then take the bike path back to the cove and maybe you’ll see some local fishing or clamming going on. Sit on a bench beside your best mate and soak up some briny sea air.
3:30 pm Check-in: 3-Royal Waterfront Suites (3 Royal Ave)
When you turn onto Royal Avenue you might wonder whether you’re heading in the right direction. I told you I was going to take you off-the-beaten-path. Yes, this really is the way to your down-to-earth private suite, with your own private deck/porch overlooking Narragansett Bay. Innkeeper Daniesh Hazard has learned the local swans love Water Crackers, but they won’t eat Ritz or soda crackers. She’ll be that attentive to your personal preferences, too.
4:00 pm–Take a Walk
There’s a reason you booked a room on the bay. Get out there and see it. Daneish will tell you where to find the stairway down to the shoreline.
When you return to your room decide what you want for dinner: A) something a tad fancy-schmancier, or B): casual and inexpensive. Then dress appropriately for your evening.
- Plan A: After you change into your going-out-someplace-nice clothes, take a few-minutes drive over to Sophia’s Tuscan Grille (1729 Warwick Ave). 3-Royal guests often dine here and have consistently been well-pleased. It’s a Bring-Your-Own-Wine establishment (take your bottle of red Italian), and therefore one of the most affordable fine-dining experiences in Rhode Island. Definitely make a reservations as soon as you’ve decided you’re going to eat here.
- Plan B: Just a bit farther up the road you’ll find Tommy’s Seafood Shack (2275 Warwick Ave), right next to the Dockside Seafood Market (yes, it’s the same owner) where the seafood is fresh and hand-battered, and the decisions about what to eat don’t come easy. New England clam chowder or lobster? Fish and chips or steamers or Point Judith Calamari or boiled lobster dinner? You’ll have to make up your mind because you really should not order one of everything. Take your scrumptious New England seafood meal back to your private deck to enjoy with your New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
Watch the sunset colors reflecting off the water and unwind, enjoying your romantic alone-time with your special someone. Watch a movie in your room or read a book from the nice selection of literature offered here.
2nd Day, morning:
Take full advantage of a leisurely awakening. You did turn off the cell phone, right? Now consider leaving it off for the whole day! Watch the sunrise (or sleep through it) and partake of your multi-course breakfast in your royal suite, your royal highness. Dawdle around, read, and don’t be in a hurry to accomplish anything. Let today be a meltingly laid-back pleasure.
11:00 Spa, ah!
Oh, right, we’re trying not to blow all our money, and spa treatments are ultra-expensive…
- but guess what? Warwick Nails & Spa (1688 Warwick Ave) offers massages, facials, and mani-pedicures for very reasonable prices. Go for a 1/2 hour full body massage ($25) or stretch it to an hour ($45). !! At those prices, you just might want to add on a $35 facial with phytomarine mask (seaweed and vitamin C to moisturize and tighten the skin). Walk-ins are welcome, but I’d suggest booking ahead — 401-921-1146.
- Men who aren’t into the spa-thing, drop off your beloved and go kitty-corner across the street to Precision Barber Shop (1703 Warwick Ave) for a hot towel shave and haircut ($15) or hot towel shave and neck trim ($10).
Wait, don’t rush off! Stop off across the street at First Choice Consignments (1655 Warwick Ave). Pretend you’re a Market Warrior Picker. There is a treasure trove of stuff on 2 floors to pick through, and owner Fred McMahon is knowledgeable, fair and old-fashionably decent to deal with.
Then take a leisurely drive up tree-lined Narraganset Parkway to charming Pawtuxet Village. Pause for a tranquil lunch with a restorative cup of tea at The Elephant Room (closed Mondays). Then mosey around the village for a while. Enjoy the park, the harbor, the stone bridge over the river, the shops (everything is within a few blocks–walk). Take photos of yourself with your special someone so you never forget your sweet slip into serenity (later, frame the best pictures–to remind yourself to relax this thoroughly again, ASAP).
mid afternoon–‘Yak all over the Cove (rent a kayak from Pawtuxet Cove Kayak and Canoe, 2154 Brood Street Rear, Pawtuxet Village)
Call ahead (401-808-6882) and talk to Paula about your plans and needs. Whether you’re a beginner or experienced paddler, she’ll set you up to have a safe, rewarding on-the-water experience. Her blog says, “As your body becomes engaged through the senses, you become part of nature, not a stranger to it. What you are left with is a sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance.”
Don’t neglect to seek harmonious and beautiful opportunities in life!
5:30 Pick up dinner at Dave’s Fresh Marketplace (18 Airport Rd at the corner of Warwick Ave).
Rhode Island’s local supermarket is where people who like to cook love to shop. It’s more than a slogan–we actually do love to shop here. We’re impressed by the quality and the excellent customer service, and we simply won’t buy our fish from any other store.
- Produce aisle: a small bunch of grapes (for dessert)
- Cheese: your favorite (to nibble with the grapes). If you’re overwhelmed by the choices, take the Kerry Gold Dubliner.
- Seafood: 2 salmon steaks and a jar of Dave’s Seafood Seasoning;
- Deli: black bean and corn salad, and julienned mixed veggies;
- Grocery: Water Crackers, (to eat with grapes and cheese, and you can feed the leftovers to the swans)
There are grills on the patio at your B&B (sear your salmon and warm up your veggies). How nice is that?
This evening, hang out by the water, grill, eat, chat, read, relax.
Checkout time is 11:00 am. Head home refreshed, relaxed and happy.
or extend your stay for as long as you want. From here you have easy access to all these Rhode Island and New England places:
- South County beaches,
- Block Island;
- Newport (take the bus from Kennedy Plaza and forget about parking hassles);
- Federal Hill, Thayer, Hope, & Wickendon Streets, plus downcity (that’s Rhode-Island speak for “downtown”) Providence;
- the charming towns along the East Bay;
- Mystic Seaport in Connecticut (50 minutes);
- or take the train from T.F. Green Airport and spend a day in Boston.