The description on the state parks website was not encouraging. It was full of nine sensible rules for safety (stay on the path!) and keeping the park clean (don’t remove anything from the park, other than your trash!), and ended with the warning, “The property has no drinking water, toilets, communications, or emergency assistance facilities. It is recommended that you come well prepared to handle your needs during your visit.”
So I wasn’t expecting much from the reincarnated Rocky Point Park, other than a trip down memory lane. It’s been open since 2014, but I haven’t made the trek there yet. So, today was the day – the afternoon after a sleepover, the kids need rest, and Rocky Point is a good 40+ minute nap/drive from our house. Perfect.
When we arrived, I realized I was probably the only person in the state who hadn’t been there since 1994. The parking lot outside the entrance had just a few spots open, and a New England Lemonade truck was parked adjacent to it. As we started to walk down the path, there were a number of people carrying fishing poles returning to their cars, as well as people walking dogs, which are permitted in the park on leash. The kids spotted the refurbished arch (it seems to be the logo for the park; look for it on the sign to turn down Rocky Point Avenue) and ran over to check it out. They were hunting Pokémon, too, so that may have had something to do with it. Anyway, we learned from an informational sign under the arch that it had been one of 13 built for the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair with an electronic message board offering fair-goers news and event updates.
From there, we walked over to the beach. It’s a fairly short beach – at least the section that is part of the park. There were no lifeguards, but a few people were swimming while others sat at a nearby picnic table under a tree. We walked in the other direction, and that’s when the beauty of the park struck me. Although the towers of the skyliner still jut out of the grass, they now seem more like public art than amusement park leftovers. That may be because their surroundings – the rolling hills, the lawn, the rocky shoreline, the trees and wildflowers – seem so natural and idyllic. We walked along the paved path by the seawall and saw more people fishing, both from the seawall and from a rocky breakwater near the derelict pier that used to receive visitors to Rocky Point. Another informational sign – the park has a number of them, telling the history of park landmarks – said that the state is planning to rebuild the pier for fishing.
We continued on the paved path until we came to an offshoot trail and explored that for a bit. That led us through the woods and past a marsh to boulders lapped by the waves. We climbed out – not too far, remembering the nine rules – and enjoyed the view for a few minutes.
The paths and trail went further, but we were tired and turned back and headed toward the car. On the way back, the kids found a couple of painted rocks, one of which they kept, since it seemed to have been left there for that purpose. When we returned home we found that they were left as part of an “art drop” by RIRocks, which was pretty neat.
All told, we were there about an hour, and only spent a few dollars for frozen drinks on our way out. I was only going to try the watermelon one my younger son got, but after I took one sip, he said, “That’s not fair, now he has more than me!” so I had to try his brother’s lemonade, too. So I can tell you that while Rhode Islanders always talk about Del’s, New England Lemonade was delicious and refreshing on a hot day.
P.S. I mentioned that one of the rules is not removing anything from the park. The rules actually mention fossils specifically, and also say to leave your metal detectors and shovels at home, too. What exactly is IN Rocky Point Park? I guess we’ll never know.
Want to discover more places like Rocky Point? Check out shoreline-ri.com.
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— Monica Allard Cox, Rhode Island Sea Grant Communications Director