Meriden blogger loops around coastal Connecticut, Providence

Looking for a new area to explore, I stumbled upon a delicious travel circuit that I would love to share with all hikers. Variations on this loop are highly recommended, but using the route as a guide will certainly lead to an unforgettable outing.

Initially, there was only one intended destination, and it made more travel sense for it to be the first stop; the rest of the day was open. Our journey began when we headed north to The Traveler Restaurant in Union, Connecticut. It had been on my radar to visit for a few years, but it was always quite out of the way of my usual travels. Despite the distance, this diner/bookstore was well worth the walk.

With bookshelves and portraits of famous authors on the wall, this quaint corner features a literary-themed menu designed to delight bookworms and travelers alike. The highlight of visiting The Traveler Restaurant is that every patron is invited to take home a free book or two. Whatever selection calls out to you as you peruse the shelves, it can be yours. Of course, I found a book written by Meriden’s hometown hero, Tomie DePaola, on my way out while my mom opted to buy an entire bag of books. For just $13, he received a brown paper bag full of romance novels; the mystery was that only the main selections were visible, so the rest of the books I would have to discover after I bought them. This was the perfect start to our day trip.

From there, we figured it was a toss-up between Providence or Boston for our destination city. We decided to go with Providence as it was closer, and an area less explored by us in recent years. While my mom was driving, I eagerly Googled “things to do in Providence today” and was thrilled with the results. From tea parties, to roller skating, to food truck festivals, I couldn’t believe how many options we had in front of us. As a result, Providence is generally a pretty active community when it comes to events, even on a Friday afternoon. For our day trip, we decided to go the tourist route with our activities.

Our first stop in Rhode Island was at Roger Williams Park, a communal cornucopia of beautiful scenery, woodland creatures and recreational activities. Tourists like us could spend an entire day at a place like Roger Williams Park. Instead, we decided to take a spin on one of the iconic Swan Rowing Boats, wander around the Carousel Village and leave before burning away the day in a dreamy haze. (If you’re traveling with small children, this is a great place to have fun without breaking the bank.)

Since we were in such a nautical state, our next thought was something like, how can we get on a boat today? Turns out it’s easier in Providence than we imagined. We explored a few options and ultimately decided on a 50-minute narrated tour with the Providence River Boat Company. This was a perfect choice for us; the price was right, it was an intimate experience, the captain was knowledgeable, and the views were absolutely incredible. If you decide to take this route, I would like to mention that this is an open-air boating experience, so I recommend bringing a hat, sunglasses, or other weather-conscious options to make your trip more enjoyable . After our tour, we grabbed a couple of firsts from the Providence River Boat Company gift shop and decided to head back to Connecticut for dinner.

Keeping with our maritime theme, we stopped in the village of Mystic for some seafood on the shore. A family friend of ours works at Red 36, so naturally we knew where to have dinner. As the sun set, we were enveloped in the buzzing, lively atmosphere that could only be found on the patio of an open-air restaurant over the water. Our server was friendly and our meals were cooked to perfection. (If you order one item from Red 36, make it the scallops. If you order more than one, I absolutely recommend trying some of their appetizers—it’s worth the price!)

Since we were in the area, we decided to end the tour with a bang with a visit to the Mix Rooftop Bar at Sift Bake Shop. Who knew Sift owner Adam Young (and 2018 “America’s Best Baker” winner) also hosted nightly events on the establishment’s rooftop? This stylish venue features a full food and drink menu, so whether your visit is for a night out or the main destination, Mix has you covered. At Mix, we made new friends, laughed and reflected on our wonderful day of fun before deciding (reluctantly) that it was finally time to head home.

The next time you and your more spontaneous partner have a day off, check out the loop and see what appeals to you. There are so many little stops along the way just waiting to be explored, and you never know what you’ll find when you’re trying something new. You’ll never be bored on the East Coast! Happy travel day!

Francesca Fontánez is a journalist, educator and creative based in Meriden. A graduate of both the University of New Haven and the University of Bridgeport, she is happy to be back in Meriden writing about the city she loves and the surrounding area. When she’s not teaching ELA at Washington Middle School, she’s either exploring the East Coast for her lifestyle blog (@ eastsidevibes on Instagram) or working on music for her band, Cessa and The Zach. Email Francesca at eastsidevibeswithcess@ with tips on what to read next, or just to say hi!

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