A First Year’s Guide to Summer Semester

Coming to Brown knowing that I, and the rest of the class of 2024, would have to complete a summer semester was extremely daunting. All I could think of was the image of me cooped up in my dorm room doing work while all my friends from high school are at the beach enjoying themselves. Having lived in Rhode Island my whole life and now having experienced several warm days on campus, I can say that first-years will have plenty of opportunities to have fun this summer even while taking a full course load. There are many options both in and around Providence for ways to get outside between study sessions. Though our options are definitely limited as a result of the pandemic, a lot of them have been adapted in ways that make them accessible.

1. Ferry to Newport/Newport Mansions

Located right next to India Point Park, there is a ferry that will take you to Newport in an hour, for $22 round trip. Once in Newport, there are a ton of great restaurants and cute shops to explore, along with other attractions like the beachfront and the Mansions. The Newport Mansions are a huge tourist attraction and a popular spot for weddings and other events. If you’re new to the area, dressing up and touring the mansions could be a really fun weekend activity to get outside of the house and see a unique part of RI. 

2. Waterfire

Located within Providence, Waterfire is a twice-monthly event that sees food trucks, vendors, and performances span all the way from Waterplace Park to South Main St. Park. It’s a must-see while in Providence and is a great opportunity to see all that the Providence community has to offer. Waterfire is currently closed, but I’m hopeful that it will reopen during the summer!

3. Beaches

This might be an obvious one, but Rhode Island is packed with public beaches all along its coastline. Some have fees to enter or to park, but many are open to the public such as Oakland Beach in Warwick. If you were to take an Uber since we can’t have cars on campus, this would likely simplify the parking process. Many beaches are still open, but require you to wear a mask and be socially distanced.

4. Carnivals

Likely a signature summer activity anywhere, Rhode Island has carnivals pop up all over the state complete with games, rides, and food vendors. My favorite is CumberlandFest, which is about 25 minutes away from campus. The carnivals do have a cost to enter and buy tickets for games, but you typically don’t need to spend much to hit all of the rides and attractions you want to see. Carnivals aren’t currently open, but the countdown to the next CumberlandFest on their website ends in August so hopefully, they’ll be open by then!

5. Del’s or Icecream

A Rhode Island summer staple, Del’s is frozen lemonade sold out of trucks, ice cream places, or even in their own stores! You can also purchase mix to make your own, but my favorite is always from the trucks. If lemonade isn’t your favorite, there’s also a ton of ice cream places around RI with other options! My favorites are Brickley’s in Narragansett and Lickety Splits in Charlestown, but there are so many to choose from depending on where you are.

6. Roger Williams Park

Roger Williams Park and the associated zoo is about 20 minutes away from Brown’s campus, and has an abundance of summery activities, from walking trails to rentable swan boats, to places for picnics. Most summers they also host Food Truck Fridays which bring food vendors and live music. There are activities for any price range and many that are no cost at all! 

7. 4th of July at India Point Park

If you’re looking for something to do on July 4th, India Point Park hosts a July 4th celebration complete with fireworks, live music, and food vendors. In a non-covid year, the park would be completely packed with people sitting on blankets so I imagine it will look different this year, but there will likely still be fireworks!