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The Best 2014: City Life

Small state, big pride
By PHOENIX STAFF  |  May 15, 2014

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The crew at Providence Animal Rescue League. [Photo by Richard McCaffrey]

BEST BEACH: NARRAGANSETT TOWN BEACH

Boston Neck Rd, Narragansett | 401.783.6430 | narragansettri.gov/index.aspx?NID=323 | Readers are passionate about where they lay their blankets and squint at the sea. This category was one of the biggest vote-generators, and Narragansett Town Beach squeaked by last year’s winner, East Matunuck. ’Gansett hosts up to 10,000 folks a day on its 19 acres; it also has food stands, a first-aid office, and a surfing area. Admission is $8 (free under 12; parking is $10 weekdays, $15 weekends; seasonal passes are available). And hey, don’t drop your iPhone in the sand . . . .

BEST BIKE ROUTE: EAST BAY BIKE PATH

riparks.com/Locations/Location EastBay.html | The East Bay Bike Path tops this category for the 17th year (yep, it’s time to retire this category). Here’s some trivia to share the next time you’re enjoying its award-winning splendor: It spans 14.5 miles. It was greenlit in 1983 and built from 1987 to 1992 on the former rail bed of the Providence, Warren, and Bristol Railroad. It’s a link in the East Coast Greenway, which aspires to be a 3000-mile motorized-free ribbon from Maine to Florida. And more than 1 million people walk, run, skate, and bike on it every year. Yep, it’s The Best.

BEST BLOG: PROVIDENCE DAILY DOSE

providencedailydose.com | It’s hardly the most hyperactive blog — on many days there is only one post — but PDD proves the adage “less is more” (and didjaknow that adage is from a 1855 poem by Robert Browning? nowyaknow!). What they post matters. They’re deeply immersed in the art and food and music and ’hoods and politics and stuff of the capital city — the stuff that matters, the stuff you can’t experience while loafing on yr couch. And they have a sense of humor; a “Call Mother” post on Mother’s Day was graced with a photo of Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford in Mommie Dearest. Their banner says they specialize in “high-powered news and nonsense.” Readers appreciate the balance.

BEST FAIR/FESTIVAL: GASPEE DAYS

gaspee.com | Fun, free, and family-friendly, the Gaspee Days Arts & Crafts Festival is Rhode Island’s best Memorial Day Weekend activity. More than 100 fine artisans come together in the heart of Warwick’s gorgeous Pawtuxet Village to sell their one-of-a-kind crafts and knickknacks. Food, games, and live music round out the event that draws about 50,000 people annually — join the fun.

BEST LOCAL CAUSE: AS220 YOUTH

115 Empire St, Providence | 401.831.9327 | youth.as220.org | AS220 Youth began in 1998, when it was known as Broad Street Studio. Its mission has evolved through the years and now focuses on free arts education for ages 14-21, with a concentration on youth in the care and custody of the state. Members express themselves through music, dance, graphic design, photography, and creative writing; the program publishes a quarterly literary magazine, The Hidden Truth, and runs a Youth Gallery. The creative process leads to rewarding social, educational, and vocational experiences. Their slogan is, “We stand for embracing, celebrating and educating.” Nothing could be better.

BEST LOCAL NON-PROFIT GROUP: PROVIDENCE ANIMAL RESCUE LEAGUE

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