A City-by-City Guide of Rhode Island

Whether you’re traipsing through Blackstone Valley or enjoying sea life on Block Island, the country’s smallest state is big on fun.


Just 60 miles outside of Boston, Rhode Island packs a big punch despite its small square footage. With several key regions within the state to choose from, there are all kinds of fantastic family activities to explore in each one. From horseback riding to historic carousels, here’s a breakdown of what to add to your vacation bucket list.


Blackstone Valley


The Industrial Revolution came alive in the 18th century in this northwest Rhode Island area.


What to Do: Children will absolutely adore hitting up Looff Carousel at Slater Park (RR 1A, Pawtucket, R.I.; 401-728-0500), which has drawn park patrons since 1910. It boasts the title of oldest Looff “stander” carousel in the world and features 44 horses, three dogs, one lion, one camel, one giraffe and two chariots. After you’ve taken a turn on the carousel, enjoy the rest of Slater Park, which sits along the Ten Mile River.


Head over to the park’s pond where F & L Legacy Boating provides Swan Paddle Boat Rentals ($5 per person for a half-hour ride). Both swan and dragon boats are available. From June 24 through the end of summer the rentals are open daily from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m., except for Mondays and Wednesdays when they open for business at 2 p.m.


Drive to the Spring Lake Beach Recreational Facility (50 Old Hillside Drive, Glendale, R.I., 401-568-9474) to take advantage of their swim dock, picnic area and penny arcade containing some cult classic games of yesteryear.


Stay at Grace Note Farm (969 Jackson Schoolhouse Road, Pascoag, R.I.; 401-567-0354;, an utterly charming B&B that offers activities like cooking classes, trail riding, treasure hunts and pony rides.


Block Island


Located just 13 miles off the coast of Rhode Island and possessing 17 miles of beaches featuring stunning lighthouses and bluffs, Block Island simply screams summertime.


What to Do: Did you read that part about the 17 miles of beaches? Clearly this is the place to enjoy some sand and surf, but there’s also a whole lot more.


Abram’s Animal Farm (1 Spring St., Block Island, R.I.; 401-466-2421; is home to a host of animals like camels, llamas, emus and kangaroos and the best part is – it’s free! Located on the Hotel Manisses property, the farm also grows vegetables for the hotel’s restaurant. Just keep in mind that this is a looking not touching farm – meaning hands off the animals.


If your family is interested in learning more about ocean life after spending a day splashing in the water, the Block Island Maritime Institute (216 Ocean Ave., Block Island, R.I.; 401-284-8338; can answer all of your questions. There are touch tanks, a harbor tour and, for those who are into this sort of thing, a squid dissection.


Get active with Ocean Adventures (Ocean Ave., Block Island, R.I.; 401-368-2611; which offers paddle board tours. Looking to return home from your vacation buffer than when you left? Try Paddle Fit SUP, a stand-up paddle board crossfit class that will give you a full-body workout.




Visit the state’s capital and you’ll find culture and adventure.


What to Do: If you are raising an aspiring chef or happen to be a family of foodies, the Culinary Arts Museum (315 Harborside Boulevard, Providence, R.I.; 401-598-2805; is a must-see. Exhibits include a New England Tavern from 1833, a 15-stool diner and the Little Chef Diner, a kids area that yours will adore. Maybe, just maybe, a trip here will encourage your little ones to be more adventurous with their eating habits.


Take in the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium (1100 Elmwood Ave., Providence, R.I.; 401-785-9457; and their newest exhibit “Icy Worlds and the Discoveries of DAWN and New Horizons.” It explores how our solar system and everything in it has been shaped by ice. You can also dig deep into the museum’s archives with “Secrets from the Vaults: Ancient Objects and Hidden Treasures,” a collection of rarely seen gems and riches from their, you guessed it, vaults.


For a hands-on experience, try Providence Children’s Museum (100 South St., Providence; 401-273-5437;, where everything is touchable and kid-friendly. From water fun to climbing mazes and everything in between, the whole family will enjoy getting their hands dirty here. Kids can even make their own art by dropping in at the museum’s Discovery Studio.


While in the city you have to see WaterFire Providence (101 Regent Ave., Providence;, the Barnaby Evans sculpture located on the three rivers of downtown. With 100 bonfires and illuminations floating and making their way down the river, it’s certainly a sight to see.




The area is home to eight beaches and more than 50 parks and playgrounds – can you say family-friendly?


What to Do: Show off your hops at Launch Trampoline Park (105 Pace Boulevard, Warwick; 105 Pace Boulevard, R.I.; 401-828-5867;, an indoor entertainment facility that has connected more than 10,000 square feet of trampolines to form one crazy bouncing experience. There’s a main jump court, one for kids, one for dodgeball and a foam pit.


Pack a picnic lunch and mosey on over to Goddard Memorial State Park (1095 Ives Road, Warwick, R.I.;, where you can explore nature trails or check out Goddard Park Beach located on Greenwich Bay. A 9-hole golf course will please avid players anxious to sneak in a round while on holiday.


South County


If you’re up for amusement park fun and whale watching, you’ve got to visit South County.


What to Do: If you’re on the hunt for a place where there’s something for literally everyone in your family, head to Adventureland (112 Point Judith Road, Narragansett, R.I.; 401-789-0030;, where you and your brood can spend the day playing mini golf, kickin’ it in bumper boats, driving go karts or trying your hand at hoops. And don’t miss Poppy’s Carousel, which is perfect for kids of all ages.


Join Frances Fleet (33 State St., Narragansett, R.I.; 401-783-4988; on one of their whale watching expeditions in the port of Galilee. It’s possible to spot Humpbacks, Minke, Pilot False Killer and Sei whales if the conditions are just right. Reservations are recommended as spaces fill up fast. Get a break on tickets on Tuesdays and Fridays as those are Family Days at Frances Fleet when two adults and two kids (under the age of 12) can ride for $130.


Get a bit of shopping done at The Fantastic Umbrella Factory (4820 Old Post Road, Charlestown, R.I.; 401-364-1060;, where local artisans sell their wares in a stunning rustic environment. Gardens and green houses will bring a little peacefulness to your day. Kids will get a kick out of the resident animals, which include goats, emus, chickens and ducks.


Now that you have your to-do list, get to planning and packing! Sadly these summer days won’t last forever but with all of this nearby, there’s no excuse not to pile the kids in the car and take off on a memory-making adventure.


Kelly Bryant is associate editor of Boston Parents Paper.

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12 Jun 2015

By Kelly Bryant