Rhode Island is not exactly the obvious choice for skiers in New England. The highest point in our state, Jerimoth Hill stands at a lowly 812 feet above sea level and so it is hardly surprising that most folks travel further afield to hit the slopes. Â There are some reasonable local options however, which are especially good for beginners, families and younger children.
Back in the day, there used to be five local ski areas dotted around Rhode Island but now where is only one remaining, Yawgoo in Exeter. Â Yawgoo offers skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing within a Â 30 minute drive of Providence (on a Â good day, with the wind behind you!)
Yawgoo offers a great 5 week learn-to-ski program but crikey, you have to register early (like October!!). Â Other options involving less pre-planning are:
February Vacation Package:
Wachusett offers 22 trails, 1000 feet of slopes, night skiing and some great options for children's lessons. Drive time from Providence is approximately 1 hour 45 mins.
Although a small "resort", the Blue Hills is another local option which is great for more affordable children's lessons. Only 40 minutes from Providence!
Photo Credits: Top (Skiing Forever), Middle (Ninemsn), Bottom (Chamonix First)
Estimated Travel Time from Providence, Rhode Island to Hershey, PA: 6 hours
DISCLAIMER: Our family wasÂ comped one night at the Hershey lodge plus Hersheypark ticketsÂ We also received free tickets to try the 4D adventure at Chocolate world.
I am a true believer of the saying that families that play together stay together and that’s why we try to make a family vacation happen every year. Having outgrown our annual trip to Santa’s Village and Storyland, I was on the look out for a new family destination. All of a sudden it hit me like a ton of chocolate:Â We chose Hersheypark, and got chocolate wasted!
We weren’t sure what to expect because we have never been before but part of what attracted us to Hershey was the unique story of its founder, Â Milton Hershey is an example of the underdog. He grew up poor, fatherless and with a limited education but with passion and perseverance he became a successful confectioner and philanthropist. With his success he chose to give back to his community, especially orphaned children through the Milton Hershey School.
Hersheypark is a little bit pricier than the smaller parks but we always find ways to make our trips more affordable. Avoid long lines and reduce costs by traveling midweek. Since the food bill is usually our highest expense I pack tons of food, even a toaster.
One of our first decisions was where to stay in Hershey. Hersheypark has three official resort choices for three different budgets, Hotel Hershey, Hershey Lodge and The Hershey Park Camping Resort. We chose the Hershey Lodge because of its family friendly activities, mid-range prices and added extras.
Arriving into town we were greeted by the smell of chocolate in the air and Hershey Kisses street lights and when we checked-in at the Hershey Lodge we were greeted with an inviting smile and five Hershey Bars. I like Hershey’s style.
One of my kids favorite activities at The Hershey Lodge was “kids check-in” where kids get to write their name in a guestbook, get a piece of candy, meet a character and receive their Hershey Lodge Badge. The back of the badge has a place to write your child’s name and contact information, which is great in case your child gets lost in the park, which my son did, TWICE!!
Our first stop out of the Hershey Lodge was Chocolate World. There is enough chocolate in there to give the world cavities. While there, we embarked on our special agent mission to solve the 4D Great Chocolate Factory Mystery with Mr. Reese’s. During the prep for the mystery we learned that Hershey and Reese’s played baseball together ever since they were bite size. The kids made great chocolate agents, that Sauer Von Sauer and the No-Bots had nothing on my kids. Then we went on The Hershey’s Great American Tour Ride four times. Each rider gets a bite of a Hershey Bar after every ride. We loved it so much we went on it four times. Okay you caught us; we kept going on for the free bite size candy bar.
After Chocolate World, we took advantage of the preview plan, and walked over to Hersheypark which greeted us with the song “I want candy”. We couldn’t help but skip to the music. The first thing you see when you walk into the park is a beautiful water fountain with a statue of Milton Hershey and then everywhere you look are rides and coasters. The preview plan offered the luxury of NO lines and cooler night temps.Â The kids rushed over to see what candy bar they measured up to and ultimately which rides they could ride. They were all Reese’s which left my oldest a little disappointed because she wanted to ride the Hershey Bar size rides. We saved The Kissing Tower for the last ride of the night.Â Way above the park at night you get a fantastic view of all the sparkling lights from the rides.
The next morning we checked out ZooAmerica so the temps would be cool and the animals would be out. Once the temperatures rose we zipped over to Hersheypark’s themed waterpark, The Boardwalk, which at first glimpse stopped us dead in our tracks. It really is GIGANTIC!!!
No matter which direction you look there is a giant roller coaster in the skyline. Skyrush is the newest coaster. It looks like a monstrous yellow track in the sky. My favorite was Comet because of the nostalgic feeling you get while riding a wooden coaster and listening to the click and clack of the wood.
Even though we packed most of our food we do like to treat ourselves to a dinner once in a while. Our family requirements for a restaurant are: “Does it have french fries?” and “Is it loud enough to drown out the sound of our kids?” With that in mind we chose, “The Bears Den” which is a hockey themed American Pub inside the Hershey Lodge.
On our last day there we visited The Children’s Garden located inside of The Hershey Gardens. There my children participated in a scavenger hunt to win the prize of a garden tool. It was filled with lots of plants that mimicked scents from chocolate.
The last stop on our trip was The Hershey Story which is an interactive museum that tells the story of the Milton Hershey and his chocolate company.Â One really neat feature of the museum is the kids can design a virtual Hershey Bar wrapper, email it home and actually print it out to fit a Hershey Bar.
If your goal is to ride EVERYTHING at Hersheypark I would suggest at least a two day ticket to the park. We had an awesome time and are planning on going back when all the kids measure at a Hershey Bar. I think it would be really neat to experience the Halloween in Hershey.
Helpful Tips + Resources
I think I have maybe posted one or two photos on Instragram, ever.Â I’m more of a Facebook gal.Â But when the New England Aquarium posted their Instagra m photo contest to Facebook to celebrate World Oceans Day, I couldn't resist the topic: Submit a picture that exemplified how your family “lived blue.”Â I actually won with a picture of my daughter learning the basics of surfing on a paddleboard with the quote, you can’t stop the waves but you can learn to surf. WOW! I never win anything.
Although we have always wanted to go on the Boston Duck Tours for years, the cost of tickets (plus parking) is a bit expensive for our budget. So I was thrilled to have won the tickets for my entire family: The Duck Tour (a guided tour of Boston via land and sea) was AWESOME! The tour guide provides a history lesson for all the passengers while driving by the sites. Â It’s a lesson that is an experience. It is so much more fun than just reading word for the kids. Â We learned about historical events that took place as we passed by the events actual location. We learned about heroic figures such Paul Revere, Sam Adams and Benjamin Franklin.
Our tour started at The New England Aquarium which is located on what is considered Long Wharf.Â It is a beautiful spot located on the Harbor. As soon as all the passengers are aboard and take a seat, the tour guide first lets us know that it is customary to quack at any other Duck Tour vehicles going by. Lucky for us parents, NOT, the children are handed these lovely plastic shaped beaks that quack. Â The tour starts off on the road and takes the passengers all over the city of Boston.
The kids were peaking their heads out of the side of the truck. It was such a gorgeous day with the sun shining and the breeze off of the Harbor. They were looking up at the tall buildings and trying taking in everything at once.
I was particularly excited that we drove by The Frog Pond because I have wanted to take the kids ice skating there. In the summer the Frog Pond has a wading pool and lots of events for the kids. I have never been to the Boston Commons so it was nice to drive around it and get an idea of the entire lay of the land. The Boston Common also offers lots of events and activities for families so be sure to check it out.
We drove by other sites such as the Massachusetts State House (old and new), The Boston Museum of Science, Quincy Market and a protected piece of the Berlin Wall. As we drove around you noticed lots of families walking and enjoying splashing in water fountains.
After the land part of the tour the vehicle entered the Charles River.Â The kids were all smiles as the vehicle morphed from a land to sea vehicle.Â Upon the Charles River we learned more history of the water ways and how it has evolved. All the children on the tour even got a chance to drive the boat! Our tour guide was exceptionally good with the children.
While on the Charles River we passed by the Community Boating center where we got a view of children during their sailing lessons and an unsuccessful windsurfer who lost his balance.Â We quacked at other boaters going by. At the end of water tour we saw the spot which is to become The Charles River Skate Park which will be the biggest skate park in the US!
Our family loved the entire experience.
The Boston Duck Tour, albeit a bit pricey, is well worth the money. I would recommend it to any family who would like to take an adventure in Boston. I loved the “Dirty Water.”
Helpful Hints + Resources:
location: Battleship Cove — 5 Water Street Fall River, MA
cost: Adults - $17.00. Children aged 6-12 - $10.50. Children under 6 FREE.
helpful hint: Libraries have discount passes for Battleship Cove
good for: All ages, but best for kids ages 6 and up
The kids and our family friends spent an afternoon at Battleship Cove recently. We explored the Battleships and took a spin on the Fall River Carousel. It was an awesome fun filled day that included a history lesson. I felt kind of bad because my husband is the History buff and he loves World War II but he was working. Maybe next time Dad.
Battleship Cove is a maritime museum that sits in the Fall River Harbor and is home to the USS Massachusetts, USS Joseph Kennedy JR, USS Lionfish, PT Boats and Hiddensee. The ships sit under the Braga Bridge. All the vessels served in World War II and are open for everyone to discover.
Pulling up to the parking lot all you see are these larger than life Navy ships. The kids were in awe at the massive size of them all.Â I think I heard, “Mom, can I go on that one, and that one and that one too” at least ten times by my middle child.
When you enter the museum on the right hand side you will see a helicopter and an airplane that was flown in World War II along with other military weaponry.
The kids all made a beeline to the first ship. Â They had so much excitement just waiting to get into that ship and see what they could discover. One of the first things they noticed was the ENORMOUS cannons.
Of course, as they were aboard the ships I tried to sound educated using words like port, starboard and mast. I am not sure if I was successful at sounding sea savvy. Â The kids had a blast climbing through everything. There were secret hideaways to sneak into and narrow hallways that never seemed to end. I have to admit we got lost for a little bit. You laugh but the USS Massachusetts is HUGE!
We really wanted the kids to get the full experience of what life would be like for the seamen. We had them lay down in the tiny little cots that served as beds. They got to take a peek into the kitchen areas and the tiny bathrooms. The submarine is too much of a confined space for my comfort ability not to mention it’s underwater. The thought of being closed into a tight space under the sea is frightening to me.
If your child loves ships this is a fantastic place to bring them. It’s even better if there is a history buff in the family to share quality time together. I would say it’s much more meaningful for a child who can read because there are a lot of exhibits on the ships.
It was a lot of up and down narrow and steep ladders so I do not recommend it to very small children.
photo credit: Nicole Estrella
Just wanted to let you know that Kidoinfo will be taking a break from posting this week. We are taking a road trip back to Toronto to attend the 2013 TIFF Kids International Film Festival. More than just a day at the movies, TIFF Kids offers a diverse slate of films from Canada and around the world – films that take children and parents out of the everyday, and use the power of film to foster thought and encourage discussion about the complex and challenging issues facing young people today, and have lots of fun doing it. This is right up this film family's alley.
Ernest & Celestine (France)
Victor and the Secret of Crocodile Mansion (Germany)
Part vacation (fueling our family’s film passion) and part work as we will be interviewing people in the industry and previewing films for the 2014 Providence Children’s Film Festival (PCFF). We look forward to watching independent live-action, animated, claymation, documentary, short and full feature films from around the globe leaving time to discuss the films and tour the city. Can’t wait to share what we find with all of you and the PCFF.
While I’m away from Kidoinfo, check the events calendar for things to do and check the Kidoinfo archives full of crafty ideas, recipes, book reviews, fun activities and more!
Here's a list of 10 things to do to kick start the week. Enjoy!
Since Providence is such a cool place to hang with kids, we love sharing our favorite family-friendly things to do in the area on a regular basis. Although the recent New York Times article, "36 Hours in Providence, R.I" mentions many fab things to do and see in the city, it's not tailored for families, prompting me to update my Kidoinfo post from 2007, "36 Hours in Providence (with Kids)."
I've a packed a lot into the weekend and I know in reality that children need naps, nourishment, and places to roam. Although you may only want a playground and a family friendly place to eat, I provide plenty of options depending on the weather, the age of your kids, and your sense of adventure. Have fun playing in Providence!
Play at the lovely shaded Brown Street Park (corner of Brown Street and Creighton Street) on the East Side. Interesting collection of climbing / play structures and cool programming for kids of all ages. Visit the Friends of Brown Street Park website to see current schedule of events. (FREE)
More places to play: Top 5 Favorite Green Spaces in the Providence area.
Grab a slice of pizza from Antonio's or a burrito from Gordito Burrito (256 Thayer Street). These two yummy food spots conveniently share a space with casual counter service and a mix of tables and bar stools.
Take a stroll down Thayer Street for people watching, book stores, and funky shops. Have a frozen treat from FroYo (219 Thayer Street ) or Ben and Jerry’s (237 Meeting Street). Depending on the age of your kids and what's playing watch an indie film at The Avon Cinema (260 Thayer Street) or nearby at the Cable Car Cinema (204Â SouthÂ MainÂ Street) or skip the stroll and head over to Providence Children's Museum (100 South Street in the Jewelry District) for MetLife Family Friday — Free at Five! The Museum is open free of charge every Friday evening through Labor Day from 5 - 8 pm.
Have coffee on the patio outside atÂ Seven Stars (820 Hope Street), while the kids eat ginger star cookies and watch the birds. If it's summer, skip the cafe and head over to the Hope Street Farmer's Market in Lippitt Park (corner of Hope Street and Blackstone Boulevard). Sip coffee from New Harvest Coffee Roasters and savor pastries from the Seven Stars or Olga's Cup and Saucer booths. Children can meet the farmers, sample the food, play in the playground, frolic near the fountain, and listen to music under the trees while parents soak up the social scene and buy food to pack for a later picnic lunch.
Take a walk through Swan Point Cemetery (585 Blackstone Boulevard), and find the resting place of famous souls like science fiction pioneer H. P. Lovecraft. Incorporate a history lesson, play name games, and sharpen math skills. (FREE)
Have a picnic lunch at Roger Williams National Memorial (RWNM) (282 North Main Street). A small lovely landscaped urban park located on a common lot of the original settlement of Providence, Rhode Island, by Roger Williams in 1636. The memorial commemorates the life of the co-founder of the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations and a champion of the ideal of religious freedom. (FREE)
Visit the RISD Museum (20 North Main Street), three blocks from RWNM. Find the Alexander Calder, the sarcophagus, and the Buddha. Museum admission is FREE the last Saturday of the month and pay-what-you-wish every Sunday from 10 am-1 pm. If it's open, visit the RISD’s Nature Lab (around the corner at 13 Waterman Street). You and your kids will get to see an amazing variety of specimens on display, including birds, bears, and bones. (FREE)
Visit the children’s room in one of America’s oldest libraries: Providence Athenaeum (251 Benefit Street). (FREE)
If the kids still have energy, play at India Point Park (at the end of Gano Street on the East Side). Great climbing structures, beautiful mosaic mural, lots of room to run around, and lovely off-shore breezes. (FREE)
Have delicious sweet or savory crepe at the Duck and Bunny (312 Wickenden Street). If the weather is nice dine in the private back garden or enjoy a yummy Ethiopian meal at Abyssinia (333 Wickenden Street) where you eat by scooping your food with bread rather than utensils.
Experience Waterfire in downtown Providence. (Check website for schedule.) This award-winning sculpture by Barnaby Evans installed on the three rivers of downtown Providence includes over eighty sparkling bonfires for a full lighting and enchanting music from around the world. Visitors stroll the paths of Waterplace Park alongside the rivers enchanted by street performers and other magical surprises along the way. Free but donations accepted. Get there just before sunset to watch the bonfires being lit. (FREE)
Take a walk through Burnside Park. (Situated in downtown Providence, adjacent to Kennedy Plaza.) Visit the fountain and check out the statue of Ambrose Burnside, a general in the American Civil War from Rhode Island. Trivia: His distinctive style of facial hair is now known as sideburns, derived from his last name.
Visit the window displays outside Big Nazo Lab (60 Eddy Street, across from Providence City Hall). If you’re lucky you may get a sneak peak inside. Caution: The puppets may be scary for some kids. (FREE)
Have a hearty breakfast at the hip artsy Julians (318 Broadway) located on the West Side. Best to arrive early or come prepared with snacks and games for the kids while you wait for a table at this popular restaurant. And make sure you take a trip the bathroom with your children to see the Star Wars figure collection.
Visit the Dexter Training Ground (73 Dexter Street), a 9-acre city park on the West Side. Plenty of open space and shady spots for free play. The park is located next to the Cranston Street Armory (310 Cranston Street). The massive castle-like structure was built in 1907 and may spark your children’s imagination with stories of knights and maidens. Popular with the film industry, the armory has been used for a number of films including Underdog. (Click here for directions to take the Providence Underdog tour.) (FREE)
Eat pizza outside at Geppetto's Grilled Pizzeria (57 Depasquale Square) in Depasquale Square on Historic Federal Hill. Then stop at the fountain and make a wish as you throw in a coin. Or if still full from breakfast, skip lunch and have gelato from VendaÂ Ravioli (265 Atwells Avenue).
Visit Roger Williams Park (1000 Elmwood Avenue). The park's 435 acres feature over 100 acres of ponds that weave their way through the rolling landscape. Major attractions include the nationally-recognized Roger Williams Park Zoo, the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, the Botanical Center, the Carousel Village, and the Temple to Music. Imitate the animals at the zoo, watch a space show at the Planetarium, and play in the Hasbro playground, a totally accessible playground for all ages and abilities located near the historic carousel in the Carousel Village.
Dine at Apsara (716 Public Street), located off the beaten path not far from Roger Williams Park. The affordable eclectic menu includes Cambodian, Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian, and Chinese. BYOB. (Note, this is not the same as Apsara on Hope Street).
For more things to do in and around Providence, read the Kidoinfo List of 100 things to do or the Kidoinfo A-list.â€¨ Please tell us how you would spend some or all of your 36 hours in Providence with your children.
I created this list of 100 things to do with my kids in Rhode Island (and nearby area) before they grow up a few years ago. The fun stuff and the things I think are important for them (and me) to do. I like having a master list, knowing which ones are free organized by indoor and outdoor places. We still have not done everything on the list, repeated some of our favorites multiple times, and I've updated it as places have gone out of business. What makes it even better is now it's no longer "my" list, it's really the Kidoinfo List. Read the comments at the end of the list for additional suggestions from readers about places to go and things to do.
Print it out (Printer Friendly List), check off the ones you do–adding dates and starring your favorites. Let me know if you have anything to add.
Read more on GoLocalProv. Every week I share tips on how families can make the most of their family time – including helpful hints that make parenting easier and connecting you to great local happenings.
Beyond summer camp, what are your plans? Family vacation, long lazy days at the beach, day-trips or are you not even thinking of summer yet? To get you in the mood here are some helpful links from Kidoinfo:
And if you still need help with camp, check out these resources:
We recently spent our April Vacation in Toronto attending the TIFF Kids International Film Festival. More than just a family vacation, we were there on behalf of the Providence Children's Film Festival (PCFF), scouting films while learning about and experiencing another festival first hand. Everyone we met was friendly, generous, and passionate about film. Our experience was fabulous.
TIFF Kids offers children and youth the opportunity to learn about cultural perspectives from around the world through the power of the moving image. More than just a day at the movies, TIFF Kids includes two public weekends for ages three and up and a two week long School Program for students in elementary schools. Featuring the best of Canadian and international cinema for children and youth, TIFF Kids offers a compelling selection of features and shorts on diverse subjects in a variety of genres and styles. It provides a rare opportunity to watch films that kids around the world are lining up to see and that in many cases may not be available again in Toronto.
What makes TIFF Kids meaningful and fun for kids and families (as with PCFF) is the emphasis and celebration of children and film; including the process, the stories, and the impression it leaves on us after the film is over. Shared theatrical experiences –Â increasingly rare these days since we are able to easily watch movies on mobile devices and at home on-demand – can be community building, facilitating the immediate exchange of ideas and connecting kids to other youth, families, and teachers in new ways.
The 2012 TIFF Kids had over 100 films, features and shorts, from 41 different countries. This year marked the 15th anniversary for the fest and to celebrate, TIFFÂ hosted digiPlaySpace, an interactive digital playground for children, with innovative art installations, learning-centric games, introductions to new digital drawing tools and memorable hands-on film and media production activities.
Although I did not have the opportunity to see every movie shown at the festival, I highlighted a few of my favorites that stayed with me after the film was over – to me, a sign of a moving film. Many films at this year's festival had environmental themes or demonstrated the power of kids, taking destiny into their own hands to overcome an obstacle, possibly changing themselves or their community for the better.
Films can spark conversation before and long after a film has ended. Films from and about other cultures and their stories about challenging life situations such as bullying, divorce, or war provide valuable learning opportunities for all of us. As parents, caregivers and educators we can facilitate these conversations, helping children make connections to their own life and the community around them.
Film Highlights fromÂ 2012 TIFF Kids (Read more on FlickFlackMovieTalk.com):
Salam Dunk (2011) / Director: David Fine
USA / Iraq. Language: Arabic, Kurdish, English
Iraq's first all-girl basketball team are going into their second season without having won a single game - but that's about to change. This exciting and uplifting documentary offers a rare glimpse at the everyday lives and dreams of young people who have endured years of war, political instability and inequality.
Themes: sports, gender inequity, political conflict, female relationships, post-secondary education
Runtime: 81 minutes
Rating: G. Recommended Ages 12 and up.
Content Advisory: mature content - some graphic discussion and images of war, religious references
Wunderkinder (2011) / Director: Marcus O. RosenmÃ¼ller
Germany. Language: German
Three young musical prodigies in 1940s Ukraine - two Jewish, one German - have their friendship put to the test when Hitler invades the Soviet Union in this moving tale about the power of art in the face of tragedy.
Themes: genocide, child musicians, music, friendship, social justice
Runtime: 96 minutes
Rating: PG. Recommended Ages: 12 and up.
Content Advisory: mature content - violence, shooting, person shot, guns, death (seen and discussed)
King Siri (2008) / Director: Somaratne Dissanayake
Sri Lanka. Language: Sinhalese
A gifted boy from a small Sri Lankan village wins a scholarship to a prestigious school in the city where he must face numerous challenges armed only with his own determination and self-confidence.
Themes: Sri Lankan traditions and culture, bullying, non-conformity
Runtime: 88 minutes.
Rating: G. Recommended Ages: 10 and up.
Content Advisory: child bullied by his peers.
Habanastation (2011) / Director: Ian PadrÃ³n
Cuba. Language: Spanish
Mayito has led a sheltered life with his privileged parents in Havana. But when he gets lost in his classmate Carlos' neighborhood, he sees firsthand how the other half lives.
Runtime: 95 minutes
Rating: G. Recommended Ages: 10 and up.
Le Tableau (2011) / Director: Jean-FranÃ§ois Laguionie
France. Language: English, French
The inhabitants of an unfinished artwork decide to take over governance of the painting themselves in this delightful and innovative computer-animated fable.
Themes:Â visual art, positive choices, social justice, activism, racism
Runtime: 76 minutes
Recommended Ages: 10 and up.
Content Advisory: animated violence, partially clothed woman depicted in a work of art
Just wanted to let you know that Kidoinfo will be taking a break from posting this week. We are taking a road trip to theÂ TIFF Kids International Film Festival – first time attending a festival other than our beloved Providence Children's Film Festival. Part vacation (fueling our family's film passion) and part work as we will be interviewing people in the industry and previewing films for the 2013 Providence Children's Film Festival.
We look forward to watching independent live-action, animated, claymation, documentary, short and full feature films from around the globe leaving time to discuss the films and tour the city. Can't wait to share what we find with all of you!
While I'm away from Kidoinfo, check the events calendar for things to do and check the Kidoinfo archives full of crafty ideas, recipes, book reviews, fun activities and more!
Have a fabulous week!