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 (204 South Main 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 at 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 Venda 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. Please tell us how you would spend some or all of your 36 hours in Providence with your children.
Category: amusements, baby, high school age, kidoinfo news, kids, local ri area, local venue, museums, nature places, parks/playgrounds, preschool, restaurants, rhode trip, teens (13 +), travel with kids, tweens