location: Fantastic Umbrella Factory and Small Axe CafÃ© at 4820 Old Post Rd. inÂ Â Â Â Charlestown, RI.
good for: All ages
cost: Free entrance to grounds and gardens
We recently took a trip down to South County to visit the Fantastic Umbrella Factory in Charlestown. The only part of its name that rings true is the “fantastic” part. It is most definitely not a factory and I pretty sure I didn’t see a single umbrella. I’d been hearing a lot of great things about this place, so I was eager to check it out for myself. We packed up one not-so-sunny April morning and headed down to meet up with a good friend and her two little ones.
As soon as we arrived, our two young three year olds discovered the animals that live on the property; goats, emus, turkeys, and chickens. The chickens are the most fun and fortunately, extremely tolerant of small, excited children running around with them. You can even purchase little cones to fill with bird feed if your children are interested in feeding them. After oohing and aahing at the animals, we began exploring the enchanting grounds. The boys stopped to admire a stone fountain and some beautiful flowers.
Then, we continued on down the path toward the greenhouses, which are filled with rows and rows of exquisite and rare plants. Inside, they smelled wonderful and even the youngsters seemed to marvel at the beauty of the flora. The kids particularly enjoyed the greenhouse that is home to a lovely little pond swimming with fish. Outside, I couldn’t take my eyes off the lovely turquoise and blue terra cotta pots, colorful flags, and fascinating looking trees. Just walking around, you can’t help but feel there is something magical about this place. When the boys grew hungry we sat down in one of the majestic courtyards to enjoy some snacks we had brought from home. Though truthfully, I almost wished we had forgotten our snacks because there is a quaint, little cafe on the property serving up food that looks and smells delicious! After snacking, the adults took turns browsing in the unique shops while the kids continued playing outside. The shops are filled with a beautiful collection of handcrafted artisan wares from all over the world. The kids will particularly enjoy the general store for its assortment of candy and interesting toys.
Depending on the season, the hours of the shops and cafÃ© may vary, so check their website to plan accordingly. Also, if you visit on a Sunday in the spring and summer you will be treated to live acoustic music in the garden. We visited on a Saturday so unfortunately missed the entertainment, but we definitely plan to return again this summer. The Fantastic Umbrella Factory is surely not to be missed!