I wrote about some of our family's favorite outdoor spaces for the July 2010 issue of Providence Monthly. Share your favorite spots in the comments below.
Brown Street Park & Playground
Location: behind Hope High School, East Side, Providence, RI
Parking: Street parking. Make sure to check the signs on where to park to avoid a ticket.
This park (a continuous work in progress) has been designed and built by a dedicated group of parents, neighbors and partners as a place that is both useful and beautiful. Although well used and nestled between Hope High School and residential streets this park private and cozy.
The Friends of Brown Street Park organization have a created an amazing outdoor space with thoughtful playground and exercise equipment and community garden. The large fenced-in park incorporates natural and re-purposed materials including old tires and a sculptural wood-slatted climbing structure into the playspace. The park is located behind the Hope High School running track. If the track is empty this a fabulous place to let your kids run laps.
Brown Street Park has a reputation for amazing programming including summer concert series, exercise classes and weekly story time. Find their full schedule on the website.
India Point Park & Playground
Location: India Street, Providence (near The Community Boating Center). The playground is located between the Gano Street entrance to the Park and the shoreline overlooking the Seekonk River. Pedestrian walking bridge crossing 95 connects Wickenden Street to the India Point Park.
Parking: Paved parking lot located short walk to playground.
We love this urban park for its large unstructured spaces located along the water, shady spots, multi-age playground and its appeal to people of all ages from many different neighborhoods. The park has picnic tables and paved pathways for walking and bike riding. A great spot for community events including the annual The Cape Verdean Independence Festival. On weekends you can watch the Mexican Soccer League play April through October.
The updated playground equipment has a maritime theme including boat-shaped sandboxes, climbing ropes, and a flagpole with yardarm. The fenced-in playground has a retaining wall on one side adorned by a community inspired stoneware mosaic mural, designed by artists Mika Seeger and Peter Geisser.
Location: 2 Kennedy Plaza, Providence in downtown Providence adjacent to Kennedy Plaza
Parking: Metered street parking. Park in the mall parking lot. $1 for up to 3 hours. Or check RIPTA.com for schedules.
This small (mostly fenced in) park is a lovely shady spot in downtown Providence with plenty of benches and green space for a picnic. An equestrian statue of General Burnside of Civil War fame and known for his facial hair, now called sideburns, sits prominently in the park alongside a large ornate fountain.
Kennedy Plaza hosts events daily including lunchtime music concerts and weekly farmers market. New this year for families is the Kidoinfo story time. Every Tuesday mornings at 10am the all-ages storyhour will feature at least one book from a local Rhode Island author or illustrator along with weekly raffles and a book swap.
Slater Memorial Park & Playground
Location: Newport Ave, Rte 1A, Pawtucket, RI
Parking: Multiple parking lots located throughout park including lots adjacent to the Carousel, playground and Daggett Farm.
This historic park is full of things to do and large enough you will have to drive from one end to the other. The popular Looff Carousel built in1894 and installed in the park in 1910 has retained its old fashioned charm (tickets required).Â The park is a popular spot for special events including the children performance series on Tuesdays in the summer. There are tennis courts and plenty of open space for games and picnic areas. Walking and biking trails weave though the woods and alongside the water.
The fenced-in playground is a huge attraction for families. Recently built the playground has different play areas and climbing structures (including ropes and rock climbing wall) designed for toddlers and older kids. From the playground you can easily walk to Dagget House and farm, built in 1685. This free petting zoo is small and the perfect size to combine with the playground and a picnic lunch. Snack bar and bathrooms located adjacent to Dagget Farm.
For full summer schedule, check the Pawtucket Park’s Recreation Department website: www.pawtucketri.com.
Roger Williams Park
Location: Elmwood Ave., Providence, RI
Parking: Multiple parking lots located throughout park.
This park reminds me of Central Park in New York City. You can visit all summer long and never do the same thing twice. Home to Hasbro Playground, “flying horses” carousel, the Zoo, the botanical greenhouse, the Museum of Natural History, baseball fields, hiking, tennis courts, bandstand and the Dalrymple Boathouse where you can rent paddle boats and mini speed boats. The Temple to Music made in 1924 is gathering place for concerts and festivals.
The fenced-in boundless playground designed and built by Hasbro is one where children of all abilities can play together. The playground is divided into 3 sections as well to accommodate children of different ages- from toddler to school age. This sunny playground–perfect for early morning or late afternoon visits during the summer–is located near the carousel (tickets required), snack bar and bathrooms.
Photo Credit: Photos at Brown Street Park and India Point Park by Douglas Itkin. Burnside Park photo by Michael Christofaro.