Your guide to parenting in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts

Plus bonus ideas in nearby MA and CT. (This guide has been revised and updated: May 19, 2016)

Kidoinfo-100-things-wideConsider 100+ Things To Do with Kids in Rhode Island Kidoinfo’s Bucket List, filled with things to do with your children before they grow up! Fun, food, culture, and history–all unique to our area: these are things we believe every young Rhode Islander should see and do.

For easy planning in any weather and any mood, our list is divided into four categories: Outdoor, Indoor, Food, and Close-to-RI-Favorites. We’ve included a note to let you know if the activity is FREE. (Always a bonus in our book!)

100+ Things To Do with Kids in Rhode Island has been updated again in June of 2014 to incorporate fresh ideas from Kidoinfo readers, and to remove items that have closed or changed since the list made its debut in 2009.

The guide is easy to use–print it out, check things off as you go, add date of visit, make notes, and add your own favorite spots!

Follow Kidoinfo on instagram @kidoinfo: I created a hashtag #kido100things to keep track of all the adventures we try. Feel free to tag your instagram photos so they become part of the collective #kido100things photo collection!

outdoor
IMG_39031. Visit Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence. Learn why the founder of Rhode Island was also a champion of the ideal of religious freedom. Bonus: Lovely spot for an outdoor picnic in season. (Free)

graveyard32. Stroll through Swan Point Cemetery in Providence, and find the resting place of famous souls like horror, fantasy, science-fiction writer H. P. Lovecraft. (Free)

TheHannah3.  Jump aboard the sunken ship The Hannah in Burnside Park (downtown Providence). Open all year long. (Free) Bonus: Attend Kidoinfo Storytime and Art in the Park during July and August. (Free)
4. Tour downcity Providence sights from a new perspective with Providence River Boat Company. Daytime, sunset, and Waterfire cruises available.
5. Watch the sunset over downtown Providence from Prospect Terrace. Park or hike to the top of Neutaconkanut Hill for another great view of the city. (Free)
6. Music! Enjoy concerts at Waterplace Park in downtown Providence. (Free)
7. Experience Waterfire in downtown Providence. Get there just before sunset to see the iconic bonfires as they are being lit. Take a gondola ride or boat ride.
8. Explore Slater Park in Pawtucket to see the animals at Daggett Farm, ride the swan boats on the pond, enjoy the playground, and visit the home of the Rhode Island Watercolor Society.

BigNazoPuppetWorkshop-Kidoinfo9. Visit the window displays of Big Nazo Lab, located in downtown Providence at the corner of Eddy and Fulton Streets. If you’re lucky, you may get a sneak peak inside. (Free)

shepard fairey mural providence10. Visit the original Shepard Fairey mural (commissioned by AS220 in 2010) painted on the side of the Pell Chafee Theatre on Aborn Street. (Free)
11. Make art and enjoy live music at AS220’s annual FooFest in downtown Providence. Takes place over the course of one weekend each August.
12. Pack a picnic supper and dine on the lawn of the John Brown House in Providence while listening to Concerts Under the Elms, Thursday evenings in the summer.

flamingo-zoo13. Visit the Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence: meet the animals and play in the Big Backyard space. The zoo also hosts the Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular in the fall.
14. Rent a swan paddle boat, canoe, kayak at Roger Williams Park in Providence.
15. Run in the breeze at India Point Park in Providence. Find the pirate ship in the 49-foot ceramic mural located near the playground. (Free)
16. Play at Dexter Park located next to the Cranston Armory in Providence. (Free)
17. Take a hike! Visit Rhode Island Families in Nature to choose from almost four dozen trails throughout Rhode Island. (Free)
18. Play the Rhode Island Farm Scavenger Hunt. Take a road trip and explore 28 of RI’s 1,200 working farms. Visit www.RIFruitGrowers.org to download the map and clues or pick up a pamphlet at a participating farm.

19. Shop from a local farmer. Many outdoor farmer markets open May through November with a handful open indoors the remainder of the year. (Visit www.FarmFreshri.org for a complete list of markets.)
20. Go for a ride on the East Bay bike path from Providence to Bristol. (Free) Ice cream stops in Riverside, Warren, and Bristol. Visit http://www.dot.ri.gov/community/bikeri/index.php for a list of bike paths around the state. (Free)

IMG_243121. Watch Movies on the Block outside on Thursday evenings (June-September) in downtown Providence. (Free)
22. Fly a kite at Breton State Park along Ocean Drive in Newport. Annual Newport Kite Festival in mid-July. (Free)
23. Visit Touro Synagogue, America’s oldest synagogue, in Newport.

PeterSeeger2011FolkFestival24. Experience the Newport Folk Festival at Fort Adams State Park.
25. Visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport.
26. Stroll the Cliff Walk in Newport and imagine living in the opulent mansions. (Free)
27. Spend the night at the Rose Island Lighthouse in Newport.
28. Spend the day at Easton’s Beach in Newport. Enjoy the carousel, water slide, skateboard park, and playground.
29. Visit Save the Bay Exploration Center & Aquarium in in Newport.
30. Pack a tailgate picnic and head to Glen Farms in Portsmouth for the Newport International Polo Series. During time-outs, kids run on to the field to stomp down divots. Every Saturday evening in summer.

Beavertail31. Check out the tide pools at Beavertail State park in Jamestown. (Free)
32. Visit a former military fort with a history dating back over two centuries at Fort Wetherill State Park in Jamestown. (Free)
33. Join URI Marine Scientists at Fort Getty in Jamestown on a summer day at low tide for a two-hour beach walk.
34. Visit the Norman Bird Sanctuary in Middletown.

familybeachfeet-feature35. Have a picnic at Roger W. Wheeler State Beach in Narragansett at sunset. (Free after 5pm)

IMG_319436. Visit every carousel in the Rhode Island area: Crescent Park Looff Carousel (East Providence), Flying Horse Carousel (Watch Hill), Slater Memorial Park Carousel (Pawtucket), Carousel Village, Roger Williams Park (Providence), Easton’s Beach Carousel (Newport).
37. Explore Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth, the oldest and most northern topiary garden in the United States.
38. See Shakespeare in the Park during the summer in Wilcox Park in Westerly. (Free)
39. Visit a blue lobster at the Audubon Environmental Education Center in Bristol.
40. Welcome spring by attending Daffodil Days at Blithewold Mansion in Bristol. Bring your camera!
41. Take a hike up the old ski lift at Diamond Hill Park in Cumberland. (Free)
42. Book a group tour of the Johnston Landfill.
43. Attend a PawSox youth clinic before the Red Sox minor league baseball team’s game in Pawtucket. (The clinic is free. Tickets required for game.)
44. Go bouldering in Lincoln Woods. (Free)
45. Watch a film at the Rustic Tri-View Drive-In, Rte 146, North Smithfield. Open May through September.

strawberry-picking46. Pick your own berries, and make your own jam.
47. Visit the Chapel-By-The-Sea in Colt State Park in Bristol. (Free)
48. Visit the Kettle Pond Visitor Center in Charlestown.
49. Visit the shops, feed the animals, and picnic at the Fantastic Umbrella Factory in Charlestown. (Admission is free.)
50. Swim, fish, play, or go boating at Ninigret Park in Charlestown. Visit the Frosty Drew Observatory on Friday evenings to get closer to the night sky.
51. Go camping in Hope Valley’s Arcadia Management Area.
52. Step back into history and explore Smith's Castle in Wickford.
53. Swim at the Spring Lake Beach Facility and play in the arcade in Burrillville.
54. Go fishing at Sabin Point Park in East Providence. Search for seaglass and play on the playground. (Free)
55. Take the ferry round trip to Block Island for the day.
56. Visit the Jamestown Fire Department Memorial Museum in Jamestown.
57. Have a picnic at Goddard State Park in Warwick. (Free)
58. Ride the Prudence Island Ferry round trip from Bristol for a delightful daytrip.
59. Go on a seal watch. See Harbor seals in Narragansett Bay. View seals from Rome Point from October through April at low tide. (Free)
60. Visit the  Biomes Marine Biology Center in North Kingstown.
61. Visit the tiny pirate playground in Warren. (Free) Followed by ice cream at Imagine.
62. Visit the imPossible Dream Playground in Warwick. (Free)
63. Journey with Blackstone River Cruises to learn about the river’s Industrial Revolution past and recovery to vibrant ecosystem. Stay overnight on a canal boat.
64. Cool off at the Waterpark at Yawgoo Valley in Exeter.
65. Visit the Washington County Fair in Richmond during one long weekend in mid-August.
66. Go ice skating outdoors during the winter or indoors during the summer.
67. Play at Adventureland in Narragansett, including mini-golf, bumper boats, go-karts, batting cages and a carousel.
68. Walk along spectacular ocean views on a natural “cliff walk” at Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge and check out the visitor center, just up the road from Second Beach in Middletown.

NEW BONUS ADDITION (Added August 17, 2017)! Brandon's Beach at Burnside Park is a nautical-themed playground inspired by the Ocean State and Providence’s historic harbor, where large ships would dock in the Providence River. The playground is appropriate for toddlers and young children of all abilities, and offers a wide variety of sensory-rich equipment, including pagoda bells, drums, and music pipes. It also features classic swings, slides and spinners. This playground was built in memory of Brandon Goldner and made possible by the generosity of his family and friends.


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69.  Play at the Providence Children's Museum. Explore the Discovery Studio (inside) and climb the Climber (outside). (Free admission after 5 on select Fridays during the year.)

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IMG_721670. Visit RISD Museum of Art and think like an explorer. Find the mummy or hunt for food motifs. (Free on Sundays and third Thursday of the month.)
71. Visit the Edna Lawrence Nature Lab, just around the corner from the RISD museum. See an amazing variety of specimens on display, including birds, bears and bones. (Free.)
72. Visit the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology in Providence.
73. Visit the Museum of Natural History and Cormack Planetarium in Providence.
74. Enjoy films from around world, and learn about filmmaking at the annual Providence Children’s Film Festival. Takes place during the month of February. (Each year, some screenings are free.)

athenaeum.jpg75. Visit the children’s room in one of America’s oldest libraries: Providence Athenaeum on Benefit Street in Providence. (Free.)
76. See a show at Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) in Providence. Check the schedule to attend the brown bag lunch organ concert series. (Free.)
77. Cheer on the P-Bruins at a hockey game in Providence.
78. Watch an IMAX movie at Providence Place Mall.
79. Watch children’s films at Cinemaworld in Lincoln every morning at 10AM, all summer long. (Children are FREE.)
80. Enjoy a garden oasis all year long at the Botanical Center in Roger Williams Park in Providence.
81. Take the Underdog Tour. Visit all the Providence locations used in the film. (Free)
82. Visit the Johnson and Wales Culinary Museum on the Providence-Cranston line. (Scheduled to reopen September, 2014.)
83. See Kaleidoscope Children’s Summer Theater at Scottish Rite Auditorium in Cranston. Tuesdays during July and August.
84. Go duckpin bowling (no ducks involved). Find a list of Rhode Island Duckpin bowling alleys at The Rhode Less Traveled.
85. Attend story time any time of year at Barrington Books, Books on the Square, or your favorite library. (Free)
86. Children provide the power and operate miniature machinery in the Apprentice Alcove at Slater Historic Mill the birthplace of the industrial revolution in Pawtucket.
87. Learn why we honor Gilbert Stuart by visiting the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace & Museum in Saunderstown. Open May through October.
88. Visit the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket.
89. See a show at Stadium Theater Performing Arts Centers in Woonsocket.
90. Enjoy local food, community, and often music from November through May at the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers Market at Hope Artiste Village.
91. Jump for joy at an indoor trampoline park: Skyzone in East Providence and Launch in Warwick.
92. Strap on skates and roll to the tunes at United Skates of America in Rumford.
93. Take in a dynamic show with Providence’s young talent at Everett’s Friday Night Live (all ages improv comedy Fridays at 7 PM – break during summer) and Manton Avenue Project, where local actors perform plays written by young playwrights.

food
fountaingelato94.Eat gelato from Venda in DePasquale Plaza in Providence. (In summer, eat near the fountain.)
95. Have wood-grilled pizza at the legendary Bob and Timmy's in Providence. Eat more yummy pizza at the recent pizza additions to the city: Flatbread Pizza Company or Providence Coal Fired Pizza.
96. Have ice cream at Gray’s or The Daily Scoop on Thames Street in Bristol.

IMG_816297. Buy a house made hotdog from The Wurst Window at Chez Pascal — take it to go to enjoy by the fountain in Lippitt Park in Providence.
98. Eat crepes or cupcakes at the Duck & Bunny. Eat out in the back garden, weather permitting.
99. Have a food truck lunch or dinner. Use this link to find a list of trucks and their routes.
100. Have supper at Champlins.
101. Enjoy live music and a fun meal at Buster Krab’s Burger Shack and Beach Bar in Narragansett.
102. Order a coffee cabinet at Delekta Pharmacy in Warren.
103. Have a Del’s lemonade. Find the Del’s nearest you with the tool on this page.
104. Have breakfast or lunch at Crazy Burger in Narragansett.
105. Buy lobster off the boat in Point Judith in Narragansett.
106. Have clam cakes at Aunt Carrie's in Point Judith in Narragansett.
107. Buy pie at Schartner Farms in Exeter.
108. Have a lobster roll at Blount Clam Shack on the waterfront in Warren, or at Crescent Park by the carousel in Riverside, RI.
109. Devour homemade ice cream and visit the cows at the original Gray's in Tiverton.
110. Have lunch at Stanley's in Central Falls, open since 1932.
111. Have a doughboy and walk the beach at Iggy’s in Warwick (open year round) or in Narragansett (seasonal).
112. Have breakfast at the classic Modern Diner in Pawtucket.
113. Sample RI’s favorite donuts at Allie’s Donuts.

closetoriMany free or discount passes are available at the library.

Connecticut

Massachusetts

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Whether you are experienced hikers or totally new to the trails, The Rhode Island Family Hiking Guide and Journal has everything you need to help you prepare for and enjoy exploring the great outdoors with children of all ages and abilities.

The 42 family-friendly hikes include short, stroller-friendly walks as well as longer, more rugged excursions throughout Rhode Island. Each hike description includes essential and helpful information, a detailed map, and driving directions, as well as journal pages for your family to use to reflect upon and document your experiences.

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Written by local Mom and founder of RI Families in Nature and Kidoinfo contributor, Jeanine Silversmith, this wonderful guide offers local hiking ideas and a nature journal which is sure to inspire young and old to head outdoors in our beautiful state. It's a great gift idea for the hard to buy for family member or teacher for the holidays!

Check out RI Families in Nature - there are details of upcoming hikes, places to explore and lots more.

Order a copy of The Rhode Island Family Hiking Guide and Journal here.

From Cow School to Make & Mend, visitors can participate in the life of the farm.

Coggeshall Farm Museum is pulling the veil off 18th century life this summer with a series of daily demonstrations and activities to engage visitors of all ages and interests. This living history farm in Bristol, Rhode Island portrays the lives of middle-class salt marsh farmers in the late 1700s.

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"At Coggeshall, we celebrate the lives of everyday people who were the backbone of Rhode Island's economy when our country was brand new," says Executive Director Cindy Elder. "We carry forward their tradition of working in harmony with the land, making the most of our resources and enjoying both the work and pleasures of farm life."

THE DETAILS:
Location: Coggeshall Farm, 1 Colt Drive in Bristol, off Poppasquash Road (adjacent to Colt State Park)
The following offerings are included in the regular admission price (Weekdays: $3 for kids/seniors, $5 for adults; Weekends: $5 for kids/seniors, $7/adults). Members are free during all regular open hours. Coggeshall is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 4 pm. For more information, visit www.coggeshallfarm.org or call 401-253-9062.

Demonstrations and Activities

Making Hay by Hand - ongoing (weather-dependent)
One of the most important crops grown on an 18th century farm would have been grass. It provides feed for our animals and compost for our garden. But they didn’t have tractors back in 1790! On many days, you’ll find us scything the grass, raking it into wind rows, and storing it for later use.

Period Woodworking – ongoing
Wooden buildings need regular repair, and ours are no exception! Nearly every day you’ll see us working in the wood shop or in the pasture, building or repairing fences and barns, crafting shingles or sharpening tools.

Laundry Day - Tuesdays, 10AM (continuing through the day)
Laundry was a daylong affair in the 18th century! We start at 10 am by setting the kettle over the fire and move through the various steps until it’s done. While we often invite our visitors to get their hands dirty at Coggeshall, this is a chance to get your hands clean!

History Stroll – Tuesdays, 10AM
Join our resident historian Charles Quigley for a weekly stroll through time. Each week he’ll present a strolling discussion of a topic relating to 18th century life. To find out the topic of the week, visit us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/coggeshallfarm.

Cow School - Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, 2PM
Have you ever wondered how a 1,500-pound animal learns to obey a human? With lots of practice! Watch us as we take our cows to school, teaching them to respond to commands and exhibit predictable behavior. And we'll show you a game of Simon Says where you have to respond to cow commands.

Farmhouse Storytime – Wednesdays, 10AM
Bring the little ones for a cozy story time every week, and then enjoy the farm afterward. Bring your own special book or choose one from Coggeshall's basket of favorites.

Harvest & Hearth Cooking - Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, 10AM
Our heirloom garden produces something new every week. Help us with our morning harvest and join us as we transform our farm ingredients into something delicious, cooking over an open hearth.

Pasture Walk - Wednesdays, Fridays, Sundays,  Noon
Get up close with our largest rare-breed heritage animals, including our American Milking Devon cattle and Gulf Coast Native sheep.  Stroll the pasture with a trained interpreter who can help you safely approach the animals.

Weeding Party – Thursdays, 10AM
Our beautiful heirloom garden needs regular TLC! Join us for some social time, pulling weeds and sharing a few laughs. Finish up with some lemonade and a visit to the farm!

Sit & Knit – Thursdays, 11AM
In the heat of a summer afternoon, we like to seek some shade and think about some place cool… the perfect time to knit wool caps, mittens and socks we’ll be needing for winter. Bring along your own knitting or help us knit items for our interpreters to wear this winter. Want to learn how to knit? Bring a pair of size 8 needles and some worsted weight yarn, and we’ll get you started!

Wool Processing – Sundays, 10AM
From picking, washing and carding to spinning, wool is central to the life of the farm. Watch how we transform the wool of our own sheep into yarn. Interested in learning? We can show you how using our 18th-century style drop spindles.

Make & Mend – Sundays, 2PM
When you make your own clothing, you aren’t quick to discard it if it needs mending. Every Sunday afternoon, you’ll find us making or mending our clothing by hand. Bring your own mending or help us with ours! From beginners to experts, we enjoy sharing the parlor and some conversation while we sew.

Special Events

Shanty Night - Friday, Aug. 21 6:30PM
Polish up your favorite shanty and join us for an open sing, where everyone gets a chance to lead the singing. Gather up family and friends, bring a picnic and a blanket, and find your spot around the campfire. A special way to enjoy Coggeshall at dusk!

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Summer is the perfect time to enjoy all that the Ocean State has to offer. We love the Rhody Ramble, which features a year-round calendar, connecting families with authentic local places. Now in its fourth year, the program features a calendar filled with events, tours and programs designed for children and their families at 29 historic places. The participating sites are all members of the Historic Sites Coalition of Rhode Island, led by statewide advocate Preserve Rhode Island.

Led by cartoon mascot Rhody the Rooster, the Rhody Ramble helps families connect with historic Rhode Island places – from oceanfront mansions to historic farms – and enjoy fun, low cost events in their community. Events include outdoor festivals, music concerts, hands-on activities, story times, walking tours, and museum scavenger hunts. A complete calendar of events is at www.RhodyRamble.org.

Families can sign up to receive monthly emails with upcoming events at www.RhodyRamble.org/Register. This also automatically enters them into drawings for tickets and other prizes. Printed brochures featuring a map of all the participating places are available at member sites, as well as at visitors centers throughout the state. The Rhody Ramble is on Facebook and on Twitter @RhodyRamble.

In 2015, four new sites joined the Rhody Ramble. Beavertail Lighthouse (Jamestown), Coggeshall Farm Museum (Bristol), Hearthside House (Lincoln), and Touro Synagogue (Newport) expand the varied offerings of the program which provides families a chance to engage in hands-on experiences together.

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Tours and events are offered at these participating Rhody Ramble sites:

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The Rhody Ramble is generously supported by the Rhode Island Foundation and members of the Historic Sites Coalition of Rhode Island. Membership in the coalition is available to all historic properties in Rhode Island that are open to the public. For more information on the coalition, contact Morgan Devlin at 401-272-5101 or at mdevlin@preserveri.org.

About Preserve Rhode Island
Preserve Rhode Island is the statewide advocate for historic places. It works to protect the historic places across Rhode Island through policy and programs. Preserve Rhode Island owns several historic properties, including the Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum. www.PreserveRI.org

Looking for some fun and interesting things to do during the upcoming vacation week? Check out the following ideas: From furry animals, seals and bluebells to mud, masks and tree canopy walks - there is plenty to do in our local area to keep even the busiest of littles happy.

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1. Explore the bluebell woods at Swan Point Cemetery.

2. Make Tin-Can Stilts using old tomato cans and clothes line.

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3. Visit the amazing and whimsical Fairy Gardens at Roger Williams Botanical Gardens.

4. Search for treasures at Third Beach, Middletown - one of the best sea glass beaches in RI.

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5. Head North and visit the Ecotarium in Worcester. Check out the treetop canopy walk and get half price admission on Earth Day (24th April).

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6. Check out some library passes from your local library for free or discounted entry to many local museums, art galleries and aquariums.

7. Meet Furry Farm Friends at Providence Children's Museum on 24th April. Animals include a soft sheep, llama, goat and rabbits.

8. Make mud pies. Use shells, sticks and stones to decorate your pies.

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9. Visit beautiful Rome Point, North Kingstown to go seal watching. Lots of seals have been seen recently and it is an easy stroll for all ages.

10. Create cardboard masks out of old boxes. Perform a show for your friends and family.

Photo Credits: Bluebells: Suzanne Cadge, Stilts: Sabrina Helas, Seaglass: Pinterest, Tree Canopy: Ecotarium, Mud Pie: Handsonaswegrow, Masks: Ikatbag.

100+ Things To Do with Kids in Rhode Island has just been updated to incorporate fresh ideas from Kidoinfo readers, and to remove items that have closed or changed since the list made its debut in 2009.

Consider 100+ Things To Do with Kids in Rhode Island Kidoinfo’s Bucket List, filled with things to do with your children before they grow up! Fun, food, culture, and history–all unique to our area: these are things we believe every young Rhode Islander should see and do.

For easy planning in any weather and any mood, our list is divided into four categories: Outdoor, Indoor, Food, and Close-to-RI-Favorites. We’ve included a note to let you know if the activity is FREE. (Always a bonus in our book!)

Kidoinfo-100-things-wide

Consider  100+ Things To Do with Kids in Rhode Island Kidoinfo’s Bucket List, filled with things to do with your children before they grow up! Fun, food, culture, and history–all unique to our area: these are things we believe every young Rhode Islander should see and do.

For easy planning in any weather and any mood, our list is divided into four categories: Outdoor, Indoor, Food, and Close-to-RI-Favorites. We’ve included a note to let you know if the activity is FREE. (Always a bonus in our book!)

100+ Things To Do with Kids in Rhode Island has been updated again in June of 2014 to incorporate fresh ideas from Kidoinfo readers, and to remove items that have closed or changed since the list made its debut in 2009.

The guide is easy to use–print it out, check things off as you go, add date of visit, make notes, and add your own favorite spots!

- See more at: https://kidoinfo.com/100-things-to-do-with-your-kids-in-rhode-island/#sthash.zrj2K2J1.dpuf

By Dorothy Chin Gerding

Every year around this time, my father and mother gather themselves up and make the pilgrimage to Boston for supplies to make Jung, and celebrate a surprisingly unique holiday, Tuen Ng Jit or Double Fifth festival (thus named because it takes place May 5th of the lunar calendar). As with most Asian holidays it involves food and festivities, and in this case the very colorful and exciting dragon boat races. What makes this festival so unusual is that it is not celebrated on the same day in the all the Asian communities, and it is not originally a religious or government holiday, but a holiday based on a tragedy in history.

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The history: My mother told me the story, when I was still in pigtails and satin pajama outfits, about the death Qu Yuan (278 BC). Qu Yuan was a beloved poet and advisory minister to King Huai of the state of Chu (One of the warring states in China). The legend varies from province to province, however most best know him as a social idealist who committed suicide in protest of government corruption. The king had not heeded Qu Yuan’s warning, that a neighboring state would in invade them, but instead supported opposing advisors and exiled Qu Yuan. As history goes the state was invaded, the capital captured, and in his depression upon hearing the news, Qu Yuan drowned himself in the Miluo River.

The birth of the dragon boat races: You may wonder what does this have to do with Jung go and Dragon boat races? In his exile, Qu Yuan had become very famous and well liked. So when the local villagers learned Qu Yuan’s intentions, they raced out in their boats to save him-now considered the birth of the Dragon Boat Races. Unfortunately his body could not be found, so the local people then made balls of sticky rice (known as Jung) and dropped them in the river in hopes that the fish would eat the rice instead of Qu Yuan's body…and that’s why we have Jung, my favorite part of any holiday, the food.

Traditions: With each holiday, traditions are set and passed down from generation to generation. This year was my turn to learn to wrap Jung, the delightful bundle of sticky rice with some tasty fillings–some are plain, sweet, and savory (salty). Depending on the country and region, your Jung will vary from wrapping, fillings and even shape, but all will have the yummy sticky rice base. Since my family is originally from the Southern, Cantonese speaking China, we like the savory ones–which may include salted duck eggs, Chinese, sausage, pork belly, dried shrimp, chestnuts, and the occasional shiitake mushroom wrapped in bamboo leaves. I can still smell them boiling in the vat on the back porch. This year’s batch yielded fifty wonderful bundles. Some of my mother’s friends will make hundreds to distribute to friends and family, to remind them of who they are and where they came from.

The Boston Dragon Boat Festival Even though this year’s holiday has passed, you can still celebrate the holiday by attending the Dragon boat races in Boston on June 14th and 15th. The Boston Dragon Boat Festival is the oldest of its kind and takes place annually on the banks of the Charles River in Boston and Cambridge. Thirty to forty teams from across the United States and Canada compete over a 500-meter course, paddling in sleek, colorful 39-foot Hong Kong style dragon boats. I look forward to cheering on a boat, having a Jung with friends and family, and maybe just maybe I will see you there.

E0261-2If you miss this festival on the Charles, Little Rhody has their own Rhode Island Chinese Dragon Boat races–September 6th this year in celebration of Taiwan day. Races are held on the Blackstone River off the School Street pier in Pawtucket from 8 am - 5 pm. Join the thousands who attend each year for great competition, fun, and to learn about Chinese culture.

Festivals are free to attend and open to all ages. For more information www.bostondragonboat.org or www.dragonboatri.com

Related Books:

Great news for Lego lovers–Legoland Discovery Center Boston opened at Assembly Row in Somerville on May 23! Contributing writer Nicole Estrella had a sneak peak and shares her family adventure below. - Anisa

DSC_0003I know driving into Boston can intimidate some folks but it is very easy to get to the Legoland Discovery Center. It is directly off the highway. There will be a T stop on the orange line  sometime later this year and we all know its always more fun to ride the T.

I pulled up to Assembly Row with the three kids with so much excitement that we almost parked illegally.  It must have been Tessie the giant Lego giraffe that distracted us.

Once we got the parking situation handled we ran to the door.  A first sight is a  very colorful and bright room exploding with Lego decor. Again, its wicked awesome.DSC_0052

Admission is a bit of investment but covers all the fun inside: $18 for children ages 3 to 12 and $22.50 for children 13 and over.

Your adventure begins with a factory tour for some very important information by Bonnie and Bertie. After you are given the 411 you move on to build your own mini figure inside a futuristic circular room surrounded by super sized screens.

Here comes what I thought was the best attraction, Kingdom Quest Laser Ride ! DSC_0019WHOOO HOOO this was totally awesome. Hop into your chariot and get ready to laser blast the baddies. Your mission if you choose to accept it is to  rescue the princess.  My face is totally serious in this picture because I took this mission very seriously. Game face ON!  I got beaten by four children under the ages of 9. I am used to it.

The ride was over, and it was time to move on to the next Legoriffic room which was miniland.  Miniland is a replica of Boston built out of Legos. It is an interactive display filled with touch screens and sound effects.  Every Red Sox fan will delight in the Fenway Stadium of Legos!DSC_0024

Miniland opens up into a giant room with lots of different stations to enjoy the many ways you can play with Legos. Some of the play stations are Lego Racers Build and Test,  The Lego City Play Zone,  Lego 4D Cinema, The Lego Friends House, Merlins Apprentice Ride and for smaller children The Lego Duplo Farm.

This room is a wide open space so if you have more than one child it feels pretty safe to let them separate.  I bring four kids under 9 wherever I go so I have to be able to trust that any place we attend is safe. I jokingly said out loud that I lost a kid, she wasn’t really lost, and immediately a staff member said we have a procedure for that.

The first thing we noticed was the the super awesome fun  Merlin’s Apprentice Ride. Of course I only had one child big enough to ride by herself so if you do the math that leaves me with two other children who do not have a grown up to ride.  The dilemma was avoided when two wonderful staff members hopped on the ride with each one of my kids.

Around and around we went pedaling as fast as we could to get our seats to fly into the sky. There was nothing but big smiles all around, including this mommy’s smile. I guaranteed all the mommies and daddies will love this ride too.

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Remember what I said about the giant room feelings safe, good thing because poof they were off.  Legoland Discovery Center Boston has an area to tailor to every child’s interest.

I had one child that ran to play in the adorable Lego Friend House

I had two that ran towards the Racers Build & Test.

And one that headed to straight to the bathroom. Isn’t that the way it always happens? The funny part is she loved the bathroom. Can you blame her?

A little while after the kids were done in their separate areas they all reconvened in the City Play Zone.  I tried to sneak in behind the kids but I was stopped. No grown ups allowed. Bummer.

Remember to bring socks, you can not play barefoot in the City Play Zone. If you do happen to forget then you can purchase a pair for $1.

There is a cute cafe located inside the main play room as well.  You may not bring outside food so be sure to eat before you go if you want to avoid having to purchase food.

The last attraction of the day for us was the 4D cinema. We saw Spell Breakers. The kids loved it, they were laughing and trying to grab the Legos that popped out of the screen.  I warn you you will get wet.

Some of us moms and dads, eh hem, still love to play. Legoland will be offering adult night each third Wednesday of the month starting in June. I wonder if they will let me in the City Play Zone then.

DSC_0051The kids and I agree  that everything is WICKED AWESOME at Legoland Discovery Center Boston. To ensure your visit at Legoland Discovery Center Boston (tickets do sell out!), purchase your tickets online prior to your visit here: Legoland Discovery Center Boston ticket.

ski-school

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.  There are some reasonable local options however, which are especially good for beginners, families and younger children.

Yawgoo Ski Area, Exeter, RI

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.  Yawgoo offers skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing within a  30 minute drive of Providence (on a  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!!).  Other options involving less pre-planning are:

February Vacation Package:

Wachusett Mountain, Princeton, MA

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.

child_skier

Blue Hills Ski Area, Milton, MA

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)

The approaching holiday season marks the return of a unique and enchanting annual tradition, Arabian Nights at Central Square Theater in Cambridge, MA. This coproduction of The Nora Theatre Company and Underground Railway Theater weaves striking sets, a captivating cast, imaginative puppetry and a magical retelling of a selection of the ancient tales, appropriate and engaging for an audience of children and adults alike.

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The Cast of ARABIAN NIGHTS. Photo: A.R. Sinclair Photography.

As the frame story to the vast collection of Middle Eastern and Asian folktales goes, a distrusting ancient Persian king routinely marries, and the next day orders the execution of his bride before she has a chance to betray him. Shahrazad is the first bride to outwit the king, saving her life and warming his heart by telling him a gripping story, with a lingering cliffhanger, for each of the following 1,001 nights. In the production, Shahrazad is the heroine storyteller, spinning tales of suspense, romance and hilarity, animated to life on the colorful, ever-transforming stage by the cast and puppeteers.

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The Cast of ARABIAN NIGHTS. Photo: A.R. Sinclair Photography.

Arabian Nights puppets are not the hand-held type behind a mini-stage, but life-size, innovative and complex designs, like a polar bear constructed around one puppeteer while others manipulate his limbs and head. For a peek into the process, Central Square Theater posted the team workshopping the movement of this creature on their facebook page. It’s no wonder why stories and puppets delight us so much; just as the creators’ imaginations are tapped to give them life, the audience’s imaginations are stretched to believe them into life.

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Alexander Cook and Andrew Tung in ARABIAN NIGHTS. Photo: A.R. Sinclair Photography.

Details:

Arabian Nights
November 14—December 29, 2013
Shows: Thursday—Sunday, 2am and/or 7pm depending on day
Location: Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA
Tickets: $20—$54 for adults, $20 for children under 18, discounted tickets for students and seniors

Parking: University Park @ MIT Garage, 55 Franklin Street. $5 with validation ticket, available at Will Call Counter. Additional Parking and Directions information.

Food: Snack and drink concessions available at the theater (credit cards accepted). There are plenty of nearby restaurants including the charming Café Luna across the street serving weekend brunch.

Check out these ideas for making and animating puppets to life at home: Puppet Play.

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