Your guide to parenting in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts

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by Katy Killilea

After the high seas adventure we had this spring, riding the ferry from Bristol to Prudence Island, I was eager to try the ferry trip from Providence to Newport with my kids. For a number of reasons and with my specific family circumstances (namely, a companion who can barely sit still), the seatless Prudence Island Ferry was a more enjoyable daytrip. But I still highly recommend the ferry to Newport. Here's why.

While you wait in line along the dock to board, you can see crabs and minnows in the water below the dock. There is quite a lot of marine life activity to observe. Should interest in that wear thin, you should know that the ferry is a magnet for raucous, older ladies in revealing blouses who loudly recall getting drunk on limoncellos, thus forgetting to reapply sunscreen. This provides a nice alternative entertainment.

On the ride, you will get to see ships–big ships–a lot of them, and close up. The ships’ crew members seem generally eager to wave to ferry passengers and even blow their incredibly loud horns. The views are great from up above in the open air, and it was very windy. You will probably need a jacket.

Since we did not think we could manage to entertain ourselves on my remaining $2 in Newport until 4:00 PM (when the next ferry departed), we rode out and right back to Providence, not even setting foot in Newport. On the trip back, we snagged a table inside (there are two tables and each seats six) and spread out our snacks. There is a snack bar with everything from Swedish fish to mixed vodka cocktails. The snack bar crew refused to accept my kids' dollar for candy. The views from inside are very clear and exciting, and the place was spic and span. One crew member patrolled with a dustbuster, looking in vain for dust to bust.

P1010083We were back in our car at the dock at 2:00 PM and headed over to the Providence Children's Museum, which is right around the corner. I had not been there for a long while. Going with four- and six-year-old kids was a lot of fun—they spent tons of time creating things in the water and pipe room, aren't afraid of the giant lady in the chair anymore, and tried to assemble the skeleton instead of fighting over the femur and then trying to sword fight with it. I spent a lot of time perched on the benches, admiring the guys at play. It was a whole new museum experience!

And although our membership at the museum had lapsed, our admission was free, thanks to the handy pass I picked up at the Barrington Public Library.

When we left the museum at 4:30, a more ambitious mom would have offered to buy cookies and drinks at Olga's Cup and Saucer. But it had been such a nice outing; I didn't want to push my luck. However, if I could design a Complete Kidoinfo Daytrip, I would include an afternoon snack on the Olga's patio.

Click to see ferry schedule & ticket prices online.

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