Your guide to parenting in Rhode Island and southeastern Massachusetts

It took me three years of living in Rhode Island before I finally took the time to discover the FarmCoast (aka South Coast) region of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. As a new mom, I am constantly looking for easy daytrips to help us get out of our East Side rut, and after spending the day exploring the farms, open spaces, beaches and ice cream stands of Little Compton, Tiverton, Westport and Dartmouth, I was left wondering what had taken me so long.

The quaint coastal villages that make up the FarmCoast region boast a landscape of rolling farmland, centuries-old stone walls, and working harbors, not to mention a plethora of unique shops and enticing restaurants. It might be easy to dismiss this area as an adult-only day trip, but in all actuality, it is the perfect place to take the kids for a day of sun, sand, surf, and adventures galore.

I like to start the day in Tiverton Four Corners, with a delicious, freshly baked muffin at Provender. While in town, I can’t resist stopping off at a few of the cute shops.  From there, we often hit the beach, or hiking trails, until it is time for lunch.  If I have planned ahead, we might opt for a picnic lunch packed with homemade goodies…but you can also substitute with sandwiches from Provender! After lunch, we make a quick stop at The Art Café for coffee and a treat before our afternoon visit to the farm. Round the Bend Farm is where we like to stock up on local meats and produce, while touring the fields and meeting the farm animals- but there are numerous farm stands dotting the country roads, all offering a great selection of produce. An early dinner is in order before heading home, and fresh seafood is the only way to go when dining on the coast!

Want the specifics?  Here’s a guide to my favorite family-friendly activities, shops and restaurants to help you plan your day:

Places to eat:

Kids cannot live on ice cream alone… or so I’m told.  That being said, no trip to the coast is complete without stopping at a quaint ice cream stand, or two!  My favorites: Gray's Ice Cream and Woods Premium Ice Cream.

Need some real food?  What about crab cakes, fish and chips and a variety of other freshly caught offerings?  Here are two of my favorite casual dining options, perfect for kids and seafood lovers…both right on the water: Evelyn's Drive-In and The Back Eddy.

It can be tough work planning a day trip, so when Mom needs a pick-me-up, I suggest a stop at the Art Café.  This quaint little coffee shop is tiny in size, but big on charm.  The kids can run wild through the gardens, or take a seat and indulge in a cupcake at one of the many picnic tables available.

Places to Shop:

Shopping with kids is always a bit easier with promises of a toy-store stop. Here are a few not-to-be-missed stores:

Little Purls in Tiverton Four Corners, offers a nice range of high-end baby and kids clothes, as well as books and toys.

While in Westport, stop by Country Woolens, for a cute selection of baby and kids clothes, and, across the street, Partners Village Store, for books and knick-knacks.  Having been in business for over 100 years, Wilbur's General Store in Little Compton is fun to poke around, and has a decent toy section to boot!

Places to Play:

Here are a few of my favorite stops, including farms, open spaces, playgrounds, beaches and parks!


Young Family Farm
Alderbrook Farm

Parks, Playgrounds and Open Spaces

Town Hall playground in Westport (816 Main Road)
Lloyd Center
Apponagansett Park
Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge


Fogland Beach
South Shore Beach
Horseneck Beach State Reservation


Osprey Sea Kayak

Looking for a few more suggestions?  I recently spotted a FarmCoast City Guide over at Design*Sponge.  Written by Aiden FitzGerald, who has lived in the region for most of her life, it is the most comprehensive guide I have found, to date…. Just another great resource to help you plan your trip!

Christine Chitnis is a Providence-based writer, photographer and mother. Her first book, Markets of New England (The Little Bookroom, 2011), highlights fifty of the regions most vibrant, unique and thriving farmers markets and art events.  Visit her at

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