Garden topiary shaped like an elephant and a giraffe.

Elephant and giraffe at the Green Animals Topiary Garden. Photo © Dwight Sipler, licensed CC-BY.

Traveling with kids isn’t always as easy as the guidebooks make it sound, but Rhode Island is, in fact, as ideal a place to do it as any, thanks to its balance of education and fun. A plethora of aquariums, zoos, carousels, arcades, beaches, and baseball games guarantee that any time of year is a good time to pack up the minivan: Spring is wonderful for outside strolls in the parks; summer begs for cooling dips at the beach; fall is foliage and festival time; and winter is when you can head for the indoor museums.

Here’s my list of top things to do with kids in Rhode Island:

  • Ryan Family Amusements in Newport is a blinking, beeping extravaganza of an arcade that keeps the family happy for hours, rain or shine.
  • Green Animals Topiary Garden in Portsmouth is a seven-acre estate overlooking Narragansett Bay, where 21 of the 80 trees have been sculpted into giant animals.
  • The Providence Children’s Museum offers first-rate opportunities for education through play, with interactive exhibits focusing on science, nature, technology, and art.
  • Gray’s Ice Cream in Tiverton is a famed fixture of Rhode Island as much for its history (it has been around for 80-plus years) as for its rum-raisin flavor.
  • Save the Bay Exploration Center and Aquarium in Newport is where wee ones can check out rare calico lobsters, among other sea creatures.
  • PawSox are the Pawtucket-based minor-league affiliates of the Boston Red Sox, and they’re every bit as much fun to watch as the big-time version, minus the crowds and expensive tickets.
  • Roger Williams Park Zoo is world class, housing more than 957 species, a children’s farmyard exhibit, a carousel, a natural history museum and planetarium, and a playground right in Providence.
  • Flying Horse Carousel in Watch Hill brings smiles (and dizziness) to thousands of just-from-the-beach kids every summer.
Artwork on the Flying Horse Carousel in Watch Hill

Artwork on the Flying Horse Carousel in Watch Hill. Photo © Liz Lee.


Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Rhode Island.