Go Fly a Kite: And other Fun Things To Do With The Kids This Summer

By Peter Spameni

For the smallest state, Rhode Island has unlimited summer fun potential for kids and parents alike. You could spend a day at any of our amazing parks or beaches, take a ride along some 50 miles of RI bike paths, explore world-class museums and libraries, or take part in the myriad planned events around our state. Inside, outside, fee or for free, there’s so much to do, we couldn’t possibly list it all. But here are a few ideas.
Le pique-nique! It’s an age-old family tradition. You could spread the picnic blankets at Lincoln Park, Colt State Park, Goddard Park or, our favorite, Brenton Point. Located on the southern tip of Newport, the Point opens out to the Atlantic with grassy fields, gardens and trails, and boasts some of most spectacular ocean views in the state. But the most exciting sights are often the kites. Sunny days bring out the flyers in force with box kites, delta wings, diamonds, windsocks and some very hi-tech sport kites. In mid-July, the Newport Kite Festival returns with enthusiasts from all around the country. Parking is free; picnic tables are first-come, first-served; and the views are priceless.
The Roger Williams Park Zoo is a perennial favorite for good reason. Always-changing yet familiar, the zoo has a full calendar of events designed to amaze and educate young and old. You and your kids can party like animals by attending any of the five scheduled animal birthday parties. So what do you get a Red River Hog for her birthday? We don’t know, but it’ll be fun watching her rip it to shreds. While you’re there, don’t forget to visit Hasbro’s Our Big Backyard. This interactive play-scape that opened in 2012 is a real favorite among kids and parents. It encourages a hands-on exploration of nature, and engages all the senses. It’s wet, wild and a whole lot of fun. And there’s more, like Family Nights and ZooCamp. So check their calendar.
For young film aficionados, what’s better than FREE movies? How about FREE movies all summer long? Booyah! That’s right, Scorsese – Cinemaworld in Lincoln announced Summer KidFest 2013. That’s free movies all summer, seven days a week, every day at 10 am. Adults pay just $2, or get in free with the donation of a non-perishable food item to benefit local food banks. Two thumbs up, right?
What about the burgeoning artist in your brood? The RISD Museum is the perfect place for kids to indulge their creative impulse. For ages 3 and up, activities include themed interactive tours and read-aloud story time, as well as open studio, where kids can explore, create and discuss the art of their time. Refrigerator magnets not included.
If your children have yet to experience Waterfire, this year will see nearly a dozen lightings at the popular event. First created in 1994 by RI artist Barnaby Evans, Waterfire has become RI’s premier public art installation. The spectacle combines 100 brazier fires burning above the waters of Providence’s three rivers with unusual and eclectic musical soundtracks. It is art, festival, ritual … a lingering and transformative experience for all. To plan your family’s trip to Waterfire, and to support this non-profit arts organization, please visit their website.
When you think of family amusements, a few places may come to mind. In Narragansett, Adventureland Family Fun Park is the place to be. They’ve got mini golf, batting cages, go karts, bumper boats, an arcade pavilion and a pretty sweet carousel. While you’re there, you may want to order up some Burdick’s Ice Cream. Also sweet! Then there’s Mulligan’s Island in Cranston – a 64-acre golf-themed complex that features mini golf, driving ranges, batting cages, beach volleyball and refreshments. Very sporty! But if the kids want to eat, drink and be noisy, go to Dave and Buster’s at Providence Place Mall. This restaurant/arcade on steroids is known for its cacophonous midway filled with hi-tech games of sport and skill, and endless ticket redemption games and prizes. Apparently, some kids like this sort of thing.
But if your kids are the cool kids, they’ll definitely enjoy the Newport Folk Festival. This forerunner of all modern music festivals has a long history, and has hosted some of the best performers in music. Now, in an effort to inspire a new generation of folk fans, the festival (July 26 – 28) will include The Late July Organic Family Tent in a shaded area near the shore. Younger fans will enjoy performances on the Family Stage, including the amazing Elizabeth Mitchell & You Are My Flower. There’ll be crafts and lots of surprise performances by artists from the main stage. So get your tickets early, because this festival always sells out.

Every summer for decades, Ninigret Park in Charlestown has been host to one of the best traditional circuses in the country. New York’s Big Apple Circus once again calls RI its home from June 22 – July 7. Touring circuses come through the Dunkin Donuts Center regularly, but there is truly nothing like walking up to a massive red and white striped old school circus tent surrounded by elephants and cotton candy. This year’s show, Legendarium, celebrates the circus’s 35th anniversary with vintage-inspired trapeze, clowns, and everything in between that will bring you back to your first time at the circus as a child. Even better? The tent is air conditioned.

With so many fun things to do with the kids this summer, the hard part is picking something that everybody will enjoy. Have fun!