As a mother who lives far away from both my own and my husband’s extended family, I have had to be very resourceful about finding fun things to do with my daughter in Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts. In the last eight years, we have discovered some great places to go for summer fun. Here are a few of our best finds that are a bit off the beaten path. Enjoy!
The Beaches. Rhode Island is the Ocean State, after all, and there is fun to be had at the beach. The only quandary is deciding which one to go to. Worried about germs? Don’t be. You can call the Department of Health’s Bathing Beaches Hotline at 401-222-2751 for a complete listing of state beaches that are closed on any given day for high bacteria counts. If you have ever driven to a beach only to find it closed, this number will change your life. Note that town beaches are not listed.
Rockwell Amusements: rockwellamusements.com. Feel like taking the kids on some rides but can’t stand the thought of waiting in line for hours at Six Flags while roasting in the heat and knowing that you’re going to spend an amount roughly equivalent to your child’s college fund by the end of the day? Rockwell Amusements is a small, travelling carnival that sets up shop for several days at a time at various locations in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Tickets for the rides and games are for sale at a ticket booth, but there is no fee for admission.
Brown St Park: Brown St., Providence; friendsofbrownstreetpark.org. Located behind Hope High School with a great view of the football field and the track, the Brown St Park offers a playground with equipment for children of all ages and adults. The standout piece of equipment for adults is the huge set of gymnastics rings. It looks manageable until you actually try to swing from one ring to the next; then you wonder if there are any parents who can actually complete this feat while the little ones scamper around nearby. It’s great for the adult body but perhaps not the adult ego. There is also a sandbox, a number of interesting sculptures that double as play structures and a community garden. There are concerts in the summer and plenty of shade. When everyone is tired from playing, you can drive down Olney St. to the Whole Foods on North Main St. for a snack.
World War I Memorial Park, 401 Elmwood St, North Attleboro, Mass. Located shortly off Rt. 1, World War I Memorial Park offers a fantastic playground, a massive sandbox, manicured gardens with an enormous slide running down the side of a hill and a small petting zoo. This gem of a park is free. Children of all ages enjoy feeding pellets from the food dispensers to the sheep, ponies, pigs, goats, birds and other creatures in an area near the entrance. A short walk up a paved, shady hill lands you at a lovely garden with a super slide, a sandbox and a modern playground with equipment for both older and younger children. This immaculate park has a number of picnic tables where you can enjoy a packed lunch, and the port-a-potties are as clean as you’re going to find anywhere.
West End Creamery, 481 Purgatory Rd, Whitinsville, Mass.; 508-234-2022; westendcreamery.com. We’ve all driven past the sign for Purgatory Road, located just off Rt. 146, and marveled at the name. West End Creamery is a short drive down the road from Purgatory Chasm and offers a massive variety of delicious homemade ice-cream flavors and indoor and outdoor seating. Inside, a toy train runs continuously around a track that spans the perimeter of the rustic interior. Outside, a miniature golf course and two bounce pads offer both recreation and exercise for a fee. You can easily spend an entire afternoon here.
Camps. As a teacher, I have the luxury of flexible summer hours, but, like other working parents, I have had to find some good camps for my daughter so that I can prepare next year’s lessons. Many of my friends are not teachers and have to rely on summer camps for childcare. Here is a list of organizations that offer camps that we hold in high regard:
- The Stadium Theatre Summer Stage: 28 Monument Square, Woonsocket; 401-762-4545; stadiumtheatre.com
- The Center for Dynamic Learning: multiple locations; 401-461-1813; cdlri.com
- Warm and Fuzzy Animal Adventures: 115 Pleasant View Ave., Smithfield; 401-231-4366; warmandfuzzyanimaladventures.com
- MacColl Y.M.C.A.: 32 Breakneck Hill Rd., Lincoln; 401-725-0773; goymca.com
- Wide World of Indoor Sports: multiple locations; wideworldofindoorsports.com