Known as “the City by the Sea”, Newport, Rhode Island, is also known for its Gilded Age mansions that were the “summer cottages” of business tycoons of the early 1900s. Today, visitors can tour many of the mansions, learn about the rich history of the area in local museums, and sample a wide variety of cuisine with hundreds of shopping and dinning options. My family is fortunate to live within a day trip’s drive and we often visit Newport for the day and for long weekends. You can read our City Guide from a couple of years ago (we’ll be updating it soon) and our post featuring holiday fun in Newport.
When I was planning a trip to Providence, Rhode Island, the Roger Williams Zoo was at the top of my list of places to explore. My family recently enjoyed a few days exploring downtown Providence and you can read about our adventures here.
When we arrived at the Park, I realized the property encompasses way more than “just a zoo.” There are over 400 acres to explore and plenty of year round activities to stay active both indoors and outside. Check out the full map here and the updated calendar here.
Rhode Island make take some heat for being the smallest state in America, but what it lacks in size it makes up for in family-friendly fun. Providence, the state capital, is located one hour south of Boston and three hours north of New York City. My family has driven through the Ocean State several time on the way to visit family (check out my posts on nearby Newport, Bristol, and The Farmer’s Daughter) but we’ve never stayed in town for more than a day.
On our way home from celebrating Christmas in Boston, we decided to spend some time exploring Providence. Even though the weather was chilly (mid 20s-30s), we enjoyed lots of indoor and outdoor fun. Here are some of our favorite activities for family fun in Providence:
Growing up on the South Shore of Massachusetts, and having an avid sailor for a father, my family took many a day trip to visit Newport, Rhode Island. I can remember touring the mansions as a child, admiring the boats at the Newport Boat Show with my dad, and enjoying the beaches, restaurants, and various outdoor recreational activities during the summer. As an adult, I have returned to Newport many time, with my husband for a weekend getaway and with girlfriends as an escape from the duties of motherhood. Recently, my family spent Thanksgiving weekend celebrating the start to the holiday season in the “City By the Sea.” You can read all about our holiday celebrations here.
However, you would need months (possibly years) to explore every place in the city, so I think Newport should be on everyone’s list; better yet, if you live within a few hours, it’s worth making visits each season. The city is filled with visitors during the summer months and you absolutely should visit during the summer. However, there is also plenty to do during the winter.
If you need help planning a visit to Newport, DiscoverNewport.org is the perfect planning tool. It’s extremely easy to navigate and full of ideas based on your preferences for activities, food, accommodations, and budget. There is also a massive directory for weddings planning. The online calendar was up to date and quickly linked me to websites and phone numbers. It also covers more than “just” the city of Newport, by including both Newport and Bristol Counties. I’ve organized suggestion based on two popular areas of town:
This is the 3rd post in a series detailing my recent visit to Newport, Rhode Island. To read about celebrating the holiday season in Newport, click here and to read about the International Tennis Hall of Fame, click here.
Fort Adams has the honor of being both the largest fort in the United States and the only fort never attacked. Although, because it was never attacked or “officially in use”, it is not part of the National Parks program like many other forts throughout America. Fort Adams, located in Newport, Rhode Island, is one of twenty fortresses built after the War of 1812, took over 30 years (from 1820-1850) to complete, and is named after the second American President, John Adams. It was most effectively used as a training facility for West Point graduates before their official postings.
The entire complex is a state park and open to the public, free of charge. The public is welcome to use the restrooms, walk (leashed) dogs, fish, picnic, and even use the public beach. Sail Newport, housed on the property, rents sailboats and also gives lesson.
On a recent visit to Newport, my family took the 90 minute, guided tours. We loved it. All of us, adults and children alike, found it interactive, informative, and even a little scary. Steve Marino, our tour guide, made sure to engage our children throughout the tour. You’ll need to start in the Visitor’s Center to purchase tickets. They offer a AAA discount. There are restrooms and a gift shop with snacks, drinks, and souvenirs. Strollers are allowed on most aspects of the tour, and you can leave strollers outside some “indoor” and tight spaces.
Rhode Island may be the smallest state, size wise, in the country, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in inviting beaches, interactive history, and plenty of family friendly activities.
Bristol, a town of about 23,000 people, is located between Newport (look for upcoming posts!) and the state capitol, Providence. A few years ago, my husband and I taught academic courses for Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth summer program on the campus of Roger Williams University. We were able to spend time getting to know this beautiful town that separates Narragansett Bay and Mount Hope Bay. Here are some of our favorite spots: (and I did fact check to make sure information is up to date as of June 2017)