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Did you know that every location in Rhode Island is within a half-hour drive to the ocean? But when it comes to things to do with kids in Rhode Island, your time doesn’t have to be limited to the beach. This small state packs in big fun!
The Ocean State has over 400 miles of coastline, so any family vacation in Rhode Island is sure to be filled with a good chunk of beach time.
Among all of the things there are for families to do in RI, we recommend at least a day or two relaxing on one of the many Rhode Island beaches along the coastline.
Things to Do in Rhode Island with Kids
Rhode Island activities for kids range from aquariums to zoos, museums to family adventure parks, and everything in between. Here are a few suggestions to help you plan your family vacation in Rhode Island.
Enjoy the White Sand Beaches of Narragansett Bay
The protected waters of Narragansett Bay feature expansive white sand beaches with a surf calmer than the ones you’ll find farther south.
These public beaches include:
- Matunuch Beach State Park
- East Matunuck State Park
- Roger W. Wheeler State Beach
- Scarborough State Beach
- Narragansett Town Beach
Pick one beach to spend the day on or do a little beach hopping to enjoy them all. Each one has parking and a changing area if visiting with little ones.
The Narragansett Town Beach is also within walking distance of the Narragansett Pier, which has some great places to grab lunch or dinner.
Visit the Roger Williams Park Zoo
The Alex and Ani Farmyard is set up as a replica of a Rhode Island farm, and kids even get the chance to meet the resident miniature donkey, Willy.
Other exhibits include Fabric of Africa with safari animals like giraffes, cheetahs, elephants, and red river hogs, and the North America exhibit featuring harbor seals, bison, pronghorn, red wolves, and more.
The zoo has a botanical garden, Museum of Natural History, planetarium, and carousel for additional fun.
Ride the Oldest Continuously Operating Carousel in the United States
That’s right! Little Rhody is home to the oldest continuously operating carousel in the country. Built in 1867, the Flying Horse Carousel has been delighting generations of families visiting Watch Hill since 1883 where it has been running ever since.
While in Rhode Island, a trip to Westerly with the kids is a must! Located in the seaside village of Watch Hill, you can visit the beach, and the kids will love to ride on the carousel and try to catch the brass ring.
There is also a fantastic ice cream shop and bakery a few steps away.
Relax with the Little Ones at Baby Beach
If you visit Block Island with kids, Baby Beach should be at the top of the list of beaches if you’re traveling with babies and toddlers. A well-kept local secret, Baby Beach is one of the best spots in Rhode Island to hit the beach with the little ones.
It’s a sheltered section of beach with few waves and rocks and easily accessible, even if you’re carrying the kids and all the beach toys.
Follow the Clues at The Great Escape Room
For interactive, challenging fun, try one of the escape rooms or scavenger hunts at The Great Escape Room. While you can now find escape rooms throughout the country, this Rhode Island favorite is rated one of the best.
Depending on the age of the kids, the scavenger hunt rooms – Moriarty’s Gameroom: The Hunt is Afoot! and Sherlock’s Study: What’s Up Watson? – might be more appropriate than the other themed escape rooms.
Visit the Mansions in Newport
If you’re lucky enough to be in Rhode Island during the holidays, touring the mansions during Christmas is a must.
The Breakers is the most kid-friendly of the mansions, followed by Marble House, Rosecliff, and The Elms.
There are more than just mansions in Newport, too. There are many fun, kid-friendly things to do in town.
Go on a Time Traveling Adventure at the Providence Children’s Museum
The Providence Children’s Museum believes play is the best way for kids to learn and encourages hands-on interaction in their exhibits. While all exhibits are worth checking out, one perfect for vacationing families is the time-traveling adventure of the “Coming to Rhode Island” exhibit.
In this exhibit, kids hear the story of the first people to arrive in Rhode Island, why they came, and what their lives looked like. Interactive parts of the exhibit include taking care of Elizabeth Mott’s cow, steering, loading, and anchoring the ship. A history hunt to find out why each immigrant came to America.
Have Some Competitive Family Fun at Warzone Paintball & Airsoft
While kids ages ten and up can enjoy the full Warzone Paintball & Airsoft experience, everyone ages six and up can participate in the equally fun gel blasters. There’s even low-impact paintball available for those seven and up.
This seasonal activity is perfect for families with older kids, especially if they enjoy healthy competition.
Visit the Emus and Goats at the Fantastic Umbrella Factory
This quirky and fun destination in Charlestown is a neat place to stop if you’re nearby. In addition to a couple of emus and goats, Fantastic Umbrella Factory has chickens wandering the grounds and beautiful perennial gardens.
It is also a cool place to shop for unique jewelry, clothing, toys, and other fun treasures.
Learn to Blow Glass Ornaments at Gather Glass
For a unique experience and souvenir, check out one of the glass-blowing classes at Gather Glass. You can choose from learning to make blown glass ornaments, paperweights, drinking glasses, or vases.
Family members over eight years old can participate; every class is private and customized to your family.
Go on a Family Adventure at Adventureland Family Fun Park
One of the best things to do with kids in Rhode Island is the family-friendly Adventureland Park. Here, every attraction is geared toward families with kids, from go-karts and batting cages to the carousel and mini-golf.
They even have the new Bankshot attraction, which is described as “mini-golf with a basketball” as well as Spin Zone Bumper Cars, which are perfect for younger riders and extra fun!
Discover the Life in a Tide Pool at Audubon Nature Center and Aquarium
The Audubon Society of Rhode Island hosts all types of family events throughout the year but their Nature Center and Aquarium is full of family fun year-round.
The nature center focuses on local habitats and wildlife found in the state. One favorite exhibit is the tide pool, where you can learn about the animals that live inside them. This is the perfect activity to do before hitting one of the beaches with tide pools.
Kids can also take a peek inside the 33 foot life-size model of the North Atlantic Right Whale!
See the Largest Collection of New England Marine Life at BIOMES Marine Biology Center
The BIOMES Marine Biology Center is a unique aquarium that offers hands-on learning to visitors. It is privately owned so it’s usually open just on the weekends. Be sure to check the schedule, and if a visit aligns with your trip, it’s worth checking out!
Their collection of marine life includes pufferfish, tortoises, sharks, rays, horseshoe crabs, and more.
Get on the Water with a Private Charter
While enjoying the ocean from the beach makes for a perfect afternoon, spending the day exploring the ocean is even better! With each charter customized to your family, this may be one of the most fun things to do in Rhode Island.
You can reel in your dinner on a fishing charter or cruise around the many lighthouses on the coast. And there’s nothing quite like watching the sunset on the water!
There are many private companies available to help you customize your trip. Tails Up Charters is a good place to start.
More Fun Kid-Friendly Things to do in Rhode Island
Rhode Island might be the smallest state in the United States, but it isn’t small on the fun! We hope we have given you a place to start when looking for fun things to do with kids in Rhode Island.
- 13 Memorable Things to Do in Westerly, RI with Kids
- Visiting The Breakers Mansion in Newport with Kids
- 18 Family-Friendly Things to Do on Block Island
- 13 Perfect Beaches in Rhode Island for Families
If you’re in the area, you might also want to take a short 10-minute drive to beautiful Mystic, Connecticut. There you will find lots of things to do like the Mystic Seaport or the Mystic Aquarium. You’ll also find some great kid-friendly places to eat or you can visit the oldest steam-powered cider mill if you will be in town during the fall.