Summer in Newport is amazing. Parents can just take the kids outside to one of the many beaches, parks, playgrounds or even their own backyards for the kids to work out their energy. Winter is a different story.
If you have––or care for––children, a rainy winter weekend on the island can feel like a prison sentence (just being honest here). The kids are climbing the walls, and––if you have more than one in your care––they may even make a few attempts to seriously injure the other. Sadly, that’s the reality.
To help take the sting out of your sentence, we have complied a list of the things that have saved us in the last few years. Warning, a few of these options will have you leaving the island, but we promise it’s worth it!
Save The Bay Exploration Center & Aquarium
Location: Easton’s Beach Rotunda
Don’t be deceived by its size, this small interactive marine science center has over 40 species. It has multiple touch tanks that kids love –– they can even touch a dogfish shark! In addition to the tanks, the center has a scavenger hunt, story hour and a craft table.
Memorial Day-Labor Day Daily: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Labor Day-Memorial Day Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve/Day, New Year’s Eve/Day 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
Check the website for school vacation week hours.
From December 14-March 10, the Ballroom at Easton’s Beach (Above Save the Bay) is filled with four bouncy houses. This no-frills location allows you to bring your own food and drink and you can stay as long as you want once you pay.
Price: $7 drop in per child or a discounted rate if you pay with a punch card (10- and 20-visit cards are available)
Hours: Monday & Friday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Saturday & Sunday 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
Check the website for school vacation week hours.
Arcade – Ryan Family Amusement
Not just for the kids, located in the heart of downtown Newport on Thames Street, this two-story, arcade-style game room has over 50 video, arcade, and skill games.
Hours: Monday-Thursday Noon-9 p.m., Friday Noon-10 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Newport Public Library
Saturday Lego Club for ages 5-12
During the winter the Library hosts a Lego club every Saturday at 11 a.m.
Under 5: The large Children’s area has board books, coloring, play houses and puzzles.
The library has full weekday programming for all ages.
Check the website for the monthly children’s calendar.
First Saturdays at Home Depot
If you are in town on the first Saturday of the month, head to the Middletown Home Depot from 9 a.m.-noon for a free kids craft. On the first visit, the kids get an adorable mini home depot apron on which they collect pins the of the craft projects they complete over the years. This is a year-round activity.
If you are up for a trip off-island, Warwick has a bunch of kid-friendly activities. Many of these can make a great family trip; our personal favorite is a trip to Launch followed by a stop at Trader Joes (the kids love it for the mini shopping carts).
Northwest of the Island:
Duck Pin Bowling – Wickford Lanes, North Kingstown
Just over the bridges on a barren stretch of road, you will find a classic duck pin bowling alley. This no-frills location is as classic as they come. There are a few decent places to eat dinner nearby so grab the kids and head out for an early dinner and an evening of classic family fun.
Warwick’s premiere trampoline park – this location has Trampoline courts (you can even bounce off the walls), Tumble Traks (extra-long trampoline beds, great for flips and tumbling), a Dodgeball Court, Laser Tag, a Battle Pit (think American Ninja Warrior), an indoor Rock Climbing wall and much more. Launch moved to this location in late 2018, and it really has something for everyone in the family!
Yes! We put a grocery store on the list! It has mini shopping carts the kids love, so running errands on a rainy day just got better!
Warwick Mall Carousel
If you have really little ones you can pop into the Warwick Mall and let the kids ride the carousel and grab lunch in the food court. If you need to let them burn off some energy let them walk (run) in the mall. It has a Target, so that alone for many Newporters is worth the trip!
Roger Williams Park Zoo – Rainforest Exhibit
The zoo is always a great place to take the kids, however if you haven’t been to the new Rainforest exhibit it’s worth the trip. The 40-foot-high glass atrium is filled with monkeys and birds, as well as a waterfall and a pool for the otters. Finally, a great indoor activity that allows members to head to the zoo year-round.
Check the website for hours as the zoo closes due to inclement weather.
Northeast of the Island:
Billy Beez is not close, but if you have a day that is wide open and you are up for an adventure, this place is worth it. Parents, there’s no need to sit on the sidelines; you are welcome to get in on the fun with your kids. This all-ages indoor playground is full of crazy slides, climbing structures, a ballistics zone, sports arena and even a special playground for tots. And, yes, there is also a Target in the mall where this is located!
Providence Children’s Museum
Check out the Providence Children’s Museum for hours of hands-on fun for your littles. The majority of the museum is for all ages, however the “Littlewoods” area is for ages four and under. In addition to the standard exhibits, the museum has an extensive calendar of events available on their website.
As can be expected, the Museum tends to be more crowded on rainy days, school vacation weeks and certain holidays. You can call ahead to find out if the Museum is particularly busy or if school groups will be visiting that day. According to the website, early morning and late afternoons are generally quieter times to visit.
South of the Island:
Rock Spot Climbing
Head to South Kingstown for an indoor adventure for the entire family. This facility has 11,500 sq. ft. of climbing, 38 top rope walls, and 80-100 boulder problems. We had a great time here and were even shown up by our-then five year old!
On Saturday mornings at 8:30 a.m., there is a special class for toddlers (advance sign up required). All other climbing is from 10 a.m.-midnight every day.
Check the website for special holiday and vacation hours.
A great aquarium for the entire family. Located just off I-95, this is an easy drive from Aquidneck island. If you are looking to enhance your experience, the Mystic Aquarium has added 10 different animal encounters (for a fee). Options range from training sessions with sea lions, up close with harbor seals, behind the scenes with the African penguins, painting with a whale, or even wading in the water to interact with a beluga whale.
If rain isn’t an issue and you and your kids are willing to play in the cold, Ice Skating at Gurney’sis great fun, with amazing views. When you are done, they offer an Apres-Skate menu and hot cocoa bar that satisfies even the most discerning family member.
If skiing or snow tubing are more your thing, in less than 30 minutes you can take the kids skiing or tubing at Yawgoo Valley.
Lastly, don’t worry if you don’t have a vacation planned for winter break. Newport will be hosting Winterfest again. Keep an eye out for our Winterfest post in the coming weeks.
And take a deep breath. Camp sign-ups are starting soon, and spring will be here before we know it!