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21 Things to Do With Your Kids in Providence... Before They Grow Up

From ice skating to cinema to getting hands on with science

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1. Glide Through a Winter’s Day
Yes, it’s going to be cold. And someone is probably going to fall. Ice skating at The Providence Rink at the Alex and Ani City Center is much more than a family activity; it’s the ultimate test of your parental abilities. Your patience, resiliency, and “oh-you’re-fine-get-back-up” skills are all on full display, and on ice no less. There are lessons to be learned here – and plenty of laughs, too – so lace up and enjoy. And if skating’s not your kid’s thing, the rink’s brand-new bumper cars are sure to thrill. The 16 brightly colored cars – the first on an outdoor rink in the country, BTW – take over half of the rink Mondays through Fridays and Saturday nights. And don’t worry, they’ll still be around after the ice has melted for the season. Downtown

2. Discover Wintery Wildlife
Some of the stars at Roger Williams Park Zoo might not like the snow, but others love it. Think snow leopards, red pandas, red wolves, and pronghorns. The colder months give guests a chance to see these curious critters in their element – and the half-priced admission through the end of February ought to make Mama and Papa Bear happy. Which isn’t to say you won’t run into the zoo’s regulars – no one here goes south for the winter, but the zoo does make sure that its more tropical residents are kept nice and cozy. Free for kids 1 and under, $13 for kids 2–12, $18 for adults. Elmwood Avenue

3. Visit a World-Class Museum
Picasso, Warhol, Monet, Manet, and Van Gogh are just five of the thousands of notable artists represented at the RISD Museum. This year marks the ten-year anniversary of the museum’s opening of the Chase Center, the game-changing configuration that connected the institution’s four buildings with a glass bridge and a downtown-facing entrance. With over 100,000 works of art ranging from ancient artifacts to contemporary paintings in its main collection, the sprawling galleries are sure to keep you and your brood inspired for hours. Free for kids 18 and younger, $15 per adult. North Main Street

4. Create Your Very Own Art
Inspiration comes easy at family day at Muse Paintbar. In addition to its daily paint-and-sip schedule that’s geared for adults, the studio offers kid-friendly sessions on select weekends, holidays, and school breaks throughout the year. The premise is pretty much the same: Everyone starts with a blank canvas and follows the art instructor’s step-by-step directions for about two hours. Add in a beer, wine, and appetizer menu and everyone is an artist. There’s plenty of room for mistakes and/or custom touches, which makes the process just as memorable as the finished products. $25 per person. North Main Street 

5. Dress Your Family in Black and Gold

First and foremost, a Providence Bruins game is a surefire way to catch some great hockey and see the future stars of the NHL. But it’s not all face-offs and hat tricks. Theme nights add a little extra fun to a family’s time at the Dunk, with cool giveaways and appearances from your favorite superheroes throughout February. The Bruins are doing really well in their division, so whether you’re coming for the hockey or the free thundersticks, you’re sure to leave feeling like a winner. Family combo tickets available. Downtown



6. Get Hands-On With Science
After years of operating as a pop-up, the Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art (RIMOSA) has put down roots on the West Side, making it a convenient one-stop shop for curious kiddos. Exhibits let visitors roll up their sleeves and get hands-on with scientific concepts, funky gadgets, and animation. The activities are presented without instruction, allowing kids and their imaginations to run wild. Westminster Street 

7. Watch a Ballet Under the Sea
Everyone knows the story of The Little Mermaid, but Festival Ballet is bringing a whole new twist to Disney’s – er, Hans Christian Andersen’s – classic tale of love on the high seas in Providence this spring. Stunning sets and choreography send the story leaping from the page and screen to The Vets stage on April 27. Downtown

8. Gaze Into the Final Frontier
Everything in outer space is far away, but on the East Side it all feels a whole lot closer. Ladd Observatory opens its doors every Tuesday night to the public, letting imaginations take off into hyperspace as visitors explore the stars and our closer celestial neighbors through a vintage telescope. All aspiring Jedi, Starfleet cadets, or wannabe guardians of the galaxy are welcome. Doyle Avenue

9. Discover Kid-Friendly Cinema
Let’s face it, you could probably use a break from the Minions. The Providence Children’s Film Festival is here to save the day and broaden the definition of “kid’s movie” with another year of independent, all-ages films from around the world, including shorts, features, and a Youth Filmmaker Showcase. And if your kid’s got more Spielberg than Siskel in them, the festival is also hosting workshops in music videos, special effects, and animation. Various venues, February 16-25

10. Go For a Spin on Roller Skates
It’s impossible to be bored at United Skates of America. The loud, bright, and often-crowded spot offers roller skate/blade rentals, arcade games, laser tag, a rock-climbing wall, and a concessions stand smack in the middle of it all. If your children can’t roll out of the gate, don’t fret: the rink also offers public skating lessons on Saturday mornings. Pawtucket

11. Touch Everything at a Museum
Your little ones get to put their curious hands on pretty much everything they see at the Providence Children’s Museum. This two-story house of fun encourages kids to learn the best way they know how: by playing. From tossing balls into swirling water tanks to making stuff fly through air tubes, kids get to be kids here. Jewelry District 



12. Rock Out at Karaoke
The Dean Hotel is arguably the coolest spot in Providence, offering hip grown-ups next-level dining and nightlife. Cool kids can also get in on the scene at The Boombox. The karaoke lounge welcomes families to belt out songs for free in the public area or rented private rooms between 5 and 9pm. The bar serves sake cocktails for adults and tasty Asian candies for all. Fountain Street 

13. Interact With Life-Sized Puppets

You don’t just see Big Nazo – you experience Big Nazo. The larger-than-life troupe are known to steal the show at outdoor festivals like PVD Fest and the Hope Street Stroll. Creatures take up year-round residence at the Big Nazo Lab, a storefront studio where the public is always welcome to walk in. Pop in for a chance to meet the artists behind the masks and interact with the creatures they’ve built. Westminster Street

14. Hear a Story in Your Pajamas
Bedtime is a breeze with the help of Barrington Books Retold in Garden City. The bookstore hosts a Pajama Storytime with storyteller Miss Alyisha every Monday evening at 6:30pm. Kids five and younger are encouraged to come in their coziest footsies and enjoy a lively tale before they wind down for the night. Sweet dreams are sure to follow. Cranston 

15. LOL at Improv
Celebrate the end of the school and work week with a side-splitting performance at Friday Night Live at the Everett Company. The one-hour, all-ages show features live music, improv comedy, sing-alongs, and other unpredictable family fun. Duncan Avenue, $5 per person, 7pm every Friday

16. See a BIG Screen Movie

Watching a movie at the IMAX Theater is an immersive, in-your-face-and-ears experience like no other. The theater features a weekly rotation of what’s playing next door at Providence Place Cinemas, as well as the occasional made-for-IMAX film. A Wrinkle In Time, the sci-fi Disney movie your kids have been talking about for months, premieres in March. Whether or not Oprah will officially announce her plan to run for president during the film is TBD. Providence Place Mall

17. Make Gaming a Reality

Your children are the center of your universe, but sometimes you need a break from reality. Base Station VR Lounge, Rhode Island’s first virtual reality arcade, provides a quick and pretty awesome escape. Here’s how it works: select a kid-appropriate game from the catalog, grab a headset, and head to a station that can accommodate up to four players. In an instant, you are all transported to the alternate universe of your choice. Fear not, the rule of parental law still applies in a virtual world. Thayer Street



18. Check In at the Library
Oh, the places you can go with a library card. Card-carrying members of Ocean State Libraries have access to over 50 locations within the statewide network, including the nine branches of the Providence Community Library. In addition to checking out books and videos, the neighborhood libraries offer a variety of community-based events and activities. Lego clubs, yoga classes, Girls Who Code meet-ups, teen movies, and Spanish for beginners are just a sampling of what’s available in February. 

19. Take a Walk on the Wild Side
The world is a wild and exciting place – and so is Roger Williams Park. The Museum of Natural History and Planetarium lets guests get up close to specimens and artifacts from around the globe and ponder the mysteries of worlds beyond our own through exhibits that explore the natural world and weekend planetarium shows. The Botanical Center, New England’s largest indoor greenhouse, exhibits a rotating assortment of plant life from around the world – like kid-favorite carnivorous plants! Elmwood Avenue

20. Take to the Sky

If cabin fever is starting to kick in, why not take the kids someplace where they can literally bounce off the walls? Sky Zone Providence takes the thrill of bouncing on a trampoline to new heights by creating a space dedicated to the art of bouncing. Land big air jumps safely into a foam pit, score high-flying slam dunks, monkey across the wobbly sky ladder, and more with high-energy games and stunts for all ages. East Providence

21. Unplug in a Historic Setting
The Providence Athenaeum’s Children’s Library is a “technology-free sanctuary” inside the historic Benefit Street institution. The collection includes options for little ones and young adults who have aged into (slightly) more grown-up tastes. Their Old Juvenile collection doesn’t leave the library, but includes rare and first edition printings from as far back as the mid-nineteenth century, while regular programming like Sing Along Story Time and Family Movie Night takes the fun beyond the written word. Benefit Street