Family Fun

Kids' Summer Guide

Activities abound for the whole family


Summer in Providence is the perfect season to be a parent. Green fields offer children a safe haven for socialization and play, leaving moms and dads to relax in the ocean’s breeze. Organizations all across Rhode Island offer entertaining summer opportunities for you and your child.

For Newborns and Toddlers
To enjoy the weather while working out, join Stroller Strides, a local group of parents that, as the name suggests, walks while pushing their children in strollers. The group meets at 9am on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and every other Saturday, gathering near Three Sisters on Hope Street. The cost is $15 for one single class, though membership packages do exist.

Moms To Be & Moms Fitness Group offers an exercise program for new and expecting mothers. Operated by an LDRP/maternity RN, this group meets every Thursday at 9am at Brown Street Park. The events are free to attend, giving local moms a non-wallet denting opportunity to keep fit. All participants are encouraged to discuss the fitness program with their doctor before attending.

Unfortunately, summer weather doesn’t always allow for outdoor enjoyment, be it too hot or too humid, which is when it’s time for an indoor activity. To give your baby a memorable adventure without stepping into the sun, head to Books on the Square on Angell Street. Every Monday at 10:30am the store holds a free story time for babies.

For more baby-oriented stories, every Tuesday at 11:45am the Providence Public Library hosts Lapsit Story Time. Designed for newborns to 18-month-olds, the event features stories, songs, rhythm and rhyme. This is a great way to get kids started down the road to reading. For children ages one to three, the Providence Library’s Cradle to Crayons will keep the thrill of reading alive. Featuring two sessions every Tuesday from 9:45 to 11:45am, this event combines play with story time, including such activities as dance, song and finger plays.

For Young Children
Parents of young children know that sometimes kids just want to be kids – touching and playing to learn how the world works. The Johnson & Wales Culinary Arts Museum is hosting Project Cupcake: Cupcake Carnival on July 25. Geared towards children ages six to 12, the event teaches kids how to decorate themed cupcakes, including demonstrations, hands-on learning and delicious cupcakes to take home. Admission costs $12 per participant; seats fill up quickly.

After your child is hopped up on sugar and ready to rock, head to the Roger Williams Park Zoo for their Sunset Safaris. Happening July 11, 25 and August 15, this event offers an after-hours sunset guided tour through the zoo, in addition to story time and a snack. Only 40 participants are allowed per tour, so register today to reserve your spot. If you and your child crave even more nighttime activities, the zoo offers a Family Overnight on July 21; it’s an exciting opportunity to experience the zoo after dark. Event includes dinner, a night tour, activities, animal encounters, a light breakfast and a morning tour. From habitats to eating habits, these events promise a wealth of animal kingdom information.

Just down from the zoo is the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center, where your child can join the Eco-Exploration Summer Camp. Sign up for one of the three separate week-long sessions running on Tuesdays and Thursdays from August 2 to 17. Each day, starting at 9:30am, your child will play nature-themed games, make arts and crafts projects, draw in a nature journal and collect material for their nature box. Weekly sessions are $25 per child and price includes lunch.

To keep the love of nature going, join the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium for their Butterfly Nature Walk, taking place on July 7. Starting at 10am, a museum naturalist will guide families through sun-drenched meadows looking for butterflies. Admission is $5 per family and children under the age of four are not permitted.

For Older Children
Inquisitive children do well within Providence’s historically rich foundation; there is always something new just around the corner. For example, the Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum on North Main Street hosts Victorian Times: A Kids Tour, an interactive journey appropriate for children ages 10 to 14. The tour helps children discover architecture, decorative finishes, Victorian culture and the Lippitt family’s history. Tours happen at 10am and 2pm on July 11 and August 15. Tickets are $6 for children; accompanying adults are free. Space is limited and registration is required.

As for the paranormal experiences said to have taken place within the context of Providence’s history, the Slater Mill Ghost Tour on July 5 at 10pm is an ideal way to scare up entertainment for both parent and tween. The tour explores three historic buildings – Slater Mill, Wilkinson Mill and Sylvanus Brown House – and is recommended for ages 10 and up. Tour admission is $20 and registration is required.

To raise kids who appreciate classic rock, attend the Knight Memorial Library’s Summer Classic Film Series, which offers outdoor screenings of documentaries focused on bands that changed the genre. Films are screened on July 21, July 28 and August 2. These films are loud, so if your kid doesn’t enjoy the kicking sound of electric guitar, stay clear of this event. Check out the Providence Community Library website for more information.

For All Ages
On July 2, 3 and 7, McCoy Stadium brings back its annual Post-Game Fireworks Display, celebrating the Fourth of July holiday. Games begin at 6:15pm, followed immediately by fireworks. Whether you go inside the stadium, or join the crowd outside, these fireworks offer an affordable means of enjoying the start of summer.

If you want an event that combines stunning visuals with exercise, head to WaterFire on July 21 and August 18. These events take place along Memorial Boulevard, featuring over eighty braziers burning bright until just past midnight. Lighting begins about 20 minutes after sunset.

Want to exercise your child’s mind and body? Kidinfo Providence Story Time, located at Kennedy Plaza’s Burnside Park, hosts a weekly one-hour story every Thursday at 10:30am. And don’t worry – all of your child’s rested energy can be spent at the After Storytime Fun activities that take place immediately after the read aloud. These activities encourage mental and physical activity, both for you and your child. Find more at Kennedy Plaza's website.

When baking in the sun sounds more like a nightmare than a fun-filled afternoon, head to Books on the Square for their weekly story time events on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 10:30am and Saturdays at 11am. These stories cater to children of all age groups, allowing for mental stimulation and opportunities of socialization.

If you really want to get your child reading, take part in the Providence Public Library’s Summer Reading Program. Open to all children over the preschool age, this program encourages children to read, offering coupons and prizes as they finish books. The program ends August 11 at 10:30am, so register today and start tracking your child’s reading progress.

If your children love all things motor, you should take a trip to the Providence Children’s Museum, where every Wednesday at 10am your child can join the Wheels at Work program. From a bobcat front loader to a police cruiser, the event allows children to climb behind the wheel of a work vehicle, educating them on how the vehicle helps society function. The Children’s Museum also hosts Get Out! Weaving Wonders every Tuesday at 1pm. This event encourages children to play in the Museum’s garden while exploring the art of weaving with natural and recycled materials.

Even more fun can be had at the Rhode Island Historical Society’s Concerts Under the Elms musical series at the John Brown House Museum. Concerts begin at 6:30pm every Thursday from July 12 to August 9, featuring such musical genres as traditional Latin jazz, patriotic, Cajun dance, classic blues and Celtic-inspired. Concert admission is $10 for adults and free for Historical Society members and children under 12.

Lastly, let’s discuss Providence’s artistic culture: from now until October 21 the RISD Museum is proud to present Dan Walsh: UnCommon Ground, an exhibit featuring Walsh’s large-scale abstract works. By using hand-drawn lines and luminous colors, Walsh creates subtle inflections of light and color, a display sure to wow adult or child. If you prefer contemporary over abstract, the museum is hosting The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Rhode Island from July 20 to December 2. Children under five are always free, while adult admission is $10. (On the last Saturday of the month admission is free for all, while all Sundays are pay-what-you-wish.)

With all the available parent-child bonding opportunities this summer, now is the time to create memorable, lasting moments with your little one. Time flies faster than you realize, and tomorrow is only a sunset away.