Think you can’t be cool with little ones in tow? Think again. From public art to walking tours to kids’ menus at unexpected places, the Creative Capital is one family-friendly city. Of course, there are many well-known wonderful places dedicated to youngsters, but we’ve assembled some under-the-radar spots for you to mask-up and experience together, whether it’s playing or snacking. We hope these ideas will help you make the most of the rest of summer and beyond!
1. Hiking Trail
Sure, you’re familiar with Blackstone Boulevard, but do you know about Blackstone Park? Follow South Angell to Paterson to discover 45 acres of woodlands, two ponds, and views of the Seekonk River, all via a trail deemed “easy for kids” by Rhode Island Families in Nature.
2. Blackstone Boulevard
This 1.6-mile, 100-foot-wide median is a hub for walkers and runners, but look for the stone Trolley Shelter, perfect for imaginative play (let’s be hobbits!). Nearby is Lippitt Memorial Park with traditional playground equipment.
3. Gladys Potter Park
Well-known to locals as “the baby park,” in addition to shaded areas and a variety of play equipment, this expansive space is fenced-in – read: parents can have conversations with each other while their little ones run about. Humboldt and Elton Streets
4. Swan Point
Many East Side parents cite Swan Point Cemetery as their go-to place for walking, teaching kids to ride bikes, even spotting bald eagles. Grounds are open; maintain social distancing. 585 Blackstone Boulevard
This unassuming diner popular with students and locals has been around for 75 years. Even fussy kids can get a hot dog, pancakes, or a fruit cup. Open seven days a week from 5am-3pm. 286 Brook Street
Any pop-tart fans in the house? You’ve got to try the out-of-the-box version of the pastry treat at this sunny cafe known for its bagels and schmears. With music playing and sturdy seating, this is a welcoming spot for kids who don’t typically enjoy eating out. Be warned: They sell cool swag like Ts and pins. 110 Doyle Avenue
7. Red Stripe
The “Little Folks” menu is filled with choices such as grilled cheese, mac and cheese, and chicken fingers and fries. Pro tip: On Wednesdays you get a $1 kids’ meal with each adult entree. As with many restaurants, make a reservation and know that you will be asked by the host to “self-certify” that you are not exhibiting any COVID-19 symptoms before being seated. 465 Angell Street
Tour the Providence and Woonasquatucket Rivers, Waterplace Park, and more by kayak. Masks may be removed once on the kayak and away from the docks. Reservations are best but booking on the spot can be accommodated, if available, with a smartphone and credit card. Guided tours are also available. 15 Bridge Street
Walking tours are perfect for making on-the-spot mini day trips. Enjoy the Statue and Monument Tour of Downtown Providence at your own pace. Download a map at ProvParksConservancy.org to discover statues, sculptures, and more. 40 Kennedy Plaza
3. 10,000 Suns
Pack your camera or charge up your phone and head to where Wickenden Street meets South Main and be dazzled by an unexpected field of sunflowers. This public art installation known as 10,000 Suns makes use of an empty parcel of land. There’s even a red chair or two for picture-taking fun.
Providence is full of fascinating and beautiful murals. Learn their backstories by visiting The Avenue Concept online to download a map with QR codes of plaques and locations, and embark on a self-guided tour of public art throughout the city.
Providence is home to quite a few letterboxes, which are small boxes – each containing a stamp, stamp pad, and pen – hidden in covert spots. Find them at AtlasQuest.com and begin a search by location that will display a list of spots with clues on where boxes are hidden. When you find a box (huzzah!), open it, sign the book and use the stamp to mark your own notebook, which becomes a passport of sorts. Various locations, or start your own.
6. G Pub
Who knew the G had a kids’ menu and with a Hoodsie cup dessert!? The G Pub has an $8 dedicated kids’ menu but Monday-Friday from 2-6pm, kids can eat for $3. The short menu offers the greatest hits of kid cuisine all served with either French fries or a fruit cup. 61 Orange Street
This restaurant is dedicated to grilled cheese. While they have some adventurous and interesting variations on the sandwich (s’mores!?), they also have the classic. Prices start at $4.95. After a bite, marvel at the architecture around the vicinity. 129 Weybosset Street
1. Olneyville Library
Providence has so many great libraries and with a valid and free Ocean State Libraries card, you can borrow from any of them and return items at your own local branch of the system, which includes more than 50 statewide. 1 Olneyville Square
Most every visit to RIMOSA offers a new experience. This 2,000-square-foot space has hands-on, open-ended STEAM-based exhibits and programs aimed at older kids, teens, and families, emphasizing the tools that both artists and scientists share. Recent exhibits have included stop-motion animation and creating marble roller coasters. Open weekends by appointment only. 763 Westminster Street
While many events have gone virtual, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council has outdoor excursions planned like nature walks, paddle trips, and bike rides. Pre-registration is required and each trip is capped at 10 participants. Too late? No worries. Visit online for info on recreational activities – including a skate and BMX park!
Don’t let the name scare you away. Owners Tom and Natalie Dennen have included a kids’ menu that features things like English muffin pizza, chicken fingers, grilled cheese, and more. 318 West Fountain Street
5. Classic Cafe
Open daily from 8am-2pm, this old-school cafe is a great spot for breakfast and lunch. There are 10-and-under kids’ menus for breakfast and lunch, comfy booth seating, and plenty to look at on the walls for impromptu rounds of I-spy. 865 Westminster Street
With all kinds of tater tots and offerings like grilled PB&Js amidst kitschy surroundings, Granny Boo’s Kitchen at Ogie’s offers a unique one-day-vacation-like experience. 1155 Westminster Street
Hot coffee for you, coffee milk for the kids. The menu covers all the bases from simple to inventive; there’s even an omelette named for Fall River. 1380 Westmister