Let’s face it, Southern New England in winter is cold. And gray. And snowy. And did I mention cold? It is definitely better to visit Rhode Island in the other three seasons, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing to do in Rhode Island in winter.
Although I love to curl up on the couch under a blanket and watch the Patriots, we have to leave the house occasionally. Here are a few of our favorite things to do in Rhode Island in winter, both inside and outside.
Things to do in Rhode Island in Winter
With all that snow, one of your favorite pastimes has to be sledding. There are plenty of places nearby to go sledding (like Diamond Hill State Park and Mercymount Country Day School in Cumberland or Chase Farm in Lincoln), but one advantage of living on a hill and having a steep driveway is that we rarely have to venture further than our front door for a little winter fun, which makes coming inside to warm by the fire with hot chocolate all the easier.
Skiing & Tubing
We prefer to head north to Okemo, Smugglers’ Notch, or Sunday River, but Yawgoo Valley offers a good beginner learn-to-ski program and is small enough to give kids a little independence on the slopes. When it is snowy enough, they also offer snow tubing.
If you are willing to head into Massachusetts, Ski Ward in Shrewsbury also offers snow tubing (and they take reservations!)
See more options for skiing within three hours of Boston.
However, my daughter gets very disappointed if we don’t squeeze in at least one trip to the outdoor skating rinks at Kennedy Plaza in Providence or in Newport. We still need to try the new bumper boats at the Providence Rink (just keep in mind that reservations are required and they sell out fast!)
If you want to drive a little further, Foxwoods offers a fun outdoor rink and winter patio and you could also hit the bowling alley or the arcade inside.
We’ve somewhat outgrown the Providence Children’s Museum, but can easily spend an afternoon exploring the treasures at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum.
Indoor Play Places
The local YMCA is fun for some weekend physical activity like swimming, basketball or rock climbing. However, if we want to change things up, there is always bowling or laser tag at CW Lanes, roller skating at United Skates of America, or jumping at an indoor trampoline park like Skyzone, Launch, or Altitude.
We are partial to rock climbing at Rock Spot in Lincoln. Battlegroundz in Lincoln also offers paintball, laser tag, and dodge ball.
Don’t let winter slow you down! You can race around the track at RI Indoor Karting in Lincoln. They also offer bowling, billiards, and even an Axe Bar.
Two aquariums, the Mystic Aquarium in CT and the New England Aquarium in Boston, are just a short distance away. However, if you want to learn more about local sealife closer to home, you can also visit the Biomes Marine Biology Center in North Kingstown or the Save the Bay Aquarium in Newport. Or you can go on a seal watching tour.
Providence Children’s Film Festival
Family-friendly movies are always a great way to beat the cold but there is none better than the selections at the Providence Children’s Film Festival in February. The hardest part is picking which movie(s) to see.
Winter Farmer’s Market
There may not be as much fresh produce in the winter but the Winter Farmer’s Market at the Hope Artiste Village is still fun and a great way to stock up on local eggs, cheeses, meats, seafood, herbs, and vegetables.
But what the little one likes the most are yummy sweet or savory crepes made fresh in front of you (especially the Nutella and banana ones.) You can also always find a fun selection of food trucks out front.
Our local library has a great program of activities for kids and teens including book groups, chess clubs, coding clubs, story times, family movies and more. It is a perfect place to play and explore for a while. Kids also enjoy checking at the Providence Athenaeum, one of America’s oldest libraries.
There are plenty of local and college sports events to entertain the kiddos. While even the semi-tame Providence Bruins might be a little rough around the edges, the Brown University hockey teams offer a perfect family outing for hockey fans.
Classes and Workshops
We have spent many hours at Bass Pro Shops in nearby Foxboro, MA, looking at the fish, climbing on boats, crawling into tents and having scavenger hunts. They even have a cafe and snack bar on site.
Jordan’s Furniture in Warwick offers a free water and laser light show, while Jordan’s locations in MA offer other attractions like ropes courses and laser light shows.
Of course, the cold weather also makes one crave comfort food and a cozy place to snuggle up or sit by the fire. Some of my favorite places to warm up from the inside are burgers (and bacon bloody mary’s) at Harry’s Burger Bar or fireside dining at Pan e Vino, India or the White Horse Tavern.
Looking for more ideas?
- Try one of these Christmas in Rhode Island events
- If you are looking to venture a little further, you could schedule a weekend getaway at one of these New England hotels with an indoor waterpark
- Check out Snowland at the Great Wolf Lodge New England
- Find out what to do in Newport in the winter
- Celebrate the holidays at one of these East Coast Christmas destinations
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