Favorite Things to do in Rhode Island in Winter

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

Snow tubing


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.

Ice Skating

Indoor skating is available at rinks around the RI like Smithfield, the Dennis Lynch Rink in Pawtucket, or the beautiful New England Sports Village in Attleboro.

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!)

Things to do in Newport Rhode Island in winter: ice skating at the Newport Skating Center

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.

Museum Hopping

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.

If we want to venture further, we head up to Boston for a day at the Museum of Fine ArtsScience Museum or Children’s Museum. Other nearby options include the Ecotarium in Worcester.

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.

Rock climbing

Escape Rooms

Rhode Island has its share of the latest craze, Escape Rooms, such as Escape Rhode Island, Lock & Clue Escape Rooms, The Great Escape Room, and the Rhode Island Riddle Room.

Further afield, you can head up to Patriot Place to solve the challenges at 5 Wits or complete a quest at Boda Borg up near Boston.

Go Karting

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.

“Sea” Life

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.

Get Crafty

Whether it is a family painting class at Paint and Vino, pottery and glassware painting at Pea Poddery, beading at Bead & Wire, or many other family-friendly creative classes.

Local Sports

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.

Basketball fans can take in a game at URI, Rhode Island College, or Providence College.

Classes and Workshops

Sign the kids up for an art, cooking, yoga or other class or workshop at AS220, RISD, Johnson & Wales, OM Kids Yoga Center or countless other venues.

Destination Shopping

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.

Comfort Food

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?


Favorite things to do in winter in Rhode Island -- both inside and outside! From Providence to Newport and surrounding areas, this is your idea list for those cold winter days. #rhodeisland #newengland #winter


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Publish Date: January 28, 2014

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