Rhode Island’s capital city offers an array of diversions perfect for family travel.
History & Culture: Founded by dissident preacher Roger Williams in 1636, Providence’s historic credentials are legit — plus some. Its past as a vital port city and trade center is celebrated at numerous historic sites throughout the city. There’s also a brilliant arts community, and Providence is home to both Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Visit the RISD Museum, which houses an impressive collection of arts and crafts.
Culinary: Go on a culinary outing with Rhode Island Red Food Tours, and sample outstanding farm-to-table fare, fresh Atlantic seafood and more. Food trucks are popular, including Championship Melt and Fancheezical, both devoted to the fine art of the grilled cheese. Don’t forget to sample quirky, only-in-Rhode Island treats including quahog stew (a kind of shellfish), Johnnycakes and cabinets — a delicious milkshake with a Rhode Island twist. An absolute must is the state’s official drink — coffee milk: milk mixed with sweet coffee syrup. The syrup is sold in local supermarkets so you can stock up before heading home.
Active: Like Rome, the city features seven hills, but they’re manageable. The city is perfect for a self-guided, themed walking tour of the historic downtown, East Side or West Side. The free, downloadable Rhode Tour app makes planning your route super simple.
Wellness: At the Providence Biltmore, luxurious treatments and body therapies can be enjoyed in a historic, 1922-built structure that belongs to both the National Register of Historic Places and Historic Hotels of America. Butter Day Spa on the city’s East Side is set within a lovely 19th-century Victorian estate, and has an excellent menu of massages, facials and body treatments.
Romance: Head downtown to Waterplace Park, located on the banks of the Providence River, lined with parks and walkways. The flickering spectacle of WaterFire’s 100 art-fire installations can be viewed from multiple locations on the waterfront. Take a daytrip to nearby Newport to tour the iconic collection of period mansions including The Elms, Rosecliff and Marble House, where you can also have tea in the replica Chinese Tea House overlooking the sea. Plan a tour with the Providence River Boat Company or charter your own sunset cruise.
Family Fun: Head to Roger Williams Park for a full day of activities spread over 427 acres, including a 40-acre zoo and Carousel Village. A recent addition to the park is the Soaring Eagle Zip Ride, found in the park’s Explore and Soar area with zip lines 115 feet above the ground. Elsewhere on the grounds, explore the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium and the Botanical Center. For ice skating, Alex and Ani City Center has seasonal outdoor skating; at the Providence Children’s Museum, hands-on, interactive programs for all ages delve into art, history, culture and science in exhibits that include “ThinkSpace,” “Discovery Studio,” “Underland” and “The Children’s Garden.”
Family travelers and fans of nature and the great outdoors must try Skunk Train’s newest offering, Hike to the Glen. Following the railroad tracks, hikers walk through Pudding Creek into the untouched redwood groves, previously only accessible via the Skunk Train or its railbikes.
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Plan next year’s family travels now and your kids can cruise free. Reserve a 2023 cruise on select Princess sailings before Aug. 15, and two children can sail free, sharing your family-sized stateroom. The offer includes a variety of dates, with itineraries including the Western Caribbean with Mexico; the Baja Peninsula & Sea of Cortez; the California coast; Alaska glaciers; the Mediterranean with France & Italy; and New England & Canada.
United Airlines officially became the only major U.S. airline to own a flight training school with the opening of United Aviate Academy on Jan. 27. The moment was made even more historic with its inaugural class, which is 80 percent women and people of color.
Exploring the local culture is one of the best ways to get to know a destination and, in Grenada, the annual Spicemas celebration is one of the most fun ways to do so on family travel.