Entertaining guests in RI after Christmas
December 20, 2012 7:49 AM   Subscribe

What to do with guests in RI the week after Christmas?

My brother's new favorite Festivus Feat Of Strength appears to be brutal family car trips the week after Christmas. (Last year, MN-to-TX in one day. This year, MN-to-RI in two days, with no worries about weather delays near Buffalo.) What can we do with them -- two adults, four kids -- and my own family -- same size group -- around Rhode Island between Dec. 18th and 31st?

When my sister brought out her kids this past summer we went to the beach one day -- but the beaches will be cold & closed anyway, won't they? We also went up to Boston one day (USS Constitution, Navy Yard, Paul Revere's House, meal in the North End, and Mike's Pastry); will most tourist attractions in Boston we open that week?

They are active, smart, curious kids. The Providence Children's Museum doesn't hold a candle to the Science Museum, Children's Museum, and other attractions in their home town, so those are out. (The Whaling Museum in New Bedford, though, just might be good for them.) We could possibly take them to the Museum of Work & Culture in Woonsocket, but that's good for like an hour, and then you've got, what, the Wiener Genie?

I am not sure of their enthusiasm for clam cakes, though I know they wouldn't blink at the drive down to Narragansett or Gallilee.

Please help me, Ocean State MeFis!
posted by wenestvedt to Travel & Transportation around Rhode Island (24 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Newport Mansions?
posted by xingcat at 7:53 AM on December 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I drove around Newport during Christmas week several years ago, and it was wonderful. Cold, sure, but just nice to be there. Boston will be terrific for the kids, and I can't imagine the tourist attractions will be closed—maybe Christmas day, but that time is a big moneymaker for them.
posted by The Michael The at 7:56 AM on December 20, 2012

Buy a lot of board games (or look up games) and organize prizes and competitions. Have a dartboard competition, group pictionary, a baking competition, etc
posted by gt2 at 7:58 AM on December 20, 2012

RISD Museum?

How old are the kids?
posted by fancyoats at 7:58 AM on December 20, 2012

Any Newport Creamery, induct them into AwfulAwfuls. Take them to a P Bruins game. Is the zoo open?

You can do regular things, like take them to the movies, see if there is any skating. Also, Yawgoo!

If you get desperate, drive to Mystic :)
posted by DarlingBri at 8:00 AM on December 20, 2012

The Whaling Museum is actually pretty okay and interesting for folks and New Bedford is a good walk-around town that isn't too full and you should be able to find good places to get food for everyone. There's a good chance that you can get passes for it at your local library (I can in Westport, don't know if you'll be able to where you are). Here are the passes that Cranston has, for example. And as far as beaches, I know the ones in Westport are ... not open but also not closed if that makes sense. You can park in the parking lots at Horseneck Beach, for example, and go walking on the beaches but there won't be any restrooms or other facilities. Check the weather because this is awesome when it's awesome and brutal when it's windy and/or super cold. There's a nifty restaurant called The Bayside that is around the corner that has great local food and seafood, and a newish place in Westport called Ten Cousins that is particularly kid-friendly and has wood fired pizza if you're over that way.

Tourist attractions in Boston will absolutely be open. You might find a CityPass useful. I usually keep an eye on this page to see what's happening there. Additionally you might consider a day trip like a ferry to Martha's Vineyard which is a place with some cool history, but again I'd check to make sure things are open. I'd also keep a back up plan in case of weather because no one wants to be in a snowy awful car ride to someplace just to stay on a schedule.
posted by jessamyn at 8:04 AM on December 20, 2012

Edaville Railroad
La Salette Shrine
Capron Park Zoo (their site seems down at the moment) - Smaller, kid-friendly zoo, open year round in Attleboro.

And don't sell the Children's Museum short - it's different from the one back home, which is better than "better" to kids. Whaling museum is fun. If they can stand the roadtrip, Mystic Aquarium is a lot of fun, too, and closer than Boston.

If you want to do Boston, a trip to Quincy Market is awesome for kids (I remember enjoying it a whole ton as a kid. Give 'em $15 for lunch, and unleash them on the food court.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:10 AM on December 20, 2012

Edaville is a great night out if you like trains, rides, and Christmas lights.
posted by alms at 8:10 AM on December 20, 2012

You could take the clan to Wright's Farm for a family-style, all you can eat chicken dinner. I was taken to there for the first time a few months ago and the food is darn tasty. The place was pretty empty when we went, but still a sight to behold... it is absolutely huge, and you can tell it runs like a well-oiled machine even when packed. It's one of those local tradition/"experience unto itself" types of restaurants. They also have a big gift shop, complete with a fudge counter and selection of retro/obscure candy.
posted by usonian at 8:18 AM on December 20, 2012

While the touristy stuff is nice, I'd concentrate on doing family stuff, inside. Where it's warm.

Perhaps enlisting the kids in cooking a favorite family recipe. Watching a movie together with popcorn and special treats. Playing card games with the cousins. Jumping on beds.

A backyard bonfire to roast marshmallows and hot dogs.

A reading of favorite poems, or just having you and your brother tell stories of growing up with each other. I loved hearing from my uncle about how my Dad (who was 13 years older) got annoyed with him playing the same record over and over and picked it up and sailed out the window and across the street, where it shattered. According to my uncle, it was Elvis Presley's, Blue Suede Shoes, on the Sun label.

Ice skating is fun, especially with treats and hot cocoa.

My favorite childhood memories aren't of stuff I did with my folks (although we did plenty) it's of the time we spent on the farm with my Aunts and Uncles and Grandparents. Admittedly, it was a pot farm, but I was a bit young to be truly into that.

I do recommend Wreck it Ralph as a movie that's fun for everyone. Husbunny and I enjoyed the hell out of it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:30 AM on December 20, 2012

If they're from MN, RI cold is wimpy.

How old are the kids in question?

My favorite winter RI activities are hiking (more below), the zoo (I think it was free New Year's Day a couple of years ago?), and/or the cute little natural history museum in the park. The carousel at Roger Williams Park might still be running too.

Re: Hiking - Get a copy of Weekend Walks in Rhode Island (Amazon or WorldCat) and find a walk that fits the kids' attention span! Bring hot chocolate and cookies for a snack.

Nthing the Whaling Museum in New Bedford, plus a meal at the Shawmut Diner.

Providence: If it's cold out, lunch at the Nordstrom's Cafe and IMAX if something good is playing. Not freezing? Skating downtown and the Children's Museum as was mentioned before. Maybe a tour of the State House?

Boston should be open for business. Save yourself the stress and cost of parking in Boston, and take the commuter rail. You can park for cheap in Attleboro.

On the Boston topic, maybe the museums at Harvard, like the Harvard Museum of Natural History or the art museums? The MIT Museum?

Have fun!
posted by metarkest at 8:30 AM on December 20, 2012

If the weather is nice, maybe a hike over at Purgatory Chasm, up in Uxbridge?
posted by fancyoats at 8:35 AM on December 20, 2012

Looks like the last weekend of the season for the Edward Gorey House, if you're up that way.

Never been, can't personally vouch.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:41 AM on December 20, 2012

Seconding the Mansions, Providence Bruins, LaSallette, and ice skating in downtown Providence.

And if the Boston Museum of Science is open, it is an absolute must.
posted by LouMac at 8:41 AM on December 20, 2012

Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA
posted by Jahaza at 8:52 AM on December 20, 2012

This far down and no Mystic Seaport? It's a really great family destination. Not far from anything in RI (much closer than Boston, really). You might even be able to still get tickets for the evening Lantern Light Tours, which are an amazing, memorable experience. And you can spend time in town shopping and eating out before or after your visit. Mystic in the winter is lovely. The Aquarium is there, too, so you can do more than one destination in a day.
posted by Miko at 11:22 AM on December 20, 2012

Good heavens, so many great answers in so little time! Thank you all!

Their kids are like my kids: from age 4 to 14.

The weather will play a big factor: a sunny day would be good for the beaches, as Jessamyn points out. An OK weather day would fit Battleship Cove, where we have been several times. (I love it!)

La Salette is a grand dea: I took my parents there some years ago and they were quite impressed. We could hit that at 4pm, watch the lights come up, then go get dinner. Maybe on the way back from Newport and a walk on the sand? I wonder which beach we could hit after looking at Newport....

Commuter Rail to Boston might be a good call, if we can work around rush hour. Parking up there this summer cost about the same as everyone's ticket will, so the only issue is how fast we can be out the door in the morning. :7)

We are well-aquainted with our (awwwwwesome) town library's museum pass program, and have used the hell out of it in the past -- including, come to think of it, on trips to Mystic Seaport & Aquarium last summer.

I have only lived here from a dozen years (and my wife is a native), so I still scratch my head when people come to town. Thanks again, everyone. You're collectively the best!
posted by wenestvedt at 11:25 AM on December 20, 2012

Also: oh, God, Wright's Farm. That would blow their minds.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:26 AM on December 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry, I think I linked you to an older page - here's this year's Mystic Seaport Christmas week schedule.
posted by Miko at 11:27 AM on December 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's really worth going up to Boston. Boston is a great place to visit, and there are several commuter trains every day.

Take them to see the mummies at the MFA in Boston.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 11:42 AM on December 20, 2012

Seconding the Mystic aquarium. It was a big highlight of all my summer and winter childhood trips to RI/CT and it has grown and improved over the years.
posted by chr1sb0y at 3:49 PM on December 21, 2012

Oh, we went went to the Mystic Aquarium this summer, and it blew my mind. Very impressive!
posted by wenestvedt at 6:44 PM on December 21, 2012

I would love to know what you wound up doing.
posted by jessamyn at 7:20 PM on January 2, 2013

There was this epic blizzard, see, and they got to town late, and... Well, we went to Battleship Cove and the kids played in the snow while the adults talked and ate Christmas cookies. *shrug* What can I say?

My brother brought out a bunch of Summit beer and (awwwwesome) Surly beer from MN, which I drank, and I gave him a "Tasting Flight" of Narragansett tall boy cans. We thought about going to see the lights at La Sallette Shrine, but we ran out of initiative; ditto on the drive to Boston. Feeding eight kids three times a day, and keeping their sleeping arrangements (for which read, "the living room and the family room") squared away for a week, and just getting ready each morning pretty much blew away our plans. So the kids hung out and played in the snow and made snow forts -- and as many people predicted up-thread, we were OK with that. :7)

I mean, until the ice ball to the eye and the trip to urgent care... But hey, we got to try the new, kids-only urgent care around the corner -- on New Years Day, no less -- and it was a great experience.

But next time -- oh, next time -- we will make many detailed plans and execute them all!
posted by wenestvedt at 8:27 PM on January 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

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