With more than 400 miles of scenic coastline, Rhode Island is the ideal spot for the quintessential family seaside vacation. Adults can relax on long sandy beaches while children build sandcastles in the sun and swim in the clear blue Atlantic Ocean. For an up-close-and-personal look at marine life, several charter companies offer half- and full-day whale watching excursions in search of humpback, finback, right and minke whales, as well as sharks, sea turtles, giant ocean sunfish and pelagic birds.
Providence, Rhode Island's capital city, is home to Roger Williams Park & Zoo, a veritable playground for the young and young at heart. This beautiful 430-acre Victorian park (1878) is comprised of waterways, walks, outdoor gardens, and a Carousel Village, Museum of Natural History, and the park's crown jewel, Roger Williams Park Zoo. Other children's activities in the park include paddleboats, a carousel, miniature train ride, pony rides and a jungle gym.
The Providence Children's Museum is designed for children ages 1-11, the museum features fun and educational hands-on exhibits including a time traveling adventure; a wet and wild exploration of the ways of water; a hands on geometry lab and much more.
In Newport County, children will delight in the performances by costumed actors portraying servants and guests at The Astors' Beechwood mansion, marvel at the adult-size children's playhouse on the grounds of The Breakers mansion, and may not be able to tear themselves away from the interactive video exhibits in the International Tennis Hall of Fame. They'll also enjoy walking Newport 's famous Cliffwalk or flying a kite at Brenton Point Park. In nearby Portsmouth, Green Animals Topiary Gardens features 80 trees and shrubs sculpted into geometrical forms and animal shapes - everything from a giraffe to a teddy bear!
Treat youngsters - and yourself-to a tour of Casey Farm (c. 1750) in Saunderstown or Coggeshall Farm (c. 1790) in Bristol, two authentic historical working farms. Both feature livestock and tours of historic farm buildings; Casey Farm was the site of Revolutionary War activity. To learn even more about rural life in the 18th and 19th centuries, visit South County Museum in Narragansett.
Watch Hill, a resort enclave in Westerly, is home to the Flying Horse Carousel, believed to be the nation's oldest (c. 1867). Two fine examples of carousels by Charles I.D. Looff can be found at Slater Park Carousel in Pawtucket and Crescent Park Carousel in East Providence. The Slater Park Carousel (1894) is said to be the fastest of the Looff carousels, while Crescent Park Carousel (1895) is considered a museum of Looff 's work.