Remember when I went to Rhode Island with my family for Christmas and I said I was going to write a blog post about all the places I recommend there? Not really? Me neither. I think if I have real aspirations of being a travel blogger (which I’m not sure that I do), I have to blog the trips in real time. Otherwise I’ll be like “and then we went to… that place… with… the thing… and yeah— you should go!”
I’m going to try my best anyway because Rhode Island is probably not a place most people think of as a destination spot, but maybe they should. For my fellow New Yorkers, it’s really close, family-friendly and makes for the perfect long weekend road trip. You can even stop at the Mystic Aquarium as your mid-trip rest stop which has three Beluga Whales who would be very happy to see you.
Just don’t ask me where to stay, because I stayed at my dad’s house in Newport, my friend’s apartment in Providence and my friend’s house in Westerly. We are Rhode Island house crashers.
But I can recommend a few things to do once you get there…
You want to know how rich people live? They live on the water. In mansions. HUGE HUGE MANSIONS.
Cliff walk is free, open to the public and let’s you stroll down a little trail along the RI coastline next to some of the most beautiful houses you have ever seen. We’re talking Vanderbilt’s house to your right and surfers on the left. Even in the dead of winter.
My kids thought every house was a castle and I had to break the news to them that we will never live in one.
Thankfully, Mazzy and I agreed that living in a house that big could get kind of lonely and Mazzy said she likes living in our small apartment where she always knows where to find us.
The Duck and Bunny
The Duck and Bunny is in Providence, about a 40 minute drive from Newport. There is an item on the menu called “The Mazzy Star”. It is a crepe with mushrooms, fontina cheese, rosemary and truffle oil and it is delicious.
Now, you might think “The Mazzy Star” is named after an alternative band from the mid-nineties, but you would be mistaken. The dish is named after my daughter and the owners are two of my closest friends. I also know “The Chubby Ella” (Nutella and bananas), “The Distinguished Lincoln” (Black Forest Ham, Gruyere and carmelized mustard) and “The Sweet Baby James” (Strawberry & Sweet Vanilla Mascarpone).
You see, five years ago, when all my NYC college friends started having kids, Jessica and Dan Becker decided kids and NYC were no longer for them, picked up their lives and moved to Providence to open up The Duck and Bunny. Then they named all the dishes after the babies of their friends that they had left behind.
In addition to crepes and a full tea service (including a kid’s after school tea), the Duck and Bunny serves some of the best cupcakes you have ever eaten in your life.
Here is Harlow staring down a chocolate peanut butter cupcake.
Another fun fact about the Duck and Bunny? All the art work inside are well-known masterpieces with ducks and/or bunnies replacing the subjects of the paintings.
And, since my friend Jessica is an interior designer, the entire space is a labor of love. The fanciful tea shop she has wanted to open since she was little girl, with a little edge supplied by her husband Dan.
Providence Children’s Museum
Every time I mentioned my trip to Providence, numerous people would chime in about how great the children’s museum is there. Okay, okay, I’ll check it out. STOP HOUNDING ME.
Well, they were right. Providence has one of the nicest children’s museums I’ve seen with a truly out of this world water room. Harlow and Mazzy made their home there for the better part of TWO HOURS.
By the time they discovered the funhouse mirrors…
the light bright wall…
the outdoor climbing structure, and OH MY GOD, THERE’S AN ENTIRE UPSTAIRS????
…it was time to leave.
Ogie’s Trailer Park
Okay, remember about a minute ago when you were reading about the Duck and Bunny? Well, Jess and Dan just opened a new place called Ogie’s Trailer Park. It’s more of a bar than a restaurant and one might think this means it’s not suitable for kids, but I beg to differ.
If you go there were it opens at 4pm, let your kids run around in the kitchy outdoor space, while you sip some old school cocktails and then come inside for food served out of a food truck facade, everyone will have a guaranteed good time.
Except maybe the childless people trying to have a relaxing drink at the bar.
You see Ogie’s serves what they call “Gourmet Comfort Food” which loosely translated means “kid food with expensive condiments”. Truffled tater tots, gruyere grilled cheese sandwiches, Dorito encrusted chicken, etc.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say you will find more than one thing your kids will eat here. Food service is going up to “Granny Boo’s Kitchen” window, placing your order and taking a license plate while you wait. The state of the license plate will be called out over a megaphone when your food is ready.
See? Fun AND educational.
Plus, the fabulous fifties decor gives the kids loads to look at during dinner.
Fun fact: Ogie is Jess and Dan’s cat and just like at the Duck and Bunny, you can find numerous well-known masterpieces with Ogie’s head hiding somewhere inside.
We did not go inside Fort Adams because it was closed, but Mazzy and Harlow had a ton of fun climbing the hills just outside of Fort Adams. Mike was able to offer them a little history and the hills made for some truly awesome pictures.
One other place I love in Rhode Island that I highly recommend in the summer is Watch Hill. It’s an adorable little town next to a beach full of rainbow umbrellas and home to Ocean House, one of the nicest hotels and spas in Rhode Island. My friends like to go there once a year for a spa day and a ridiculously fancy dinner (sans kids). It’s also right next door to Taylor Swift’s house, but I bet you need some sort of invite to go inside.
There are lots of other things to do in Rhode Island (the quaint town of Newport looked great for shopping but we didn’t have time to see it) and lots of people recommend touring the Newport mansions, but we didn’t think the kids would behave well enough to take them along.
A wise friend once said, “Don’t worry about doing everything on your trip. Always leave a reason to go back.”
We will be back.
Any readers from Rhode Island? What would you recommend doing there the next time?