Some years we have time and money for an out-of-state vacation. Some years we don’t, but that doesn’t mean we sit at home watching TV for our week of vacation. Oh no! We make our staycation feel like a vacation!
I’ve discovered a plethora of free or inexpensive family activities to enjoy for a Rhode Island Staycation. Today I’m sharing my plan for a frugal 5 day RI Staycation!
Day 1: Visit Roger Williams Park.
In the morning pack a picnic lunch and head to one of Rhode Island’s best kept secrets – Roger Williams Park. First stop on your itinerary is the RWP Natural History Museum. For $2 per person (children under 4 – FREE) you can roam the museum learning about rocks, animals, and the American space program. For an additional dollar per person you can enjoy the planetarium show.
Once you’ve seen all there is to see, head outside and select a spot on the rolling green lawn to spread your blanket and eat your PB & J picnic. The grassy areas of RWP are perfect to toss around a frisbee or football, fly a kite, or play bocce.
How you spend the rest of your afternoon will depend a great deal on your family. If you have small children I recommend the (free) playground and Carousel ($2 per person). If your children are too old for a playground then I recommend the RWP Botanical Center for $3 per person (under 12 yrs. – $2). Or you could just explore the pond and many paths through the park.
Day 2: Visit Downcity Providence.
I recommend you begin your day in Providence at the Roger Williams National Memorial. It’s Rhode Island’s only National Park AND it’s FREE. The visitor center is staffed by very knowledgeable and, in our experience, friendly park rangers who can answer all your Providence-related questions. While at the Memorial be sure to watch the video explaining Providence’s history and let your child pick up a Junior Ranger Booklet.
Just a short walk up the hill is the Rhode Island Statehouse which is also open to the public and free for self-guided tours. Follow the link to read a post I wrote after my family visited the Statehouse. You’ll also want to pick up a FREE copy of the Kid’s Rhode Island Statehouse Activity Booklet.
The lush lawn on the south side of the Statehouse just begs to be used for picnics and frisbee games. Anyone can use the lawn. You don’t need to ask for permission.
You might also experience Providence’s WaterFire. This is a festival of sorts with changing entertainers and activities located in Providence’s Waterplace Park and Riverwalk on select weekends during the summer. Admission is free though specific vendors may charge a fee for their activities and food.
Day 3: Visit the Beach.
Pack up your beach gear and head to a beach on Rhode Island 400+ miles of coastline. For a list of Rhode Island beaches visit here. Be aware that some beaches are free (Buttonwoods Beach) while others charge a fee (Scarborough Beach). Their facilities and surf also vary.
Day 4: Visit Beavertail Lighthouse.
Beavertail Lighthouse is one of my favorite locations in Rhode Island! As a working lighthouse you aren’t allowed up to the light but during the summer you can tour the small museum located in the old keeper’s quarters. The museum is free and full of fascinating artifacts.
Below the lighthouse are cliffs easily accessed for active families to climb and explore. My children love looking in the tide pools for fish, periwinkles, sea stars, and crabs. They also enjoy the hint of danger created by crashing waves and slippery rocks. My children have been climbing the rocks since they were toddlers so the danger isn’t that great (in some places).
If you explore the grassy fields north of the lighthouse you will discover abandoned World War II bunkers. It’s easy to imagine men standing guard over the entry way to Narrangansett Bay watching for enemy ships and submarines. If history relics don’t capture your attention the amazing ocean view definitely will!
Day 5: Visit the PawSox.
After 4 days of hiking, climbing, and swimming it’s time to sit and rest. There’s no better place for that than McCoy Stadium while watching the Pawtucket RedSox play baseball!! This is not a free activity, but, at $8 for adults and $5 for children, admission is fairly inexpensive.
Be sure to take your baseball glove to catch foul balls AND a jacket or blanket if attending a night game – even in summer. Oh! Don’t forget to purchase a dough boy from the snack bar. We prefer them with covered in powdered sugar.
There you have it — my plan for an inexpensive 5 day Rhode Island Staycation. I haven’t even scratched the surface of what Rhode Island offers families for fun and entertainment!!
To discover more great RI sites (though not all cheap) visit my Discover Rhode Island post.
What does your RI staycation look like?