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Favorite Family Playcation Ideas

Those of us who spend our summers in South County have access to amazing beaches, picturesque Galilee, fresh seafood and so much more. While it’s great to spend vacation here, there are some other nearby places that are fun to visit too.

Many of us living in Narragansett, particularly during the summer months, admit to feeling a little spoiled because we have so many wonderful beaches, parks and popular landmark spots like the seawall at our disposal 24/7.

Even on gloomy, rainy days you can take the family to get chowder and clam cakes and find a peaceful spot in Galilee to watch the fishing boats come and go.  In addition, we are also fortunate to have lots of fun and interesting places to visit that are within in a reasonable driving distance both in state and out. 

With summer now cruising towards the end of July, members of our Gansett Mom’s Council shared some of their family’s favorite playcation spots that they will be visiting before the kids head back to, dare we say it this early, school!

Little Compton is always on Jan Smith’s summer itinerary.  She and her sister’s family rent an 18th century colonial home near Sakonnet Point which she says boasts a panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean. 

“We’ve been renting a home for two weeks in August for the past five years. To us, Little Compton has a very colonial and rural feel so it’s as if we’ve stepped into another century — one that isn’t as busy and overwhelming as the life we normally lead.  The kids love it because they go horseback riding, hang out at Goosewing Beach, shop downtown and stay up late roasting marshmallows in the fire pit we light every night in the huge backyard. It’s also close by to the Sakonnet Wineries, which my sister and I visit several times during our stay!”

Jan also shared a little interesting tidbit about Little Compton. 

“It’s the only place in the United States that has a monument in tribute to a chicken – the Rhode Island Red, originally bred in Adamsville, a part of Little Compton.” 

Although Jan’s family spends a full two weeks in Little Compton, she highly recommends taking a leisurely afternoon drive over to just explore the town and enjoy the beautiful scenery. 

“I hope other people will feel transported back in time like we do when we visit,” she adds.

Canobie Lake Amusement and Water Park in Salem, NH is one of the Butler family’s favorite places to visit during the summer, and as a matter of fact, we will be heading there next week for a few days. There are more than 85 rides, including thrill rides, roller coasters, water rides and plenty of family and kid rides, not to mention a great water park, live entertainment, fun arcades and games, and food and treats.

It’s located right on beautiful Canobie Lake, and there are plenty of area hotels if you want to spend a few days like we do, but it’s also a great day trip – only about 90 minutes from Providence. It costs $23 to $32 for admission. It's open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. in July and August.

One of the hottest and most talked about spots by several of our council members is Coco Key Hotel and Water Resort in Danvers, MA. There are seven of these indoor water parks in the country and families just rave about the time they spend there. It’s more than 65,000 sq. ft. of thrilling rides and water activities set in a tropical island setting where the temperature is always a balmy 84 degrees.  Day passes are available for $32, or packages that include a stay in their hotel are also popular.

Lauren Dyer shares some of her family’s preferred choices for summer play time, but they are all here in our own Narragansett backyard

“We like to get food at Iggy's and then go over to the rocks near George's and eat our chowdah, clam cakes and doughboys there and watch the boats and the Block Island Ferry go by, and the people watching is great too! We also like to take dinner to the beach and eat it there and just hang out until it gets darker, especially with a group of friends.  It’s like a summertime dinner party to us, without any fancy dinner wear or dressing up - and hardly any clean up, either.  And one of our favorite things we love to do is outdoor movie night where we show a movie on a friend’s house with a projector.  It’s so much fun for so many!” 

Nicole Zelenak hopes you’ll check out Dinosaur Park in Connecticut. 

“If you don't mind the drive it's a really fun day. There is a giant splash pad, and a trail with life size dinosaurs and fun facts along the way.  There is also a live volcano that goes off every hour and a maze  that ends with walking through a dinosaur head and sliding down to the bottom.  There is food and ice cream and a very nice playground.  We usually go twice a year and would go more if it was closer.”

It's just $6 for anyone older than 13, and $2 for kids ages 6 to 12.

Ben & Jerry’s in Waterbury, VT was another enjoyable trip for the Butler clan last summer.  Did you know that each American consumes a yearly average of 46.4 pints of ice cream?  When you take the 30-minute tour at Ben & Jerry’s you’ll learn interesting facts like that. 

For only $3 per adult, and kids 12 and under free, you can visit the factory located in the beautiful green mountains and learn about the production process of this popular ice cream. The tour starts in the Cow Over the Moon theatre with a company history moo-vie! 

You’ll learn how two childhood friends, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, started their successful business.  You’ll then take a walking tour (handicapped accessible and stroller friendly) to their glassed-in mezzanine, where you’ll see up close and personal how their ice cream is produced, and then you’ll end up in the flavor room where you can sample the flavor of the day. 

This is realistically more of an overnight trip, but if you combine it with another spot in the mountains, it really does make for a great little playcation getaway!

The Essex Steam Train & Riverboat in Essex, CT is the destination that Keri Reed looks forward to every summer with her husband and kids.

“The tickets are $25 per person but we find it well worth it. The kids love it and my husband and I have gone alone and just enjoyed the dinner train.”

The website states that it’s about a two-and-half hour journey that begins at the historic 1892 Essex Station for a 12-mile, narrated round-trip into the heart of the unspoiled Connecticut River Valley.

The steam locomotive pulls vintage coaches at 20 miles per hour through the quaint New England towns of Deep River and Chester.

Keri and her husband are planning to try the mystery murder train dinner held on the Meriden dining car.  It's a western spoof called Dead-End Rodeo: The Buckin' Stops Here. In addition the train hosts special events, such as a circus on July 23 and 24, and July 30 and 31. The North Pole Express begins in November.

Whether you decide to stay put in our great seaside community all summer or decide to venture out and visit one of the fun suggestions that we just mentioned, we hope you’ll perhaps give one new place a try with your family before those school bells start to ring in late August.

Do you and your family have a favorite playcation spot that you visit every summer?  Please let us know in the comment section.  Also, if you would like to join our Mom’s Council or have a question you’d like answered in a future column, we’d love to hear from you. Please e-mail me at CB091987@aol.com or to our editor, Stephen Greenwell at Stephen.Greenwell@patch.com

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Stephen Greenwell July 21, 2011 at 10:21 PM
I will add my own selection to this list - Clark's Trading Post in New Hampshire. They have bears! And the bears eat ice cream! That was always my favorite part as a kid, along with screaming, at the Wolfman. - http://www.clarkstradingpost.com/
Cheryl Butler July 22, 2011 at 01:27 AM
Oh, Steve......you are so right! We have gone a couple of times and the screaming wolfman is a howl!!!!!!!!!!
Donna Sweet August 03, 2011 at 12:05 PM
I will add my summer favorite. Take the Jamestown Ferry to Rose Island for a great beach combing day on Narragansett Bay!
Cheryl Butler August 03, 2011 at 02:36 PM
Oh,Donna--that sounds great! Thanks for sharing and hope your summer is going well! :)

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