Family Fun Summer Adventures in the East Bay

From beach concerts to exploring an outdoor Lego exhibit, make the most of the season’s last hurrah


The tastes, smells, and sounds of summertime are the stuff of lifelong memories, from lapping up a scoop of coffee ice cream before it topples off a cone to sleepy rides home from the beach in damp sandy bathing suits or staying up late to catch fireflies in pajamas. Though the season’s days will soon be numbered, there’s still plenty of activities around the East Bay to fill August with experiences sure to make you smile now and later.

Get everyone off their phones (except to take photos, of course) with a step back in time at Crescent Park. The scenic area in Riverside is home to the Crescent Park Carousel, a designated historic landmark built in 1895 by renowned carousel designer Charles I.D. Looff. While adults marvel at the hand-carved figures and chariots, ornate beveled mirrors, decorative panels, and embellishments, kids can reach for the elusive brass ring from their saddles while the carousel spins and music plays – a goal sure to bring a smile to even the most jaded youngsters.

Named after the carousel, The Looff Arts Festival takes place on August 12 from 12-6pm and bills itself as “a whirlwind of art, music, and life.” On the breezy lawn, explore a range of creative vendors in a variety of mediums selling their paintings, photography, ceramics, fiber, and more. A lively lineup of musical performances including School of Rock Seekonk provides an upbeat soundtrack.

Pack a blanket and picnic basket (or cash for food trucks) and head across the street from the carousel to Rose Larisa Park on August 27 from 12-6pm for the Rhode Island Folk Festival. Highlights include the opportunity to write a song with local music luminary Mark Cutler – to be performed later. Enjoy live performances by musicians of different genres, and even try singing at an open-mic style stage. A special Young Folk tent for kids will have music and arts and crafts. Hop a shuttle bus from the festival parking lot at 560 Bullocks Point Avenue (note: mask-wearing required), or take RIPTA Route 33 to Riverside.


Sample Scoops Across the State

Steamy August days call for ice cream, and Rhode Island Food Fights has you covered with its sixth annual search for the #BestScoopShopRI. A paid ticket is your passport for a free single scoop at 25 participating parlors across Little Rhody. At the end of the month, once you’ve tried as many scoop shops as possible, vote for your favorite. Will you sample the same flavor at each location or mix things up? This popular event sold out quickly last year, so be sure to get tickets early to get your licks in. Statewide,


Shop Fresh and Meet Growers in Barrington

Turn an errand into family meal planning with a trip to the
Barrington Farmers Market. Held select Thursdays (August 10 and 24) from 4-7pm, enjoy perusing colorful produce while connecting with nearby growers and neighbors – a great opportunity for kids of all ages to see where food comes from beyond the supermarket, and perhaps even try something new that looks more appealing in a basket than on a plate. Held rain or shine at St. John’s Episcopal Church,


Make Art for a Newport Auction

Get creative together at the splashy annual fundraiser Wet Paint² at Newport Art Museum. This year all artist submissions must be on square art boards – 12x12 for adults, 8x8 for children – available for free pick up at the museum. Each participant may submit up to two artworks in any medium and is encouraged to follow an outdoor “en plein air” theme. Submissions must be dropped off at the museum by August 9 for the silent auction (August 12 from 2-4pm) where 100 percent of sales benefit the museum. Art activities and music are part of the fun, and participants receive a year-long membership. Advance registration required.


Pick Berries in Middletown

There’s nothing more nostalgic than picking berries, and a great place to try your hand is Sweet Berry Farm. While their pick-your-own (PYO) season started in June with strawberries, don’t fret because it continues with summer raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries through mid-August, followed by peaches, fall raspberries, and apples toward the end of this month. Cool off after with a twist of soft serve or scoop of hard ice cream inside their cafe. Once refreshed, be inspired to bake something with your pickings with sundries from their market, or keep things simple with their signature prepared foods.


Stay at Easton’s Beach from Day to Dusk

Rinse off the sand and seaweed, slip on your flip-flops, and head up the steps to Easton’s Beach Snack Bar to order at the counter. The friendly staff is ready to serve up everything from clam chowder to kiddie faves like chicken tenders, but the must-get is an order of Twin Lobster Rolls. Mixed with just enough mayo and stuffed into two buttered toasted rolls with a side of fries – is there anything better than batting seagulls away while devouring this summer classic as the waves crash below? On weekends, you might even witness wedding photo sessions. For dessert, it’s got to be whipped-on-the-spot cotton candy that melts in your mouth.

To extend your day at the ocean, plan to be there for a Family Night Concert. These lively events have been happening all summer long on Tuesdays and there are two left this month: August 1 and August 8. Parking is free after 4pm on show nights and concerts begin at 6pm. If the weather looks iffy, call 401-845-5810 to confirm.

On Saturdays and Sundays (10am-4pm), there’s also still time to visit the Save The Bay Exploration Center and Aquarium before it relocates to America’s Cup Avenue in the fall. Housed in the rotunda, there are dozens of exhibits and three touch tanks ready to introduce visitors to sharks, jellies, turtles, seahorses, and more.


All Aboard for Whale Tales in Warren

Captain Jan Moniz started Warren River Company because she wanted more family-friendly activities in her town. Tours for four passengers are offered mornings at 9:30 and 11am where Moniz happily regales with hyper-local maritime lore and more. Cruises may run longer than their scheduled 50 minutes to accommodate curious sailors.


Enjoy a Sunset Concert and Picnic in Bristol

Pack the brood, a blanket or seating, and a portable dinner, and head to Blithewold for this concert series held Wednesdays on the lawn overlooking Narragansett Bay. Tickets are sold online only and priced by two- or four-passenger cars or “no car” (bikes, walkers, drop-offs). Check-in begins at 5pm for the 6-8pm concert.


Happy Dance to a Food Truck Dinner and Live Music in Barrington

Free and fun, the Barrington Summer Concert Series runs Sundays through August from 6-7:30pm. Local food truck Macs Screaming Corn and Tacos will be parked, with snacks under $10.


Get Artsy and Crafty at Cutler Mills

Arts organization The Collaborative hosts the Warren Folks Festival: a day of music, art, food, and fun on August 19 from 1-7pm. Held rain or shine at the backlot of 30 Cutler Street, look for the free (donations appreciated) kids craft tent, a recycle-a-bike tent, food from nearby restaurants, ice cream from Chelsea’s Creamery, and more.


Tunes and Cool Treats in Tiverton

Raposa Softball Field transforms on Friday nights from 6-8:30pm into the venue for the Tiverton Summer Concert Series. Del’s Lemonade and a rotation of food trucks are on hand while bands play on. Music acts range from country and rock to acoustic, reggae, and more with the final show welcoming ‘80s pop cover band 80 Proof.


Connect with Nature in Portsmouth

Green Animals Topiary Gardens, the lush country estate known for its fantastic sculptures in boxwood, privet, and yew, hosts the award-winning exhibition Nature Connects Made with LEGO® Bricks. New York artist Sean Kenney has assembled 14 sculptures from the colorful toys to illustrate that everything in nature is interconnected in a delicate balance. Enjoy roaming the gardens, which have over 80 topiaries, more than 35 formal flower beds, geometric pathways, arbors, fruit trees, and vegetable and herb gardens. 



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