Well, we’ve officially reached the point where winter feels like it’s 18 months long. If you don’t ski — or your wallet cringes at the price-tag — you’re likely at the hair-pulling stage in the saga of kids vs. cabin fever. Parents, we’ve got you. From ice castles in New Hampshire to ice bumper cars in Rhode Island, we found New England family fun without ski mountain prices.
ICE IS NICE
Ice bumper cars? Um, yes, please. Kids — and kids at heart — will want to beeline to Providence, R.I.’s outdoor BankNewport City Center rink, for a winter-version of bumper cars. It’s too warm for ponds to freeze, but you can still skate outdoors at the rink from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tots might use penguin or snowman skate aids to steady little skates. Check online for times/dates/details: theprovidencerink.com. Admission: $7 adults; $4 kids. Book bumper cars online, $12 . Through mid-March. 2 Kennedy Plaza. 401-680-7390.
While you’re there, you might check out the Providence Children’s Museum, where kids can explore ice, mist, and water in their Water Ways exhibit, climb up a two-story maze, explore the garden, and more. www.childrenmuseum.org. 100 South St. 401-273-5437.
Ice skate by the ocean and nestle inside heated igloos on Goat Island, in Newport, R.I. — no ferry ride needed. Gurney’s Newport boasts a rink by the sea, open through March 1. Apres skating, fuel up at the Lounge & Firepit, where the menu might include clam chowder, wings, roasted turkey sandwiches, or truffle fries. Cozy up in a heated igloo overlooking Narragansett Bay. Mom and dad might warm up with a themed-cocktail; kiddos can go for hot chocolate. To reserve an igloo, or check rink status: 401-851-3325. Limited availability Friday and Saturdays. 1 Goat Island, Newport. 401-849-2600. www.gurneysresorts.com/newport
FOR YOUR 'FROZEN’ FANS
Ice Castles. They’re real. And they’re amazing. (Just take a look.)
There are a few Ice Castles around the country — the only New England castles are in North Woodstock, N.H. According to the website, the colorful frozen kingdoms are built using hundreds of thousands of icicles hand-placed by professional ice artists, along with LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains, and more. 24 Clark Farm Road, North Woodstock, N.H.; 866-435-2850; www.icecastles.com. Adults from $16.99; kids age 4-11 from $11.99. Dates/times vary; the best way to know they’re open is to reserve tickets in advance.
New England is packed with so many hiking trails and steep mountains, it can be hard to know where to start. A tip: if you’re looking for an exceptionally kid-friendly and pup-friendly hike — gentle terrain, no hills — just an hour from Boston, head south to Weetamoo Woods and Pardon Gray Preserve in Tiverton, R.I.
Some nine miles of well-marked, color-coded interweaving trails slice through forest, meadow, and farmland, and over streams, and let you essentially create a hike as short or long as you want. Kids are apt to see horses, historic stone walls, a wooden footbridge, historic sawmill remains, an old stone-arched bridge. Various trailheads: East Road, Lake Road, Lafayette Road, Tiverton, R.I.
Another kid and dog-friendly hike is the gentle half-mile or so Pitcher Mountain Trail near picturesque Stoddard, N.H. Find these and more trails by state at alltrails.com
TOO COLD OUT? LEGOS
Make it a staycation at The Row Hotel at Assembly Row. The hotel’s Family Fun Package includes a Lego-themed welcome treat, heated pool, discounted tickets to Legoland Discovery Center in Somerville, Assembly Row deals and more. The hotel also offers Lego Character Breakfasts on select days through March 1, according to their website. Snap pics with characters, and go nuts at the do-it-yourself pancake/waffle bar. 360 Foley St. 617-628-1300. www.marriott.com/hotels
Lauren Daley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She tweets @laurendaley1.
Lauren Daley can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurendaley1.