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Best things to do in R.I. this week: Nov. 25-Dec. 2

This week, Rhody, we’ve got Santa with paddling reindeer, with wild animals, and on WaterFire. We’ve got holiday markets, ice skating dance parties and hot chocolate bars.

The holiday lights in Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence.Courtesy of the Roger Williams Park Zoo

Once the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade ends, it’s officially holiday season. Fact. This week, Rhody, we’ve got Santa with paddling reindeer, with wild animals, and at WaterFire. We’ve got holiday markets, ice skating dance parties and hot chocolate bars. Let’s deck the halls.


You have all month to circle for parking, forge your way through crowds and wait in line while the guy in front complains to the manager. On “Black Friday” escape from the crowds into what I like to call “Green Friday.” Rhode Island’s got some stunning trails for peaceful post-Thanksgiving walks.

  • Weetamoo Woods and Pardon Gray Preserve in Tiverton offers some 9 miles of mostly flat, well-marked, color-coded trails that slice through forest and meadow, past farmland, and over streams. Throughout the 650-plus acres, which date to King Philip’s War, you may see historic stone walls, a wooden footbridge, historic sawmill remains, an old stone-arched bridge, ancient outcrops of rock, and a babbling brook.
  • Up in Foster, try Jerimoth Hill. You can find solitude along the roads and trails of Buck Hill Management Area, Burrillville, or Arcadia Wildlife Management Area, which spans the southern part of the state. Information on those three here.
  • There’s a nature preserve just a few miles outside of Providence: The Nature Conservancy opened the Moshassuck River Preserve last year with 3 miles of blazed trails that loop through hardwood forests, around glacial boulders, and crisscross small streams feeding into the river. Since the 1990s, this 210-acre parcel has been left wild and open. It’s a peaceful place to contemplate gratitude. More here.
  • For more info on local state parks, see our guide here. #GreenFriday


Bristol’s stately Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum — a 45-room Country Place Era mansion sitting on a 33-acre estate by Narragansett Bay – also houses rare and unusual plants, trees, greenhouse, and stonework. This is all to say it should look pretty darn good lit up. They kick off Night Lights Nov. 25. “Beautifully lit paths throughout the grounds” feature custom light displays and handmade bamboo ornaments. Stroll the grounds and warm up with a hot cider, hot chocolate, coffee, or “hot drinks with a kick” via RI Cruisin’ Cocktails. 101 Ferry Road. Prices vary per carload, details here.

Tired: chestnuts roasting on an open fire. Wired: Marshmallows toasting on a mansion lawn. On Nov. 26, Blithewold offers fire pits to get cozy and toast s’mores with your crew. They’ll “provide chairs, s’mores kits, a well-stocked state-of-the-art low-smoke fire pit, and a spectacular view of wintry Narragansett Bay. All you need to do is gather five friends, six marshmallow-roasting sticks, and one reservation. While you’re there take a hike around the grounds,” according to event billing. Don’t mind if I do. $55 per group. Details here.



Shop local at The Providence Flea Holiday Market running both Fridays and Sundays starting Nov. 25. Aside from the artists, artisans, makers, bakers, plants and florals, vintage vendors, food items, food trucks, find “Sip ‘n Shop Local.” That means handcrafted cocktails on Friday nights with another visit from RI Cruisin’ Cocktails vintage camper outdoors. Plus coffees, brews and cocktails Fridays and Sundays indoors via New Harvest Coffee & Spirits and Providence Brewery. #DrinkLocal. 10 Sims Ave., Providence. Fridays 5–9 p.m. Sundays 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Details here and here.



Roger Williams Park Zoo’s Holiday Lights Spectacular kicks off Nov. 25. But if you’ve been good this year, you might want to go Dec. 1 to meet the Big Guy himself. Yup, Santa will be hanging with wild animals instead of reindeer on Thursdays this December. Just BYO camera. #SantaThursdays. Dec. 1, 5-7 p.m. Free with that night’s Holiday Lights ticket for 5 or 6 pm timeslots. First-come, first-serve basis. Details here.

As for the non-Santa days? Think “festive, larger-than-life dazzling displays” made of some 3.5 million lights. “Bundle up, grab an adult beverage, hot chocolate, or roast some s’mores and stroll through 40 acres of illuminated pathways,” according to the billing. Trail open nightly through Jan. 1 (closed Christmas Eve/Day), 5–9:30 p.m. Tickets sold online only. Adults $12, kids 2-12, $10; babies 1 and under free. Details here.


Shop small in the smallest state. Nov. 26 is #SmallBusinessSaturday, and we’ve rounded up some gems from all over Rhody. See our guide here.



The Chanler at Cliff Walk opens its Hot Chocolate Bar Nov. 26 and it’s what I imagine the hot chocolate on the Polar Express tastes like. Sure, strolling the Cliff Walk is cool — but strolling it with an artisanal cup of Dark Valrhona hot chocolate just hits different. If you want a kick, try a spiked dark hot chocolate with Tuaca and Grand Marnier, or a milk chocolate with Irish Cream and vanilla vodka. #HolidaySpirits Weekends 1-4 p.m. through Dec. 18. 117 Memorial Boulevard, Newport. Details here.


We’re officially in holiday mode, and Trinity Rep has just the classic: “A Christmas Carol,” Dickens’ timeless holiday tale, with Ebenezer, Tiny Tim & crew is on now through Jan. 1. From $25. 201 Washington St., Providence. 401-351-4242. Details here.


We’re looking at three consecutive WaterFires: Dec. 1-3 from 3:30 to 9 p.m. Each features Holiday ArtMart vendors and food trucks offering seasonal treats. The Avenue Concept will “create a nighttime public art gallery with illumination, sound and cultural experiences, offering different ways to interact with mural and sculpture exhibits throughout Downtown,” according to event billing.

Meanwhile, FirstWorks presents ice skating troupe Le Patin Libre (French for “Free Skate”) on Dec. 1. The Montreal-based skating company performs three 30-minute shows — at 6, 7 and 8 p.m., followed by a free, ice-skating dance party, open to all. No tickets are required. Details here.


We’re getting into next week here, but Santa’s Village opens Dec. 3 at 4:30 p.m. and Santa will arrive by boat during the lighting at 5:30 p.m. #BecauseOceanState. Details here.


In North Kingstown, the seaside village of Wickford celebrates its 37th annual Festival of Lights from Dec. 1 to 4. Again, this stretches into next week, but for this week: Santa makes an appearance as the tree is lit in Updike Park Dec. 1 at 6 p.m. — expect hot cocoa.

On Dec. 2, he makes his official arrival with flair at 6 p.m. — arriving by boat to the town dock on Brown Street, “led by the paddling ‘reindeer’ of the Kayak Centre.” Visits and photo opps, $10 per family. Details here.


Tiverton Four Corners will be decked for the season Dec. 2 with the annual Holiday Bright Night, which looks to be a spirited stroll through the historic corner’s quaint shops and galleries. (4-7 p.m.) Meanwhile, their 9th Annual re-Tree Art Contest & Community Exhibition — a festive showcase of trees created with recycled or repurposed materials — kicks off the same day and gives you a chance to play judge: Artist-submitted trees, made of recycled and repurposed materials, will be scattered throughout the Four Corners area. Popular vote winner announced Dec. 16. Details here.

Until next week, Rhody: keep rockin.’

Lauren Daley can be reached at ldaley33@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @laurendaley1.