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Providence is Family Friendly this Spring

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Providence, Rhode Island, known locally as "The Creative Capital" for its innovative culture, diverse culinary palate, arts scene and deep history, also happens to be a good town for children. The Rhode Island School of Design Museum, for one, recently presented a special themed, interactive tour for tots, with read-aloud story time and gallery activities designed to introduce small children to big ideas in art.

The Providence Children's Museum presents hands-on exhibit areas and lively programs designed for children ages 1 to 11 that explore the arts, culture, history and science. The museum offers exhibits and programs that are based on the developmental needs of children and embrace a wide range of learning styles and forms of expression. Through May, the museum has a full slate of hands-on events aimed at helping children learn and grow on their visit. Some recurring events include:

* Toddler Try-It: Young children, ages 18 months to 3 years, delve into different hands-on art and science activities each Friday morning.

* Splash Science: A series exploring the playful properties of water in many different forms.

*Play and Learn: An open-ended story-based program especially for 2-to-4-year olds and their parents, designed to help preschoolers build their skills in a variety of areas and to help parents continue the learning at home.

Roger Williams Park Zoo has a new Outback Trail (Australasia), a walk-through exhibit where guests enter a rustic cabin and cross a moat and hop along a trail to get an up-close and personal look at kangaroos and wallabies. The zoo offers Harbor Seal and Giraffe feeding programs for kids ages 5 and over, starting at $20 per participant. Admission is $14.95 for adults, $9.95 for children ages 3-12, $12.95 for seniors aged 62+ and children under 3 as well as zoo members get in free. For more information, go to www.rwpzoo.org.

A number of Providence hotels are offering spring packages for families coming to town. They include Monkeying Around at the Zoo from the Hampton Inn & Suites Providence Downtown, which presents two adult and two children's tickets to Roger Williams Zoo, a $75 gift certificate to the Cheesecake Factory, complimentary in-room movie and popcorn bucket with snacks and soda, valet parking for one car and free hot breakfast buffet. The package starts at $284 per room (up to four guests per room) per night. For reservations, call 401-608-3500 or go to hamptoninn3.hilton.com/en/hotels/rhode-island/hampton-inn-and-suites-providence-downtown-PVDWYHX/index.html.

Providence Marriott Downtown's family package starts at $164 per room (up to four guests per room) per night and includes overnight accommodations, breakfast for two adults and up to three children sharing your room, one 12-inch pizza with one topping delivered to your room, one in-room movie per night and complimentary parking. Reserve at 401-272-2400 or www.marriott.com/hotels/hotel-deals/pvdri-providence-marriott-downtown/.

The Family Getaway Package of Omni Providence starts at $207.50 per room (up to four guests per room) per night, and includes accommodations, welcome fruit plate upon arrival, Omni Sensational Kids backpack filled with fun items, milk and cookies delivered on the first night, and credit of $50 on a one-to-three-night stay and $100 on a four-or-more-night stay. The credit is for additional spending on the property. Call 401-598-8000 or go to www.omnihotels.com/providence.

Hotel Providence offers Explore Providence! Shuttle Bus Package, starting at $349 per night based on double occupancy and includes accommodations in a suite with king bed and separate sitting room with pull-out sofabed, Rhode Island-themed amenity upon arrival, pre-tour breakfast for two in Aspire Seasonal Kitchen (free for children under 18 staying in the same room), two tickets for the Experience Rhode Island shuttle bus tour of Providence, overnight parking and wireless Internet. For reservations, call 800-861-8990 or go to www.hotelprovidence.com.

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