We begin heading up Route 1 via route 78 from either Connecticut or Massachusetts. Instead of starting your day at the beach, think about making your first stop at the KettlePond Visitor Center in Charlestown. To get there you need to swing over to Route 1 south and up Bend Road. This is a Wildlife Refuge and Nature Center that is a part of the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge. The Center is free and is complete with hands-on environmental exposition, children's activities and nature walks. In addition, there is a neat activity center near the main desk and to enrich your trip and education, be sure to do either the indoor or outdoor scavenger hunt.
After your outdoor exploration, you may need some food and refreshment. My newest discovery is Java Madness. They offer coffee, espresso and teas along with fresh baked goods and lovely sandwiches. They are open for breakfast and lunch and even offer a unique space for artists and musicians to showcase their talents. You can find then up Route 1 North on Salt Pond Road in Wakefield, RI in the Stone Cove Marina. We love the gorgeous indoor and outdoor patio with viewfinders as well an area with books and games to keep the kids occupied.
You are probably ready for the beach now and one of our favorites is Captain Roger Wheeler State Beach which the locals often refer to as Sand Hill Cove Beach. This beach is very popular with families, especially those with young children because it is fully-protected by breakwater. In turn, you do not have large waves and undertow. Your teens may be disappointed if they want to surf but then again, they can swim out rather far and explore for crabs near the rock walls.