Discover the 12 best things to do in Providence, Rhode Island, and explore the city's rich history, cultural attractions, and natural beauty. Find out the top activities, restaurants, and events to make the most of your visit.
Providence, Rhode Island, is a charming city that offers a delightful blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. As the capital of Rhode Island, Providence boasts a fascinating history that dates back to the 17th century, making it one of the oldest cities in the United States. Whether you're a history enthusiast, a foodie, or a nature lover, Providence has something to offer everyone. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the 12 best things to do in Providence, Rhode Island, ensuring you have a memorable and enjoyable experience during your visit.
12 Best Things to do in Providence, Rhode Island
1. Explore the Rhode Island State House
The Rhode Island State House is a stunning architectural masterpiece and a must-visit attraction in Providence. Completed in 1904, the State House features a neoclassical design with a magnificent dome made of white Georgia marble, which is the fourth-largest self-supporting dome in the world. Take a guided tour to learn about the state's political history and admire the grandeur of this iconic building.
2. Wander through Waterplace Park
Waterplace Park is a picturesque urban park located along the Providence River. Stroll along the scenic riverwalk, where you can enjoy the serenity of the water and the beautiful cityscape. The park is also famous for its WaterFire events, where bonfires are lit on the river, creating a mesmerizing and romantic atmosphere. Check the event schedule to catch this captivating spectacle.
3. Visit the Roger Williams Park Zoo
For an exciting and family-friendly day out, head to the Roger Williams Park Zoo. Spread over 40 acres, this zoo is home to over 100 species of animals from around the world. Get up close with elephants, giraffes, and penguins, and learn about wildlife conservation efforts. The zoo also offers a picturesque carousel and a newly renovated Hasbro's Big Backyard, ensuring a fun-filled experience for visitors of all ages.
4. Discover the RISD Museum
Art enthusiasts will appreciate a visit to the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum. With an extensive collection spanning over 100,000 artworks, the museum showcases a diverse range of pieces from ancient civilizations to contemporary artists. Marvel at stunning paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and textiles as you immerse yourself in the world of creativity and expression.
5. Tour the John Brown House Museum
Step back in time by visiting the John Brown House Museum, a historic mansion that offers insight into Providence's colonial past. Built-in 1788, this Georgian-style house was once the home of John Brown, a prominent businessman and abolitionist. Take a guided tour to learn about the lifestyle of the Brown family and the significance of their contributions to American history.
6. Dine at Federal Hill
Providence's Federal Hill neighborhood is known as the city's “Little Italy.” Embark on a culinary adventure as you explore the numerous Italian restaurants, bakeries, and cafes lining the streets. Indulge in mouthwatering pasta dishes, authentic pizza, and delectable pastries. Don't forget to savor the flavors of gelato for a perfect ending to your meal.
7. Take a Gondola Ride on the River
For a unique and romantic experience, take a gondola ride on the Providence River. Glide along the water in a traditional Venetian gondola while enjoying breathtaking views of the city's skyline and landmarks. This serene and enchanting journey is a perfect way to create cherished memories with your loved one.
8. Visit the Providence Children's Museum
Families with young children will love spending time at the Providence Children's Museum. This interactive museum offers a wide range of hands-on exhibits and activities that encourage learning through play. Kids can engage in imaginative play, experiment with water, create art, and even climb a multi-story climbing structure.
9. Explore Benefit Street Mile of History
Benefit Street is a historic district that stretches for a mile and boasts an incredible collection of well-preserved 18th and 19th-century houses. Take a leisurely stroll down this cobblestone street, and you'll feel as if you've stepped back in time. Don't miss the John Brown House and the Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum, both architectural gems with fascinating histories.
10. Experience the Culinary Scene on Westminster Street
Westminster Street is the heart of Providence's vibrant culinary scene. The street is lined with an array of restaurants, cafes, and bars, each offering its own unique flavors and ambiance. From innovative farm-to-table cuisine to trendy food trucks, there's something to satisfy every palate. Make sure to try the local favorites and discover new culinary delights.
11. Attend a Show at the Providence Performing Arts Center
The Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) is a historic theater that hosts a variety of Broadway shows, concerts, and performances. Check the event schedule before your visit, and if you're lucky, you might catch a world-class production during your stay. The ornate interior of the theater adds to the overall magical experience.
12. Enjoy Nature at India Point Park
India Point Park is a scenic waterfront park offering a peaceful escape from the city's hustle and bustle. Take a relaxing walk along the walking trails, have a picnic with friends, or simply bask in the tranquility of the riverfront. The park also provides stunning views of the Seekonk River and the city's skyline.
What are the must-visit places in Providence, Rhode Island?
- The Rhode Island State House
- Waterplace Park
- Roger Williams Park Zoo
- RISD Museum
- John Brown House Museum
- Federal Hill
Is WaterFire a regular event in Providence?
Yes, WaterFire is a regular event that takes place in Providence. It usually occurs on select evenings during the warmer months and is a unique and captivating experience for both locals and visitors.
Are there any other cultural attractions in Providence?
Absolutely! Providence offers a rich cultural scene with various museums, art galleries, and theaters. Apart from the RISD Museum, you can also explore the Providence Art Club, the Providence Performing Arts Center, and the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium.
What are the best dining options in Providence?
Providence is a haven for food lovers, and Federal Hill is a must-visit neighborhood for delicious Italian cuisine. Other notable dining spots include restaurants on Westminster Street and the eclectic food trucks scattered around the city.
How can I get around Providence?
Providence is a walkable city, and you can easily explore many attractions on foot. Additionally, there are buses and trolleys available for convenient transportation within the city.
When is the best time to visit Providence?
Providence is lovely year-round, but the best time to visit is during the spring and fall when the weather is pleasant and there are various festivals and events happening.
Is India Point Park suitable for families with children?
Yes, India Point Park is a family-friendly destination with ample space for kids to play and explore. It's an excellent spot for a family picnic and offers beautiful views of the waterfront.
Providence, Rhode Island, is a city that exudes charm and offers a plethora of engaging activities for visitors of all ages. From historical landmarks to vibrant neighborhoods and serene parks, Providence has it all. Whether you're captivated by the city's rich history, its cultural offerings, or its picturesque riverfront, you're sure to have an unforgettable experience exploring the 12 best things to do in Providence, Rhode Island. So, pack your bags and embark on an adventure to this delightful city that seamlessly blends the past and the present.