Providence is the capital city of the smallest state in the United States, Rhode Island. Known for its inclusion and diversity, art, and historical importance, Providence is a great city to visit no matter what your interest is. The city is home to less than 180,000 people and provides a cozy, hometown feel.
There are so many fun things to do in Providence RI! From family fun to entertainment and nightlife, Providence is a popular travel destination for city lovers.
Providence is a beautiful city all year long, but the best time to visit is between June and November, for amazing weather. Providence has the most coffee and donut shops per capita than any other city, and is known for its dining experiences.
Also known for its inclusivity, the city has been named one of the “Best Lesbian Places to Live,” and it has a 75% higher rate of gay and lesbian relationships than the rest of the country.
Ready to learn more about this amazing city? Here are 13 things to do in Providence RI that you can’t miss!
The Rhode Island School of Design Museum is open everyday, except Mondays. Permanent exhibits include 18th and 19th-Century American Galleries, Ancient Egyptian Galleries, Ancient Greek and Roman Galleries, Asian Art Galleries, Decorative Arts and Design Galleries, European Galleries, and Modern and Contemporary Galleries. The museum has 2,201 works of art and design, dating from ancient times up through today, on display for public viewing. However, they have a total of 100,000 works of art and design with 82,716 of them online.
It is recommended to buy tickets online to reserve your date and time. The museum offers on-site guided visits, on-site self-guided visits, and virtual experiences.
The RISD Museum was founded in 1877 and “believes that art, artists, and the institutions that support them play pivotal roles in promoting broad civic engagement and creating more open societies.”
ROGER WILLIAMS PARK
Roger Williams Park sits on 435 acres and includes a Botanical Garden, a zoo, a Rose Maze, and the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium.
The Botanical Garden is New England’s largest glasshouse display garden and includes 40′ tall palms, carnivorous plants, 10′ cacti, and succulents. Their Rose Maze is in bloom from June through September.
The Museum of Natural History and Planetarium is open Friday through Monday, with Planetarium shows on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Roger Williams Park Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the country. They are open daily, and tickets are available online. The zoo is home to dozens of animals, including snakes, turtles, various species of birds, wallabies, wildebeest, zebras, wolves, giant anteaters, moon bears, cheetahs, and much more.
Roger Williams Park also has a bike park, ball fields, and tennis courts, boating, walking paths and trails, and a kids’ playground.
Federal Hill in Providence is a vibrant neighborhood known for its restaurants, shopping, and services. Dedicated to Italian immigrants and Italian-Americans, it’s no surprise that the area is known for its Italian restaurants. There are dozens of places to eat, including other varieties of food like American, Asian, Caribbean, Mexican, and Middle Eastern. You can also find bakeries and coffee shops.
Federal Hill also has shopping and other services, including wholesale, retail, markets, and salon services.
DePasquale Plaza is known as The Heart of “Little Italy” and here you can find a large central fountain surrounded by outdoor seating and colorfully-painted buildings. The plaza is a great people-watching spot to sit down and eat, but beware of the seagulls always ready to steal your food.
The WaterFire Arts Center is a production complex and multi-purpose arts venue. They have rotating exhibitions, so you can visit several times and see something new each time you’re there.
There is also a WaterFire lighting installation at one of the parks. The installation covers eighty braziers from Waterplace Park to Memorial/South Main Street Park on certain evenings. Lighting occurs shortly after sunset and the fires will remain lit until midnight, typically.
The Providence Athenaeum is a beautiful Greek Revival-style library is an independent, member-supported library and cultural center that is nearing 200 years old.
The library acts as a museum as well, with busts, paintings, prints, sculptures, an Egyptian cabinet, and endless shelves of books, of course. The athenaeum is even dog friendly with dog cookies available at the circulation desk.
The main library, Children’s Library, and downstairs Reading Room are open to the public, and you can book private tours to The Philbrick Rare Book Room. There are thousands of books in the athenaeum and they are broken down into categories that members have an interest in. These categories and collections consist of The Archives Collection, Founders Collection, Literature and Children’s Literature, Natural History, Travel and Exploration, Private Library, and Book Arts.
Ralph Waldo Emmerson, Edgar Allen Poe, and Sarah Helen Whitman have been among some of Athenaeum’s most famous members.
This historic landmark now goes by the name Trinity Repertory Company. The theatre was founded in 1963 and they feature world premiere, contemporary, and classic works.
The theatre sees over 120,000 people each year. There are always shows being played that you can check their website for.
PROVIDENCE CHILDREN’S MUSEUM
The Providence Children’s Museum is a great place for kids to learn, and have fun doing it! Among the exhibits at the museum are WaterWays, Children’s Garden, Coming to Rhode Island, Think Space, Innovation Lab, Littlewoods, Maker Studio, and Play Power.
Waterways teaches kids all about water and the forms it can take. Kids are encouraged to splish and splash throughout the exhibit, build fountains, float boats, and much more. The Children’s Garden has different things to do for different ages, from playing in tunnels to digging in a dinosaur pit. Also in the garden, you can sit by the fountains and eat lunch or just enjoy watching the children play while they learn more about plants and animals. Coming to Rhode Island, for ages 4 and up is an interactive history lesson all about Rhode Island, including its culture and diversity.
Think Space is for children 4 through 10 and teaches kids about shapes, spaces, puzzles, and other fun challenges. The Innovation Lab allows kids to play with real tools. Kids are encouraged to play and create in age-appropriate ways with things like hot glue guns, sewing machines, lasers, 3D printers, hammers, and nails.
Littlewoods is for infants up to 4 years old and includes a treehouse, slide, bear cave, and a fun magical forest theme. The Maker Studio changes weekly, but allows kids to experience science and nature and art experimentation. Play Power has kids playing with air tubes and constructing magnetic mazes.
PROVIDENCE RIVER BOAT COMPANY
Providence River Boat Company offers over 10 tour options to cruise the river and take in the stunning views of the city skyline. Tours include Narrated Daily Tours, Mother’s Day Mimosa Tours, Twilight River Cruises, Father’s Day Boat Tours, Gooseneck Vineyards Open-air Voyage, Providence Architecture Tour, Tour of Green Jacket Shoal, Haunted Boat Tours, WaterFire Providence, Partial WaterFire Boat Tours, and Private Tours.
Tours vary in length and location. There are so many tour options that there is surely something to satisfy everyone!
Located in downtown Providence at the base of the State Capitol Hill, Waterplace Park and Riverwalk offer a serene but vibrant hideaway from the city with gorgeous views of the water.
On sunny days, you can find street artists sketching the river, along with live music. There are art installations and other points of interest along the river.
You can find bakeries and restaurants located in the vicinity, where you can grab a takeaway and sit watching the calm water as you eat. The park also holds lots of festivals and other outdoor activities throughout the entire year.
From the park, you can also take a gondola ride through the canals which are very reminiscent of Venice, Italy.
BENEFIT STREET, “MILE OF HISTORY”
If you love history, you have to visit Benefit Street. The street, known as The Mile of History, is known for Colonial and Early Federal buildings, as well as later 19th- and 20th-century buildings.
Along Benefit Street, you can find the Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University, The RISD Museum, John Brown House, Stephen Hopkins House, Providence Athenæum, and the Barker Playhouse, several churches, and hundreds of single-family, multi-family homes, condominiums, and apartment buildings. The College Hill Historic District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
Providence Preservation Society’s self-guided walking tour is always available.A visit here is one of the best things to do in Providence RI.
Brown University was founded in 1764 and is a private Ivy League research university. Composed of The College, the Graduate School, Alpert Medical School, the School of Engineering, the School of Public Health, and the School of Professional Studies, it is one of the hardest schools in the country to get into.
Brown University is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. The main campus sits on College Hill, and is open for the public to walk around campus, as well as take guided tours.
Also open to the public is the Brown University Herbarium, which was founded in 1869. The Herbarium is home to more than 100,000 plant specimens, including specimens from all 50 U.S. states, western and southern North American plants, Cuban plants, plants from Mexico, and Carex.
Thayer Street is a popular spot for the college crowd as well as tourists. Here you can find shops, vintage clothing shops, bookstores, music shops, restaurants, cafes, bars, festivals, live music, and even outdoor films.
One of the most popular restaurants to dine at is East Side Pockets. East Side Pockets is a famous Middle Eastern restaurant that serves the very best Falafel gyros, wraps, baklava, grape leaves, salads, hummus, and tzatziki. Other popular places to eat are Den Den’s Korean Fried Chicken, Andrea’s, and Kung Fu Tea.
Built in 1828, The Arcade is known as America’s first shopping mall. Located in the center of downtown Providence, the mall has been updated and features 48 micro-loft apartments on the top two floors. On the first floor, you can find small retail businesses, local restaurants, a coffee shop/whiskey bar, casual dining, and several boutique retail shops.
Dining options include New Harvest Coffee & Spirits, Rogue Island Local Kitchen & Bar, Livi’s Pockets & Livi’s Burritos, And A Pizza History. Shopping options include Lovecraft Arts & Sciences Council and salon services include Impulse Hair Designs And Archangels Threading Spa.
RHODE ISLAND STATE HOUSE
Built between 1895 and 1904, the Rhode Island State House is a great place to visit. The building itself is made of Georgian marble, and it features one of the largest, self-supported marble domes in the United States.
Free and open to the public, you can take a self-guided tour on any weekday. During your self-guided tour, you can use the QR codes posted throughout the building to access the audio tour. They also have brochures available in the visitor center.
Docent-led guided tours are also available.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO RHODE ISLAND
- YOUR RHODE ISLAND VACATION
- NEWPORT: 13 Things To Do In Newport RI Everyone Will Love
- RI BEACHES: 16 Rhode Island Beaches Your Family Will Adore
WHERE TO STAY IN PROVIDENCE, RHODE ISLAND
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Located on the city's east end, Fox Point is one of the most eclectic neighborhoods in Providence! The highly-walkable area offers easy access to local entertainment and amenities, including the prestigious Brown University in College Hill.What is the trendy area of Providence? ›
Located on the city's east end, Fox Point is one of the most eclectic neighborhoods in Providence! The highly-walkable area offers easy access to local entertainment and amenities, including the prestigious Brown University in College Hill.What is Providence RI known for? ›
Providence was one of the first cities in the country to industrialize and became noted for its textile manufacturing and subsequent machine tool, jewelry, and silverware industries.What is the popular street in Providence? ›
Right in the heart of downtown Providence, Westminster is a charismatic, brick-lined metropolitan street bedecked in trees and string lights. SHOP: An historic district in and of itself, Westminster Street also lays claim to the Arcade — the nation's oldest indoor shopping mall.What is something unique you might see in Rhode Island? ›
The White Horse Tavern
The oldest still-operating tavern in the United States was once owned by a pirate.
1. Blackstone Boulevard, Providence. One of the best-known streets around, the Boulevard is home to some of the most diverse architecture in the state, from condos in brick buildings to Victorians with wraparound front porches to modern new construction.What are the sketchy areas of Providence? ›
- Smtih Hill.
- West End.
- Washington Park.
- South Elmwood.
With a thriving arts community, vibrant and diverse neighborhoods, outstanding hotels, a renowned restaurant scene, and so many things to do, Providence is the perfect place to visit.Is Providence a walkable city? ›
Providence has an average Walk Score of 76 with 178,042 residents.What town in Rhode Island has mansions? ›
The mansions of Newport are where Gilded Age splendor still resides. The mansions of Newport -- originally called "cottages" -- were built as summer homes in the 1850s to 1900 by wealthy tycoons of New York and Philadelphia.
Great Road dates back to 1683 as one of the earliest colonial roads, and portions of it are listed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Great Road Historic District.How do I spend a day in Rhode Island? ›
- The Breakers. 6,145. Speciality Museums. ...
- Cliff Walk. 5,546. Points of Interest & Landmarks • Historic Walking Areas. ...
- Ocean Drive. 2,983. Historic Walking Areas • Scenic Drives. ...
- The Elms. 1,887. ...
- Marble House. 1,771. ...
- Newport Mansions. 1,615. ...
- Mohegan Bluffs. 746. ...
- Rhode Island Bay Cruises. 878.
Rhode Island Clam Chowder
Expect potatoes, celery, onion and tons of freshly chopped quahogs.
Central Falls, Rhode Island Is One Of America's Most Walkable Small Towns, And There Are Delights Around Every Corner.What is the best area to stay in in Providence? ›
- Fox Point – A Pleasant Neighborhood in Providence, RI. ...
- Wayland – The Safest Providence Community. ...
- Blackstone – Most Wealthy Neighborhood in Providence. ...
- Downtown Providence – The Center Point of the City.
The 5 largest ethnic groups in Providence, RI are White (Non-Hispanic) (33.8%), White (Hispanic) (19.4%), Other (Hispanic) (16%), Black or African American (Non-Hispanic) (13.3%), and Asian (Non-Hispanic) (5.5%).Is it safe to walk around downtown Providence? ›
Downtown Providence is considered a safe, vibrant, walkable city. It hasn't been considered a place you have to be careful walking around in many years. That said, like any city if you're out late like after 11 pm and alone, you may be asking for trouble of course.Is it safe to walk around Providence at night? ›
Providence has some neighborhoods that should be avoided, especially at night. It is a city, so it's probably wise to lock your doors, be alert if you are walking alone, etc. However, overall, the violent crime is pretty low. According to wikipedia, violent crime here is average, but neighborhood specific.What is the most important thing in Rhode Island? ›
One of the most important landmarks Rhode Island is famous for is the Gilded Age mansion, The Breakers. The Breakers was built as a summer home for the Vanderbilt family. It was the largest building in Newport when it was built in the 1890s.What seafood is Rhode Island famous for? ›
Rhode Island is known for its quahogs and calamari, but it's renowned for a variety of local seafood from oysters and lobster to striped bass and tautog. We've put together some resources for buying and preparing local seafood, including videos on how to shuck oysters or dig your own clams.
Calamari; official state appetizer of Rhode Island.What is the best month to visit Providence RI? ›
The best time to visit Providence is between June and August and from September to November. Summer can be an expensive time to visit, with the year's highest hotel rates and lots of crowds. But the comfortable temperatures and full event calendar make it difficult to resist.Is Providence or Newport more fun? ›
Newport has a much greater wow factor with the cliff walk, mansions, ocean views etc along with several great restaurants. Providence offers some wonderful history, an enjoyable and compact downtown, good restaurants and some decent shopping. I'd choose one to stay in and visit the other as a day trip.Which is better Boston or Providence? ›
Surprisingly, considering its size, Boston is considered the safer city of the two. Boston's crime rate is 6% higher than the national average, whereas Providence has a crime rate that is 41% higher than the national average.How long is the Providence River walk? ›
Try this 2.4-mile out-and-back trail near Providence, Rhode Island. Generally considered an easy route, it takes an average of 42 min to complete.Is Providence a foodie town? ›
“Our data set ranges from cost of groceries to affordability and accessibility of high-quality restaurants to food festivals per capita,” writes WalletHub of its latest ranking. So where does Providence fall? In the top third, according to WalletHub — coming in at #50.Do you need a car in Providence? ›
If you're new to the area, you may be wondering if you need a car, considering the city is so compact. Getting around Providence without a car is entirely possible thanks to the small geographical size of the city, the public transportation available, and ride-sharing services.Where is Taylor Swift's house in RI? ›
Taylor Swift still tops the charts, both with her new album “Midnights” and with the record-setting 2013 purchase of her $17.75 million Rhode Island home at 16 Bluff Avenue, which is the highest price ever paid for a residential property in both Watch Hill and Washington County.What billionaire lives in Rhode Island? ›
|Born||Jonathan Milton Nelson 1956 Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.|
|Education||Brown University Harvard Business School|
|Occupation||Founder of Providence Equity Partners|
The sole Rhode Islander on the list was Jonathan Nelson (ranked 351), a 66-year-old resident of Providence and executive chairman of Providence Equity Partners, whose net worth topped $3.1 billion this year. Forbes reports that Nelson's net worth is up from $2 Billion in 2021.
The data further reveals that the most popular used cars bought in Rhode Island are as follows: Toyota RAV4. Ford F-150.What is the most visited city in Rhode Island? ›
Map of Places to Visit in Rhode Island
The state's top destination, Newport, is well known for its over-the-top mansions for the rich who summered here but there are many other great places to visit in Rhode Island.
The Cliff Walk along the eastern shore of Newport, RI is world famous as a public access walk that combines the natural beauty of the Newport shoreline with the architectural history of Newport's gilded age.What celebrities have houses in Rhode Island? ›
- Jay Leno's Gilded Age mansion on Ocean Drive in Newport. ...
- Judge Judy Sheindlin's Newport Mansion. ...
- Vanessa Carlton's Architectural Digest-worthy home in Warwick. ...
- James Woods' compound in Exeter. ...
- Christopher Walken's vacation home on Block Island.
Jamestown, located west of Newport, is actually the richest community in the state. Other notable affluent areas include Barrington and East and West Greenwich. Besides these areas, Rhode Island is mostly a middle-income state, as a majority of the population lives in the urban city Providence.Who owns the most property in Rhode Island? ›
John Malone: 2.2 million acres
His last acquisition, 1.2 million acres of Maine woodlands, pushed him past Ted Turner to the top of this list. Total landholdings: 2.2 million acres (all estimates courtesy of The Land Report 100).
If a person is caught consuming alcohol in a public place they can be placed under immediate arrest for drinking in public. This is a misdemeanor offense and if convicted can result in mandatory fines and community service.How long is the ferry from Providence to Newport? ›
The travel time of the Providence-Newport ferry is around: 1 Hour. Please arrive early at the harbor and calculate extra time for check-in and boarding if necessary.What is the most remote place in Rhode Island? ›
Almost immediately, Hope Island comes into view eastward. It sits out in the middle of Narragansett Bay. The remotest location in the entire state of Rhode Island resides on this island. Hope Island is presently part of Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Reserve.What is the most famous landmark? ›
- The Colosseum, Italy.
- The Demilitarised Zone Korea.
- The Eiffel Tower, France.
- Big Ben, England.
- Statue of Liberty, The United States.
- Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy.
- Pyramids of Giza, Egypt.
- Sydney Opera House, Australia.
- Bowen's Wharf. 13 Bowen's Wharf, Newport, RI 02840. ...
- Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum. 199 Hope Street, Providence, RI 02906. ...
- Green Animals Topiary Garden. 380 Cory's Lane, Portsmouth, RI 02871. ...
- Roger Williams National Memorial. ...
- Slater Mill. ...
- The Towers of Narragansett. ...
- Varnum Memorial Armory. ...
- Brick Market Place.
What Food is Providence, RI Known For? PVD has always been famous for classics like clam cakes, stuffies (stuffed quahogs), Rhode Island-style calamari (with hot cherry peppers), johnny cakes (cornmeal flatbread), Rhode Island clam chowder (which is a clear or red soup as opposed to a creamy white chowder) and coffee.What is unique to Rhode Island? ›
Rhode Island is known as the sailing capital of the world. Many of our children spend summer in sailing camp. Newport Rhode Island is often a stop on sailings America's Cup. The White Horse Tavern in Newport is the oldest operating restaurant in the United States and the 10th oldest in the world.What neighborhoods are gentrifying in Providence? ›
— "Potentially gentrifying," including Federal Hill and parts of Downtown, Smith Hill, Valley, Olneyville, South Providence, Washington Park and Elmwood. Strongin said that Providence "experienced a decline in population and a weak housing market" after the population reached a high of 250,000 in 1940.What is the artsy town in Rhode Island? ›
Warwick, Rhode Island
Warwick is the second largest city in the State of Rhode Island. It is made up a variety of small villages, and is home to T.F. Green Airport, which is a reliever for Boston's Logan Airport. It is also a great place to live for art lovers.
Jamestown, located west of Newport, is actually the richest community in the state. Other notable affluent areas include Barrington and East and West Greenwich. Besides these areas, Rhode Island is mostly a middle-income state, as a majority of the population lives in the urban city Providence.Where is the hood in Providence Rhode Island? ›
The South Side and West Side of Providence are the main urban areas of Rhode Island, even though you have other urban neighborhoods like Chad Brown of Providence, the city of Central Falls or certain section in Woonsocket and Pawtucket like the Woodlawn community.Is Providence cheap to live in? ›
While the cost of living is affordable in this city, it has a less healthy job market than similarly sized metropolitan areas across the country. The unemployment rate in Providence falls slightly below the national average of 3.6%, currently at 3.3%.Is Providence RI walkable city? ›
People in Providence can walk to an average of 3 restaurants, bars and coffee shops in 5 minutes.What town in Rhode Island has all the mansions? ›
Fortunes were spent on luxuries such as the lavish "summer cottages" of Newport. Learn about the people, places and events depicted in Julian Fellowes' popular historical drama series.
Celebrities with homes in Rhode Island: Taylor Swift, Jay Leno, Conan.What is the slang for milkshakes in Rhode Island? ›
Cabinets = Milkshake
Cabinet is a uniquely Rhode Island word for “milkshake” that's thick and creamy; don't confuse a Cabinet with Awful Awfuls, which is a milkshake of ice milk with syrup, toppings, and milk.
New Shoreham is the smallest town in the smallest state; it's also the only town on Block Island—a 700 acre swath of land just 12 miles from the Rhode Island coastline.
The East Side contains the oldest section of the city. The Providence Preservation Society and the Rhode Island Historical Society have preserved numerous historic buildings, especially in the College Hill area.What is on top of the Rhode Island State House? ›
On top of the dome stands a gold-covered bronze statue of a male figure known as The Independent Man. The statue, originally named "Hope," was designed by George Brewster and installed in 1899.Where is Dogtown in Providence RI? ›
As our commenters know, we are at 522 Broad St., in upper South Providence, known around the turn of the 20th century as Dogtown. Our story looks back on it from 1928 as the boyhood home of several then-prominent men. It may also be a story of your grandfather's boyhood.