10 Things to Do in Providence That You Shouldn't Miss

September 9, 2017 Randal Brittian

Years of careful urban planning and meticulous restoration have rendered this former rum and molasses trading town one of the best places to live in the United States, star of an eponymous television show and a swell place to spend a weekend. Historic sites, wonderful museums and theaters seamlessly blend with newer attractions on the block including a modern mega-mall, scenic Riverwalk, outdoor skating arena, convention center, plus new hotels and restaurants. The Roger Williams Zoo, with its updated Tropical Rainforest Building where "spunky monkeys" roam free in a constructed jungle-like environment, remains one of the city's top attractions and offers hours of entertainment for children and adults alike. Wander back in time on Benefit Street, where eminent Federal period homes recall the city's wealthy past. For a modern experience, check out the more than 100 stores at Providence Place. Or tantalize your taste buds on "The Hill," a historic area that boasts many award- winning restaurants, from the Italian and Mediterranean cuisine for which "Little Italy" got its name, to Caribbean, Mexican, Chinese, seafood and baked goods. For a different perspective, take a romantic river cruise on an authentic Venetian gondola. No matter what your vantage point, Providence sparkles.
Restaurants in Providence

1. Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art

224 Benefit St, Providence, RI 02903-2711 +1 401-454-6500
Excellent
71%
Good
24%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 790 reviews

Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art

This innovative and internationally renowned museum showcases more than 80,000 works of art from Paul Revere's silver and caricatures of 18th century Europe, to French Impressionists and the avant-garde works of recent alumni. A 12th-century Japanese Buddha has its own room with benches for meditating.

Reviewed By ANNE R - New England

RISD Museum continues to be top-notch! we were there Jan 2015 and much of the displays delighted me-again, or newly! Beautiful furniture design-a cherry music stand as eye-catching as a sculpture--some classics from mid-century 1900's still sharp and stand-out well-designed---but I also want to compliment the guides this time. We were given suggestions and offered assistance to see more of what we were obviously enjoying by several guides-and helped navigating some of the more confusing halls and connections between areas. All was done pleasantly and so helpfully-I was really impressed and grateful!

2. Providence Performing Arts Center

220 Weybosset St, Providence, RI 02903-3707 +1 401-421-2997
Excellent
76%
Good
19%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 499 reviews

Providence Performing Arts Center

Reviewed By Hunchat - Chatham, Massachusetts

I have been coming here for years and I marvel at the interior every time I walk through the doors. I have sat at many different locations here and I've always have a good view of the stage. My favorite seats are front row of the balcony.

3. Brown University

1 Prospect St, Providence, RI 02912-9127 +1 401-863-1000
Excellent
69%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 389 reviews

Brown University

University located in Providence.

Reviewed By tranzactnow - Perth, Western Australia

Brown University is made up of a number of architecturally very interesting buildings to view. We visited the University on a very cold winter morning after heavy snow storms and the place was a million post card pictures. Located very close to the CBD of providence if you are looking for picture shots take a stroll around Brown.

4. State House

82 Smith St, Providence, RI 02903-1105 +1 401-222-2357
Excellent
54%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 311 reviews

State House

This imposing marble building houses King Charles' 1663 charter of the Rhode Island colony.

Reviewed By tranzactnow - Perth, Western Australia

If you are visiting Providence and have even the slightest interest in grand buildings then you should not miss State House. Free entry during the week will allow you to see a most spectacular building with what I was told was the fourth highest dome of any building in the USA. Contained within the building are the legislative chambers of Rhode Is. The building is quite spectacular and well worth seeing.

5. Roger Williams Park Zoo

1000 Elmwood Ave, Providence, RI 02907-3659 +1 401-785-3510
Excellent
55%
Good
33%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 973 reviews

Roger Williams Park Zoo

Located amid 40 acres of beautiful woodlands, the Roger Williams Park Zoo provides visitors the opportunity to see animals from all over the globe – some more than a million years old. Naturalistic surroundings are home to more than 100 species of animals including a Komodo dragon, as well as zebras, red pandas, African elephants, Masai giraffes, snow leopards, bears, flamingoes, sloths, and more! Kids from two to 102 have the opportunity to feed giraffes and harbor seals, as well as an array of farmyard animals. For something slightly out of the ordinary, visit our new Explore and Soar area offering an exhilarating zip ride, a train excursion through the woodlands, and camel rides. The Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), and is home to many endangered species. As a result, the Zoo participates in cooperative conservation and breeding programs to help ensure the future survival of many endangered species.

Reviewed By lljjbb - Worcester, Massachusetts

This is one of our favorite family day trips in New England. Beautiful grounds surrounding the zoo and within. Exhibits for the animals are very large and acclimated to what each animal needs. Staff is extremely friendly and there is something for everyone. Feeding the giraffes is a must stop and do!

6. Benefit Street

Providence, RI
Excellent
56%
Good
37%
Satisfactory
5%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 172 reviews

Benefit Street

A mile of history is packed onto this cobblestone street lined with historic buildings. The Nightingale-Brown House, built in 1792, home to five generations of the Nicholas Brown Family (of Brown University) is a "must see" on the block.

Reviewed By BeverlyWriter - Vermont

Always delightful daytime or night: a feast for the eyeballs. I wandered around at 1 am when I couldn't sleep and it was spooky, I wandered around during the day and it was delightful.

7. Historic Federal Hill

Providence, RI +1 401-453-6161
Excellent
56%
Good
28%
Satisfactory
11%
Poor
3%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 549 reviews

Historic Federal Hill

Sip a strong espresso at an outdoor cafe, grab a quick pizza for lunch or dine in style at a gourmet Italian restaurant in this historic section of the city, also know as Little Italy. You'll know you have arrived by the huge arched gateway, with a bronzed pinecone, which marks the entry to the neighborhood.

Reviewed By tranzactnow - Perth, Western Australia

There is certainly an abundance of Italian Restaurants but I must say on a cold winter day in early January I was not left with any great sense of occasion walking around Federal Hill. I suspect the weather had a lot to do with it and no doubt in warmer weather the place would be much more alive - it was pretty vacant of people about 4.00pm when when we were wandering. We did enjoy a nice coffee at a coffee shop, but all in all I was not left with any great sense of occasion.

8. Roger Williams Park

Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI +1 401-785-9450
Excellent
53%
Good
36%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 242 reviews

Roger Williams Park

Reviewed By Windygnf - Sarasota, Florida

Roger Williams Park is a beautiful area in the middle of the city. You can enjoy the park without spending a dime and/or you can go into the zoo, ride a Swan Boat, ride a merry-go-round, go on a duck boat and eat treats at the snack bar. There are many areas of the park to enjoy; just follow the signs!

9. Providence Children's Museum

100 South St, Providence, RI 02903-4749 +1 401-273-5437
Excellent
52%
Good
34%
Satisfactory
10%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 177 reviews

Providence Children's Museum

New museum located in the Jewelry District.

Reviewed By danish75 - Paris, France

We had a pass for 1/2 off from our local library, so it was a really good deal. While the museum is quite small, there are a couple of really fun activities. My 5-year old loved loved it.

10. Swan Point Cemetery

585 Blackstone Blvd, Providence, RI 02906-5034 +1 401-272-1314
Excellent
72%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 122 reviews

Swan Point Cemetery

Reviewed By brittany z z - Amherst, Massachusetts

Beautiful cemetery with some interesting stones. Very large but easy to navigate. The most well known grave is HP Lovecraft and google maps will direct you right to it.

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