Things to do in Providence, Rhode Island

Founded along the Providence and Seekonk Rivers as a refuge for religious dissenters, Providence became the capital of Rhode Island. Today, Providence is a cultural and academic hub. Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), Johnson and Wales Culinary Institute and Trinity Repertory Company are all vital forces in the community.


There are endless ways to explore Rhode Island 's rich cultural and architectural heritage, breathtaking scenery, and mouth-watering cuisine. With so much to do and see, it can be quite a challenge to narrow down your pathway to fun and learning.

The city is also blessed with a rich historical heritage, boasting more than 20% of the country's National Historic Landmarks.

Nearby Warwick offers 39 miles of coastline, while the scenic beauty and rich history of Rhode Island's other regions are a quick drive away.

Water Fire
One of the city’s most popular events is WaterFire.

From May to October, bonfires are lit on the three rivers of downtown Providence as part of a unique urban sculpture Together with music from around the world, the glow and aroma of the fires create an enchanting atmosphere for onlookers.

A series of Venetian bridges connects downtown Providence to the city's historic East Side. From here you can ride a water taxi down Providence's redesigned rivers, stroll the scenic riverwalk, or idle in the gazebo and enjoy the view. WaterPlace Park is also the site of special events such as outdoor concerts and one of the best views for the acclaimed WaterFire.

Roger Williams Park Zoo
1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI 02907-3659
Roger Williams Park is a top-notch family attraction that has delighted generations of visitors. The park also contains waterways, walks, Botanical Center, a Carousel Village, Museum of Natural History and Planetarium.

At the Roger Williams Park Zoo visitors will be able to see some really unique animals. They have over 100 species which include amphibians, mammals, fish, birds, insects and reptiles. With such a variety of animals that the zoo has you might see something new each time you visit the zoo.

If you are a resident of Providence, admission is free the first Saturday of every month.

The Dancing Cop
Every December, the City of Providence brings out Tony Lepore, its most famous police officer (now retired for almost three decades) to direct traffic at the intersection of Westminster Street and Dorrance Street, just a block or so from City Hall. Using his whistle and a lot of body English, he manages to snarl things up for blocks -- but it is the festive season, and most people are smiling and laughing at the antics. Don't miss him!

Bank of America Skating Center
The Bank of America Skating Center boasts wonderful ice skating downtown, featuring more ice than Rockefeller Center and the city's dynamic skyline as a backdrop.

Providence-Newport Water Ferry
The drive to Newport from Providence is very scenic, but traveling by water ferry is a uniquely beautiful alternative. The ferry takes you past lovely coastal communities like Barrington and Bristol in a one hour and 25 minute ride that ends in Newport. In the winter the ferry only leaves Providence Monday through Friday, but additional ferry rides are added as the tourist season comes with the warmer weather.

Charter Booking
With 400-miles of coastline Rhode Island is an ideal place to spend the day on the water.

Providence Performing Arts Center
The Providence Performing Arts Center is a work of art in itself. This restored and modernized theater is an ideal location for traveling shows, musical performances, and the like.

Museum of Art, RI School of Design RISD Museum
They have an impressive collection of textiles, contemporary and Asian art, Paul Revere's silver and caricatures of 18th century Europe, classic greek and roman art, small collection of paintings by Monet and Manet, Gorham silver collection and more. A 12th-century Japanese Buddha has its own room with benches for meditating.

Johnson & Wales Culinary Arts Museum in Providence, RI
A visit to the Johnson & Wales Culinary Arts Museum in Providence, RI will excite your senses and pique your appetite for art and artifacts about food service and cookery. The Culinary Arts Museum is truly one of the premiere institutions dedicated to the preservation of the history of the culinary and hospitality industries.

3 Centuries of Architectural Masterpieces
Just 16 years after the landing of the Mayflower at Plymouth, Massachusetts, Roger Williams founded a new settlement called Providence in what would become Rhode Island. This downtown walking tour of churches and libraries from three centuries was created by the Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor and it takes visitors along streets that date to the founding of Providence. Highlights are the Cathedral of St. John and the First Baptist Church, Memorial Hall at the Rhode Island School of Design, several halls of Brown University, the Congdon Street Baptist Church. These buildings include beautiful and mixed elements of English Gothic Revival style, traditional New England meeting house, Romanesque designs, Baroque and Greek Revival style, high Victorian Gothic design, a Renaissance-style dome, and Italianate style

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.

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.

History buffs will revel in the city’s rich and varied architecture, which ranges from Colonial to Modern, as well as landmarks such as the first Baptist Church in America.

Providence is the home of Johnson & Wales University, the world's largest culinary educator. Johnson & Wales alumni include some of the most well-respected chefs and restaurateurs in the world, like Emeril Lagasse '77. Many J&W alumni stay in the city when they graduate, which is why Providence has more degreed chefs per capita than any other city in the U.S.

The world's premiere museum for the preservation and study of the culinary arts, the Culinary Archives & Museum at Johnson & Wales University, draws thousands of visitors annually. The museum contains more than a half million culinary artifacts, including an exhibit on food in the White House and more than 4,000 menus from around the world.

The Museum of Work and Culture
The Museum of Work and Culture tells the story of French Canadian immigrants who left Quebec to come to work in the mills and factories of Woonsocket.

NewPort RI
Experience Newport, Rhode Island’s architectural gems courtesy of the Preservation Society of Newport County, which offers tours of 11 mansions, seven of which are National Historic Landmarks. Visitors will get a unique opportunity to learn all about the architecture, landscapes and social history of these incredible properties that date from the Colonial era to the late 1880s.

For those whose heart lies in architecture, design, and history Newport offers tours of opulent mansions, interesting museums, and a number of walking tours that reveal the history and charm of the city. For a mouth-watering getaway, visitors can enjoy a tour and tasting at the three local vineyards followed by a memorable dining experience at a waterfront restaurant.

Battleship Cove
Fans of historic naval ships will have a field day at Battleship Cove in Falls River, MA where the world's largest collection resides.

Providence Place Mall
Providence Place is an urban shopping mall in the central part of Providence, Rhode Island.

Brown University
College Hill, Providence, RI
Brown University is a private Ivy League university located in Providence, Rhode Island.

Thayer Street
Students from Brown University, and other schools in the area, congregate on this funky street that boasts vintage clothing shops, bookstores, music shops and cafes.

Providence RI NightClubs
Providence is one of the best cities in the world for nightlife.

Swan Point Cemetery

John Brown House Museum

Roger Williams National Memorial

First Baptist Church in America
The oldest Baptist church in America, founded by Roger Williams in 1638

Providence Art Club
This is said to be the oldest art club in the nation, designed to foster an appreciation for local arts.

Providence Children's Museum
Discover interactive learning at its finest at Providence Children’s Museum. Designed for kids aged 1 through 11, the Museum features hands-on exhibits that focus on history, science, culture, and the arts

Slater Mill Museum
It was in 1793 in Pawtucket, RI, that Samuel Slater constructed North America’s first water-powered, cotton-spinning mill. Experience true American history at this National Historic Landmark that is also one of Rhode Island’s most popular attractions.

Providence Athenaeum
One of America's oldest lending libraries established in 1753.

The Arcade
A Greek Revival building from 1828 which is the oldest shopping mall in America.

Rhode Island Convention Center

John Hay Library

Dunkin' Donuts Center
If it’s top-tier entertainment you’re after, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center is the place to go. Enjoy everything from American Hockey League action starring the Providence Bruins to major concerts featuring New Kids on the Block to family shows like Disney on Ice.

Van Noppen Glass Gallery and Studio

Governor Henry Lippitt House Museum

First Unitarian Church of Providence

Nightingale Brown House

Providence Train Station
Landmark/point of interest

Saint Stephen's Episcopal Church

Atwells Avenue
Providence street home to many restaurants.

Market Square
Providence area where there are street performers.

Providence has plenty to catch your eye and keep your attention.

Providence is the capital and the most populous city in Rhode Island, and one of the first cities established in the United States. Located in Providence County, it is the estimated second or third largest city's in the New England region.

Providence was founded in 1636 by Roger Williams, a religious exile from the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He named the area in honor of "God's merciful Providence" which he believed was responsible for revealing such a haven for him and his followers to settle. After being one of the first cities in the country to industrialize, Providence became noted for its jewelry and silverware industry. Today, the City of Providence is home to eight hospitals and seven institutions of higher learning, which has shifted the city's economy into service industries, though it still retains significant manufacturing activity.

The area which is now Providence was first settled in June 1636 by Roger Williams, and was one of the original Thirteen Colonies of the United States.Williams secured a title from the Narragansett natives around this time and gave the city its present name. Williams also cultivated Providence as a refuge for persecuted religious dissenters, as he himself had been exiled from Massachusetts. Providence's growth would be slow during the next quarter-century—the subsuming of its territory into surrounding towns, difficulty of farming the land, and differing of local traditions and land conflicts all slowed development.

Providence, Rhode Island
Providence/Warwick New England
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