The city of Providence is also known to be the capital of Rhode Island, and is well-known for its rich historical roots, with several cultural and historical sites in the area.
So if you’re after for breathtaking period architecture, then you’re in the right place.
Apart from its historical district, there are other modern areas as well with a range of museums, zoos, parks, and other interesting outdoor spaces and attractions as well.
Finally, it’s also home to the prestigious Brown University, where you could enjoy a more relaxed student atmosphere.
Here are the best things to do in Providence:
1. Go for a Boat Tour Along the Waterways
Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck are two rivers that run through Providence, visibly evident nowadays. However, for decades, they were hidden by what has been the largest bridge in the world, until these rivers where revealed once again in 1990 during the city’s drastic revitalization of the whole area, and they were uncovered once again.
Today, the rivers are spanned by stunning bridges that were similar to the ones in Venice. You can either go on a boat tour during the daytime or on a romantic sunset cruise.
Alternatively, ride an authentic Venetial gondola during evenings ‒ one of the most romantic things to do when you’re enjoying your holiday in Rhode Island.
2. Federal Hill
Federal Hill is a hill that’s nestled of the west part of the Down City and is the heart of the city’s vibrant Italian-American community.
Although that community is now spread throughout the city, you could still find a variety of cafes, restaurants, and shops that serve Italian cuisine at Atwells Avenue. You’d also come across a couple of Italian delis and bakeries while in the area.
So, come here and enjoy a deliciously filling Italian meal, whether its eating spaghetti in red sauce or a mouthwatering northern Italian dish.
If you want to linger a bit more, you could grab a cup of cappuccino, buy a scoop of gelato in a sidewalk cafe, or join the lively street festivals on Columbus Day.
This event is held twice, between May, and November. The center of the river is lit by bonfires that light up the Downcity Providence. During the “Full WaterFire,” event, approximately 80 fires light up the Waterplace Park, up to the South Main Street Park.
There’s also a smaller version of this event called the “Basin Fire WaterFire” where 22 braziers are lit in the Waterplace Park Basin, and then five more at the Providence Place Mall.
The WaterFire event is a festival of both music and arts, where everyone celebrates the city’s revitalization and culture. This festival is one of the free things that you can enjoy when you’re in Rhode Island.
4. Roger Williams Park
Roger William Park is an impressive 435-acre property in Providence that’s filled with breathtaking lakes, gardens, and greenhouses, making it one of the most beautiful green spots in the city.
You’d also find here period buildings that are mostly built-in 1915. There’s also the Betsy Williams Cottage dated back in 1773.
For kids, the park has a carousel, train rides, and plenty of playgrounds to have fun and enjoy.
Apart from that, the park is also home to the Roger Williams Park Zoo, and the Museum of Natural History.
5. John Brown House
The John Brown house once belonged to a merchant back in 1786 when it was first built. Today, it’s widely known to be one of the most beautiful houses Providence has to offer, complete with gorgeous hillside views.
The house is open to visitors, giving a glimpse of what life is back in the 18th century. Go on a house tour and marvel at the antiques and decors that are still up for display, which once belonged to the Brown family.
6. Benefit Street ‘Mile of History’
Just like what the name suggests, Benefit Street is approximately a mile away from Brown University, and an excellent place to go if you want to check out beautiful period architecture which is a city is mostly famous for.
Here, you’d find several Federal and Victorian homes. There are also self-styled, and art deco homes that add to the diversity to the mix. Other structures to look out for are the Governor Stephen Hopkins House and the Athenaeum ‒ which is related to writer Edgar Allan Poe.
While exploring the area, you could also come across the Providence Preservation Society where you can ask for a walking tour booklet, if you want to take a self-guided tour in the neighborhood.
7. RISD Museum of Art
RISD, also known as the Rhode Island School of Design, is a great spot if you’re interested to learn more about art.
The facility has a wide range of exhibits wherein you can come across pieces from the French Impressionists, collections from ancient Egypt, and Asian art.
You could also come across an array of contemporary art in different mediums, from sculptures, paintings, to textiles.
8. Brown University
Brown University is still a university up to this day, where it welcomes thousands of students each year. Still, you could visit this excellent institution, and enjoy the facilities that are open to the public.
For instance, there’s the John Hay Gallery which is popular for its collections of stamps. There’s also the John Carter Brown Library that’s widely known for its maps. You can even visit the David Winton Bell Gallery and marvel at the dedicated pieces of art.
Of course, there’s a beautiful conservatory that you definitely shouldn’t miss especially if you’re looking for a bit of serenity.
Over to You
Found in the state of Rhode Island, Providence is a standout city. It’s the largest city in the country’s smallest state. While it’s easy to prefer its two neighbors ‒ the bustling Boston and the elegant Newport, skipping this city from your list is a major travel mistake.
Hopefully, by using this article as a guide, you can make out of your stay in Providence.