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17 Things To Do In Providence RI

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*DISCLAIMER* – If you’re traveling in 2021 – be sure to check the state and local guidelines for travel requirements during COVID-19. 

Providence RI has so much to offer and is more than a simple capital city. There’s a rich history to this Ocean State city that dates back to 1636 after it’s land was originally purchased from the Narragansett Indians!

Since then, Providence has become the home of fun activities and great food, especially for the avid seafood lover. Let’s get to it and check out these 17 awesome things to do in Providence RI!

roger williams park zoo

Roger Williams Park Zoo

As a lover of animals and wildlife, I can’t recommend the Roger Williams Park Zoo enough! Containing over 40 acres and 160 unique animals, it’ll take over half a day to adequately explore this zoo. Also don’t be concerned for all the critters and crawlers, the zoo is American Humane Certified!

A handy tip is to make sure you use the zoo’s website to plan your visit ahead. Depending on your timeline, it’ll help to get a map of the zoo and check out the animals you find the most satisfying (I’m a cat lover so cheetah’s and snow leopards are TOP priority). 

The Rest of Roger Williams Park!

I made this a separate paragraph since the Zoo in Roger Williams will take up most of the day. But, that doesn’t mean that this providence park shouldn’t be given plenty of time to explore. 

The park offers a list of activities to do including boating, biking, a botanical garden, and more! Basically, there’s something to do for any kind of outdoors enthusiast. 

Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) Museum of Art

Double check their availability as they are only doing virtual events due to Covid-19, but the time I visited it was amazing and I recommend touring if they’ve reopened. 

I’m a huge fan of great art and if you’re like me you’ll love it! There are numerous pieces from notable artists and even an exhibit from students of RISD.

providence water fire
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Providence Waterfire

A scheduled event that happens only a few times a year, the Providence river has multiple fires placed right above the water. Some people kayak or boat around during the event, meanwhile music and other activities happen along the river. 

The Providence Waterfire is surprisingly relaxing despite the bustling crowd and ongoing music. Be sure to check the official website for the Waterfire schedule!

Brown University Tours

Brown University is Providence’s prestigious research university with a rich history of its own. Taking a tour of the grounds is possible and a perfect place to check out is the University’s Haffenreffer Museum of AnthropologyWhile I’m sure everyone won’t be as excited about human history as me, I still think the museum is a great addition to an itinerary. 

If Covid-19 is still an issue when you are reading this, a preliminary virtual tour can be taken of Brown as well. 

providence capital building

Rhode Island State Capital

A magnificent piece of Providence architecture, the State Capital building is definitely worth the visit. Having a beautiful interior and ceiling paintings that resemble a gothic church, this building won’t take all day and the most time intensive part is a short security check.  While a tour will have you going through all currently open areas, make sure you get to see the library as it’s the favorite room of many. 

There are virtual tours as well due to Covid-19, but if in-person is available when reading this, I’d recommend to schedule a tour soon!

Providence Performing Arts Center

A multi-use theater in the heart of Providence, the Performing Arts Center is exactly what you picture when someone describes a Victorian Era theater. Incredible decor and jaw dropping design, the theater is a sight to see in itself. However, it is still a functioning theater and your visit should be scheduled in conjunction with a show that suits your fancy! So make sure to check out their event calendar!

providence athenaeum
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Providence Athenaeum

Formed in 1836 after a spat between the local library and Athenaeum couldn’t agree on terms to merge, so now the current Athenaeum houses works from both!

They have a wide range of books and collections, including a reading room to browse. Be sure to check their website as well for any current exhibitions or tours through the library.

Federal Hill

Spend your day perusing the local shops, grabbing a cappuccino from the local coffee shop, and ending with a pizza from one of the Italian restaurants. Federal Hill has a few notable spots, but is really a place to stroll around and take in the spirit of Providence.  

Even if you’re not a fan of coffee, grabbing and Italian meal is a must. You’ll soon realize why this section of the city is known as “little Italy”, after seeing the Italian flag colors stripped down the street and smell of Italian cuisine in the air. 

Water Place Park

The location for the prominent Waterfire, Water Place Park is great to stroll through during the day without the crowds. Filled with Venetian style bridges. Also, depending on the time of the year your go, you might find an open ice skating rink!

Benefit Street Providence

A walk through time, Benefit Street is the perfect stroll for those who are interested in historical sites. The streets are paved with cobblestone and littered with faux gas lamps to add to the old feel. 

There are also a few places to eat and shops nearby, so it’s a great place to spend the middle of the day preparing for a break.

providence beer tasting

Providence Beer Tasting!

I know some people reading this aren’t going to be big fans of beer, if so that’s fine. But, I wanted to add this in since I am a fan and there are some great local breweries in Providence that should be given a chance!

Depending on where you go, there may be events showcasing some of the brewery’s best and tastiest beer. If not, some offer small samplers so you don’t have to purchase an entire pint just to take a sip. Two examples of brewery places to check out are Revival Brewing Company and Trinity Brewhouse!

Those aren’t the only two breweries in Providence, but are a great starting place, especially if you’re looking for places that also serve food or are at least near restaurants.  

Thayer Street Providence

A common spot for the local students of Brown University, Thayer street has a lot to offer for food, shopping, and general sightseeing. It’s a great place to stroll through and get a feel for what day to day life in Providence is like. 

Check the Thayer Street Calendar before going to see if there are any events going on during your visit!

Providence Night Life

There is always something going on in Providence and that includes the night time. Numerous bars, clubs, and night-events provide plenty to keep the locals and visitors entertained. While there are places like the Colosseum for club goers, you can also choose from a variety of local pubs and even hookah bars (which are my personal nighttime favorite).

spas to visit

Spa’s in Providence

Even as a man, sometimes a day of relaxation or a massage is just nice. Obviously this isn’t a main attraction in Providence, but I strongly recommend taking a day if you’ve spent a lot of your trip exploring. I know how exhausting traveling and sightseeing can be, and taking a morning or afternoon to cool down helps.

While there are plenty of options to choose from, a few suggestions are the Evolve Apothecary & Spa or the Eliza Williams Day Spa!

The Providence Flea

Despite having “Flea” in the name, this isn’t a normal flea market. The Providence Flea showcasing local vendors and artisans looking to sell some of their works. You’ll find food trucks and musicians allowed to play unplugged, providing a surprisingly festive experience to what some may think is only a simple flea market. 

Providence River Walk

A dog friendly “hike” through the heart of Providence, the River Walk follows the Providence river, a portion of which is used for the Water Fire. This is last on the list not because it’s the least enjoyable, but because it’s easily the best to end a trip on. 

A hike with beautiful scenery and in close proximity to some of the city’s best eateries, the Providence River Walk is a great way to end your time in this beautiful city. 

Let Me Know What You Think!

Do you have any other recommendations for things to do in providence? Let me know below or if you’ve enjoyed some of these!




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