We’ve compiled the best of the best in Providence - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. BankNewport City Center

    The 14,000-square-foot outdoor ice rink, right in the heart of downtown Providence, is twice the size of the one at New York City's Rockefeller Center. The facility is open for skating and ice bumper cars daily, late November–mid-March, and skate and helmet rentals are available. In summer, kids love driving the bumper cars, roller skating (and roller disco!), and bubble soccer (trying to score while wearing a giant bubble). The center also hosts movies, summer concerts, festivals, and other events.

    2 Kennedy Plaza, Rhode Island, 02903, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: From $7
  • 2. Benefit Street

    The city's wealthiest lived along this Colonial thoroughfare, dubbed "the mile of history," during the 18th and early 19th centuries—and most of the original wood-frame structures have been beautifully restored as homes for today's families. Benefit Street passes by the campuses of Brown University and the Rhode Island School of Design. Of particular interest are the 1707 Stephen Hopkins House on the corner of Benefit Street and Hopkins Street, a former governor's home open for tours; the Providence Athenaeum at 251 Benefit St., a onetime haunt of Edgar Allan Poe; and the John Brown House museum on the Brown University campus.

    Benefit St., Rhode Island, 02903, USA
  • 3. Culinary Arts Museum


    This offbeat gem on the Johnson & Wales University campus celebrates the joy of cooking and eating throughout human history. An authentic 1920s diner is one of the high points, and there are examples of cookbooks, menus, and restaurant advertising, along with exhibits about cooking in ancient times, eating in transit, and cooking competitions ranging from the county fair to the Culinary Olympics.

    315 Harborside Blvd., off Narragansett Blvd. (U.S. 1A) on Providence–Cranston border, Providence, Rhode Island, 02905, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $7
  • 4. Providence Children's Museum

    The vibrant, interactive, hands-on learning environments here are geared to children ages 1 to 11 and their families. Favorite exhibits and activities include Water Ways, ThinkSpace, Maker Studio, and Coming to Rhode Island, which encourages kids to imagine the experience of immigrating to the Ocean State. Littlewoods, for toddlers, has a tree house, bear cave, and a slide. Kids can also explore an outdoor climbing structure and imitate burrowing creatures in Underland.

    100 South St., Rhode Island, 02903, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $14
  • 5. RISD Museum

    This museum houses more than 100,000 objects ranging from ancient art to work by contemporary artists and designers from around the world. Highlights include Impressionist paintings, costumes, textiles, decorative arts, Gorham silver, Newport furniture, an ancient Egyptian mummy, and a 12th-century Buddha—the largest historic Japanese wooden sculpture in the United States. Artists represented include major figures in the history of visual art and culture, including Cézanne, Chanel, Copley, Degas, Hirst, Homer, LeWitt, Matisse, Manet, Picasso, Rothko, Sargent, Turner, Twombly, van Gogh, and Warhol—to name a few. Particularly significant are the displays of works by current and past RISD faculty and students. Stop by the museum's Café Pearl for a bite to eat.

    20 N. Main St., Rhode Island, 02903, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $17; free Thurs. and Fri. 5--7 pm and Sun. 10--5, Closed Mon.
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  • 6. Brown University

    Founded in 1764, this Ivy League institution is the nation's seventh-oldest college and offers degrees in 82 undergraduate concentrations, 33 master's programs, and 51 doctoral programs. On a stroll through the College Hill campus, you'll encounter Gothic and Beaux Arts structures, as well as the imposing Van Wickle Gate, which opens twice a year—in fall to welcome first-year students and spring to bid graduating seniors farewell. On the ground floor of Manning Hall, the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology exhibits artifacts from around the world. The David Winton Bell Gallery in the List Art Building hosts several major art exhibitions a year. Attending a Brown Bears Ivy League football game is an old-school experience, with games played at monumental Brown Stadium, which first welcomed fans in 1925.

    75 Waterman St., Rhode Island, 02912, USA
  • 7. Downcity

    Downtown | Neighborhood/Street

    A highly walkable section of Downtown—and for some residents synonymous with it—Downcity contains a thriving mix of college buildings, restaurants, independent shops, theaters, hotels, and financial institutions. The Downcity merchants' association defines the neighborhood as encompassing the area west of the Providence River bordered by Memorial Boulevard and Empire, Sabin, and Pine streets, though others stake out slightly more territory. Technically outside Downcity but adjacent to it and aligned with it in spirit are Waterplace Park and the sprawling Providence Place shopping center and neighboring bus and train hubs.

    Bordered by Memorial Boulevard and Empire, Sabin, and Pine Sts., Providence, Rhode Island, USA
  • 8. First Baptist Church in America

    This historic house of worship was built in 1775 for a congregation originally established in 1638 by Roger Williams and his fellow Puritan dissenters. The writer H. P. Lovecraft attended Sunday school here briefly as a child. Architecture and design buffs will appreciate the 185-foot, glistening white steeple, erected in just 3½ days, as well as the auditorium's large crystal chandelier from Ireland, installed in 1792. Guided tours of the Meeting House are available on weekdays from 10 am to 2 pm and Sundays at the conclusion of worship services. Smartphone-enabled elf-guided tours are also an option and are available in multiple languages.

    75 N. Main St., Rhode Island, 02903, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Guided tour $2, self-guided tour free
  • 9. John Brown House Museum

    Rhode Island's most famous 18th-century home was the stately residence of John Brown, a wealthy businessman, slave trader, politician, and China trade merchant. John Quincy Adams called the home, designed in late-Georgian, early-Federal style and the first mansion built in Providence, "the most magnificent and elegant private mansion that I have ever seen on this continent." An ardent patriot, Brown was a noteworthy participant in the defiant burning of the British customs ship Gaspee in 1772—which, Rhode Islanders will remind you, took place 18 months before the Boston Tea Party. Tours are by reservation.

    52 Power St., Rhode Island, 02906, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10, Closed Sun.–Mon.
  • 10. John Hay Library

    Built in 1910 and named for Abraham Lincoln's secretary, "the Hay" houses Brown University Library's collections of rare books and manuscripts. World-class collections of Lincoln-related items, H. P. Lovecraft letters, Napoléon's death mask, Walt Whitman's personal copy of Leaves of Grass, and 6,000 toy soldiers are of particular interest. The library is open to the public, but you need a photo ID to enter.

    20 Prospect St., Rhode Island, 02903, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Sat. and Sun.
  • 11. Prospect Terrace

    This pocket park in College Hill offers one of the most scenic views of Downtown, particularly in the fall when the surrounding foliage plays spectacularly off the urban backdrop. Prospect Terrace's centerpiece is a statue of Roger Williams, Rhode Island's forward-thinking founder—who here seems to be groovin' to the 1980s song "Walk Like an Egyptian." In reality, however, he's buried under the statue.

    Between Congdon and Pratt Sts., Rhode Island, 02906, USA
  • 12. Providence Athenaeum

    Philadelphia architect William Strickland designed this 1838 Greek Revival library building in which Edgar Allan Poe courted the poet (and avid reader) Sarah Helen Whitman; the collection here includes a Poe-signed periodical containing "Ulalume," a poem he published anonymously. An 1870s Manet print that illustrated Poe's "The Raven" hangs in the rare book room, which also contains two medieval illuminated manuscripts. Raven signs are posted at eight points of interest on a self-guided library tour. Among them is a special cabinet modeled after an Egyptian temple, which houses the library's multivolume imperial edition of Description de l'Egypte (1809–22), commissioned by Napoléon.

    251 Benefit St., Rhode Island, 02903, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon.
  • 13. Providence Pedestrian Bridge

    Officially the Michael S. Van Leesten Memorial Bridge (named for a prominent civil-rights advocate, business leader, and driver of economic advancement in Providence), this 450-foot-long footbridge spans the Providence River. Similar in style to New York's High Line, the bridge features performance spaces, public seating, and fantastic skyline views. Opened in 2019, the bridge is the final link creating a downtown loop walk that includes new parks on the East Side and the Jewelry District banks of the river, and extending north through downtown's Waterplace Park.

    South Water St., Rhode Island, 02903, USA
  • 14. Rhode Island State House

    Designed by the noted architecture firm McKim, Mead & White and completed in 1904, Rhode Island's beautiful capitol building boasts the world's fourth-largest self-supported marble dome. The gilded Independent Man statue that tops the dome was struck by lightning at least 27 times before lightning rods were installed in 1975. Inside, visitors can see a full-length portrait of George Washington by Rhode Islander Gilbert Stuart, who also painted the portrait of Washington that appears on the $1 bill. On display in the Governor's State Room are the military accoutrements of Nathanael Greene, a Quaker who served as George Washington's second-in-command during the Revolutionary War. The State Library, on the north side of the building, has moon rocks and the state flag carried on board Apollo 11's first lunar landing mission in 1969 among its displays. The centerpiece of the State House's Charter Museum is Rhode Island's original 1663 Colonial Charter granted by King Charles II—the first charter signed by a monarch that guaranteed religious liberty. Guided tours lasting 50 minutes are offered at 10 am and 1 pm on weekdays, excluding holidays. You can also follow a self-guided tour.

    82 Smith St., Rhode Island, 02903, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Closed weekends
  • 15. Roger Williams National Memorial

    This 4½-acre park dedicated to Rhode Island's founder has a symbolic well to mark the site of the spring around which Roger Williams built Providence's original settlement in 1636. A visitor center has a five-minute film about the park's namesake. There's the park's flourishing pollinator garden, as well as a demonstration garden showing how Native Americans cultivated corn, beans, and squash, and how English colonists grew herbs (call ahead to see if it's open). The park has several picnic tables, public restrooms, and 20 free parking spaces (a two-hour parking limit is strictly enforced).

    282 N. Main St., Rhode Island, 02903, USA

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Visitor Center closed Mon.--Wed.
  • 16. Thayer Street

    Bustling Thayer Street bears a proud old New England name and is very much a part of campus life at Brown, RISD, and other local colleges. Gentrification has resulted in an influx of chain stores. In the blocks between Waterman and Bowen Streets, though, you'll still find fashion boutiques, shops selling funky gifts, the art deco--style Avon Cinema, and restaurants serving every kind of cuisine from Greek to Korean.

    Thayer St., Rhode Island, 02912, USA
  • 17. Waterplace Park

    Venetian-style footbridges, cobblestone walkways, and an amphitheater encircling a tidal basin set the tone at this 4-acre tract along the Woonasquatucket River near where it joins the Moshassuck to form the Providence River. In summer and fall, it's the site of WaterFire, a multisensory installation featuring music, performances, and 80 wood-fired braziers permanently placed in the middle of the river and set afire between dusk and midnight on some nights. WaterFire attracts nearly 1 million visitors annually. Gondola and riverboat tours of the park and rivers are offered seasonally at during special events.

    1 Finance Way, Rhode Island, 02903, USA
    401-273–1155-for WaterFire information
  • 18. Wickenden Street

    Named for a Baptist minister who was one of Providence's first settlers, this main artery in the Fox Point district is home to antiques stores, art galleries, and trendy cafés. It also hosts the Coffee Exchange, one of the area's most popular gathering spots. Sidewalk sales are held in the spring and fall. Once home to mainly working-class Portuguese-Americans, the Wickenden Street area has become a popular area for off-campus student housing; Our Lady of the Rosary Church on adjacent Traverse Street still conducts some weekend Masses in Portuguese.

    Wickenden St., Rhode Island, 02903, USA

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