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Best Things To Do in Providence

Providence's top to-dos fit right in with its collegiate culture. When you're not admiring the more than 91,000 works on display at the RISD Museum, marvel at the historic Colonial houses stationed along Benefit Street. Or, for an even more impressive architectural display, simply glance up at the dome of the State House, the fourth-largest self-supporting marble dome in the world. Traveling with kids? Rhode Island's capital has you covered there, too, thanks to the Roger Williams Park Zoo.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in Providence

This hidden gem's five buildings are clustered on the south side of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) campus. Inside, more than 91,000 works of art are on display, including pieces by Monet, Degas and other impressionists, along with sizeable Medieval and Gothic collections.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
RISD Museum
This hidden gem's five buildings are clustered on the south side of the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) campus. Inside, more than 91,000 works of art are on display, including pieces by Monet, Degas and other impressionists, along with sizeable Medieval and Gothic collections.
... more

#2

#2 in Providence

Located about 4 miles south of downtown Providence, Roger Williams Park Zoo is only 40 acres  not the largest zoo by far. But it still houses more than 100 species of animals including giraffes, moon bears and some adorable snow leopards. And you wouldn't know it by the freshly updated  and still updating  enclosures, but Roger Williams is one of the oldest zoos in the country, opening its gates to the public in 1872.
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Zoos and Aquariums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Roger Williams Park Zoo
Located about 4 miles south of downtown Providence, Roger Williams Park Zoo is only 40 acres  not the largest zoo by far. But it still houses more than 100 species of animals including giraffes, moon bears and some adorable snow leopards. And you wouldn't know it by the freshly updated  and still updating  enclosures, but Roger Williams is one of the oldest zoos in the country, opening its gates to the public in 1872.
... more

#3

#3 in Providence

Free
In the late 19th century, Federal Hill was the home of Rhode Island's Italian immigrant community, which is why the area is often referred to as Providence's Little Italy. Today, you'll still find an abundance of Italian restaurants and specialty food shops within the neighborhood, which sits a few blocks west of downtown Providence.
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Neighborhood/Area Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Federal Hill
In the late 19th century, Federal Hill was the home of Rhode Island's Italian immigrant community, which is why the area is often referred to as Providence's Little Italy. Today, you'll still find an abundance of Italian restaurants and specialty food shops within the neighborhood, which sits a few blocks west of downtown Providence.
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#4

#4 in Providence

Free
The State House is the active seat of Rhode Island's government, but there's more than political bickering going on in these halls. The impressive building was designed by architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, the mastermind behind many of the Newport mansions. The State House dome is the world's fourth largest self-supported dome (the largest being St. Peter's Basilica in Rome). A painting by Rhode Island artist James Allen King (called "The Four Freedoms") is visible on the inside of the dome. Not much of an architecture buff? The building is full of American history, too. A gun from the battle of Gettysburg, a replica of Philadelphia's Liberty Bell and Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington can all be found here.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
State House
The State House is the active seat of Rhode Island's government, but there's more than political bickering going on in these halls. The impressive building was designed by architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, the mastermind behind many of the Newport mansions. The State House dome is the world's fourth largest self-supported dome (the largest being St. Peter's Basilica in Rome). A painting by Rhode Island artist James Allen King (called "The Four Freedoms") is visible on the inside of the dome. Not much of an architecture buff? The building is full of American history, too. A gun from the battle of Gettysburg, a replica of Philadelphia's Liberty Bell and Gilbert Stuart's portrait of George Washington can all be found here.
... more

#5

#5 in Providence

The Providence Perfuming Arts Center is a popular venue that not only earns praise for its events but also for its history. Originally the Loew's Movie Palace, it opened in 1928 and was later dubbed the "Jewel of Weybosset Street." True to movie houses of that era, it was designed by George and C.W. Rapp of Chicago, renowned theater architects who used elements like intricate plasterwork, columns of imported marble and impressive crystal chandeliers to create a palatial interior. Though it's been through several phases of modernization, its interiors are just as breathtaking as they were in 1928, according to recent visitors.
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Entertainment and Nightlife Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Providence Performing Arts Center
The Providence Perfuming Arts Center is a popular venue that not only earns praise for its events but also for its history. Originally the Loew's Movie Palace, it opened in 1928 and was later dubbed the "Jewel of Weybosset Street." True to movie houses of that era, it was designed by George and C.W. Rapp of Chicago, renowned theater architects who used elements like intricate plasterwork, columns of imported marble and impressive crystal chandeliers to create a palatial interior. Though it's been through several phases of modernization, its interiors are just as breathtaking as they were in 1928, according to recent visitors.
... more

#6

#6 in Providence

Trinity Repertory Company (or Trinity Rep for short) is Providence's premier acting troupe. The resident company puts on an average of six productions a year varying from contemporary pieces to classic theater with an edgy new spin. The Trinity Rep's annual "A Christmas Carol" production is one of Providence's most popular holiday traditions.
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Entertainment and Nightlife Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Trinity Repertory Company
Trinity Repertory Company (or Trinity Rep for short) is Providence's premier acting troupe. The resident company puts on an average of six productions a year varying from contemporary pieces to classic theater with an edgy new spin. The Trinity Rep's annual "A Christmas Carol" production is one of Providence's most popular holiday traditions.
... more

#7

#7 in Providence

Free
A lot of history is crammed into this mile-long cobblestone street on the east side of Providence. In fact, Benefit Street has one of the highest concentrations of Colonial buildings in the country; notable houses include the Nightingale-Brown House, once home to one of the founders of Brown University.
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Benefit Street
A lot of history is crammed into this mile-long cobblestone street on the east side of Providence. In fact, Benefit Street has one of the highest concentrations of Colonial buildings in the country; notable houses include the Nightingale-Brown House, once home to one of the founders of Brown University.
... more

#8

#8 in Providence

Everyone from culinary geniuses to PB&J novices can find something to suit their taste buds in this museum. Situated on the Johnson & Wales University campus occupying 25,000 square feet of space, the Culinary Arts Museum serves as a window into the gastronomic past. Exhibits cover a wide variety of culinary topics, showcasing everything from vintage cookbooks and ancient prep tools to curious kitchen gadgetry and even an homage to the chefs who served U.S. presidents.
... more
Museums Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Culinary Arts Museum
Everyone from culinary geniuses to PB&J novices can find something to suit their taste buds in this museum. Situated on the Johnson & Wales University campus occupying 25,000 square feet of space, the Culinary Arts Museum serves as a window into the gastronomic past. Exhibits cover a wide variety of culinary topics, showcasing everything from vintage cookbooks and ancient prep tools to curious kitchen gadgetry and even an homage to the chefs who served U.S. presidents.
... more
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