Providence Travel Guide

USA  #3 in Best Day Trips from NYC
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Courtesy of DenisTangneyJr/Getty Images

Free Things To Do in Providence

If you have extra time, Benefit Street is worthwhile.
  • #3
    Things to do in Providence
    View all Photos
    #3 in Providence
    0.9 miles to city center
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    0.9 miles to city center
    Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    Though you can explore the area on your own, several recent visitors recommended tagging along on a walking tour. Because this neighborhood is defined in part by its food, many tours, such as those offered by Federal Hill Tours and Savoring Rhode Island, have a culinary focus. Tours offered by Experience Rhode Island also come recommended by reviewers.

  • #4
    State House
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    #4 in Providence
    0.4 miles to city center
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    0.4 miles to city center
    Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    Recent visitors called this a Providence landmark, and a must-see while in Rhode Island. Though some reviewers enjoyed simply walking through the building on their own, others suggested signing up for a free guided tour. Guided tours, which last about 50 minutes, are offered on the hour beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 2 p.m.

  • #7
    Benefit Street
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    #7 in Providence
    0.3 miles to city center
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    0.3 miles to city center
    Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    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.

    Past travelers said a stroll along Benefit Street felt like stepping back in time thanks to the well-preserved architecture. You can explore on your own, but you may want to consider signing up for a walking tour offered by the Rhode Island Historical Society (a recommendation from recent visitors). Reviewers also noted that some of the sidewalks can be uneven, meaning you should wear sturdy shoes.

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