Providence, Rhode Island Skyline
Photo: SeanPavonePhoto/Fotolia

If you are looking for weekend getaway ideas in New England, Providence, RI is a must-visit. The city is home to beautiful parks, diverse museums, a vibrant performing arts scene and great restaurants. Best things to do in Providence with kids include the Roger Williams Park Zoo, the Museum of Natural History and the Providence Children's Museum.

»The Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park

The Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park

Covering nearly 12,000 square feet of beautifully maintained indoor and outdoor gardens, the Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park is the largest public indoor display garden in New England and one of the top Providence, Rhode Island attractions. The park is home to two greenhouses, The Conservatory and the Mediterranean Room, that house over 150 different species and cultivars of plants, including cacti, agave, palms, and aloes.

The vast outdoor gardens feature a beautiful winter garden and wooded hillside garden with several assortments of trees and shrubs, a stunning rose maze with a handpicked selection of rose varieties, a pine Dell, and perennial garden. The park also offers a range of horticultural and environmental programs and classes for the public in order to enhance and encourage an interest in botanical studies.

1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-785-9450

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»Museum of Natural History and Planetarium

Museum of Natural History and Planetarium

Founded by the City of Providence in 1896, the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium is committed to education and hopes to enhance a greater understanding of the natural world through exciting exhibition and displays, interactive presentations, and educational programs.

If you are looking for fun things to do in Providence with kids, the Museum of Natural History is a great place to visit. Home to over 250,000 objects relating to the natural world, including 175,000 preserved plants and animals, 15,000 earth science specimens, 4,000 ethnographic objects, and 20,000 archaeological artifacts, the museum also houses a vast wealth of informational resources in the form of extensive document and photographic archives. Don’t miss the world-class collection of plant fossils from Coal Age Rhode Island, some of which are more than 350 million years old.

1000 Elmwood Ave, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-785-9457 Ext. 221 Photo: Museum of Natural History and Planetarium

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»Culinary Arts Museum, Providence, RI

Culinary Arts Museum, Providence, RI

The Culinary Arts Museum, a teaching museum located at the Johnson & Wales University, is devoted to the preservation and interpretation of culinary arts and hospitality heritage. The museum showcases over 250,000 items, which include extensive collections of vintage restaurant menus, kitchen equipment and molds, a culinary-related art collection, and more than 60,000 cookbooks.

Permanent and temporary exhibitions take visitors on a culinary journey starting with the paved roads of the Roman Empire to the streets of 20th Century New England. Visitors will taste, test and sip along the way. Exhibits include “Sweet Success,” a delightful display of ice cream and soda fountains and other candy-related artifacts and unusual yet striking displays of historic black and white photographs.

315 Harborside Blvd, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-598-2805

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»Providence Performing Arts Center

Providence Performing Arts Center

The Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) is a world-class theater in the heart of Providence’s arts and entertainment district that presents a full calendar of contemporary entertainment and Broadway shows. Known as the “Jewel of Weybosset Street” after opening in 1928, the theater is the second largest of its kind in the country, and can accomodate over 3,000 patrons.

The theater is also listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The arts center also supports a variety of community outreach programs with the aim of “bringing theater to life” for emerging artists and children, and it hosts a number of annual fund-raising events throughout the year.

220 Weybosset Street, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-421-2787

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»Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, RI

Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, RI

Opened in 1872, the Roger Williams Park Zoo is amongs the nation’s oldest zoos, and it is one of Rhode Island’s top tourist attractions. Home to over 100 species of rare and fascinating animals from all over the world as well as a range of award-winning conservation programs, the Zoo has won accolades for being “one of the best zoos in the country for its conservation efforts.”

Situated in the tranquil and historic Roger Williams Park Zoo, the animal park showcases animals from a variety of habitats, including those typically found in Africa, Australasia, South America, and the Tropics. The zoo is also a leader in environmental education, and it provides a range of educational programs and learner-focused workshops.

1000 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-941-4998

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»Trinity Repertory Company

Trinity Repertory Company

World-renowned as one of the longest-standing and most respected resident acting companies in America, the Trinity Repertory Company annually presents a calendar of world-class premieres and contemporary, and classic performances. Founded in 1963 and based at the Lederer Theater Center, which was originally built as the historic landmark Majestic Theatre in 1917, the theater features performances of a variety of celebrated world shows, and it also trains new actors and fresh talent through a range of programs.

The company also takes national and international tours, which are immensely popular. The theater introduces over 15,000 children each year to live theater through the Project Discovery program and offers in-depth graduate training for actors and directors.

201 Washington Street, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-351-4242

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»The Providence Athenaeum

The Providence Athenaeum

The Providence Athenaeum is a unique and independent library and cultural center that encourages an appreciation for books and all things literature-related. Based in the historic Greek Revival building that was originally founded as "The Athenaeum" in 1836, the center endeavors to encourage and inspire the public with a passion for literature and reading, and they hope to engage others in conversation by presenting a range of extraordinary collections and innovative programs. The library also offers a variety of community-based events such as readings, quiz evenings, and salons that are open for the public to enjoy.

251 Benefit Street, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-421-6970

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»La Gondola Providence

La Gondola Providence

Get an unforgettable perspective of the city from a unique vantage point – on board an authentic Venetian gondola. From a romantic river cruise for two to a fun-filled family adventure, a gondola ride with La Gondola is always a fantastic way to see and experience Providence. Gondolas are crewed by highly trained and professional gondoliers and musicians who cater to your every need throughout the ride.

Enjoy a romantic dinner as you cruise the waters around the city on the 28-foot La Gondola Floating Lounge, which can accommodate up to six diners at three bistro tables. Inspired by the outdoor cafés of Venice, this vessel can be booked for day and evenings trips, private dinner cruises, and special WaterFire trips. If you are looking for romantic date night ideas in Providence, this is a great thing to do. Read more

One Citizen’s Plaza, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-421-8877

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»Pane e Vino Ristorante and Enoteca

Pane e Vino Ristorante and Enoteca

Located on beautiful Historic Federal Hill in Providence, Pane e Vino Ristorante and Enoteca is an authentic Italian restaurant that serves traditional Italian fare with classic Italian hospitality. Pane e Vino bases their dinner-only menu on serving “fresh, simple, and honest” food, including favorites such as house-made meatballs, creamy gnocchi Quattro Formaggio, and hearty saltimbocca served with sage and prosciutto.

Diners can enjoy a pre-fixe menu on weekday evenings, and an alluring cocktails and cordials program offers a range of handcrafted cocktails, spirits, and local wines – whatever you are in the mood for, you are sure to find the perfect accompaniment for any of the dishes. Don’t miss the mouthwatering homemade desserts such as the cannelloni dipped in caramel and peanuts and the bourbon chocolate fudge cake.

365 Atwells Avenue, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-223-2230

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»Nicks on Broadway,Providence, Rhode Island

Nicks on Broadway,Providence, Rhode Island

Located in the West End of Providence, Nicks on Broadway is a contemporary American restaurant that specializes in seasonally inspired, locally sourced cuisine. Owned and operated by Nick Sammartino and James Beard nominated Chef Derek Wagner, Nicks prides itself on its reputation as a welcoming neighborhood eatery where people can gather to meet, greet, and eat excellent food. Using only the freshest ingredients available, Chef Wagner has created a delicious tasting menu for dinner, which includes delights such as char-grilled farm lamb served with purple potatoes and green beans and lemon parsley roasted monkfish with risotto of broccoli. Meanwhile, the brunch menu offers healthy favorites such as warm oats and honey and house-baked brioche French toast.

500 Broadway, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-421-0286

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»Red Stripe Restaurant

Red Stripe Restaurant

Red Stripe Restaurant is a modern take on the traditional European-style French brasserie, and it is known for American-style contemporary comfort food with touches of sophisticated French influences. In real brasserie style, the eatery enjoys a warm and convivial atmosphere in which it serves brunch, lunch, and dinner throughout the week.

The restaurant also boasts a refined wine list and handcrafted cocktail program. Menus feature staples such as a modernized version of the classic grilled cheese sandwich served with thick hand-cut potato wedges or homemade tomato soup. Located in the vibrant Wayland Square, Red Stripe Providence features award-winning interior design, high tin ceilings, and a striking signature black-and-white floor pattern that adds to the comfortable, laid-back ambiance.

465 Angell Street, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-437-6950 Photo: Red Stripe Restaurant

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»Providence Children's Museum

Providence Children's Museum

Founded as the Rhode Island Children's Museum in 1976, the Providence Children's Museum is the only museum of its kind in the state, and it is an excellent place for children of all ages to explore, discover, and learn through active play. The museum presents interactive, hands-on, and play-based programs and exhibits for children between the ages of 1 and 11 to explore a range of genres, with everything from science, engineering, and math to technology, arts, and culture.

If you are looking for fun things to do in Providence RI for the whole family, this is a great place to visit. Embracing a broad variety of learning styles, abilities, and forms of creative expression, exhibits such as “Water Ways,” “Play Power,” and “The Children’s Garden” aim to increase the awareness of learning and provide a fun-filled environment in which to do so.

100 South Street, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-273-5437 Photo: Providence Children's Museum

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»Jacky's Waterplace and Sushi Bar

Jacky's Waterplace and Sushi Bar

Jacky’s Waterplace and Sushi Bar serves contemporary Pan-Asian cuisine and freshly made sushi in an elegant and refined setting, and it is one of four popular eateries owned by Jack and his wife. Achieving the same successes as his previous restaurants, which have been hailed as some of the best places for Asian food in the country, Jacky’s Waterplace is located in Waterplace Park in downtown Providence and serves an eclectic menu for lunch and dinner.

The exotic Asian menu features dishes that marry Chinese culinary traditions with western influences, as well as an artful selection of freshly made sushi and sashimi and an extensive wine list of local and international wines.

1488 Mineral Spring Ave, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-353-0088 Photo: Jacky's Water Place and Sushi Bar

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»Al Forno, Providence, RI

Al Forno, Providence, RI

Al Forno Restaurant is an authentic Italian restaurant in South Water Street that brings a touch of Southern Europe into the heart of Providence. Chef-owners Johanne Killeen and George Germon own and operate Alforno, where the menu is simple and delicious and features seasonal renditions of Italian classics from the various regions of Italy.

Wood-burning ovens and grills produce roasted meat dishes and wafer-thin pizzas laden with mouthwatering toppings, while baked pasta brimming with homemade sauces burst with flavor. Made-to-order desserts add the final touch to a perfect meal. Pair your dinner with any one of the fine Italian wines and enjoy incredible service in a friendly, warm, and welcoming environment.

577 South Water Street, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-273-9760 Photo: Al Forno

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»East Side Pockets, Providence, RI

East Side Pockets, Providence, RI

East Side Pockets is a friendly, family-owned restaurant in the heart of Thayer Street that has been serving authentic Middle Eastern fare for over 15 years. Open seven days a week from 10 am to late night, the bustling café-style eatery has a menu packed with traditional Mediterranean cuisine, including favorites such as hummus, tzatziki, gyros, falafel, dolmades, and freshly made soups and salads. Visitors can order lunch and dinner from the gleaming cafeteria-style counter to eat in or take away, and you can even order large platters for families, groups, and special events.

278 Thayer Street, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-453-1100 Photo: East Side Pockets

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»Providence River Boat

Providence River Boat

Providence River Boat offer guided tours around the harbor and along the Providence River, giving participants a unique perspective of the city, its magnificent architecture, and its rich history. Tours are conducted on board the MV Proud Mary, a large passenger pontoon boat that comfortably seats up to 14 passengers and features spacious and modern facilities.

Patrons may choose from a variety of river tours, ranging from relaxed afternoon and sunset cruises and the “Pomham Rocks Lighthouse Tour,” which allows you to explore the beautifully restored 1871 lighthouse, to the famous “WaterFire Tour,” which involves an exhilarating boat ride through the sparkling bonfires, floating braziers, and flickering bridge arches of WaterFire.

575 South Water Street, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-580-BOAT

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16 Best Things to Do in Providence, RI