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. Be sure to call the attractions and restaurants ahead of your visit to confirm current opening times.
1.The Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park
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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
2.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
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3.Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art
© Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art
When it comes to art destinations in Providence, and even Rhode Island as a whole, the Rhode Island School of Design’s (RISD) Museum of Art tops the list. Internationally acclaimed and beloved by the art community, the RISD Museum of Art is known for its impressive collection of 17th and 18th-Century European paintings which are housed in its vast and magnificently lit Grand Gallery. Other collections in the museum's incredible 100,000-piece gallery include impressionist paintings, decorative arts, costume exhibits, and even an Egyptian mummy.
20 North Main Street, Providence, Rhode Island; Phone: 405-454-6500
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4.Providence Performing Arts Center
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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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5.Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, RI
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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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6.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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7.Harry’s Bar and Burger Providence
According to CNN, Harry’s Bar & Burger makes the #1 burger in America and according to Burgered.com, it is actually the Best Burger in the World. Good enough reason to stop by at one of four Harry’s Bar and Burger spots. There are two in Providence, Rhode Island, offering simple decor, burger sliders made of 100 percent Hereford beef, freshly ground and prepared and served with all the trimmings made from local produce. If you do not feel for a burger, they also have great hot dogs and sandwiches. With that you have a selection of more than 50 craft beers and spiked shakes. If you come with friends, try your skills at shuffleboard.
121 N Main St, Providence, RI 02903, USA, Tel. +1 401-228-7437
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8.La Gondola Providence
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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.
One Citizen’s Plaza, Providence, Rhode Island, Phone: 401-421-8877
© Durk’s Bar-B-Q
Durk's Bar-B-Q is a popular Texas-style barbecue joint in Providence. The hip College Hill spot serves up slow-cooked hickory-smoked meats crafted with the restaurant's signature dry-rub spice blend, available by the half-pound or in melt-in-your-mouth sandwich offerings daily. Meat options range from classic brisket, pulled pork, and chicken legs to more unique options such as sausage and pork belly, with a limited amount of each meat prepared daily. More than 100 American whiskeys are also served up at the restaurant's bar, along with craft beers on draft and a variety of whiskey-forward cocktail offerings.
33 Aborn St, Providence, RI 02903, Phone: 401-351-2807
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10.Nicks on Broadway, Providence, Rhode Island
© Nicks on Broadway
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
11.Red Stripe Restaurant, Providence, Rhode Island
© 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
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12.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
13.Jacky's Waterplace and Sushi Bar
© Jacky's Water Place 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.
200 Exchange St, Providence, RI 02903, Phone: 401-383-5000
14.Al Forno, Providence, RI
© Al Forno
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
15.East Side Pockets, Providence, RI
© East Side Pockets
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
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16.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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17.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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18.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
19.Rhode Island State House
Built sometime between 1895 and 1904, the Rhode Island State House is known for being of the country’s grandest and most beautifully designed state capitol houses. It stands out majestically in Providence’s skyline thanks to its gorgeous domed building and its white Georgia marble façade. The building was designed by McKim, Mead, and White, the same firm behind the Boston Public Library, and attributes its beauty to the fact that it was built when the state was at its peak of industrial prosperity. Visitors to the museum can explore its gorgeous architecture, take a guided tour, and see the Colonial Charter of 1663 granted by England’s King Charles II. Don’t forget to snap a photo of the Independent Man statue that sits atop the building’s dome.
82 Smith Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, Phone: 401-222-3983
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Nestled in the very heart of the Brown University neighborhood is Thayer Street, an exciting and vibrant locale that is known for its constantly evolving scene and dozens of unique shops, restaurants, and attractions. Although Thayer Street is geared towards serving college students, it’s still a great spot for locals and visitors alike to enjoy and spend some time in. While shopping, dining, and even entertainment attractions are excellent at this beloved locale, Thayer Street is best known for being a hub of art and culture. Thayer Street is one of the reasons that Thrillist deemed Providence to be one of the best cities to visit for creations, as it hosts spectacular annual events like the Thayer Street Arts Festival and has cultural attractions like the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. Other places to visit at Thayer Street include Insomnia Cookies, Kung Fu Tea, Pleasant Surprise, and East Side Pocket.
Thayer Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903
21.Roger Williams National Memorial Park
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Founded to honor the memory of Providence’s founder, the Roger Williams National Memorial Park features 4.5 acres of beautiful green space starting at Park Row W Street and stretching to North Main Street. This park is home to pristinely manicured grounds and landscapes as well as fantastic walking paths to enjoy and help guests see the beauty of Providence. The visitor center is a great place to start a trip to the park, which airs an introductory video about Roger Williams and also features a museum. Other lovely landmarks to see at the park include the 1736 Antram-Gray House, the commemorative site of the spring Roger Williams discovered in 1636, and the park’s distinguishing plaque.
282 N Main Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, Phone: 401-521-7266
22.Providence Art Club
Just a stone’s throw from the Rhode Island School of Design’s Museum is the Providence Art Club, an organization established for the sole purpose of having artists and the community collaborate and engage with each other. Founded in 1880, the art club’s headquarters is housed in the former Seril Dodge House, but also has several studios, galleries, eateries, and even a clubhouse in several historic and idyllic houses like the Fleur-de-Lys Studios. Drop by the club to see beautiful galleries, several stunning exhibits, and to celebrate the works of its members.
11 Thomas Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, Phone: 401-331-1114
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23.Neutaconkanut Hill Conservancy
© Neutaconkanut Hill Conservancy
One of the best places to experience Rhode Island’s gorgeous flora and fauna has got to be the Neutaconkanut Hill Conservancy. Home to 88 acres of stunning wilderness, the conservancy sits at 296 feet above sea level, making it the highest point in the city of providence. As such, it grants visitors and travelers a gorgeous view of Narragansett Bay as well as the lovely skyline of the downtown Providence area. At the conservancy, visitors can find a family monument dedicated to the park’s first owners, the Borden and King family, as well as several walking trails, freshwater springs, and beautiful ravines.
665 Plainfield Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02909, Phone: 401-649-4366
24.Escape Rhode Island
© Escape Rhode Island
If you’ve ever imagined yourself as the main character of a murder mystery or action thriller, you can bring that to life at Escape Rhode Island. At this real-life adventure center, teams will come together to test their wits and complete missions within 60 minutes. Each themed room at Escape Rhode Island features a series of puzzles, clues to decipher, and connections to figure out, all designed to confound players. Do you have what it takes to adapt, work as a team, and think as creatively as possible? Find out when you put yourselves to the test at Escape Rhode Island. Guests should book their experience ahead of time to avoid disappointment.
385 South Main Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, Phone: 401-326-2222
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No visit to Providence is complete without experiencing WaterFire, Providence’s signature event and attraction. The brainchild of Barnaby Evans, a local artist, WaterFire is an award-winning installation and file sculpture situated along the three rivers in the city’s downtown area. The installation features a sequence of almost 100 bonfires that are set ablaze on the river’s surface, which activates all five senses through its show of fire, the smell of the lit cedar and pine, as well as the incredible music and a number of performers that display their skill and talent on torch-lit vessels that cruise down the river. WaterFire is typically held every weekend from the months of May to November, but visitors are encouraged to check ahead of time for the schedule of performances.
4 N Main Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, Phone: 401-273-1155
25 Best Things to Do in Providence, RI
- The Botanical Center at Roger Williams Park , Photo: Courtesy of Vinoverde - Fotolia.com
- Museum of Natural History and Planetarium , Photo: Museum of Natural History and Planetarium
- Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art, Photo: Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art
- Providence Performing Arts Center, Photo: Courtesy of rangizzz - Fotolia.com
- Roger Williams Park Zoo, Providence, RI, Photo: Courtesy of chlodoweg - Fotolia.com
- Trinity Repertory Company , Photo: Trinity Repertory Company
- Harry’s Bar and Burger Providence, Photo: dreambigphotos/stock.adobe.com
- La Gondola Providence, Photo: Courtesy of ArenaCreative - Fotolia.com
- Durk’s Bar-B-Q, Photo: Durk’s Bar-B-Q
- Nicks on Broadway, Providence, Rhode Island, Photo: Nicks on Broadway
- Red Stripe Restaurant, Providence, Rhode Island, Photo: Red Stripe Restaurant
- Providence Children's Museum, Photo: Providence Children's Museum
- Jacky's Waterplace and Sushi Bar, Photo: Jacky's Water Place and Sushi Bar
- Al Forno, Providence, RI, Photo: Al Forno
- East Side Pockets, Providence, RI, Photo: East Side Pockets
- Providence River Boat, Photo: Providence River Boat
- Pane e Vino Ristorante and Enoteca, Photo: Pane e Vino Ristorante and Enoteca
- The Providence Athenaeum, Photo: The Providence Athenaeum
- Rhode Island State House, Photo: sbgoodwin/stock.adobe.com
- Thayer Street, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Roger Williams National Memorial Park, Photo: Zack Frank/stock.adobe.com
- Providence Art Club, Photo: jonbilous/stock.adobe.com
- Neutaconkanut Hill Conservancy, Photo: Neutaconkanut Hill Conservancy
- Escape Rhode Island, Photo: Escape Rhode Island
- WaterFire, Photo: Katie Chamberlain/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com
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