Providence, the capital of Rhode Island, is often overlooked when planning a tour in New England.
However, it is an exciting destination to explore in a day despite being quite large compared to the average New England town. Providence offers many things to see and, thanks to its geographical position, can be a great stop in a longer itinerary that includes bigger cities and more renowned nearby attractions.
The city is famous for the Brown University, a renowned institution founded in 1764 and part of the prestigious Ivy League, its cuisine, thanks to the many chefs that graduates every year at the Johnson & Wales University and the Rhode Island School of Design, which boasts a museum full of truly unexpected gems.
Providence is also home to beautiful parks, the Roger Williams Park Zoo, a favorite destination for children, and museums like the Museum of Natural History and the Providence Children's Museum.
Rhode Island School of Design Museum
Located at 20 North Main Street, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum (RISD) was founded in 1877, and it's affiliated with the Rhode Island School of Design.
Its museum is one of the largest in the country and boasts an extraordinary collection of about 100,000 pieces, including French paintings from the 19th century, ancient Greek and Roman art, medieval and Renaissance works, a prominent American display, and an authentic mummy.
Here you can admire masterpieces by Monet, Manet, Andy Warhol, Picasso, and Kara Walker, as well as local Rhode Island artists and designers.
Founded in 1764, Brown University is one of the nine Colonial Colleges established before the American Revolution and a member of the prestigious Ivy League.
The University hosts a wide variety of free, open-to-the-public events featuring locals and international performers.
The Main Green is where major concerts, events, and political rallies occur and where students can sunbathing and enjoy their free time outside.
The University also features two libraries, the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology and the Annmary Brown Memorial, constructed by the politician, Civil War veteran, and book collector General Rush Hawkins, as a mausoleum for his wife.
Check the free events the Brown University offers on its official website; some of them also hold online!
Roger Williams Park Botanical Center
Located at 1000 Elmwood Avenue, the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center is the most extensive display garden in New England and spans about 12,000 square feet of elegant indoor and outdoor gardens.
The park features two connected greenhouses, The Conservatory and the Mediterranean Room, where over 150 different species and cultivars of plants are grown, including 40′ tall palms, 17 different types of palms, carnivorous plants, 10′ cacti, agave, and aloe.
The outdoor gardens feature a wonderful winter garden, a stunning rose maze with a handpicked selection of rose varieties, a wooded hillside garden with trees and shrubs, a pine Dell, and a perennial garden.
The garden also offers educational and guided tours for plant lovers led by trained volunteers who will inform the visitors about plant uses and importance in daily life.
Rhode Island State House
Located at 900 Smith Street, on the border of downtown Providence, the Rhode Island State House is a neoclassical building made of Georgia white marble and designed by McKim, Mead & White; construction took place from 1891 to 1901.
It features the fourth largest structural-stone dome in the world, topped by a gilded statue of "The Independent Man", which represents freedom and independence.
In the museum located inside, you can admire the Colonial Charter granted in 1663 by King Charles II of England, which gave religious freedom to all who settled in Rhode Island.
The building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
The building houses the Rhode Island General Assembly and the offices of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and general treasurer of Rhode Island.
Admission is free of charge, and guided tours are available.
Museum of Natural History and Planetarium
The City of Providence founded in 1896 what is today Rhode Island's only natural history museum: the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium. Its goals are to educate and inspire people to enjoy the natural world through fascinating exhibitions, interactive presentations, and educational programs.
The Museum of Natural History is home to over 250,000 objects related 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 features an extensive collection of informational resources and photographic documentation, in extensive documentation photographic archives.
The state's only public planetarium is hosted inside the Museum of Natural History. It consists of a dome theater featuring a Zeiss projector that casts images of stars, planets, and constellations. Several shows are held at the planetarium, each of them lasts about 30 minutes.
Museum admission is $2, while a separated $3 ticket is necessary to enjoy a show at the planetarium.