One of the many amazing trips we took over the summer was to Providence, Rhode Island. We didn’t actually stay in Rhode Island but instead took a day trip to Providence from a nearby campground. We spent the entire day exploring this amazing little city with friends and had a blast doing it!
Read on to learn more about our Providence day trip adventures and learn about things to do in Providence.
Things to Do in Providence
Wondering what to do in Providence, RI? We’re here to help. Below are our favorite things we saw and did on our Providence day trip, as well as a few things we hope to do next time. The best part? All of these things are totally budget-friendly, and many are totally free things to do in Providence, so you can have fun without breaking the bank!
Check Out Historic Buildings
Like the rest of New England, Providence has a rich history. Why not brush up on your American history by visiting some of the historic spots in this beautiful city?
- The Rhode Island State House is absolutely gorgeous and a wonderful example of great architecture. Free tours are offered every hour on the hour from 9am–2pm, Monday through Friday.
- The Providence Public Library is another impressive historic building. Free one-hour architectural tours of the building take place at 10:30am on the first and third Tuesday of every month.
- The 1707 Stephen Hopkins House also offers free tours. These happen on Wednesdays from 11am–2pm all year long, and on Saturdays from April to November. You can also make an appointment to see the house at other times.
- Benefit Street is home to a full mile of historic buildings. Stroll the street and admire the historic architecture.
Besides the historic buildings scattered throughout, one of the things we found so charming about Providence was the art scene. It has a very artsy vibe, something I always find appealing.
If you want to check out some art by local artists, be sure to attend Gallery Night, which takes place on the third Thursday of every month. Hop on the free shuttle bus and hop off at each stop to explore galleries, art shops, and museums that all offer free admission during the event.
Dive into History at Blackstone River Valley National Memorial
Our first stop during our day trip to Providence was at Slater Mill, a part of the Blackstone River Valley National Memorial. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to tour the mill itself, but the kids enjoyed watching the park video, looking at the equipment through the windows, and strolling the grounds to see the river and other buildings.
The Junior Ranger program at this park was unique, which we really appreciated!
Learn Something New at Roger Williams National Memorial
We also made a stop at Roger Williams National Memorial. This is a teeny tiny NPS site, and the visitor center is even tinier. That said, it is absolutely packed with information on Roger Williams, and I was surprised by the interesting life that this man led.
We really liked the ranger at this site, as he was great with the kids and happily answered all their questions.
Stroll Roger Williams Park
Another one of the many things to do in Providence is to pay Roger Williams Park a visit. This park is an attraction on its own with many walking paths and all the usual park amenities, but it also plays host to a variety of other attractions.
We visited Carousel Village, which is run by the Roger Williams Park Zoo. This little fun spot has a historic carousel ($2 rides) and a mini train ($3 rides) for the kids. There is also a super fun playground right next door to the carousel, which features Hasbro-themed play areas.
The Botanical Center is also located at Roger Williams Park. It features a lovely little waterfall, a number of beautiful flowers from around the world, and more. There is also a fun scavenger hunt for kids in this garden, making it a fun place for the whole family!
Admission to the Botanical center is just $5 for adults, $2 for kids aged 6–12, and is free for kids under 6 years of age.
Enjoy Free Museum Admission
Providence has a number of fantastic museums. Unfortunately, most of these cost money to enter, something that the traveler on a budget may not be able to afford. This is where free museum nights come into play:
- The Providence Children’s Museum is free on certain Friday evenings during the summer months.
- The RISD Museum is an art museum associated with the Rhode Island School of Design, and it offers free admission every third Thursday from 5pm–9pm and on Sundays from 10am–5pm.
Another option for free museum admission involves purchasing a reciprocal museum membership and using that to enter Providence museums.
Explore the Museum of Natural History & Planetarium
Another affordable museum option is the Museum of Natural History & Planetarium. While this awesome museum doesn’t have a free night, admission to the museum is a mere $2, and children under 4 years of age enter for free. It really doesn’t get much cheaper than that!
Where to Eat in Providence
Now you know what to do in Providence, RI, but you’ll also need to eat during your day trip to Providence. Below are the food spots we visited and highly recommend.
Poco Loco Tacos
A super cute taco and burrito joint with some seriously creative menu items, we adored Poco Loco Tacos and will absolutely visit again when we’re in the area. In fact, we even considered going out of our way to pay for the place one more visit before moving our RV.
We loved the PBJ burrito and the avocado fritters. That said, anything you order will be delicious. The best part? This place is incredibly affordable!
Dear Hearts Ice Cream
After dinner, we were in the mood for something sweet. Our solution was Dear Hearts Ice Cream just down the road from the taco shop.
I’ve said before that I am an ice cream fan through and through, and I stand by that statement. That said, I am picky about my ice cream and don’t recommend mediocre places. While Dear Hearts wasn’t the best ice cream we’ve ever had (that has to be Leopold’s in Savannah, GA, or Braum’s in Oklahoma), it was definitely a solid option and is well worth trying.
Hopefully, this list of awesome things to do in Providence helps you plan an incredible and budget-friendly trip. Come back and let me know what you did during your time in the city!
About the author: Chelsea Gonzales
Chelsea has the amazing opportunity to take part in full-time RV living and traveling with her tiny tribe. She homeschools her five-year-old son as they travel, and takes full advantage of their unique situation by using the entire world as her son’s classroom. A group of total Disney fanatics, Chelsea and her family often find themselves in the Orlando area in order to visit the Disney parks, but they have also visited over 25 of the 50 states with plans to see many more along the way. No matter where her travels take her, Chelsea enjoys riding bikes, gazing at beautiful sunsets, finding new coffee shops, Irish dancing, and sitting around a campfire with her family.
You can join her adventures through her blog, Wonder Wherever We Wander.
Ronald B. ~ “I love Coach-Net! The response is always sympathetic and rapid!”
Paul Goldberg Brown 1964 said:
Looking for historical, On Brown College Green is University Hall built in 1764. If you look closely you can see where the British broke out a corner so they could stable their horses inside during the Revolutionary War. This building is the center of the administration of the University to this day.