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Best things to do in Providence

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Where in the world: USA  /  Rhode Island  /  Providence

Top 15 things to do in Providence

1. Providence Performing Arts Center

The Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC), formerly Loew's State Theatre and Palace Concert Theater, is a multi-use not-for-profit theater located at 220 Weybosset Street in downtown Providence, Rhode Island. It was built in 1928 as a movie palace by the Loews Theatres chain to designs by Rapp & Rapp, the leading designers of music palaces at the time. PPAC contains 3,100 seats and hosts touring Broadway shows, concerts, plays and films.
The theater was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977 under the name "Loew's State Theatre".
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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2. Roger Williams Park Zoo

Open since 1872, Roger Williams Park Zoo is home to more than 100 species of rare animals. In the North American section, admire bald eagles, red wolves, American bison, and otters. Watch the harbor seals swim through an underwater viewing window. Other exhibits include the Marco Polo adventure trek, where you can see snow leopards, moon bears, and red pandas, and the Fabric of Africa, featuring zebras, elephants, and giraffes. Observe native wildlife, such as blue herons and turtles, as you walk the trail through the wetlands, Rhode Island's most endangered habitat. The park is accessible via trolley, or drive and park for free.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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4. Boat Tours & Water Sports

Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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5. Brown University

Brown University is a private Ivy League research university in Providence, Rhode Island. Brown is the seventh-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, founded in 1764 as the College in the English Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Brown is one of nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Brown is ranked among the top universities in the United States.
Brown was the first college in the United States to codify in its charter that admission and instruction of students was to be equal regardless of their religious affiliation. The university is home to the oldest applied mathematics program in the United States, the oldest engineering program in the Ivy League, and the third-oldest medical program in New England. The university was one of the early doctoral-granting U.S. institutions in the late 19th century, adding masters and doctoral studies in 1887. In 1969, Brown adopted its Open Curriculum after a period of student lobbying. The new curriculum eliminated mandatory "general education" distribution requirements, made students "the architects of their own syllabus" and allowed them to take any course for a grade of satisfactory (Pass) or no-credit (Fail) which is unrecorded on external transcripts. In 1971, Brown's coordinate women's institution, Pembroke College, was fully merged into the university.

The university comprises the College, the Graduate School, Alpert Medical School, the School of Engineering, the School of Public Health and the School of Professional Studies. Brown's international programs are organized through the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, and the university is academically affiliated with the Marine Biological Laboratory and the Rhode Island School of Design. In conjunction with the Rhode Island School of Design, Brown offers undergraduate and graduate dual degree programs. Undergraduate admissions are among the most selective in the country, with an overall acceptance rate of 5% for the class of 2026.
Brown's main campus is located in the College Hill neighborhood of Providence, Rhode Island. The university is surrounded by a federally listed architectural district with a dense concentration of Colonial-era buildings. Benefit Street, which runs along the western edge of the campus, contains one of the richest concentrations of 17th and 18th century architecture in the United States.
As of March 2022, ten Nobel Prize winners have been affiliated with Brown as alumni, faculty, or researchers, as well as seven National Humanities Medalists and ten National Medal of Science laureates. Other notable alumni include 27 Pulitzer Prize winners, 21 billionaires, one U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice, four U.S. Secretaries of State, 99 members of the United States Congress, 57 Rhodes Scholars, 21 MacArthur Genius Fellows, and 38 Olympic medalists.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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6. Room Escape Games

Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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7. Plimoth Patuxet Museums, Plymouth

Interact with an authentic environment and historical interpreters of Pilgrims at Plimoth Patuxet Museums, a living museum based and located on the first Plymouth colony. English Colonists originally established the settlement in the 17th century, and now the same grounds host this multifaceted museum. Witness everyday life in the 1627 English Village section of the museum, where the "townspeople" dress, speak, and behave like 17th-century Pilgrims. You also can explore a replica of the Mayflower II, watch a film at the museum's cinema, see craftsmen at work, and learn about Native American history in the region at the Wampanoag Homesite.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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8. Providence Athenaeum

The Providence Athenaeum is an independent, member-supported subscription library in the College Hill neighborhood of Providence, Rhode Island. The building is open to the public, but only members can check out items from the collection.

The library was established in 1836 as a merger between two earlier subscription libraries: The Providence Library Company, founded in 1753, and the Providence Athenaeum, founded in 1831. It became "The Providence Athenaeum" by amendment to its charter in 1850.

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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9. Historic Federal Hill

Prepare your camera and your taste buds for a tour of Historic Federal Hill, one of the most scenic areas of the city. Including charming Atwells Avenue and the surrounding area, the neighborhood boasts some of the city's most beautiful architectural sights and most famous restaurants. Combining its gastronomic reputation and enduring Italian heritage, the area abounds in excellent choices for Italian food. If you're craving something else, check out the selection of restaurants serving specialties from other parts of the world, from traditional American to Japanese. Soak in the atmosphere as you wander the charming streets past parks and cafes, and stop into some of the numerous boutique shops and galleries for unusual shopping opportunities. To gain a more in-depth understanding of the neighborhood, check out some of the guided tours available.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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10. Mystic Aquarium, Mystic

See one of the United States' largest outdoor beluga whale exhibits at Mystic Aquarium, and get close-up with sharks, sea lions, penguins, octopi, and other ocean critters. Get hands on at touch exhibits where you can feel a reptile, stingray, shark, or crustacean. For an additional fee, you can get even closer during an animal encounter program with an African penguin, beluga whale, or even feed stingrays. Children and grownups can take educational programs at the aquarium to find out more about the marine life and conservation practices. Bring your own food and dine at the outdoor picnic area or try out the on-site cafe, which offers burgers, pizzas, snacks, wraps, and so on.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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11. Rhode Island State House

The Rhode Island State House, the capitol of the state of Rhode Island, is located at 900 Smith Street just below the crest of Smith Hill, on the border of downtown in Providence. It is a neoclassical building designed by McKim, Mead & White which features the fourth largest structural-stone dome in the world, topped by a gilded statue of "The Independent Man", representing freedom and independence. The building houses the Rhode Island General Assembly – the state House of Representatives is located in the west wing, and the Senate in the east – and the offices of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, and general treasurer of Rhode Island. Other state offices are located in separate buildings on a campus just north of the State House.

The structure was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1970.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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12. Temple Beth-El

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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13. Swan Point Cemetery

Swan Point Cemetery is a historic rural cemetery located in Providence, Rhode Island, United States. Established in 1846 on a 60-acre (0.24 km2) plot of land, it has approximately 40,000 interments.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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14. Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket

Foxwoods Resort Casino is a hotel and casino complex owned and operated by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation on their reservation located in Ledyard, Connecticut. Including six casinos, the resort covers an area of 9,000,000 sq ft (840,000 m2). The casinos have more than 250 gaming tables for blackjack, craps, roulette, and poker, and have more than 5,500 slot machines. The casinos also have several restaurants, among them a Hard Rock Cafe. It has been developed since changes in state and federal laws in the late 20th century enabled Native American gaming on the sovereign reservations of federally recognized tribes.

Foxwoods has two hotel towers, with a total of 2,228 hotel rooms; and an arcade for children and teens. The original tower, the Grand Pequot Tower, opened in 1997, while the second opened in 2008 as the MGM Grand. It was re-branded the Fox Tower in 2013. In 2015, a retail complex, known as Tanger Outlet Mall, opened between the two hotel towers with 85 stores featuring luxury goods.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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15. The Stephen Hopkins House

The Governor Stephen Hopkins House is a museum and National Historic Landmark at 15 Hopkins Street in Providence, Rhode Island. The house was the home of Stephen Hopkins, a governor of Rhode Island and signatory of the Declaration of Independence.
The Stephen Hopkins House is an L-shaped, 2½-story, wood-framed structure whose main block was built in 1742–43 for Hopkins, with an attached two-story ell whose first floor dates to 1707. The main block is four bays wide and two deep, with the main entrance in the second bay from the left. This entry is a 20th-century alteration; the original main entrance was through a doorway on the west side of the ell.
The interior of the main block has the main parlor on the right and Governor Hopkins' study on the left, flanking a central hallway with stair. Behind the parlor is a keeping room, with a small bedchamber behind the study. There are five bedrooms on the second floor, two with fireplaces. The downstairs fireplace mantels are paneled, with the one in the parlor slightly more elaborate.
The 1707 house was purchased by Stephen Hopkins in 1742 and enlarged into its present size. It served as his home until his death in 1785. During these years, he served in the colonial assembly, as a justice (first associate, then chief) of the colonial high court, and as governor of the Colony of Rhode Island from 1755 to 1757. The house is the only significant structure associated with Hopkins' life.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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