Things to Do in Providence, Rhode Island

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Advisor - Claire Rodrigues
Curated By

Claire Rodrigues

  • Providence

  • Food & Wine

  • Family Travel

  • Sightseeing

  • Island

  • Beach Town

A tower with clock on top of it.
Curator’s statement

The capital of the smallest state in the U.S.- Providence, RI is rich with history and full of New England charm. From local farmers markets and annual city festivals to quirky gift shops and modern (delicious) restaurants set in historic landmarks, Providence has a ton of things for visitors to do. I’ve scouted out all of the best spots for you over five years of living here and can’t wait for you to fall in love with PVD.

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Where to stay in Providence

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Things to do in Providence

Aerial view of city with water body.

Teeming with history, the city of Providence has a lot of fun to offer its visitors. Check out these activities, tours and things to do in Providence, RI:

RiverWalk / Pedestrian Bridge

Take a stroll along pedestrian-friendly Water Street, known to most as 'RiverWalk', and over the Pedestrian Bridge where you’ll get incredible views of downtown PVD. In the summer months, you’ll find the Providence Flea Market, a Beer Garden and Tizzy K’s Ice Cream shop all in the area for you to enjoy.


Held every Saturday evening from May - November, Providence WaterFire events are the highlight of the summer where the city lights over 100 bonfires on the three rivers that intersect in downtown Providence.

Providence Performing Arts Center

Also called “PPAC” was built in 1928 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. PPAC’s stunning theater is often the first stop for Broadway National Tours but also hosts concerts, plays, comedy shows and other performances year-round.

The Providence Athenaeum

Located on Benefit Street, one of the most historic streets in Providence, and just below the grounds of Brown University (which you should also walk around and see), this independent library was founded before modern day public libraries were established and is still in operation today.

La Gondola

Enjoy a scenic boat ride down the Providence River on a Venetian gondola.

Ghost Tours

For those who enjoy a little paranormal activity in their travels, check out a walking tour with Providence Ghost Tour offering a spooky side to Providence’s history.

Al Fresco on the Hil

Every summer, Federal Hill’s iconic Atwells Avenue shuts down on Saturday evenings to allow over 30 restaurants to expand their patio seating onto the street. If you’re looking for classic Italian cuisine, look no further than Federal Hill.

PVD Fest

A free art festival in downtown Providence hosted every Fall that brings together local artists, food vendors, restaurants and performances over three days.

Pride Fest

Every June, downtown Providence hosts its annual Pride Fest including block parties, drag shows, a parade and other events to celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community. Be sure to stop by headlining bars - The Stable and Dark Lady/Alley Cat.

Where To Shop In Providence

From boutique vintage clothing stores to bookstore bars to quirky gift shops, the city of Providence loves to shop and support local businesses while staying true to "keeping PVD weird".

Fox Point

The Matchbox, Lore Collection, NAVA, Urban Thread, Round Again Records, Nostalgia Antiques and Collectibles Store, Asterfields and Twenty Stories Bookstore.

Downtown Providence

The Vault Collective, Symposium Books, Modern Love, Craftland, Homestyle and Lovecraft Arts & Sciences.

Hope Street

Stock Culinary Goods, Frog & Toad (a personal favorite!), Olive del Mondo, Rhody Craft and J Marcel.

Federal Hill / Olneyville

Heartleaf Books, Farm Fresh RI Farmers Market, Riffraff Bookstore & Bar, Hungry Ghost Press and The Nest.

Places to eat & drink in Providence

Cooked Food on White Ceramic Plate

This list could be never-ending, but here are some of my top recommendations for places to eat while you are out exploring Providence, RI:

Al Forno

This RI restaurant is famous for their grilled pizzas and made to order desserts. Reservations are hard to come by, but bar seating is first-come, first served.

Claire’s Recommendation: Any of the grilled pizzas and the baked pasta. You can thank me later…

Bayberry Garden

Impeccable service within a beautifully designed modern location; Bayberry Garden offers seasonal menus with New England fare. You can also check out their sister location, Bayberry Beer Hall.

Claire’s Recommendation: Have the GM or sommelier help you choose the perfect bottle (or glass) of wine from their extensive list.

Charuma Tea Bar

Authentic Taiwanese bubble tea bar in an unassuming location downtown.

Claire’s Recommendation: The Taiwanese Popcorn Chicken with Plum Seasoning is an absolute must.


Inspired by the Andalucía region of Span, this tapas restaurant and bar is a hop, skip and a jump away from downtown making it the great place for dinner before a night out.

Claire’s Recommendation: Order the Corn Ribs along with NAVAD Bakers’ cinnamon babka for dessert.

Seven Stars Bakery

With several locations throughout Greater Providence, this local-to Rhode Island bakery is a great spot to grab a coffee and pastry at any time of the day.

Claire’s Recommendation: Their lychee quiche!

Dune Brothers Seafood

Open only in the summer season, this bright red seafood shack is a must visit if you’re in Providence. Order at the shack window then enjoy outdoor picnic table seating.

Claire’s Recommendation: Lobster rolls with a Yacht Club soda.

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, A Magical Bachelorette Weekend at Walt Disney World.

Advisor - Claire Rodrigues

Travel Advisor

Claire Rodrigues

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Rhode Island.