The Best things to do in Providence, Rhode Island

Providence, the largest city in Rhode Island, is the ideal destination for a summer or winter vacation. Located only an hour and a half from Boston, a weekend trip is easily accessible. Great local Italian restaurants, boutique shopping, and a plethora of outdoor recreation opportunities await you in the capital city. Check out my list of the best things to do in Providence, RI!

1. Dine in historic Federal Hill

Providence's Federal Hill neighborhood

Federal Hill is a historic neighborhood in Providence, which is well known for its’ abundance of authentic Italian restaurants. Both casual and high end Italian choices line both sides of the road. Whether you are craving ravioli, pizza, or lasagna, you can find it all here and more. Check out my reviews of Andino’s, Amici Bar and Grille, and Pizzico.

Shrimp Scampi at Andino's in Providence, RI
Shrimp Scampi at Andino’s
Pumpkin ravioli at Pizzico in Providence, RI
Pumpkin ravioli at Pizzico

Address: Atwells Avenue Providence, RI 02903

2. Dine & shop at Providence Place Mall

Providence Place Mall - Providence, Rhode Island

This large shopping, dining & entertainment complex, located in downtown Providence, has enough activities to keep you occupied all day! There is a nice selection of higher end chain restaurants, including PF Chang’s, Fire and Ice The Cheesecake Factory, and more. The 2 floor layout consists of a mix of the usual stores and a few specialty shops. My favorite store is Restoration Hardware. Other highlights include: Boscovs, The North Face, Michael Kors, and Apple. In terms of entertainment, you will find a Dave and Busters and IMAX theater. For a full directory, visit my Providence Place Mall blog post.

UPDATE: As of 2023, Fire + Ice and Restoration Hardware are closed.

Located just a short walk away from the mall is the Providence State House building. This beautiful building is a great spot for photography. Check one of the gorgeous pics we took! Tours available –more info.

Providence, RI Capitol Building

Address: 1 Providence Place Providence, RI 02903 (Providence Place), 82 Smith Street #108A Providence, RI 02903 (Rhode Island State House)

3. Ice skating at Kennedy Plaza

Ice skating rink in downtown Providence, Rhode Island

The cold and snowy winter months still bring forth many opportunities for fun in the city. There is a large, well maintained rink, which is located within walking distance from the mall. The lights and music add a nice ambiance. I find this rink to be a better choice than Frog Pond in Boston; the rink is much less crowded and street parking is easier to find. Pricing is quite affordable at just under 20 bucks for admission and skates (children $11). Bring your own skates and pay just 9 bucks!

For more information (including winter hours and prices) visit my Ice Skating in Providence post.

Address: 2 Kennedy Plaza Providence, RI 02903

4. Be dazzled at Waterfire

Watefire in Providence, Rhode Island

Friday nights during the summer months, the Providence River is transformed into an artistic delight. As multiple bonfires are lit up across the water. Waterplace Restaurant offers nice outdoor seating for the event. Enjoy music and festivities on a mild summer night in Providence.

For more information (including summer schedules), visit my Waterfire Providence post.

Address: 101 Regent Ave Providence, RI 02908

5. Enjoy a day out at a local park

Blackstone Blvd walking path in Providence, RI

Take a nice walk along the Blackstone Boulevard walking path. This beautiful 3 mile path is ideal for walkers and joggers. Heavily shaded, peaceful, and scenic, a visit to the park is the perfect way to spend a quiet morning enjoying your coffee or tea. This park offers a perfect opportunity to get in a little nature, vitamin D, and exercise for the day.

Another great park just outside of Providence is Slater Memorial Park in Pawtucket. Located just a short drive away, this scenic park offers a 3 mile beautiful bike path, a pond with a walking path, a watercolor painting art gallery, tennis courts, a dog park, and the World’s Oldest Louff Standing Carousel. One of the nicest parks I have visited – definitely worth a visit on your trip.

Slater Memorial Park - Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Address: Blackstone Blvd & Hope St Providence, RI 02906 (Blackstone Blvd. path), Newport Ave Pawtucket, RI 02861 (Slater Memorial Park)

Visit my Slater Memorial Park post for more pictures and details.