Providence Things to Do

  • Old Statehouse
    Old Statehouse
    by Jim_Eliason
  • Old Statehouse
    Old Statehouse
    by Jim_Eliason
  • Old Statehouse
    Old Statehouse
    by Jim_Eliason

Most Recent Things to Do in Providence

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    State Capital Building

    by Basaic Written Oct 28, 2014

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    The current state capital building for Rhode Island is the seventh one for the state and the second one located in Providence. It was completed in 1904 using the Neoclassical style of architecture by the architecture firm of McKim, Mead & White. It is made of Georgia Marble and over 15 million bricks. The building was featured in the film Amistad and served as the City Hall of Capital City in the movie Underdog. The large dome (4th largest self-supporting dome in the world) is topped by a gold covered bronze statue of the "Independent Man" called "Hope" (see photo 3). He represents the hope of the people that first settled the area and the hope of the current people for the future. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

    State Capital Building State Capital Building
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    • Family Travel
    • Historical Travel

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    Swan Point

    by DSwede Written Oct 19, 2014

    Swan Point Cemetery, is reported to be one of the best garden cemeteries in the US from 1846. It is technically in Providence, but tough to see where that ends and Pawtucket begins. Listed on the National Historic Register, this 200+ acre garden cemetery is quite, peaceful and beautiful. I'm not a seeker of cemeteries, nor am I really into the macabre, but am glad I stopped.

    The Blackstone Boulevard leading north to the cemetery is a nice wooded road, with some nice homes and trees giving canopy to the green lawns. Its scenic and a nice place for joggers and bikers.

    Swan Point
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    • National/State Park

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    Go See A Brown Soccer Game

    by giampiero6 Updated Jul 9, 2013

    Go See the Brown Bears Play Soccer. Yep, that's me in my younger more hair on the head days :-) During my high school days I played in developmental teams for the youth national team and had a call up before the team disbanded and was reconstituted. My senior year in high school, I was recruited by the national champions and lots of contenders for the title. I chose Brown U who had a decent, but more modest team. Why? Because I loved the school. I don't regret that decision one bit and would do it again.

    G On the Brown Soccer Poster

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    Brown University and RISD.

    by giampiero6 Updated Jul 9, 2013

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    Brown University and RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) are both highly regarded universities. If you travel to Providence, it is well worth visiting both campuses. They are beautiful. Brown dates from the 1760's and is quite nice. At both places you can see great performances, music shows, art shows, films, sports events etc. The student life is pretty good if you're around that age.

    I, am no longer that age, ha ha.

    http://www.brown.edu

    Me With My Cousin James

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    Roger Wiliams National Memorial

    by Jim_Eliason Updated Jun 9, 2013

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    Although this physical site is not connected to Roger Williams, this small office has displays about Williams, the founder of RI and his life. Williams came here as a religious dissenter to establish a colony for like minded believers.

    Roger Wiliams National Memorial Roger Wiliams National Memorial
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    • Museum Visits
    • National/State Park

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    Latin Carol Service, Brown University

    by Bunsch Updated Nov 20, 2012

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    Early each December, the Classics Faculty and various Brown University luminaries convene at the First Baptist Church (the oldest Baptist church in the United States, founded by Roger Williams) for a service of lessons and carols -- all in Latin or, very rarely, in Greek. This is an exceptionally popular event so early arrival is necessary. Hot cider and cookies await the audience after the service. Definitely not to be missed at least once in a lifetime.

    In 2012, the Latin Carol Service will take place at 8:00 PM on Monday, December 3.

    A little history from the Brown University Classics Department website:

    The first Carol Service (Dec. 14, 1948, in Alumnae Hall on the Pembroke campus), set the tone for all succeeding celebrations. Music was provided by organist John Rowe Workman of the Classics Department and a chorus, directed by William Dinneen of the Department of Music. Herbert Newell Couch, chair of the Classics Department, was master of ceremonies, a term changed the next year to Magister Equitum. There were four readings that continue to this day: Isaiah 40:1-5; 9:6-7; Vergil (fourth Eclogue); Luke 2:1-14; and John 1:1-14. Attendance in Alumnae Hall was always good, rising from an initial 300 to 400 to a reported 1,000 in 1967. In 1997, for its fiftieth anniversary, the Celebration moved to the First Baptist Church of America. In addition to Brown students and faculty, the event now attracts a large number of secondary school students.

    First Baptist Church, site of Latin Carol Service
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    • Music
    • Religious Travel

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    Where shall we worship this Sunday?

    by Bunsch Updated Jun 28, 2012

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    There are numerous fine churches in the Providence area, but since I am an Episcopalian and have an affiliation with the Cathedral of St. John (which happens to be ideally situated close to the train station, the Roger Williams National Monument, and parking!) of course I am going to encourage you to come and worship with the Cathedral family.

    A Rite One service of Holy Eucharist is held at 8:30 AM, and the Rite Two service (with music) is at 10:30. There is coffee "and" following each of these services in the Synod Hall, located at the ground level -- the Cathedral itself is on the second floor, so please be aware that you will need to climb some steps to get to the worship space. Take a little tour afterwards with the Dean, who will point out the Waterford chandelier, the Tiffany and LaFarge windows, and the fabulous silver crucifix and candealbra on the high altar. There is even a communion set from Bishop Samuel Seabury, dating to 1791.

    The historic cemetary includes the grave of a famous British spy. See if you can find it!

    Update in June 2012: the Cathedral suspended services on April 22. We are hoping that, with the arrival of new Bishop W. Nicholas Kniseley in November, it will reopen but the telephone is disconnected and there is no clergy presence.

    The Cathedral from the National Monument
    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
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    See the Architecture of Federal Hill

    by Ewingjr98 Updated Aug 29, 2011

    Federal Hill, located due west of downtown Providence, is a historic and cultural center of the city. The heart of the neighborhood is on Atwells Avenue, but other areas of Federal Hill are relatively lively, including Broadway Avenue. Broadway is more famous for its huge Victorian mansions dating back to the late 1800s.

    In the early 1800s, Federal Hill became home of the city's working class. The area soon began to attract Immigrants, including the Irish in the early to mid-1800s and the Italians in the early 1900s. The area eventually became one of the largest Italian populations in America.

    During a recent visit, we explored a bit of Broadway and had breakfast a Julian's a local hipster joint.

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    Providence Sound Session '11

    by Bunsch Updated Jun 27, 2011

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    Are you interested in music? Then don't miss the Providence Sound Session, which takes place in 2011 on the weekend of July 8-9. There is usually a top-quality line-up of musicians in a variety of styles. Some events are by ticket only; others are free. The full schedule is available on the website below. I highly recommend the Block Parties which take place on Westminster Street on the final night. They remind me a little of the French Quarter in NOLA.

    Later note: due to financing difficulties, the 2010 Sound Session -- at least in its full weekly incarnation -- may have been the last of the Mohicans. I'll keep this tip up for another year or two just in case the festival arises like a phoenix from the ashes.

    Block Party at 2007 Sound Session A bass player, 2007
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    Time for a little culture: Theater, Part IV

    by Bunsch Written Jun 17, 2011

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    If your idea of theater is Broadway, big splashy musicals, and touring shows like Riverdance, then you'll want to visit the Providence Performing Arts Center (which we locals call Pea-Pack). They have a subscription series, but you can buy tickets for individual shows like "The Lion King", "South Pacific", "Spamalot", "Legally Blonde" and, starting in 2010, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular starring the Rockettes.

    PPAC began its life in 1928 as the Loew's State Theatre Movie Palace. It featured a Wurlitzer on which the organist used to accompany early films and play during the intermissions of the films shown. But the hurricanes in 1938 and 1954 did major damage, and apparently the building was nearly demolished in the 1970s.

    Renovation and restoration efforts, as well as the addition of a new backstage area which for the first time permitted PPAC to bring in national touring companies of large shows like "Phantom of the Opera", have paid off handsomely -- and the efforts are really impressive. The seats are the most comfortable and spacious of any performance venue in the city. All that marble, gold leaf plasterwork, and grand proscenium are on display, and a few years ago, the massive sign was installed like a beacon drawing folks down Weybosset Street.

    Ticket prices depend on the show, but they tend to be higher than those for other local theaters. Some discounts are available for seniors and students.

    There is plenty of parking in the vicinity.

    The restored interior (not my pic) The really big sign (not my pic)
    Related to:
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    • Disabilities

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    Step out on the Independence Trail

    by Bunsch Updated Apr 20, 2011

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    In the spring of 2011, a new attraction will be "opening" -- although it has existed for many years, dating back to the mid-1700s in some cases. A three-mile walk through the historic East Side of Providence features ninety "stops" including seventy-five historic sites tied to the history of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, its founding by Roger Williams as "a lively experiment" more than 300 years ago, the role it played in the slave and rum trades, the growth of the industrial revolution, and much more. A large green stripe painted on the streets and sidewalks guides the walker from point to point, and brochures explain exactly why each venue is of interest. Might I suggest that you start at the Roger Williams National Monument at the corner of Smith Street and North Main Street? While you're there, stop in at King's Chapel, founded 1722 -- now the Cathedral of St. John -- and see if you can find the grave of its founder, Gabriel Bernon.

    Related to:
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Study Abroad
    • Family Travel

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    Exploring Narragansett Bay, Part 1

    by Bunsch Updated Apr 19, 2011

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    The sloop "Providence" played a role in the Revolutionary War. In 1976, to celebrate the Bicentennial, a 110' replica was built. When it isn't standing in for the Disney productions of "Pirates of the Caribbean" it is docked at India Point Park and is available for cruising in Narragansett Bay.

    Update April 2011: After nearly three years' refurbishment, the "Providence" is back, but may be in Newport or elsewhere during the Tall Ships season.

    The Providence under sail All aboard!
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    • Sailing and Boating

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    Give it a whirl!

    by Bunsch Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    On a sultry summer day, there is nothing quite like the ride on the Looff Carousel at Crescent Park, East Providence. First of all, it is FAST -- you are going at such a clip that, even when you're leaning off your plunging horse, it isn't always easy to grasp the brass rings and pitch them into the gaping mouth of a painted clown who is the recipient of everything but the cherished golds (they merit a free ride). It has that marvelous calliope music (theoretically played on the extravagant organ situated on the side of the central mechanism), and with sixty-two horses and four chariots, there is almost never a long wait to ride. The gentlemen who operate the carousel always use their bell to kind of play along with the calliope, as well as alerting you to the impending end of the ride. But let me tell you, after a couple of dizzy trips, you'll be cooler and happier and much more childlike than you were only moments before. For seventy-five cents, I can't think of a better deal!

    In the summer of 2009, Blount (a famous seafood purveyor and boat-maker) opened a new version of the Clam Shack right next to the Carousel. This is definitely worth a visit. I had to gulp at paying $20 for a lobster roll but trust me, it was LOADED with lobster meat and absolutely delicious.

    This is a favorite family spot. When my boys were young, we "adopted" the eagle on top of the carousel -- meaning that we paid for the restoration, but the boys always thought it meant it was OURS and every visit required us to crane our necks to see the proud bird presiding over all the fun.

    Carousel horse Carousel pony Exterior of the carousel
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    • Family Travel
    • Theme Park Trips

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    Time for a little culture: Theater, Part 2

    by Bunsch Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    At the other end of the seniority spectrum is Providence's Black Repertory Company, which is only about a decade old. The theatrical space is interesting, with several restaurant-style booths behind a small seating area. The front of the house contains a bar and tables which abut the big plate-glass windows looking onto Westminster Street, which is becoming quite an evening mecca with interesting shops, a great restaurant (L'Epicurio, just across Freeman Park from BlackRep), Tazza for live music, etc. Most of the shows staged are by African-American authors, or feature actors of color. Some of the best shows include exceptional music -- "Lady Day" was one of my favorites. Like many other local companies, BlackRep runs from roughly October to May.

    Updated December 2010: Black Rep has gone into receivership. The assets are being purchased by another arts organization, so something great will be opening at this site -- stay tuned.

    Cast members at a recent show
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    • Theater Travel

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    Exploring Narragansett Bay, Part 2

    by Bunsch Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    One of the most enjoyable ways to experience the Bay is via kayak. In the upper Bay, there aren't generally large waves, so paddling around to explore the Hurricane Barrier, the rivers where WaterFire takes place, and the little marinas around the Hot Club are all easily accomplished even by novice kayakers. Unfortunately, unless you happen to bring your own kayak along, you'll be denied the pleasure; virtually all the kayak rental firms are further south and getting back to the capitol city would be quite a lengthy paddle. I'm providing a link to the Rhode Island Tourism site which lists numerous rental agencies. See you on the water!

    Ah, bliss! The end of a perfect day
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    • Kayaking

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Providence Things to Do

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