You’ll find the capital city of Rhode Island, Providence, on the state’s border with Massachusetts at the head of Narragansett Bay. As the largest city in this tiny New England state, the seaboard burg has a rich history that includes a significant presence in the Revolutionary War and other national milestones.
Situated just north of the state’s Atlantic Ocean shore, the 20 square miles metropolitan area is also the seat of the aptly named Providence County, which is full of fun tourist attractions.
Whether you’re visiting from nearby cities like Newport and Boston or taking the train from the neighboring states of Connecticut and New York, the following guide is sure to make your Northeast odyssey one remember!
What is the Capital of Rhode Island?
You know we wouldn’t be asking this question if Providence wasn’t, in fact, the capital of Rhode Island. The capital city is part of a sprawling metro area that includes other historic urban areas like Pawtucket, Warwick, Cranston, Central Falls, and others.
Providence and Rhode Island were originally part of what was once known as the Massachusetts Bay Colony. It’s found, Roger Williams, named it after the phrase, “God’s merciful Providence,” because he thought the place was a-okay.
What is Rhode Island Known for?
While Providence sports a fairly sizable population of over 175,000 souls, Rhode Island is the smallest state in America. This is probably Rhode Islanders’ most significant claim to U.S. fame, besides the fact that their colony was the last to join the American Union, making it the 13th U.S. state. Rhode Island’s nickname is “The Ocean State,” although it doesn’t have a monopoly on the seafront.
In addition to all manner of involvement in the American Revolution and the Civil War, the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations are known for being among the first American settlements to prohibit slavery.
Where weird historical trivia is concerned, it’s also good to know that Rhode Island was home to the eccentric horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. As if that weren’t distinct enough, the state is a major fine jewelry and silverware supplier.
6 Reasons to Visit Providence, Rhode Island
1. Rhode Island Capitol Building
State capital rule number one: You must visit the capitol building if you’re in the capital. Although the Rhode Island State House is still where the state’s general assembly meets to take care of serious business to this day, it’s also open for tours and can even be rented for events.
Don’t forget to stop by the visitor center and gift shop before you leave!
2. Roger Williams National Memorial
If you’re in Providence, you’re going to see the name Roger Williams a lot. Once your curiosity is sufficiently piqued, head on over to the national memorial to get the lowdown on this lesser-known founding father.
The interpretive experience offered at the memorial includes historic buildings, lush gardens, and informative plaques that’ll make you an expert on the subject.
3. Historic Sites
Given Providence’s rich Native American and European history, the city is covered with structures that date back to the 19th century and earlier. Not surprisingly, history is one of the city’s primary draws. Here are just a few sites you should consider visiting if you’re a fan of America’s past:
- Historic Federal Hill
- The First Baptist Church in America
- Blackstone Park Historic District
- Stephen Hopkins House
- Brown University
- Lippit House Museum
- Swan Point Cemetery
4. Roger Williams Park Zoo
With over 150 animals to make friends with, the zoo is an excellent place to visit when the weight of human history gets heavy. Whether you’re a fan of red pandas or two-toed sloths, you’re sure to be transported from this Providence River area attraction beyond the borders of North America.
5. Rhode Island School of Design Museum
Better known as the RISD Museum, the School of Design showcases an exciting collection of traveling and permanent exhibits in addition to occasional events. Their collection includes paintings, sculpture, photography, and pieces from other varied artistic mediums.
The museum is an excellent destination for smaller groups and families and larger assemblages like school field trips.
6. Dunkin’ Donuts Center
You baked good fans don’t get too excited yet. The Dunkin’ Donuts Center is merely a humble arena in downtown Providence that hosts incredible shows, not to mention AHL hockey games with the Providence Bruins. From concerts to comic conventions, it’s worth seeing what’s scheduled when you’re in the capital of Rhode Island.
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